December 14th is one of the best shopping “holidays” of which most customers and businesses have never heard.
It’s National Free Shipping Day.
The name alone obviously appeals to shoppers all over the country. Customers always love when businesses foot the bill and offer free stuff.
However, this annual event can be a boon for e-merchants as well. In fact, National Free Shipping Day officially surpassed Black Friday in online sales in 2010 — by nearly $300 million. And that was when this obscure shopping holiday was only two years old.
What exactly is National Free Shipping Day? And how can you celebrate it strategically without losing money?
The History of National Free Shipping Day
National Free Shipping Day was first introduced in 2008 by Luke Knowles, a Colorado entrepreneur who noticed that online shopping started to slow in mid-December. When he dug deeper, Knowles discovered that many holiday shoppers were concerned that gifts ordered online wouldn’t arrive before Christmas.
Respondents also expressed frustration over the exorbitant rates they had to pay for expedited delivery.
Just like that, Knowles created National Free Shipping Day. It’s not an official holiday, yet it consistently outperforms Black Friday when it comes to online sales.
How to Celebrate National Free Shipping Day Profitably
If you’re like many business owners, you cringe at the idea of free delivery. After all, you must cover the cost of shipping out of your pocket.
Believe it or not, celebrating National Free Shipping Day can actually make your store more profitable — and there’s not a whole lot of set-up involved, either. Most of the benefits come without you having to do anything special.
Here are two reasons why.
1. National Free Shipping Day Leads to More Sales
These benefits exist year-round, making free shipping a no-brainer. Even if you have to cover delivery costs entirely out of pocket, your store is able to generate more sales across the board.
That boost becomes even more pronounced during the busy holiday shopping season when people are concerned about receiving gifts on time.
Remember, the timing of National Free Shipping Day is no accident. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Christmas, this shopping holiday exists for the sole purpose of attracting “worried” online customers during the busiest retail period of the year.
2. National Free Shipping Day Leads to Higher Sales
When you offer free shipping, your customers are incentivized to spend more than they would otherwise. They’re saving money and can afford to splurge on a few extra items.
This is especially true if you set minimum purchase amounts to qualify for free shipping. That’s precisely what Amazon does — so many of us have loaded our shopping carts a little bit more just to trigger that threshold.
“After hearing from consumers, the National Free Shipping Day sponsors said retailers had to remove all minimum order thresholds if they wanted to participate in the event.”
However, no such restrictions exist on the other 364 days of the year.
How to Pay for National Free Shipping Day
Free shipping is a proven tactic for increasing sales and making each shopping cart a little fuller. These benefits dramatically reduce the likelihood that you’ll have to pay for shipping costs entirely out of pocket.
In other words, free delivery is an investment that pays for itself. Even so, there are steps you can take to reduce shipping costs even more.
For example, you can simply hide the cost in items you sell — you already do this with utilities, rent, salaries and other expenses. So, if you increase your retail prices by a few cents across the board, most customers won’t even notice.
If you sell commodities, however, raising rates is a little trickier. Since customers can easily shop at one of your competitors, you can’t completely control pricing.
However, you can control your shipping costs by:
- Comparing different carriers
- Offering slower delivery
- Minimizing packaging
- Using a fulfillment service
How Will You Celebrate National Free Shipping Day?
Still hesitant about offering free shipping? No worries. That’s what this day is about — to test the waters and help you determine whether free delivery can work as a tactic to increase sales.
Just don’t take too long to decide. Free shipping used to be a competitive advantage, but as more businesses take the plunge, this complimentary service is increasingly becoming a competitive necessity.
Customers expect free shipping. If you don’t offer it, they likely will do business with someone who does.