November 18, 2011, 3:48 PM

Free shipping report: Offers inch upward as Thanksgiving approaches

77% of top e-retailers offered free shipping this week, up from 72% a week ago.

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77 of the top 100 e-retailers listed in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide offered consumers some form of free shipping on orders this week. This is up from 72 retailers that offered free shipping last week.

The editors of Internet Retailer subscribe to e-retailers’ promotional e-mails and newsletters and visit each e-retail site at least once a week to determine whether and how the Top 100 e-retailers offer free shipping during the holiday season.

The retailers that did not feature any free shipping last week but did this week are Avon Products (No. 30 in the Top 500 Guide), which offered free shipping on jewelry; Cabela’s (No. 40), which offered free shipping on orders of $99 or more; Bluestem Brands (No. 94), which offered free shipping on select products on Fingerhut.com; 1-800 Flowers.com (No. 45), which offered free shipping or waived service charges when consumers paid with a MasterCard credit card and entered an offer code; and HSN (No. 26), which offered free shipping on select gift items.

Other retailers toyed with the minimum order value it takes to qualify for free shipping or offered e-mail subscribers special shipping deals. Toys ‘R Us (No. 29), for example, raised the order threshold to qualify for free shipping from $0 to $49, while Shoebuy.com (No. 87) went the other way, eliminating a $75 order minimum and now offering free shipping on all orders. Foot Locker (No. 53) maintained its $75 order minimum on FootLocker.com, but offered e-mail subscribers free shipping for orders of $50 or more.

The highest order value required to qualify for free shipping was $199 from home improvement e-retailer Build.com (No. 80), although the e-retailer did also offer free shipping for orders of lighting products of $49 or more. Fashionable apparel site Yoox.com (No.67), which two weeks ago had the highest minimum order threshold at $200, last week dropped the minimum and now offers free shipping on all orders.

Two retailers, flash-seller Gilt Groupe (No. 49) and lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret (No. 18), changed their shipping offers for just one day. Gilt offered free ground shipping on all orders Nov. 14 after having no free shipping offer on domestic orders a week ago, and Victoria’s Secret offered free shipping on orders of $25 or more Nov. 18 after previously only offering free shipping on select items.

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