Beauty Store Business magazine - January, 2020 Online Retailers to Ramp Up Free Shipping, Promotions for the Holidays Online Retailers to Ramp Up Free Shipping, Promotions for the Holidays

Online retailers are intensifying their efforts to attract eager shoppers with free shipping deals and other exclusive online promotions. More than 61% of online retailers started their online holiday-marketing promotions by Halloween, according to’s eHoliday survey conducted by BIGinsight. More than 38% will begin marketing their online promotions by mid-November or later. is a division of the National Retail Federation, and is the world's leading membership community for digital retail.

Online retailers have good cause to start earlier: NRF’s recently-released holiday consumer-spending survey (see "NRF: Shoppers to Remain Conservative With 2012 Holiday Gift Budgets") found that more than half of consumers will shop online in the coming weeks—the highest amount in that annual survey’s 10-year history. executive director Vicki Cantrell says, “For retailers, there is no better time to shine than the holiday season, and it’s evident that online retailers are already planning to go the extra mile for their customers this year. Consumers can expect even more of an integrated shopping experience this holiday season with companies also looking to enhance their mobile-marketing efforts to capture the attention of the millions of holiday shoppers who are already thinking about their shopping lists.”

Quickly becoming the rule and not the exception for retailers, free shipping offers will abound. The survey reports that 89.7% of retailers plan to offer some form of free shipping for online shoppers. When asked which promotions they will emphasize most heavily during the holiday season, 37.5% noted that they plan to offer free standard shipping with conditions such as a minimum purchase and three in 10 will offer free standard shipping without conditions.

In addition, retailers will impress holiday shoppers with promotions that include coupons, limited-time-only deals and discounts on specific purchases.

Those looking to get a head start on their shopping lists won’t have to wait too much longer for those free shipping deals: three in 10 online retailers said their free shipping offers will start earlier than last year.

When retailers were asked when they would launch their first free-shipping deal of the holiday season, 23.1% said they already offer free shipping year-round.

Of those who don’t, 26.6% said they were launching their first free shipping promotion by Halloween, and 76.6% planned to offer it by Thanksgiving.

On the customer side, slightly more than half of the consumers polled said they would begin their online holiday shopping by Halloween; another 43.2% will hold out on those early promotions and start sometime in November.

“These days the holiday season hardly ‘sneaks’ up on anyone," adds BIGinsight Consumer Insights director Pam Goodfellow. "Many people look forward to the holidays and either shop year-round or contribute to their holiday savings little by little all yearlong. Whether to assist in sticking to a budget or to ensure they get that much-desired gift or simply because the deals are hard to pass up, consumers enjoy shopping early—and it appears this might be the perfect holiday season to do just that.”

When asked why they would be more inclined to shop online this holiday season, nearly four in 10 shoppers said 24-hour convenience is a main reason, and more than one-third said they specifically choose to shop online because of free shipping.

Additionally, 33.1% say they don’t care for holiday crowds in stores, and 29.6% prefer the ease of being able to compare prices.

[Image courtesy of Thinkstock/iStockphoto]