Free Shipping Day: How retailers are taking advantage of holiday shopping
Free Shipping Day 2014
Now that the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is behind us, you can begin celebrating (or perhaps crying) over the results. Early reports are showing mixed results, depending on the type of retailer.
On Black Friday, e-commerce led the way, according to the NRF. On the other hand, brick and mortar players were underwhelmed by Friday’s sales, perhaps due to other week-long sales — and something now referred to as “Black Thursday” (we haven’t given up on the more traditional reference, Thanksgiving).
The past is in the past, though. With that in mind, let’s look toward the future and focus on what you can do to turn the tide in your favor or keep good momentum going strong.
Next on the agenda this winter: Free Shipping Day! (What is Free Shipping Day, you ask?)
Your competitors are squeezing every penny they can out of these single-day sales, so hopefully you have already started on a Free Shipping Day strategy of your own. As you fine tune your plan for the big day, spend some time reflecting on your successes and take a critical look at what hasn’t worked well in the past. Free Shipping Day is still somewhat underemphasized, so you have a limited window of opportunity to get on early-adopter bandwagon and make some impressive sales gains.
Last year’s Free Shipping Day sales were more than favorable for Shipwire merchants, who saw 123% growth over the previous year’s sales, and similar results are expected for 2014.
Actionable insights and tips to capitalize on Free Shipping Day
In the years we’ve spent observing e-commerce trends and strategies, a few particularly effective Free Shipping Day sales strategies have surfaced. We’ve highlighted them below, and would love to hear what has worked for you in the past.
- Limit restrictions on your “Free Shipping”
It’s a fact of life — some stuff just costs a lot to ship. On the other hand, it also costs a lot to acquire a new customer. Think about the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer and the customer acquisition cost to put the expense of free shipping into perspective. If you cover free shipping, are the extra costs you’ll incur comparable to your customer acquisition cost? In most cases, the cost of acquiring a customer will exceed the cost of free shipping, making free shipping an easy and effective tool to gain new followers. There are other things to think about, too. Can you offer unrestricted free shipping to all new accounts? How can you get creative here?
- Be as prepared for Free Shipping Day as you were for Black Friday
Be prepared. In fact, be over-prepared. Don’t expect Free Shipping Day sales to surpass the increase in order volume seen over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but do expect a healthy and prosperous 2015 if you can wow each one of your (potentially new) customers and convert them into advocates for your Brand. Success in this area requires advanced planning (and backup planning). If you pull off this busy time while making it look easy, you will undoubtedly succeed in increasing your market share.
- Provide a your fulfillment partners or internal teams with a rough forecast
This point correlates with the above comment about the importance of preparation. Preparing yourself and your inventory is one thing, but preparations are null unless they extend throughout your operation. Everyone — your internal team, dropshippers, warehouse staff, and your 3PL partner — should have an idea of what you expect to see happen with your sales during the holiday season. And of course, the more accurate your forecast, the better.
- Research your competitors
This applies year round, but is especially easy to observe during the busy holiday season: Keep your eye on the competition. This is important in order to stay in the game.
- For starters, search “Free Shipping Day 2013
.” Maybe their promo pages from previous years are still available?
- Monitor their social media accounts and scroll back to see what promotions they ran in the past.
Following your competitors online is easy and you’ll learn a lot. For example, you might be surprised by how many retailers use the same deal to hook buyers year after year — before you knock them, ask whether they’re doing it because it’s effective, or if you can improve upon their offers with a little creativity.
- For starters, search “Free Shipping Day 2013
Share your stories
As a final resource, we recommend checking out this guide, which illustrates the effectiveness of offering free shipping. Now that we’ve shared our insights and advice and are giving you the floor. Let us know about your holiday e-commerce strategies in the comment section below.
- Have you used any of the above strategies with success?
- How was your Black Friday, Cyber Monday weekend?
- How do you stay ahead of your competitors during the holiday season?