Shipping and handling can be a tool to increase profit margins and incentivize additional sales. Nobody wants to pay shipping costs; they're the bane of the online shopper, who sees them as nothing more but additional fees that provide no additional benefit. But these costs can be a positive element of your store in one of two ways:
- Shipping charges are shipping charges. There's no real way to get around them, although you can add a bit on top of the cost to build in a slight profit for yourself. Handling, however, is a bit more ambiguous, both in terms of what it costs and what it entails. For many small e-commerce stores, handling is little more than packing up a purchased product, putting an address label on it, and shipping it. How much does that cost in terms of time and effort? Hard to say, but how would any of your customers actually know? As long as you don't price it so high that it discourages people from buying anything, you can build in a nice additional profit for yourself.
- Because people tend to loathe these costs, you can use them to increase the total amount being spent. Simply promise to eliminate all shipping costs for purchases over a certain amount, and you'll encourage people to buy more. After all, if someone is buying an item for $20, and the threshold for no shipping costs is $30, it probably makes sense for the shopper to buy an additional item for $10 or more. Of course, the free-shipping offer should apply only to the least expensive shipping option (3–5 days, ground shipping, for example), and not the more expensive options, like overnight shipping.
However you handle it, shipping and handling is part of the e-commerce world. If you have to have it part of your site, you should do what you can to make it beneficial to you and your customers.