What Online Retailers Should Know about Free Shipping Day
By Ina Steiner
While brick-and-mortar retail stores can capture procrastinating holiday shoppers right through Christmas Eve, online sellers face delivery deadlines. That's why in 2008, Luke Knowles founded Free Shipping Day, to entice last minute gift-givers who wanted guarantees that their packages would arrive in mail-boxes in time to be wrapped and placed under the tree.
This year's Free Shipping Day falls on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. The website FreeShippingDay.com allows consumers to order online and take advantage of free-shipping offers. Any size seller can participate as long as they guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.
Knowles, who also founded FreeShipping.org, said 202 eBay stores, 347 Etsy sellers, and 160 Bonanza sellers participated in FreeShippingDay.com last year, and there were almost 14,000 clicks through to eBay from FreeShippingDay.com on December 16, 2011.
For merchants requiring a minimum purchase in order for consumers to receive free shipping, Knowles has advised they consider making that minimum about $10 to $20 more than their average purchase amount to try to get people to spend more with them.
There are a few changes this year, Knowles shared information about this year's Free Shipping Day.
EcommerceBytes: Can you talk at all about how smaller retailers, online sellers and marketplace sellers did on last year's Free Shipping Day?
Luke Knowles: Overall sales on Free Shipping Day increased 14 percent over (the previous) year, to $1.07 billion, according to comScore. While stores do not tell us their personal share of the earnings, one big-name retailer did tell us they performed better on Free Shipping Day than on Cyber Monday. We assume small businesses benefited from the overall increase in sales on Free Shipping Day as well.
What should online sellers know for this year?
Luke Knowles: Small businesses should promote their participation in Free Shipping Day to their customers, much like big businesses do. Reminders on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter coupled with email updates will help build awareness for the event, plus create buzz for the store's offer.
While Free Shipping Day gets great media attention from top outlets leading up to the event, small businesses can help drive traffic to their site and increase sales by taking a proactive role in promoting their participation.
For the first time in the event's history, Free Shipping Day is scheduled on a Monday, the top online shopping day of the week. We've been nipping at the heels of Cyber Monday's online sales for the past two years, and this year we're well-positioned to take the title of top online shopping day in 2012. As a result, we're looking for quality over quantity this year when it comes to stores and offers.
A small business with a low-quality website and only a few items to sell will likely not make it onto FreeShippingDay.com. We'd like to see more offers that provide free shipping on all orders plus additional discounts, since it's these offers that shoppers respond best to.
This year, merchants can select the category in which their company should be placed. In previous years, our site managers selected the category based on the store/product description.
How much does it cost to participate?
Luke Knowles: There is no cost to participate in Free Shipping Day. We require stores to provide some form of free shipping with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve for orders placed on Monday, Dec. 17.
The FreeShippingDay.com website is collecting email addresses promising to send an email reminder on Free Shipping Day. What is included in the email reminder that goes out on Free Shipping Day, will there be advertisements?
Luke Knowles: The email reminder simply includes a notice that "today is Free Shipping Day" and a link to FreeShippingDay.com. There are no advertisements included in the email.
Merchants can sign up on the FreeShippingDay.com website.
About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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