Friday is Free Shipping Day
Online holiday shopping is bigger than ever. Will the added perk of free shipping cause you to spend even more?
For those who feel compelled to buy gifts at this time of year but haven't finished -- or maybe started -- their shopping, Free Shipping Day adds the incentive of gifts arriving by Dec. 24 (though the website notes that "Merchant is responsible for delivery promise").
More than 2,300 stores have signed up to participate "so far," according to the Free Shipping Day website, which promises to post a full list of free offers at midnight EST. Listed merchants currently include Nordstrom, Best Buy and Toys R Us, in addition to dozens of eBay and Etsy stores.
Created by Internet entrepreneur Luke Knowles in 2008, Free Shipping Day started with just 250 merchants and grew to more than 1,750 in 2010. Last year, sales topped $942 million, according to the digital market research firm comScore.
Knowles' company, Kinoli Inc., made more than $100,000 in revenue from 2010's Free Shipping Day, according to Entrepreneur, which reported that Knowles is working on similar promotions in the U.K. and Canada. The company makes money by selling advertising on the site, and charges larger retailers a commission on each sale. Knowles also operates a website, FreeShipping.org, that lists free shipping offers year-round.
Knowles says Free Shipping Day is even more of a consumer powerhouse than Black Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.
When consumers are offered free shipping, 90% spend more, according to the Free Shipping Day website, and nearly half of them opt out of completing an order when they encounter high shipping fees.
Online shopping hits record highs
Black Friday 2011 online sales reached $816 million, up 26% from 2010, and Cyber Monday sales hit $1.25 billion, a 22% increase, according to comScore. The $942 million that retailers pulled in on Free Shipping Day last year was 61% more than the year before, comScore says. Post continues below.In fact, every Monday since Thanksgiving has been a big day for online shopping, with revenues topping $1 billion on the first and second Mondays in December, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The popularity of online shopping is also helping out the U.S. Postal Service as well as UPS and FedEx, with 2011 holiday deliveries forecast to be 10% to 20% higher than in previous years, Main Line Media News said. UPS predicts that it will deliver more than 120 million packages during the week before Christmas, and FedEx expects to handle more than 260 million packages.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before you hit "buy" on that "free shipping" offer:
- Read the details of the retailer's offer -- especially the return policy.
- The Free Shipping Day site allows retailers to specify terms for free shipping, and not all retailers offer it on all orders.
- A surge in online shopping also creates opportunities for thieves, who might see packages on porches as an irresistible temptation, according to The Washington Post. If you won't be home when your packages arrive, have them delivered to the office -- or make sure someone else can accept them for you.
If you haven't finished your shopping, will Free Shipping Day be the incentive you need to do it online?
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