The motivating four-letter word ‘Free’ gets attention from consumers no matter what it’s referring to. Whether they are ecstatic about free Wi-Fi, free product returns or even a free donut with a beverage. That free fried dough on National Donut Day drives people mad, so much so you’d think one would cost more than $1.25. There is just something about the term that gets the people going, but what is it?
Sure it’s enticing to get free stuff, but why is it the main driving factor in online purchases, and just overall shopping experiences? In Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, Duke Professor Dan Ariely delves into how rational our buying decisions really are.
“Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! We forget the downside. FREE! Gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is.” –Predictably Irrational
So what can a small business owner do to comply with this term consumers love so much without breaking the bank? Consider using these four ‘free’ marketing incentives to stay ahead of the competition.
If you have a brick and mortar store, not offering free customer Wi-Fi might be holding you back. Sure, you’re probably thinking it’s only effective for restaurants or doctors’ offices, but it can also benefit the SMB retailer.
When a customer logs onto your Wi-Fi, you can drive in coupons that may be close to expiring. Wi-Fi can also be tracked throughout your store
to monitor traffic flow and identify bottlenecks. Providing customer Wi-Fi also gives your business a competitive edge in eCommerce branding. Signing onto the network can help you directly engage with consumers through advertising, special offers and more. Getting your Wi-Fi network started is unfortunately not ‘free,’ and will require some costs and time, but it may be worth the effort. These aspects will vary depending on your business location.
Offering free product returns goes hand-in-hand with shipping, but there are a few more things to pay attention to. Since free shipping is the most incentivized buying pattern out there, you want to make sure all of your back-end operations are in order first. There are some beneficial rules and instructions every retailer would profit from before offering free shipping, like paying attention to your margins, customers and more.
Free Product Returns
When you are managing purchasing throughout the inventory process, offering free product returns can sometimes have a negative connotation. You might think you’ll lose sales this way, but if you understand some essential retail strategies before offering free product returns, you will be on your way to gaining more customers, increasing sales and honing in on customer satisfaction.
Managing product returns for your eCommerce business can be a cinch if you know what to look for and how to best streamline your inventory in the process.
Free Product Samples
Giving your customers the chance to try your products can be a great business tactic for quite a few reasons. Not only does it give your customer the chance to feel more confident in your products, but it gives you the opportunity to benefit from immediate sales thanks to the law of reciprocity.
It can give your customers a warm-fuzzy feeling knowing you would go out of your way to make sure they’re satisfied. You can even surprise customers by adding a free item to their purchase just as a simple thank you, not to mention the eCommerce product reviews you are likely to get from your efforts. Just be sure not to get to pushy in your marketing, as that will only create frustration among your customers. If you have a product of value, there should be nothing to worry about.
Whether you are starting up your small business website for the first time, or just getting into retail, utilizing these ‘free’ marketing approaches are worth looking into to benefit your business in the long run.