August 20, 2009, 12:00 AM

More than 500 merchants are expected in Dec. 17 Free Shipping Day event

FreeShippingDay.com aims to extend the season by aggregating free shipping offers with guaranteed on-time delivery.

More than 500 merchants are expected to list offers on FreeShippingDay.com this year, according to the site’s founders, who say aggregating free shipping offers for the last day of guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve on one site will help both merchants and consumers.

FreeShippingDay.com focuses on the last day when online merchants can accept orders and guarantee delivery by Dec. 24, with free shipping. For merchants listing on Freeshippingday.com this year, that date is Dec. 17. The site, which launched last December, is a year-round informational site for merchants, but starting in December it will post logos and links to merchants that offer free shipping and guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24, for orders submitted as late as Dec. 17.

During its first season last year, FreeShippingDay.com attracted 250,000 hits in the 10 days leading up to Dec. 18. Co-founder Luke Knowles says some smaller merchants set a single-day record for traffic on that day. For larger multichannel merchants that participated last year-including J.C. Penney and Williams-Sonoma-the event provided an additional way to increase sales without having to draw shoppers directly to their physical locations, he says.

Retailers can have their logos and free shipping offers posted on FreeShippingDay.com by visiting the site and completing and submitting a form. Last year some merchants opted to have their offers posted only on Dec. 18, but Knowles encourages those with free shipping offers that run through the season to post earlier because consumers start visiting the site before the last day.

“We had 250,000 hits in 10 days last year including 105,000 on the last day,” he says. That means that merchants who listed their offer on Dec. 18 got exposure to 105,000 hits, but merchants who listed earlier in the month got exposure to 250,000, he says.

Knowles also has an affiliate site, FreeShipping.org, which aggregates free shipping offers year-round. However, merchants don’t need to be associated with that site to list their offers on FreeShippingDay.com, and they can do it for free with no cost per click, he says.

Knowles says the Free Shipping Day event and web site benefit merchants by extending the online holiday shopping season, which typically peaks in early December because shoppers are concerned that gifts ordered later than that may not arrive in time.

Althougn FreeShippingDay.com doesn`t sell any services, FreeShipping.org displays sponsored search ads and provides comparison shopping services with links to retailers` e-commerce sites in affiliation with PriceGrabber.com Inc.

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