Rolling out free shipping at Pololu

Posted by Jan on 26 October 2017

Everyone wants free shipping, right? Well, today I am happy to announce an important step in bringing free shipping to Pololu, at least for our US customers. We are beginning to offer free shipping in these two senses:

Free shipping within the United States

Some items are eligible for free shipping within the United States. If your shopping cart consists only of items eligible for free shipping, you will be presented with a “Free Shipping” shipping option during checkout. Free shipping will be shipped by a carrier and service we select, which will typically be the lowest-cost, slowest service. Currently, that would likely be First-Class Mail through the US Post Office or a ground service by FedEx, depending on the contents of the order.

Free add-on shipping within the United States

Some items are eligible for free add-on shipping for orders within the United States. These are typically very light items that should not significantly impact our shipping cost, and we pass on those savings to you. No additional shipping will be charged for these items, independent of your shipping method. Orders that consist only of free add-on shipping items will cost the minimum shipping cost for each service as the item sizes and weights will not be added to the shipping cost calculation. Orders with at least one free shipping item and the rest free add-on shipping items will have a free shipping option.

Because items with free add-on shipping will not be considered in the calculation, it is possible for the shipping method you select to be invalid because the package exceeds the limit for that method. In such cases, we will substitute a similar shipping method. For example, if you pay for First-Class Mail as your shipping method but your order actually ends up weighing more than the limit for First Class Mail, we would ship by Priority Mail.

By controlling these two aspects of free shipping on an individual product level, we can really offer free shipping, without raising prices. We are rolling this feature out with a few items we would like to promote:

Products initially eligible for free shipping and free add-on shipping:

Pololu Dual VNH5019 Motor Driver Shield for Arduino

Tic T825 USB Multi-Interface Stepper Motor Controller (Connectors Soldered)

Tic T825 USB Multi-Interface Stepper Motor Controller

Products initially eligible for free shipping only:

Zumo 32U4 Robot (Assembled with 50:1 HP Motors)

Zumo 32U4 Robot (Assembled with 75:1 HP Motors)

Zumo 32U4 Robot (Assembled with 100:1 HP Motors)

Products initially eligible for free add-on shipping only:

A-Star 32U4 Micro

A-Star 32U4 Mini ULV

A-Star 32U4 Mini LV

A-Star 32U4 Mini 2V

VL53L0X Time-of-Flight Distance Sensor Carrier with Voltage Regulator, 200cm Max

VL6180X Time-of-Flight Distance Sensor Carrier with Voltage Regulator, 60cm Max

As we work on our system and monitor the results with these initial products, my goal is to make free shipping, or at least incrementally free shipping, available for more and more of our products. We still do not have a solution for those of you who write us angry emails about the ridiculousness of our charging $3.95 to ship a $2 part (and yes, I am aware of 39-cent listings with free shipping on AliExpress; for now, we cannot compete with them on price alone). But rest assured that since shipping is one of our biggest expenses, we will continue to work hard on keeping that cost as low as we can.

If you see a product that you feel should qualify for free shipping or free add-on shipping but does not, please contact us, and we can evaluate the product’s eligibility. I would also like to hear what you think of this approach and whether you expect it will be helpful to you.

Update (31 October 2017): We are now offering lots more free shipping.

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