Retailers know that free shipping is one of the most effective ways to entice shoppers to buy during the crucial Christmas season.
This year online retailers are paying more to ship goods to consumers, and many shoppers want to pay little or nothing for shipping.
shop.org’s 2008 Holiday Strategy & Planning Guide reports that according to consumers the top two promotions that made them shop in 2007 were free shipping offers:
#1 response “Free Standard Shipping without Conditions” 33%
#2 “Free Standard Shipping with Conditions” 28%
In the same study, the retailers response to what promotions were most likely to drive a purchase was again, free shipping
#1 response “Free Standard Shipping with Conditions” 36%
#2 “Free Standard Shipping without Conditions” 25%
This year may be the most competitive holiday season yet.
In order to help you navigate the choppy waters, we’ll be offering a few free tools to help you keep on top of competitors. The first is the “free shipping index”.
We partnered with the e-tailing group to track their e-tailing 100 sites. Each week we'll look at this representative sample of internet retailers for trends in shipping promotions as they happen.
This week only 6 merchants offered unconditional free shipping (i.e., free shipping with no basket threshold or product restrictions) while 27 offered free shipping if you spent above a certain threshold.
This was largely unchanged from the prior week when 4 merchants offered unconditional free shipping.
Three retailers introduced free shipping this week (Nine West, GNC and Road Runner Sports) while one dropped their free shipping promotion (Tiffany). Three that continued to offer free shipping were Zappos, Blue Nile and Famous Footwear.
In addition, 3 merchants reduced their thresholds for free shipping week-over-week.
Best Buy went the other direction, raising it's threshold from $99 to $199 while Circuit City kept their threshold at $24.
Several are experimenting with ~$1 shipping. Overstock offers $1 shipping on all products, while Walmart offers 97 cent shipping on apparel & toys.
Finally, if you are going to offer free shipping this season - don't hide it. Don't do like Fossil and hide it in gray text below the fold.