When will it be free? Working strategically with the shipping cost threshold: ecommerce hack #06

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The shipping threshold is the minimum order value that customers must exceed in order to receive their online purchases for free instead of paying a few unexpected euros for delivery at the end. As a business owner, you certainly know its importance, as it both increases customer satisfaction and influences purchasing behavior. Used skillfully, it can systematically increase your average order value (AOV) and your sales in general.

What you can achieve with a well-chosen delivery threshold for free shipping:

Customer satisfaction: High shipping costs can deter customers and lead to abandoned purchases. The shipping cost threshold can reduce these negative effects and increase customer satisfaction. Customer loyalty increases, especially private individuals who know that they can save on shipping costs once they have crossed the threshold are more likely to make repeat purchases from the same provider.
Perceived value:
Free shipping can increase the perceived value of the products ordered, especially for private individuals, and motivate customers to make a purchase, even if the total price is slightly higher.
Stand up to the competition:
Many online stores already offer free delivery, so this has become a standard expectation for many customers. In order to remain competitive, other stores must also include the shipping cost threshold in their pricing.
Incentivize shopping cart increases:
By offering free shipping only above a certain order value, entrepreneurs motivate customers to add items for a few more euros to reach the threshold. This can increase the average order value.

Determine the optimum shipping cost threshold


Describe how companies can set the right threshold. This should include analyses such as:
1. cost-benefit analysis
2. average order value (AOV) and how the threshold can influence this
3. customer behavior and purchase pattern analysis

Determining an optimal shipping threshold requires careful analysis of several factors that take into account both business goals and customer behavior. Here are steps and considerations that can help you set an effective threshold:


Start by determining the average order value (AOV) of your customers. This figure will give you an indication of how much customers typically spend. Set the shipping threshold just above the current AOV to motivate customers to spend a few euros more so that the delivery threshold is exceeded and they receive their goods for free.


Calculate the actual costs you incur for shipping, including packaging and logistics, and taxes if applicable. Understand how these costs will affect your profit margins if you change the delivery threshold. The threshold should be high enough to ensure that the additional revenue from increased order values in your deliveries covers or exceeds the cost of free shipping.


Look at what your competitors are doing. If similar entrepreneurs in your industry have set a free delivery threshold, it may make sense to choose a similar amount to stay competitive.


Collect data on how your customers might react to different shipping thresholds. This can be done through direct customer feedback, A/B testing or analyzing purchasing behavior data. Understand what individuals perceive as a reasonable minimum order value for free shipping. If you are active in more than one country, also test whether the values are different in Germany, for example, than perhaps in France or yet another country. When testing, use different shipping thresholds to see which ones increase conversions and AOV the most. Also observe how these changes affect customer satisfaction and the returns rate.


Take into account seasonal fluctuations in purchasing behavior. During the peak season or during special sales promotions, it may make sense to temporarily lower the delivery threshold in order to maximize the increase in sales.


After implementing a shipping threshold, you should continuously monitor performance. Use data analytics to understand the impact on sales, profits and customer behavior and make adjustments if market conditions change or results fall short of expectations. Schedule time to handle this monitoring. Deciding on an optimal shipping threshold is a dynamic process that requires ongoing review and adjustment.

Psycholofical effects in the shipping cost "Game

The delivery threshold uses the concept of psychological pricing in online retail by setting a certain price limit that customers perceive as advantageous. The thought of saving on shipping costs can be more attractive to private individuals than the actual value of the discount. This leads to customers adding an additional item to their shopping cart in order to reach the minimum order value.

Psychological aspect


Anchor effect

Setting a shipping cost threshold represents a price anchor. Customers compare the cost of additional items with the cost they would save by getting free shipping. It often seems cheaper for them to buy more than to pay for shipping, even if the additional purchase costs them more overall.

Nudge effect

(nudge effect)

Free shipping is perceived as an attractive offer, even if the savings are small. This motivates customers to add more products to their shopping cart to reach the free shipping threshold and “save” on perceived shipping costs.

Framing and

“Mental accounting”

The way in which shipping costs are presented influences how customers perceive them. Separate shipping costs appear as additional expenses that should be avoided.

Feeling of reward

Achieving free shipping is often perceived as a reward by private individuals. This feeling of getting something “for free” can positively influence the shopping experience and increase the likelihood that the customer will complete the purchase. This positive experience can also promote customer retention and brand loyalty.

Decision paralysis

By setting a clear threshold for free deliveries, companies give customers a concrete number to work towards. This can help reduce decision paralysis by simplifying the decision-making process: Either customers reach the delivery threshold for free shipping or they don't. This reduces the complexity of the purchase decision.

Scarcity and Loss Aversion (FOMO- (Fear of Missing Out))

If a customer is just under the threshold for free shipping, this can create a strong psychological pressure to reach the missing amount quickly so as not to miss out on the “benefit” of free shipping. The scarcity of free shipping increases the desire to receive it. People tend to weigh losses more heavily than gains. Therefore, the potential loss of free shipping can have a stronger impact than satisfaction with the actual order. FOMO can cause customers to add additional products to their cart just to make sure they benefit from the offer.

The pain of paying

Paying shipping costs is often perceived as a loss that needs to be avoided. Research in the field of behavioral economics shows that the pain of paying can be reduced when customers feel they are getting a “deal”, such as by achieving free shipping. This can lead to customers justifying a higher total spend and additional items for more euros to avoid this pain.

Social proof and normativity

When online retailers highlight that many customers spend enough to receive free deliveries, this can create social proof and encourage normative behavior. Customers who see that others are also reaching the threshold feel motivated to follow this behavior.

These psychological aspects show how powerful the shipping cost threshold strategy can be. It not only influences purchasing decisions on an individual level, but can also shape general customer behavior and significantly support the sales strategies of an online retailer.

Adjustement of the shipping cost threshold in practice

Case studies show how companies in online retail need to be flexible with their shipping thresholds in order to adapt to changing market conditions and achieve their financial and customer-related goals. By carefully analyzing and adjusting shipping thresholds, companies can increase their customer satisfaction while ensuring their profitability. Not only Amazon, whose shipping strategy through the purchase of the digital product Amazon prime should be well known, is worth a look. The following examples show different targets with different results:


Original shipping cost threshold: Free shipping from an order value of EUR 30
Introduction of a sliding scale for shipping costs (2020):
- Free hipping from 80 EUR order value
- 3.99 EUR shipping costs for orders between 30 EUR and 79 EUR
- 5.99 EUR shipping costs for orders under 30 EUR
- Increase in the average order value by 10%
- 7% reduction in shipping costs per order
- Slight increase in conversion rate


Original shipping cost threshold: Free shipping from EUR 25 order value
Introduction of dynamic shipping cost calculation (2021):
Shipping costs are calculated individually based on order value, country of delivery and weight of products ordered.
- Significant reduction in shipping costs per order
- Increase in customer satisfaction with shipping costs
- Slight increase in the conversion rate


Original shipping threshold: Free shipping from an order value of EUR 50
Introduction of paid shipping for all orders (2023):
- EUR 4.95 shipping costs for all orders
- Introduction of optional premium shipping for EUR 9.95 with additional services (e.g. next-day delivery, returns without label)
- Significant increase in the profitability of the online store
- Slight decrease in orders
- Increase in customer satisfaction with premium shipping

To summarize, changing the shipping threshold can have a significant impact on an online store's sales. Companies should carefully consider the impact of such a change, taking into account various factors such as the target audience, product portfolio and competitive landscape.

Test shipping cost threshold- technical implementation

The exact requirements in online retail naturally vary from system to system - in principle, you should recognize yourself in the following checklist and work through the relevant points for your store:


1. Configuration:

- System for managing shipping rules
- Definition of rules based on order value, country of delivery, product category, customer segment, time
- Integration with the merchandise management system (WMS)

2. Front-End:

- Dynamic display of shipping costs
- Transparent communication during the purchasing process
- Optional alternative shipping options

3. Implementation:

- Customization of database, application software and front-end templates
- Ensuring cleanliness, efficiency and scalability

4. Tests and optimization:

- Thorough testing after implementation
- Analysis of the effects on purchasing behavior and conversion rates
- Optimization as needed

By implementing flexible shipping thresholds and using dynamic customization options, you can use your e-commerce platform to achieve your e-commerce marketing goals more effectively, increase profitability and improve customer satisfaction.

Marketing strtegies to promote the shipping cost threshold

The decision has been made on how to deal with the marketing threshold - but how can you position the new values, conditions - and above all: offers - around your new low shipping costs? The following tools and methods will put your VSK in the best light:

1. E-Mail-Marketing

Targeted segmentation: Send targeted emails to customers who have already purchased close to the shipping cost threshold to encourage them to buy items for a few euros more.
Upsell and cross-sell recommendations:
In your email campaigns, you can make recommendations for complementary products that customers can purchase to reach the free shipping threshold.
Countdown reminders:
Remind customers via email how much they still need to spend to reach the delivery threshold for free shipping.

2. On-Site-Banner

Homepage banners: Place clearly visible banners on the homepage that inform your customers about the shipping threshold, such as “Free shipping from 50 EUR”.
Product page notes:
Add shipping information to product pages to show customers how much they need to spend to get free shipping.
Sticky banner:
Use a fixed banner that remains visible during scrolling and constantly communicates the threshold message.

3. Checkout-Promotions

Upsell notifications in the shopping cart: Notify customers in the shopping cart or at checkout about the amount they are still missing to receive free shipping.
Product suggestions:
Offer customers additional products to increase the cart value so that they reach the free shipping threshold.
Countdown display:
Show a countdown display that illustrates to the customer how much they still need to spend to receive free shipping.


Social media ads: Create targeted ads aimed at users who have abandoned the checkout and remind them how close they were to free shipping.
Retargeting banners:
Use banner ads that point out the remaining amounts and bring customers back to the website.

You should keep an eye on these KPIs when adjusting the shipping cost threshold

As an entrepreneur, you've decided what changes you want to make and you know which measurement tools to use. But where exactly are the figures that tell you whether you have turned the delivery threshold for free shipping the right way round and can expect your sales to go up? You should keep a close eye on the following values:


Analyze the AOV: Observe how the average order value changes before and after the introduction or adjustment of the shipping threshold. An effective threshold should ideally lead to a higher AOV as customers add more products to achieve free shipping.
Product mix:
Investigate whether the product mix has changed, with customers buying higher value or more products.


Repurchase rates: Measures whether customers who have made a purchase due to the delivery threshold are more likely to return. An effective delivery threshold could lead to increased customer loyalty, which could also increase sales.
Long-term commitment:
Assesses whether the threshold influences long-term customer loyalty and commitment.

3. Konversionrate

Purchase completion rate: Checks whether the conversion rate has improved since the introduction of the shipping threshold. A lower checkout abandonment rate can be an indicator that customers find the threshold valuable.
Analyze by segment:
Segment the data by different customer groups to understand which segments are most impacted by the shipping threshold.


Customer surveys: Conducts regular surveys to find out directly from customers how they perceive the shipping threshold and how satisfied they are with the purchasing process.
Net Promoter Score (NPS):
Uses the NPS to measure the extent to which the shipping threshold influences the likelihood that customers will recommend the company to others.
Complaints and feedback:
Monitors the customer service team for complaints or feedback specifically related to shipping costs or the threshold.

5. Web-Analytics

Bounce rate and exits on the shopping cart page: Checks whether the bounce/exit rate on the shopping cart page has decreased, which could indicate that fewer customers are abandoning the purchase process due to shipping costs.
Average page views per visit:
Measures whether customers are visiting more pages or staying on the site longer to reach the threshold.

By regularly measuring and analyzing these indicators, you can not only understand the immediate impact of your shipping threshold, but also gain insight into where you can improve effectiveness.

Future of the shipping cost threshold

The future of the shipping threshold for the entire online retail industry lies in individualization and flexibility. Instead of using rigid thresholds that must be exceeded, we can expect companies to increasingly implement dynamic models that are tailored to the individual needs and preferences of each customer as well as external factors such as time, place and circumstances.



AI algorithms can analyze huge amounts of data to calculate individual shipping costs for each customer and each order.
Factors such as purchase history, customer segment, order value, delivery address and product category can be taken into account.
Dynamic price adjustments in real time are possible in order to react to current market conditions, stock levels and competitive behavior.


Customers receive personalized offers for free shipping or reduced shipping costs based on their purchasing behavior and preferences.
Loyalty programs and subscription models can provide additional benefits for customers who order frequently.
Shipping costs can be used as part of targeted marketing campaigns and promotions.


Shipping costs can vary by several euros depending on the time of day, day of the week or season.
Urgent orders may be associated with higher shipping costs, while customers with longer delivery times will see the threshold exceeded earlier.
Shipping costs can be adjusted to local conditions such as distance, infrastructure and delivery capacity.


Customers can be rewarded with lower shipping costs for environmentally friendly delivery options, e.g. low-emission delivery services or reusable packaging.
Transparent communication of the carbon footprint of the various shipping options can help customers in their decision-making process.


The use of packing stations, pick-up stations or same-day delivery services can increase flexibility and convenience for customers, as can be seen not only at amazon.
Alternative delivery methods such as drones or autonomous vehicles could become increasingly important in the future.


Implementing complex pricing models requires advanced technology and data security. Transparent communication and clear explanation of pricing are essential to gain customer trust. Avoiding discrimination and unfair pricing practices is important:
In Germany, the Equal Treatment Act (AGG) enforces, among other things, that Personalized Pricing must not lead to unfair discrimination against certain customer groups. the Price Indication Ordinance (PAV) regulates the pricing of goods and services in Germany including detailed requirements for transparency on prices, taxes such as VAT, including shipping costs of course, and on the explanation of price differentiation. In accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), explicit consent must be given for the processing of personal data in order to analyze purchasing behavior and customer preferences.


In summary, the shipping threshold is a crucial tool for e-commerce entrepreneurs to increase customer satisfaction and influence buying behavior in terms of increasing sales and more items. You don't have to be Amazon to make a few extra euros with a good free threshold strategy. A well-considered threshold, crossed at a smart point, can increase the average order value euro for euro by motivating customers to buy more products to get free shipping.
Determining the optimal shipping threshold requires a thorough analysis of average order value, shipping costs, the competitive landscape and customer behavior. Psychological effects such as anchor effect and loss avoidance play a crucial role in how customers perceive and react to the shipping threshold.
Case studies show that flexible and dynamic approaches to pricing, seasonal adjustments and continuous monitoring are key to maximizing the success of the shipping threshold. Companies that take these factors into account and use innovative, personalized approaches can significantly increase customer satisfaction and profitability. 

The future of the shipping threshold in online retail will be characterized by AI-driven, contextual and sustainable models that can be flexibly adapted to customer preferences and market conditions.