The Psychology of Free Shipping - Deepstash
The Psychology of Free Shipping

The Psychology of Free Shipping


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The Psychology of Free Shipping

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Free Shipping: Shopper Psychology

A study done on online shopping behaviour showed that 70 percent of the shoppers abandon their shopping basket, leaving the app/website. The main reason for this behaviour is the unexpected costs, especially the shipping fee, which many buyers see as a sunk cost.**

Free shipping, something expected by many customers during online purchasing, works even if the cost is added to the product, due to a psychological trait of shoppers, who are made to feel as if they have got something extra.


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Framing is a bias-inducing technique that seems to tilt buyer preferences by providing the same information in different ways. It makes people see the same data in such a way that it affects their choices.

Example: A $10 watch with $5 shipping charges may be a turn-off for buyers, but the same watch costing $15 with zero shipping charges, and FREE SHIPPING clearly labelled in bold, makes more people buy it, even though they are paying the same amount of money for the same watch.


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Often an extra choice is given to the buyer (looking at a set of options) to tilt the purchase in favour of a particular option. The decoy option is only there to shift the mindset, and is also called the asymmetrically dominated option.

The decoy effect changes the perception of the offer in the eyes of the buyer.


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The famous Economist subscription study showed the following set of options:

  • Option A: Online subscription Only, $59
  • Option B: Print subscription Only, $125
  • Option C: Online and Print, $125
    Subscribers were selecting Option C a whopping 84 percent of the time, due to the dominated option B (the decoy), which cost the same as option C but offered less. With Option B removed, Option C was selected just 32 percent of the time.


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