We were disappointed when Asos ended its free shipping policy for U.S. customers in May, and that's putting it mildly. Customers had to spend at least $25 in order to qualify for free delivery. But sometime in the last month, Asos raised its minimum purchase price to $40. That a 160 percent increase, people.
Obviously, it is not uncommon to have to pay for shipping online. But one of the joys of the British fast fashion site was the ease with which you could order relatively cheap, trendy pieces without suffering any financial consequences for ordering and returning. Returns continue to be free, up to 28 days after receiving the order. When the $25 minimum was in place, shipping for orders below that mark cost $4. Now that fee is $6.
That may not seem like a lot of money, but it can be a deterrent for those who, say, only want to order a single pair of sandals, many of which are priced below $40, or a handful of inexpensive beauty products. In December, Asos reported a sales decline of 2 percent outside of its native UK, due to a strong pound that raised prices internationally. At that point, the company said it was working on a way to lower prices internationally. Raising the free shipping minimum is certainly one way to go about it -- the company spent $180 million on distribution last year, and it stands to make far less money (if not lose money altogether) on low-priced orders that are shipped and returned for free. At the same time, the retailer could now lose out to competitors that do offer free shipping and returns, or at least lower minimums, on the same products (like Amazon, Bloomingdale's and Shopbop, for example).
A request for comment from the company was not returned.
Update: Asos sent us the following statement on its new shipping policy.
ASOS has made some changes to the International free delivery service, detailed here. As we grow, we want to make sure we keep on giving the best service we can. We really want to carry on improving ASOS for you, and investing in the things that will make a difference. That’s why we’ve had to make this tweak on minimum spends. Many of our customer orders total at above the minimum spend and so the majority will not be affected.