August 12, 2010, 3:15 PM

Free Shipping Day organizers expect to draw more than 1,000 retailers

The third annual event will take place Dec. 17.

Lead Photo

The third annual Free Shipping Day, an event created by the site Freeshipping.org, has been scheduled for Dec. 17 and is expected to include more than 1,000 retailers this year, according to Luke Knowles, CEO of Freeshipping.org, a year-round informational site for consumers. Free Shipping Day is a one-day shopping event that features on Freeshippingday.com merchants that offer free shipping with guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery. Starting next week, the logos of participating retailers will be listed on FreeShippingDay.com. The details of the offers—coupon codes, for instance—will be revealed on the site Dec. 17. So far, Knowles says, approximately 125 online merchants have signed up to participate this year.

“We have reached a point where consumers are expecting free shipping when they shop online, but in many cases it is only offered when you purchase a certain amount, such as $50 or $100.” Knowles says. “To make Free Shipping Day even more unique, we are encouraging retailers to offer free shipping on all orders.”

For the many merchants already planning to promote free shipping for the holidays, and those who offer it year-round, Knowles says there is still value in listing on Freeshippingday.com to gain exposure.

The site targets gift-buying procrastinators who flock to the site to find a central depot featuring retailers offering guaranteed Christmas Eve delivery with free shipping late in the holiday shopping season. Last year, when more than 750 merchants listed their free shipping offers, Freeshippingday.com had 450,000 unique visitors during the season, including 232,000 on Free Shipping Day itself. Knowles estimates that the site generated about 35,000 purchases among shoppers who visited it on Free Shipping Day last December.

Though last year’s participants included Macy’s, Kohl’s, Toys ‘R’ Us and other top retailers looking to leverage the traffic to Freeshippingday.com, some of the event’s greatest impact was on smaller retailers without the marketing budget to spread news of their of their holiday offers across the web, according to Knowles.

“This is a big day for small businesses,” he says. “It is usually their biggest traffic and sales day of the year. The bigger merchants make the most sales and get the most traffic on this day. But for the merchant who normally gets 20 to 30 visitors a day who suddenly gets a few thousand that day, it’s a big deal.”

Knowles says any merchant can list its free shipping offer for free on Freeshippingday.com and that all retailer logos will appear on the home page. The site does have an affiliate relationship with about 30% of the merchants who elect to pay per click in order to receive more prominent placement, he says. On Dec. 17 when the site displays the offers of listed merchants, visitors will be able to search the site by category and merchant, he adds.

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