Using Free Shipping to Convince Someone to Pay $430.27 for Plastic Toys

Lotus Elise

About four years ago I was really into this game called Warhammer 40k. You collect miniature soldiers which you build, paint, and eventually assemble on the battle field for a battle against a friend. There's a company in that space that creates incredible detailed and customized miniatures. They're very prestigious and also incredibly expensive. It's hard to explain to someone not in the hobby but basically this company, Forge World, they're not a Ford Focus; they're the Lamborghini.

The miniatures by themselves are already cost prohibitive not even including the fact that the store is based in the UK and it's a pretty penny to get something shipping from the UK to Wisconsin. So how did they do it? They had an excellent marketing plan combined with a good incentive (free shipping).

Excellent Newsletter Marketing

One of the most effective tools for marketing is your newsletter. It isn't a short social media post that gets lost in the chaos. It's a full HTML email that gets shot straight into someone's email inbox. There's nothing more direct than that.

Each month Forge World would send out pictures of their new products and they'd encourage me to click through to the site to see more details. Each time I did this I became more and more convinced that if I wanted quality miniatures that Forge World was the only company that could handle my needs. When I got a newsletter that talked about minis a friend might be interested in I would send them the email and we discussed how cool they would look in their army.

Forge World's marketing kept them top of mind and due to the very social nature of the game we talked about their minis all the time.

An Incentive – Free Shipping

The incentive was easy. If you hit a minimum order amount they'll throw in free shipping. Coming all the way from the UK that's a pretty big incentive. Not to mention you'll also get their “Express service” which sounds fancy even if they don't describe it at all.

Any order totaling £250.00 [Patrick: that's 427.04 USD] or more receive free shipping and a free upgrade to our Express service. This offer applies to any order to any country in the world.

Price Anchoring with Free Shipping

If someone's expecting to pay $200 for a product + $50 for shipping they might think it's expensive. What happens if you then tell that person you'll take out shipping? Well, due to a concept call price anchoring it seems cheaper even if the $200 is still expensive. That's exactly what happened here.

After a little prompting from their newsletter I thought it would be a good idea to go in with a couple friends to hit the magical £250 to get free shipping. They sold me so well that I ended up selling my friends and making them more money by getting people that were on the fence onto the paying customer side.


One of my Forge World minis. He stands about 3 inches tall.

How Effective Is This?

Forge World sold what was probably no more than $10 worth of plastic for $427. And they did it without cheapening their brand. All they did was make the user (me) feel like they were getting a deal. In the end the user was still paying for crazy expensive miniatures that had more than enough margin to cover the shipping costs. I wanted the deal so much that I convinced some friends to get in on the order increasing the total far above my original total.

Does this work for every industry – no of course not. But if you're asking me if you should experiment with slightly more expensive products and offering free shipping with a minimum order then I say hell yes. And please let me know how it works out in the comments.

Photo Credit: The Pug Father

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