Free Shipping Day was Big for Ecommerce, Small for Email

The fourth-annual Free Shipping Day was a billion-dollar day for ecommerce, though it wasn’t a big deal for email marketers.

According to info it posted on the website Freeshippingday.org, more than 2,600 merchants signed up to offer their customers shipping deals on Dec. 16.

And according to online measurement service ComScore, ecommerce sales on Free Shipping Day grew 14% to $1.072 billion.

But on Free Shipping Day, only 10% of retail emails referenced Free Shipping Day. But that’s actually up from 6% on Free Shipping Day 2010, according to Chad White, research director at Responsys.

And for the week of Free Shipping Day, the ecommerce promotion was referenced in only 1.6% of all retail emails.

It wasn’t that retailers weren’t offering free shipping offers – White says there was a record number of retailers offering free shipping with no minimum purchase required on Free Shipping Day. It’s that those three little words were scarcely used.

“Free Shipping Day was fabricated three years ago, with the intent to get retailers to offer free shipping later in the holiday season,” White says. “But the marketplace has changed since Free Shipping Day was born.”

Once early December hit, most retailers were offering free or discounted shipping. White says his research shows that 28% of retailers offer free shipping year-round, and another 28% offer free shipping throughout the holiday season.

White thinks the use of the term “Free Shipping Day” on Dec. 16 could have a detrimental effect on email marketers, too.

“When Free Shipping Day started (in 2008), it was a signal of the last-day for free shipping,” White says. “A lot of retailers are now offering free shipping after Free Shipping Day. It may be confusing consumers, and they may not want to buy online after Dec. 16. It’s definitely a risk.”

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