November 13, 2009, 12:00 AM

Holiday offers emerge as free shipping deals grow among top 100 e-retailers

New holiday-related promotions popped up at several of the top 100 online retailers this week, as the number of e-retailers offering free shipping inched upward to 63 from 61, a survey by Internet Retailer found.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

 

New holiday-related promotions popped up at several of the top 100 online retailers this week, including some only for e-mail subscribers. Meanwhile the number of top 100 e-retailers offering free shipping inched upward to 63 from 61 a year ago, a survey by Internet Retailer found.

The Internet Retailer annual survey of free shipping and other promotions is based on a weekly review by the magazine’s editorial staff of the holiday season promotions offered by the top 100 retailers as listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

For free shipping, 28 retailers required a minimum order value, ranging from about $20 up to $699, with most within the range of $30 to $75.

Nine retailers e-mailed free-shipping offers to consumers who opted in for e-mail marketing programs, but did not publicize the offers on their web sites.

E-retailers are also seeking to lure value-conscious shoppers with home page promotions. 72% of the sites prominently featured some kind of offer on the home page. 37% featured offers on specific items, or item categories, such as $40 off an Acer monitor at PC Mall Inc.

Cabela’s was one of 10 retailers featuring a specific site-wide discount, as it offered $30 off on orders more than $150. ToysRUs.com displayed a two-day “Mega Sale” image and Restoration Hardware’s main home page banner featured a 20% off friends and family event. The survey found seven retailers with major home page promotions designed around the holiday season, including an offer from QVC.com to extend returns on holiday gift purchases until Jan. 31.

Some retailers offered discounted “Early Thanksgiving” or “Daily Deals” promotions as their main home page display. BestBuy.com displayed a hero shot announcing a two-day “Early-bird Thanksgiving Sale.”

Several retailers also sent holiday-themed offers to shoppers who have signed up for e-mail promotions, including Sears.com, Walmart.com, Newegg.com, Home Depot.com and CircuitCity.com. Newegg and Sears each cited “Black Friday” promotions, with Sears offering up to 20% off appliances, while Walmart.com promoted “huge savings on toys for Christmas.”

Black Friday, or the Friday after Thanksgiving, has become a day for major holiday sales and a kick-off for the holiday period that many retailers rely on to finish in the black for the year.

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