Sales might be down, but PulseTV.com’s profit is strong, says CEO Jaffer Ali. And that’s just fine for Ali.

For years, Ali has stuck to his principle—make money. And that means making money on each sale, regardless of shopper demands. Therefore, since the mass merchant’s 1996 launch, PulseTV has not offered free shipping.

This is almost unheard of in the era of Amazon.com Inc., which has conditioned shoppers to expect 1-day free shipping. Retailers have followed suit, offering free shipping in one flavor or another. Among the 2019 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 retailers, 65.4% offer some level of free shipping, such as with a minimum threshold or if they join a loyalty program.

But not PulseTV. If shoppers want one of the retailer’s often deeply discounted products, they may have to shell out more than the product’s cost to receive it.

And so, the No. 1 complaint PulseTV receives is that it charges shipping and handling, Ali says. He hears his shoppers, but he also observers what they do: “If you analyze the number, you’re going to see people will complain, and then still order,” Ali says.

PulseTV.com knows that not offering free shipping hurts its conversion rate; however, Ali estimates that it only impacts 20% of its site visitors.

“Maybe 20% will not buy because of shipping and handling charges,” Ali says, “But are you going to build the business around 20% that will not buy, or the 80% that will buy and bite the bullet?”

By sticking to this principle, among others, PulseTV has been profitable since 2012.

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