November 5, 2012, 11:25 AM

A holiday shipping fee snapshot

Some retailers are giving the gift of free shipping as others play Scrooge.

Lead Photo

As consumers pack away their Halloween costumes and attempt to dodge the leftover Snickers bars, e-retailers are already busy trying to woo them to start their holiday shopping.

One of the most popular ways for e-retailers to lure consumers to start buying gifts online is by offering free shipping. Nearly 90% of retailers say they will offer some form of free shipping for online shoppers over the holidays, according to a recent survey from Shop.org, the digital division of the National Retail Federation trade group. That’s a smart move, as 85% of shoppers say they are more likely to take advantage of free shipping with no conditions over other promotions this holiday season, according to a consumer poll from consultancy the E-tailing Group Inc. and e-commerce platform provider MarketLive Inc.

Internet Retailer took a closer look last week at the free shipping offers e-retailers of varying sizes are touting heading into the holiday season by analyzing the top 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and the bottom 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide.

There was little difference based on size. Sixty-four of the top 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide offer some sort of free shipping, including tying free shipping to certain conditions such as spending a certain amount or requiring the use of a promo code. Sixty of the 100 retailers in the bottom 100 of the Internet Retailer Second 500 guide offer it.

Several large e-retailers are already offering free shipping with no minimum purchase and no promotional code required.

Of the top 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, luxury apparel and accessory stores The Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom Inc.; Dell Inc.; L.L. Bean Inc.; Best Buy Co.; jewelry retailer Blue Nile Inc.; Microsoft Corp.; luxury flash sale site Net-a-Porter LLC, music instrument retailer Musician’s Friend Inc. and make up retailer EsteeLauder.com all offer free shipping with no conditions. However, some of these retailers, such as L.L. Bean and Nordstrom always offer free shipping.

Interestingly, while apparel retailers such as Nordstrom offer free shipping with no conditions, consumers have to spend a decent chunk of change at similar retailer and competitor J. Crew Group Inc. to get their goods without a shipping fee‑‑$175 to be exact. Meanwhile Macy’s Inc. requires shoppers spend $99 to qualify for free shipping and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. offers free shipping when shoppers hit the $50 mark.

Other competitors in the top 100, however, seem to be keeping any eye on one another.  The Home Depot Inc. and Lowes Cos Inc. for example, have similar free shipping offers. The Home Depot offers it on orders of more than $45, while Lowe's ships orders of more than $49 for free and delivers them within three days.  Similarly, drugstore competitors CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. also have the same offer of free shipping on orders of $25 or more. As do OfficeMax Inc. and Office Depot Inc., which each offer free shipping on orders of $50 or more.

Meanwhile, some of the largest retailers that sell items that could well be holiday gifts are not yet touting any free shipping offers—not even ones that require a promotional code or minimum purchase. Some of the standouts include: QVC Corp., high end apparel retailer Yoox Group, education supplies retailer Scholastic Inc., electronics retailers Newegg Inc. and Sony Electronics Inc., video game retailer GameStop Corp., apparel retailer Chicos FAS Inc. and gift retailer Fingerhut.com.

Of the bottom 100 retailers in the Second 500 Guide, the following retailers offered free shipping with no conditions: sports collectables and team merchandise retailer Champions on Display, HomeandPatioDecorCenter.com, beauty retailer Huetiful LLC, bedding retailer CloseoutLinen.com, men’s shirt retailer Blank Label, longboad and longboard gear retailer DaddiesBoardShop.com, dance apparel retailer AllAboutDance.com and plus size lingerie retailer AngeliqueLingerie.com.

Some of the retailers examined that are not already mentioned and that offer free shipping with a low minimum order of $25 or less or other small conditions include:

  • Shoebuy.com Inc. (No. 90): Free shipping and 15% off with promo code
  • BN.com (No. 32): Free shipping $25 or higher
  • Shutterfly.com (No. 53): Free shipping $25 or higher  
  • Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy (No. 939): Free shipping $25 or higher
  • TheGardenGates.com (981): Free Shipping on “thousands of products”
  • Cabela's Inc. (No. 43): Free shipping with Cabela’s Visa card and promotional code, through Dec. 31
  • Parentgiving.com: (No. 902): Free shipping for a limited time with promotional code
  • Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1): Free shipping $25 or higher
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