Why Free Shipping Day Fell Flat

We’re all for when it comes to promotions, but we can be rather skeptical at times. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the online shopping “beast.” And as with any profession, experience allows you to see through the bombastic claims of the offending source.

More than most, we understand competition as well. There are thousands of sites like ours out there, and we know full well that if we don’t offer something more, or better than our competitors then this forum, like many before it, will simply extinguish itself.

One of the reasons that we started this site is that we like to help folks save money on the things they want to buy. We don’t post items here that we know full well are actually at regular price, or offered at minuscule discounts. The only exception is when it’s a product that otherwise rarely goes on sale. We look for combined offers as well, and note the additional money you’ll save by purchasing through a seller that charges no sales tax. Basically, we’re looking for value for our customers in multiple ways.

And so as a retailer, you have to offer something good. A promotion that’s rare, valuable, and worth your time. Some kind of sale that gives shoppers REAL savings, whether through coupons, rebates, or some other method that creates genuine savings for folks spending their hard-earned money.

Each year since 2007, multiple merchants have joined together to offer Free Shipping Day. The idea was to spark interest in shopping late in the month of December. Occurring on the 18th of the month, it was an attempt to increase spending online by offering guaranteed by Christmas Eve shipping for free. According to Wikipedia, more than 1,000 retailers participate in this now annual event.

Intrinsically, there is value in free shipping, even when offered as the only discount. In the early days of this web tradition, it was considerably more valuable. Since then, the level of competition has increased exponentially, and when it’s the only discount, quite frankly, it isn’t much of a discount at all.

The number of retailers who lifted their thresholds for three shipping this year was higher than ever. Walmart, Target, Best Buy and many more began shipping every order for free at the beginning of November, and most kept it that way until the end of December. What value was a single day among them if it was de rigeur for 60 full days at some many seller’s sites?

There was the guarantee, and it was a good thing, right? The sellers who participated in this promotion were required to “promise” that if you ordered by the end of the day on December 18, your order would arrive to you no later than Christmas Eve. Again, this highlight of the promotion, once a popular feature, was trumped by the fact that most sellers we know were still guaranteeing this on many items two days later.

Eight years ago, there were some desirable benefits to shopping on the that one day. In our opinion, those have been squelched by a highly competitive online retail market which promises all of that and more, and for a longer period of time.