By: Andrew Roach May 03, 2017 Topic: How to Start a Business

Entrepreneurs across the globe are taking advantage of a new niche of ecommerce known as ‘free plus shipping’. The free plus shipping method can be very lucrative for businesses, and it’s a great way to sell high-quality products to your customers at an affordable price point.

We’ve created this article to guide you through everything that you’ll need to know about free plus shipping businesses. At the end of this article you’ll be well equipped to start your own ecommerce store using the free plus shipping business method, and you’ll be ready to start generating profit today.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Free Plus Shipping Business?

free plus shipping

A free plus shipping business is an ecommerce store which sells products for $0.00, and only charges customers the shipping fees.

You may be asking yourself: ‘Wait, how can you make any money from this business model?

Ecommerce entrepreneurs who are running their store with a free plus shipping business model generate profit by inflating their shipping prices. This is done to cover the cost of the product which they’re selling.

If a regular ecommerce store is going to sell a product for $5, they will likely add an additional $2.50 for shipping. On the other hand, a free plus shipping store will simply sell the product for free, but increase the shipping fees to $7.50. This means that both ecommerce businesses generated $7.50 in revenue.

As you can see, the free plus shipping method is a clever tactic which ecommerce entrepreneurs can use to add instant appeal to their products, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like free stuff?

Why Should I Start a Free Plus Shipping Business?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an ecommerce veteran, or if you’re just starting your ecommerce journey, the free plus shipping business model is a great way to run your store. It’s relatively simple to set up a free plus shipping store, and when it’s up and running you’ll be able to select a wide variety of products to add to your store.

Your customers will be delighted by the prospect of free products, especially if they’re interested in them, which will make paying for the shipping fees seem like a bargain.

What Can I Sell With My Free Plus Shipping Business?

When you’re starting your own free plus shipping business you’ll need to take some time to consider which products you’ll be selling. As you’ll be relying on your shipping fees to generate profit, you’ll need to find the perfect price point for the products which you source. This does bring some limitations to the products which you can choose for your store’s inventory.

If you decide to source cheap products for your free plus shipping store then you’ll make a smaller profit margin when you actually make a sale. On the other hand, customers may be wary about paying large shipping fees to cover the cost of the more expensive products in your store. As an example, some of your customers may be skeptical if you’re offering high-value electronic goods, like a camera, for free, and you’re then charging $50 for shipping.

In light of this, we recommend that you stick to sourcing products which range from $4-$10 when you’re deciding on the inventory of your free plus shipping store. When you source products in this price range you’ll still receive a large profit margin, which is great for your ecommerce business.

How Can I Start a Free Plus Shipping Business?

free plus shipping

If you’re looking to start your own free plus shipping business then we’d recommend that you create your store using Shopify. Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms, and is already trusted by thousands of ecommerce entrepreneurs from all over the globe. Their tool is simple to use, and Shopify will provide you with helpful tips and guides during the store creation process.

Shopify’s platform is perfect for businesses at all growth stages. It doesn’t matter if you’re making 1000 sales per day, or if you’ve just started your store, Shopify is tailored to make life easier for you as an entrepreneur.

We’ve created an in-depth guide which shows you how you can create and launch your own Shopify store in less than 30 minutes, check it out here.

Running a Free Plus Shipping Business With Dropshipping

When you’re running a free plus shipping business it’s critical that you ensure your profit margins are as large as possible. As you’ll be relying on shipping fees to make your profits, you’ll need to be careful with the resources that you spend to run your ecommerce business. One of the biggest worries for ecommerce entrepreneurs is managing their store’s inventory, especially if they’re running their business on a budget. It’s likely that they’ll need to spend some of their valuable resources on storage space, which takes up funds that could have been spent trying to make more sales.  

We believe that the easiest and most cost efficient way to run your free plus shipping store is to take advantage of dropshipping. Dropshipping will allow you to sell products from your ecommerce store without ever carrying any inventory. Instead, when you receive an order you’ll simply contact the supplier, who will then ship their product directly from their warehouse to your customer’s door. Dropshipping is perfect for ecommerce entrepreneurs who don’t want to be tied down by their store’s inventory, and it can help you achieve the entrepreneurial life you’ve always dreamt of.  

Oberlo is the leading platform for dropshipping. Our tool is available on Shopify’s App Store, which means that you’ll be able to incorporate dropshipping to your store with ease. Simply install Oberlo’s app onto your existing free plus shipping store and you’ll be able to dropship the same day.

When you use Oberlo you’ll have access to a wide range of products which you’ll be able to add to your store with just a few clicks. Our tool makes it even easier to be successful with your free plus shipping business–you’ll never need to carry any inventory, and you’ll be able to focus on making sales.  

Marketing Your Free Plus Shipping Business

It’s unlikely that you’ll generate a huge volume of traffic to your store from the day you launch, so you’ll need to create some marketing campaigns to draw potential customers to your store.

There are a variety of different marketing channels which ecommerce entrepreneurs can use to grow their store. If you select marketing channels which have a quick feedback loop, like Facebook advertising, or Google Adwords, you’ll be able to review the results of your marketing campaigns quickly. Receiving the results of your campaigns quickly will help you understand what you need to improve, and which marketing channels you need to focus on. If you see that you receive much better results with Facebook marketing then focus your efforts and budgets onto this channel. If Google Adwords provide more successful results then you can focus on these campaigns. Be fluid with your decisions and make decisions which have been informed by your data.

Take a look through the different marketing channels which are at your disposal as an ecommerce entrepreneur, and think about how you can maximize the amount of traffic you generate. Remember to keep testing, as you’ll soon find out which marketing strategies work best for your business. There isn’t an exact method for success with marketing–you’ll need to find what works best for your business through as you work.

Start Your Free Plus Shipping Business Today

Now you know everything you need to start your own free plus shipping business–congratulations! You’re ready to start making sales and generating revenue.

We just have one last piece of advice for you–remember to try out a variety of different products in your niche. One of the best things about dropshipping is that you’ll never need to worry about changing your inventory, as you can change products in just a few clicks. Find out which products resonate with your audience, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

We know you’ll make a successful free plus shipping store!

Want to learn more?

If you’ve got any further questions for us about starting a free plus shipping business on Shopify then let us know in the comments section.

  • Herman Lawrence

    Thanks that’s an interesting concept. Will be trying it out.

  • Ro Herbert

    Good day! I am ready to sign up for the free shipping opportunity. Please inform me of how to get started.

  • Andrius Šlimas

    Hi Ro. Check out this link to get started with your own store: https://www.oberlo.com/blog/how-i-launched-my-ecommerce-store-in-less-than-30-minutes/

    It takes less than 30 minutes!

  • Optimuma.com

    Hi there, Thanks for the article. I didnt see you mention how to make an item price as “FREE” but make that particular items shipping for example $10. If i want different items with different prices, how do I adjust the shipping to a price I want and mark the item as “free”. I dont see any option to adjust shipping cost individually.. Thanks – http://www.optimuma.com

  • Lee McClelland

    Say it’s Free+$9.99 shipping.
    As soon as the customer adds Qty=3 for an item. Either your business is blown or the trust is if freight is $9.99×3. Ouch.

    But if the item was $9.99 and delivery is Free.
    Then the more they buy.
    Eg 3 x $9.99 items free delivery.
    You are better off as you save on the comined freight. And the customer doesn’t love you any less.
    Winner winner chicken dinner.

  • Mike Myers

    Great, encourage more flooding of products out of China at rock bottom prices, I’m thrilled.
    Since its cutting margins to the bare bone, it’s the Chinese suppliers/manufacturers that will benefit from this, the rest will go under from Shopify and advertising expenses.

  • Richard Harris

    Exactly my thoughts also. I have started offering free delivery on all of my items. It makes everything much easier to manage.

  • Damijan Perhavec

    Same problem. Can you guide us, how to set FREE + shipping cost in this case as you mention. I can not find auto system in oberlo.

  • Ottobroeker. com

    I have read about this before, to me it seems meaningsless to do those changes, prices are the same and most customers will notice that and many will be aware of the fact that I’ve increased my shipping price.
    If I as a customer noticed something like that then I would be annoyed!
    I would know that the whole free product thing is a joke, I’m not saving any money even though the seller is trying to make me think I am = manipulation. Manipulation of customers happens all the time but they are not supposed to be aware of it because a customer who feels manipulated is not a happy customer.
    All in all it seems like a lot of work and time without making more sales to anyone but those who falls for the trick.

  • Hello Andrew! Good article!
    What SHIPPING APP do one uses to run their Free + Plus Shipping business? Which is the very best shipping app on Shopify to use?

  • Kevin Barnes

    The BETTER SHIPPING app is the best for this biz model. http://www.TwistyBlunt.co?

  • Alejandra Kauffman

    If you are running your store through Shopify put the product price as $0 and in your settings adjust the shipping rates I do mine by weight for Free+shipping items

  • Alex Todorov

    Thats the problem I have. I have multiply items that are the same weight but different designs and feautures thus making each product different in price. So it wouldnt for for seperate items? Your store has to have identical items at same prices for this tactic to work? Thats my guess.

  • Jeremiah Brown

    That will absolutely happen if you don’t chose the right products (i.e. You would need to find a product that would only cost you about $1-$2 for e.g. And then charge something like $5. This gives you an awesome profit margin. If you have chosen a great product, something people will want, and do your homework before advertising so that you are putting your ads in front of the right people, the only way you won’t make a lot of money is if you didn’t do one of the steps above correctly. So, in this example, china gets $1 while you get $4. Let’s say we set aside $1 from every sale for ads and shopify fees and make 100 sales (something this cheap with free on the label should fly off the shelves so to say) you would then paid China $100… have $100 to spend on Ads… and then the rest would be profit. If you don’t or can’t manage your business finances like a real business… this model just won’t work. Hope this clarifies a little bit and helped a few peeps along the way.

  • Saviour

    I already have a free shipping page in my shopify store. Can I make a new page IN THE SAME store where my pricing rules for the free shipping do not apply and instead the pricing rule will be FREE+SHIPPING?

  • Susannah Bacon

    Is a great idea – pity that the article is basically “Wow great idea” not “to do this with Oberlo do this then this then this” That would be much more useful!

  • A Caoile

    I’ve been using Oberlo for awhile now and drop shipping but never tried “free+shipping” what is the best way to do it without affecting my current regular priced product that I offer free shipping? It just seems really complicated to mess with the weights… especially if I have around 300 items with different variants. Is there an app to use or a simpler way to do free+shipping?


    This seems like the biggest the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. And it’s not new. BOGO only pay the extra shipping has been going on for years. Shame Shame Shame

  • Global Exchain

    Found your blog. Its really nice on courier. I appreciate your article. Its important to get quality courier services. So thanks for sharing all that important information.

  • hasanah sin

    I feel the same too. The system does sound more like manipulating the customers. Is this the only way to succeed doing drop shipping this days? To me this is unethical its not really free, you just make it sound like its free. The fact that the actual shipping rate is 2.50, you marked it up to profit it. So, basically you are selling the shipping rate (after all, it’s not fulfilled by you, but by the dropshipper)!

  • Global Exchain

    Found your blog. Its really nice on courier. I appreciate your article. Its important to get quality courier services. So thanks for sharing all that important information.

  • Harprit Singh Virdee

    I am into free plus shipping and i cannot seem to make it work.
    How much is best to charge for shipping when i am shipping to uk ??

  • Andrew Roach

    Hey Harprit,

    This depends on how much your items cost to source.

    If you’re sourcing products for $2, it could work if you sell them for free and charge $5 / $6 for shipping. But this is just an example. Feel free to try it out for yourself.

    Hope this helps!

  • I enjoyed reading it.

  • Andrew Roach

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Vivian Muse

    If America businesses owners wasn’t so greedy then maybe we wouldn’t have to go to China

  • MalikaBourne

    However, my target market wants “fast food ” with all the extra service and a toy and I’m more than happy to provide that. So I decided to not drop ship.
    My customers are young families needing to know that the products are safe for the kids. I guarantee personal service inspecting and hand packing each order…that’s the way I have always done business and want to continue.
    With drop shipping, which would be an amazing deal for me as a merchant, but a potential night mare when kids products do not meet US safety standards. Yes, customers want FREE, who doesn’t? But, it doesn’t take long for folks to understand the old saying, “If some offers you a diamond ring for 10 cents, chances are it is only worth a dime.”

    Then, I have concerns over the issues in the Orient with the northern potentate and our elected leader. There can be an embargo with China…then what? Boats are sitting in the Pacific Ocean with packages addressed to Americans who wanted “cheap”.
    Sorry to burst a bubble and I could be wrong, but I think potential entrepenuer really need to consider all possibilites that could affect their targeted niche. I did find the article facinating.

  • Vivian Muse

    Hi, I am new to drop shipping I see that you asked your question over four months ago so I need to know how have the free plus shipping have worked for you.

  • Vivian Muse

    I’m going to try this and hope I get some informed buyers I feel like I am getting a really good deal on the products.Inforned buyers will always compare prices and then make there decision to buy if not they can alway go to Walmart or some other brick-and motar stores where they think they are getting a good deal because they are told this is on sale or you can get it with free shipping after they added shipping to the price.

  • Richard B Evans

    The next gimmicky step in the dumbing down of the global customer base has arrived. As if free shipping is not stupid enough to pass off as a actually free. We now we have free products with a jacked up shipping fee? As if any half wit cannot figure this out? I weep for the future.
    I could not offer this in my business, it is an insult to human intellect.

  • Richard B Evans

    How about we set up a system where people pay the actual shipping costs? Let them select sellers within their own area for fast shipping. If something costs $2.61 to ship first class charge that. If they want it priority, charge that. This would allow us to build into the cost of goods a consistent profit margin without playing the on time delivery game, which we do not control and the guessing game of how much it will cost to ship across the country.
    Ebay has this system. Why are we not using it?
    The item weighs 1 lb. it cost XX to ship it First class or XX to ship priority.
    It weighs 10 lbs, here are the other options…
    This is what we need.
    KISS! Keep it simple stupid!

  • Jenny Van de Poel

    It’s an option that can work, but it’s basically unethical. If Oberlo wants to be a trusted authority on these matters, Oberlo should not encourage this approach. Look at all the photographs of earnest, hopeful entrepreneurs sitting at their laptops, presumably learning how, in good faith, to trick the unwary out of their money. It just looks kinda shabby, guys.

  • Malick

    Probably have to create a new section that offers free stuff on your website or create a new website that give free stuff.

  • Benjamin Kaleblevi

    So what’s the real value of something? Anything?
    The real value is what someone is willing to pay for something, combined with what you (the seller) are willing to sell it for.
    Free plus shipping?
    Proof is in the pudding; …..it has worked, it can work, it does work…
    ? Question really is — how are You going to use it…. or are you just going to rant off with stupid negatives like some post below?
    Good article, keep up the good work , bkl

  • Last year I tried this model by using the Better Shipping app. At the time that app was so complicated and with no “support” from the company on how to properly use it, I cancelled my subscription and haven’t tried it since.

  • Vivian Muse

    Thanks,I’m not going to give up on Oberlo & Shopify I will put in more work and see what happen.