November 11, 2013, 11:14 AM

Most top e-retailers offer free holiday shipping

623 of the Top 1000 e-retailers offer free shipping on at least some items.

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Among the 1000 e-retailers listed in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 and Second 500, 623 advertise offering free shipping on at least some products on their home pages as the holiday sales season ramps up. Of those retailers, 255 ship products for free regardless of order value, according a study conducted last week by Internet Retailer of free shipping offers presented on Top 1000 e-retailers’ home pages.

The free-shipping offers are spread throughout all sizes of Top 1000 merchants. They appear on the home pages of five of the top 10 retailers—Staples.com (No. 2) Apple.com (No. 3), Walmart.com (No. 4), OfficeDepot.com (No. 7) and BestBuy.com (No. 10)—and on 13 of the top 25 and 54 of the top 100.

Free-shipping offers also appear on the home pages of seven of the bottom ten of Top 1000 sites—AusTexAppliance.com (No. 991), Uplanders.com (No. 993), BourbonandBoots.com (No. 994), BellaLunaToys.com (No. 995), PupLife.com (No. 996), 33-Off.com (No. 997), Slobproof.com (No. 998) and Chalkfly.com (No. 1000)—and on 15 of the bottom 25 and 60 of the bottom 100.

Ironically, the web retailer most associated with free and fast shipping, Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500, does not promote free shipping on its home page. Members of Amazon Prime get free shipping automatically for their $79 annual fee. While Amazon does not disclose how many Prime members there are, analysts generally put the number at around 10 million. Everyone else receives free shipping on orders above $35, a threshold Amazon raised last month from $25.

Among Top 1000 retailers offering free shipping only when the purchase amount reaches a certain level, the order thresholds range in size from $9.99 at music products retailer SamAsh.com (No. 285) and $14.99 at Groupon Goods (No. 65) to $1,499 at TheRTAStore.com (No. 844), a retailer of ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinets, and $1,999 at appliances merchant AusTexAppliance.com.

Two other retailers with unusually high order thresholds are exercise equipment retailer SmoothFitness.com (No. 403) at $1,299, and appliances retailer AJMadison.com at $749.

All of the other 362 that offer free shipping with minimum orders have thresholds between $20 and $399.99. Of those, 56 have thresholds between $20 and $40; 120 are between $40 and $70; 137 are between $74.99 and $100; 41 between $125 and $200; and eight have thresholds between $249 and $399.99.

Among the 73 retailers offering free return shipping, 56 are in the Top 500 and 17 in the Second 500. They include Staples.com (No. 2), Apple.com (No. 3), Gap.com (No. 19), Shopping.HP.com (No. 23), Nordstrom (No. 28), NeimanMarcus.com (No. 39), BoutiquetoYou.com (No. 861), SimplySoles.com (No. 875), Perfume.com (No. 886), AllAboutDance.com (No. 893) and apparel site SouthMoonUnder.com (No. 898).

In addition to free shipping information, the survey also finds that 37 of the Top 1000 e-retailers are offering on their home pages to match the prices of other retailers. These 37 include 16 in the Top 500, including Walmart.com (No. 4), ToysRUs.com (No. 30), HomeDepot.com (No. 46), HumbleAdobe.com (No. 679), Autoplicity.com (No. 738), GearUp2Go.com (No. 918), HomeandDecorCenter.com (No. 990) and LeisurePro.com (No. 925).

A recent holiday survey from trade association the National Retail Federation of 91 online retailers finds 34.9% of e-retailers give the gift of free shipping all year long, compared with 23.1% a year earlier. Of the rest of the retailers that do not offer free shipping all year, 16.3% said they would offer it as a holiday promotion.

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