November 22, 2010, 3:59 PM

The shipping’s on us

Heading into Thanksgiving, 61 of top 100 e-retailers were offering free shipping.

Lead Photo

A week ago, Sony Corp.’s SonyStyle.com offered free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Today, the consumer electronics retailer’s home page is promoting free shipping on all orders as “Our gift to you.”

Like other e-retailers in the week approaching Thanksgiving, Sony is using free shipping as a lure to win over holiday shoppers. According to a review over the past few days by Internet Retailer of the top 100 online merchants as ranked in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, others that were offering free shipping on most if not all orders included Art.com, Blue Nile, CSN Stores, L.L. Bean, Neiman-Marcus, Nike, Saks Fifth Avenue, Shoebuy.com and Yoox Group. Overstock.com is offering $1 shipping on all orders.

The number of top 100 retailers offering some form of free shipping, at 61, was down from a year ago, when 68 offered it during the week prior to Thanksgiving. Though as happened last year, more are likely to introduce free shipping as a promotional tool as the holiday shopping season officially kicks off during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Of the 61 in the review with free shipping, five offered it for orders of $25 or more: Scholastic, Drugstore.com, Walgreens.com and Amazon.com. Amazon was also promoting free shipping on all orders for students.

Shutterfly.com offered free shipping on orders of $30 or more, while ToyRUs.com and Diapers.com put the threshold at $49, and seven others set it at $50. Of the latter group, food gifts retailer Harry & David sweetened the deal with $10 off all orders of $50 or more.

Others setting the bar higher include Foot Locker, REI and Urban Outfitters at $75, J. Crew at $150 and Dell, with the highest minimum order value, at $699.

Urban Outfitters halved its minimum order for free shipping from $150 a week earlier. Nike took the sharpest drop, however, going from a minimum order of $100 to free shipping on all orders.

More retailers, including Sears and merchants associated with GSI Commerce Corp., are also getting into membership programs that offer shipping for no additional cost to customers who pay an annual fee.

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