December 5, 2011, 4:15 PM

E-retailers hold steady with free shipping offers

74% offered some form of free shipping last week.

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Nearly three-quarters of top e-retailers offered some form of free shipping last week. Some retailers that normally do not offer free shipping offered to ship purchases for free last Monday, commonly referred to as Cyber Monday and a day when online retailers often offer deals or discounts. Other retailers lowered minimums early in the week but raised them in the latter half of the week.

Computer retailer PC Connection, which hadn’t offered free shipping in any form in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend, offered free shipping on orders of $99 or more on Monday, then removed the promotion later in the week. PC Connection is No. 37 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

Specialty e-retailer Oriental Trading (No. 64), which also did not offer free shipping in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, offered free shipping with no minimum purchase on Monday, but then removed the promotion as the week progressed. Clothing retailers Abercrombie & Fitch (No. 56) and American Eagle Outfitters (No. 57) also offered free shipping with no minimum on Monday and then returned to paid shipping programs. American Eagle Outfitters revived its free shipping offer for one day on Friday.

Retailers that offer free shipping more routinely also tinkered with their shipping promotions last week. Department store e-retailer Macy’s (No. 17) dropped the minimum order value to qualify for free shipping from $99 to $75 on Monday, and Kohls.com (No. 31) dropped its $50 minimum purchase requirement to zero. Both returned to their normal free shipping requirements later in the week.

Apparel e-retailer Coldwater Creek (No. 93), which had offered free shipping on all orders during Thanksgiving week, carried the promotion through Cyber Monday and then raised the minimum to $50. Photo-processing e-retailer Shutterfly.com (No. 66) continued to offer free shipping on orders of $30 or more through Monday—a promotion it had run for all of November—and then raised the minimum to qualify for free shipping to $50 late last week.

The changing shipping promotions don’t appear to have kept consumers from buying. Consumers spent $1.25 billion online Monday, $1.12 billion online Tuesday and $1.03 billion online Wednesday, making them the top three sales days ever for e-commerce, according to comScore Inc., a research firm that tracks web sales.

The editors of Internet Retailer subscribe to e-retailers’ promotional e-mails and newsletters and visited each e-retail site to determine whether and how the Top 100 e-retailers offer free shipping.

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