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The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story that details the ins and outs of the shipping game as played by retailers hoping to use it as a differentiating advantage, only to find that it can be dangerous to their bottom lines.

"Free shipping is a dangerous game for retailers," the Journal writes. "Customers expect it: 75% said whether they will pay for delivery 'greatly impacts' their decision to buy a product online, according to a June survey by AlixPartners, a consulting firm. The average minimum order that qualified for free shipping was $50 at the end of last year, according to Internet Retailer, a trade publication and information service.

"Someone still has to pay to pack your purchases and get them to your door. Reducing that cost by shipping orders in fewer, smaller boxes while getting bigger, more profitable orders will separate the winners from the losers online, analysts say."

And here's a basic fact - the profitability of an item, and an order, often depends on the packaging and the shipping. And you can read more about it here.
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