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4 Strategies to Save on Shipping

Guest post from Bernadine of Montebello Mom

Online shopping is wonderful, the convenience of shopping after the kids are tucked in and after I’ve had a shower is great for this working mom, but shipping costs can easily add $5 or more to a total, and that’s $5 I’m not willing to spend.

Here are the strategies I use to save on shipping at online retailers:

1. Search For Free Shipping Codes

Check RetailMeNot.com or do a quick Google search using the words “free shipping code” and the name of the online retailer. You’d be surprised how many places offer free shipping, but only if you have the code.

2. Meet Minimum Order Requirements

Fill your online shopping cart with enough merchandise to meet the minimum purchase requirements to qualify for free shipping. I sometimes will purchase a range of sizes to make sure my kids get the best fit and return the item that doesn’t fit well to the brick and mortar store for a refund.

3. Place the Order Through a Store

If an item is not in stock at the store, or if it is only available online, you can ask a store associate at the brick and mortar store to order it online for you. I’ve done this at Gymboree for swimsuits and at the Disney Store for princess attire. In both instances, the shipping fee was waived.

I’ve also just come right out and asked a store employee for a free online shipping code to order items that were not in stock at the store — and I got one!

4. Pick-Up In Store

When ordering online chose the “pick-up in store” or “ship-to-store option”. Usually you’ll have to go to customer service to pick up the item, or some stores have a special pick-up counter for online orders.

At Best Buy, I’ve used this option several times to guarantee that I get a copy of a video game or DVD at special limited time only pricing and not have to pay for shipping.

What are your favorite ways to save on online shipping costs?

Bernadine authors MontebelloMom.com, a free family-friendly events and bargains blog in the Los Angeles area. She is the official Blogger for the Shops at Montebello mall and an avid bargain hunter.

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18 Comments

  • Shannon says:

    Great tips! I was looking for the best price on a large Little Tikes toy a few months ago and Bed, Bath & Beyond had the best price. Their shipping though made it too high and I also wanted to use a physical 20% off coupon I had. So I went into the store, had them order it for me, and was able to get it shipped free to my home as well as use the 20% off coupon!

  • Kim says:

    Kohls offers free shipping if you order the item from the in-store kiosk (as long as its not an overly large item), and it goes right to your house!

  • Donna says:

    I had never heard of RetailMeNot! Thank you.

    I’ve needed to ship a few things to my son in the Navy across the country and found it to be MUCH cheaper to order it through Walmart or Amazon and them ship, rather than buy local and ship. (.97 from Walmart and as low as 3.99 from Amazon)

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Anny says:

    When I saw a FREE offering for SHOP Runner I signed up for a year for FREE. They all of a sudden offered it for a second for FREE again!

    I live in a rural area so running to the store is not an option to get items, so my AMAZON PRIME saves me more than just shipping, but also hundreds of dollars in mileage and even more important time. I have 3 kids with various disabilities and I don’t have to go anywhere and it comes to me.

    Sometimes instead of ordering on line, I call and they offer free shipping to get the order.

    • Crystal says:

      Yay for free shipping!

    • sona says:

      Amazon Prime also has some deal where you can have relatives as “guests” on your/their Prime. So could share the Prime cost or ride on the shirttail of a relative that already has it. My SIL has me on his….lots of savings.

    • Sarah Tiani says:

      We love our Amazon Prime. We were able to cancel our Netflix because they have even more on prime-plus free books on the Kindle, and no more meeting shipping minimums! I found I would buy things I didn’t need to meet the minimum, so it is worth it all the way around.

  • Rachel says:

    Great tips! I use them all regularly…I especially love RetailMeNot!! I also order things from the Kohl’s kiosk occasionally to get free shipping. 🙂

    • Rachel says:

      Oh yes, and my Amazon Prime membership is awesome too!! 🙂 It’s not free (unless you sign up for the Amazon Mom or Amazon Student programs…) but the $80 very quickly pays for itself in saved shippings costs!

    • Crystal says:

      I love RetailMeNot! I sometimes feel like their spokeswoman — and I don’t get a penny from them, they just save me so much money that I want to tell everyone to check them out! 🙂

  • Don’t forget Ebay! My store Peach State Pretties always offers Free Shipping , Free Tracking, & Make a Offer on all of my items. I sell a wide variety of items, with many being new, for a fraction of the price you’d pay retail. I also buy a lot of great items on Ebay for myself and family as well. Hope everyone has a wonderful day! Mrs.Clark

  • Emily says:

    I do a lot of online orders, and always try to get free shipping when possible, using pretty much all the same ideas here. However, when I do occasionally have to pay for shipping, I try not to worry about it. A small fee is worth it to me, because I can:

    1) shop at my convenience (which may also mean I can multi-task!)
    2) save on gas- its almost a 30 minute drive to the nearest bigger stores for me
    3) not have to drive from store to store to compare the best deal
    4) not have to try to focus on shopping with 3 small kids in tow

  • Amanda says:

    The best way I’ve found to reduce cost of shipping on places like EBay is simply to ask. If you’re buying multiple items, ask if shipping can be combined & reduced. I just bought my kids their Easter clothes from the same seller & asked since I was purchasing 6 items if they could further reduce their already “reduced” combine shipping charges & saved $16 additional dollars!

  • Kalyn Brooke says:

    It’s crazy how much shipping can be sometimes. However, I find that if I have a big purchase to make, it often qualifies for free shipping. We got all our wall and window trim online through Home Depot, and they shipped it free to our house!

  • Mel says:

    Lane Bryant gives free shipping when you order in store. If you see an item in the store, but they don’t have the size or color you want, the associates can order the item for you from the store and ship it to your home for FREE.

  • Amy says:

    If I want to order online, sometimes I order with a friend to get to the “free shipping minimum”, or order together to split shipping costs. Also, some stores (CJ Banks and Christopher and Banks, in particular) offer free shipping ALL THE TIME if you join their loyalty club (which is FREE to join). The free shipping combined with clearance sales ensures I can buy myself cute, high-quality clothing and accessories for a song!

  • Marie says:

    Retailmenot.com is AWESOME! I tell everyone about it. Recently, the accountant at church ,who’s wife is my friend, was ordering checks. She told him to check out retailmenot and it saved the church over $300!!!!
    If I am ordering from somewhere like snapfish, vista print, or christianbooks.com I will often call and ask about free shipping if there isn’t any at the time I’m buying. Many times they see that I’ve shopped before and they will offer it to me. It never hurts to ask.
    Also, as many have mentioned many stores will order it for you and have shipped for free or give you a free shipping code.
    I try to not pay shipping at all but it’s not always possible.

  • Marianne says:

    Um, doesn’t anyone else think that buying items in different items to meet the minimum for free shipping, all the while intending to return most of them, is unethical? Kind of disappointed in this one.

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