Billings, MT—With so many American shoppers waiting until the final days before Christmas to shop this year, today’s Free Shipping Day could be one of the biggest days for holiday sales ever.
Initiated four years ago by online marketer Luke Knowles, Free Shipping Day is aimed at luring shoppers to buy online and get free shipping on their purchases. This year, more than 2,500 retailers of all sorts signed up to participate, with many sweetening the pot with one-day savings or discounts.
Knowles said he believes this year’s Free Shipping Day sales could easily surpass last year’s $942 million, making it the third highest one-day total for online sales.
Indeed, that figure could easily be superseded based upon consumers statistics the National Retail Federation (NRF) released this week that found average shoppers have only completed 46.5% of their shopping, below the 49.5% who had completed their shopping by the same time last year. Another 16.5% hadn’t even started shopping as of last week, the NRF said. Only 7.6% indicated they had completed their holiday shopping.
A Deciding Factor: ‘Express and Standard Free Shipping Offers’
According to Shop.org’s eHoliday survey, nine in 10 online retailers (92.5%) will offer free shipping at some point during the holiday season, and more than half (56.3%) say their budget for free shipping promotions specifically is somewhat or significantly higher than last year. Well aware they may not have to pay for shipping for many of their purchases, more than one-third (36.3%) of holiday shoppers say they are likely to spend more online this holiday season if shipping comes free, the survey reported.
With Christmas Day falling on a Sunday this week, retailers get some extra cushion to help shopping procrastinators get their purchases in time. Shop.org’s eHoliday Survey found that eight in 10 retailers’ standard shipping deadlines for Christmas delivery will expire before or on Tuesday, December 20.
Additionally, shoppers will have the added advantage of shopping online as late as December 23 as 5.3% of retailers say they will offer upgraded expedited shipping promotions up through that date.
“Aiming to deliver unbeatable value and remain top of mind until the last possible minute, retailers will continue to update their websites and best utilize their mobile apps to attract those who still need to wrap up their holiday shopping in the coming weeks,” said Vicki Cantrell, executive director at Shop.org. “As consumers shop around for the perfect gifts, express and standard free shipping offers could be the deciding factor for many procrastinators this holiday season.”
Free Shipping: A Means to Cultivate New Shoppers?
While Free Shipping Day has become a huge draw during the holiday season, experts recommend retailers use the day as a means to cultivate consumers to return to their website (or brick and mortar) locations all year long.
Laurie Brown, customer service expect and author of The Greet Your Customer Manual, Laurie Brown said retailers should use today as an opportunity to truly make a huge difference in their bottom lines all year long.
“Free Shipping Day, if executed properly by retailers, can bring customers back to spend on their sites all year long, well after holiday season, even without free shipping,” Brown said.
Among Brown’s tips for retailers today—actually important for anytime–include:
●Think of every consumer as an opportunity. With new, first-time and even more shoppers clicking onto your site today, make sure to impress them, it can be done through a website.
●Remember, it is even easier for a customer to “walk out” of your website and go to your competitor’s site than it is to walk out of an actual store.
●Make sure your site is easy to navigate.
●Get rid of flash openings. “Imagine forcing customers to watch a 30-second video before they are allowed to enter a store,” Brown noted.
●Make it easy to contact you with phone numbers, addresses and emails easily accessible.
●Make sure return policies are clear and easy to read.
●Streamline the page design.
●Optimize your search engine.