Cyber Monday outpaced Black Friday in 2009 as THE holiday shopping day by nearly $300 million in sales. Most holiday shopping surveys predict further growth this year. Forrester Research estimates total sales will increase 16 percent this yea and an Accenture survey found more than 70 percent of consumers plan to do a portion of their holiday shopping online.
But now there’s a new shopping holiday in town that’s giving Cyber Monday a run for its money. Celebrating its third year, Free Shipping Day on Dec. 17 is a one-day event during which an estimated 1,000-plus participating merchants will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. In a national survey, polling company Unicast found 37 percent of consumers will shop on Free Shipping Day this year to avoid shipping fees.
Conceived and created by Luke Knowles, the first Free Shipping Day in December 2008 was pulled together in just two weeks. Merchants from Knowles website FreeShipping.org were the first to jump on board. Tiger Direct free shipping and Ann Taylor free shipping offers opened the floodgates and, by 2009, more than 750 merchants participated, with 350,000 sales resulting.
As of Thanksgiving, more than 890 merchants have signed up for the 2010 event — well on target towards Knowles’ goal of 1,000 e-commerce participants.
While merchant interest has been high, media also have pounced on Free Shipping Day like a Lindsay Lohan sighting at a new nightclub. The event has been featured on Fox News, CNN, NBC and ABC, as well as in O Magazine, the New York Times, USA Today, Better Homes and Gardens, InStyle and Real Simple. Social media has also been a part of Knowles’ strategy. As of Nov. 24, the Free Shipping Day site was shared on Facebook nearly 4,000 times and Tweeted more than 1,200 times. The resulting buzz goes far beyond the traditional retail-savvy blogs and consumer websites that have already clued-in dedicated readers.
“Merchants have learned shipping costs are the number one reason online shopping carts are abandoned,” said Knowles. “Consumers see $10 shipping on a $10 item and it doesn’t make much sense to them. They’re less likely to commit when faced with delivery fee sticker shock, especially during the holidays. Nearly 43 percent will buy online only if free shipping is included. With Free Shipping Day, they know what they’re going to get before they even begin filling those shopping carts.”