11/15/13

No place like the home page for the holidays

Price-matching, special discounts and free shipping decorate Top 1000 home pages.

Amy Dusto , Associate Editor

As paper snowflakes, turkeys and other wintery paraphernalia begin taking over storefronts nationwide, Internet retailers are also sprucing up the look of their home pages. And they’re doing more than just making those pages look festive—they’re promoting free shipping deals and discounts, as well as their willingness to match the prices of other retailers.

Internet Retailer surveyed the home pages of the 1000 retailers in the 2013 Top 500 and Second 500 guides between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7 to see e-retailers are decorating those pages for the holidays.

37 of the Top 1000 retailers are promoting price-matching policies on the home page. Curiously, Best Buy Co., which is No. 10 in the Top 500 and for months has been promoting its price matching in general, did not highlight the program on its home page during the week of the survey—but a banner ad explaining its low-price guarantee appeared on the bottom of the page Friday.

Staples Inc., No. 2 in the Top 500 Guide, is using a pop-up overlay on its home page to make its price-match guarantee stand out even more than a banner ad. That policy, announced last month, took effect Nov. 3. The retailer also has lowered the minimum order value required for consumers who are not members of its rewards program to receive free shipping to $19.99 from $45; members always get free shipping.

More than half—623—of Too 1000 retailers are highlighting their free-shipping offers on the home page. However, just 73 are promoting free returns.

Of the retailers advertising free shipping on the home page, 255 offer it on all orders. The rest require minimum orders ranging from $9.99 to $1,999—for home appliances retailer Aus-Tex Appliance LLC—with an average of $94. More precisely, 34 retailers require an order of $25 or less for free shipping, 123 require $26-$50, 158 require $51-$100, 28 require $100-$150, 13 require $151-$200, five require $201-$250, one requires $300, two require nearly $400 ($399 and $399.99), one requires $749 and three require an order of $1000 or more.

The research also reveals that 600 retailers in the Top 1000 are offering deals or discounts on their home pages, either a percentage off the sale price, dollars savings on select purchases or trial subscriptions lasting between one day and one month. Of the 553 retailers offering percentages off item prices on their home pages, the average discount is 39%. Among them, 9 retailers offered discounts of less than 10% on their home pages, while 179 displayed deals for 10% to 24% off, 140 offered 25% to 49% off, 173 offered 26% to 74% off and 52 offered 75% to 99% off. The nearly free deal of 99% off, found on just one home page, is for the canine treat Etta Says Crunchy Duck Chew for Dogs from pet supplies retailer Petflow.com.

The research also reveals that 600 retailers in the Top 1000 are offering deals or discounts on their home pages, either a percentage off the regular price, dollar savings on select purchases or trial subscriptions lasting between one day and one month. Of the 553 retailers promoting a percentage-off offer, the average discount is 39%.

Among the 43 retailers touting savings or deals in terms of dollars on their home pages, the average discount is $199, though offers range from as little as $5 off to $1,500 off—the latter being the advertised savings on a high-definition TV from Sony Electronics Inc. The three retailers offering discounts of $1,000 or more on their home pages last week were BJ’s Wholesale Club, No. 266; Haverty Furniture Cos. Inc., No. 879; and Sony, No. 17. Excluding those three retailers—the next-highest dollar savings amount on a home page is $600; the average home page discount is $126.

Four retailers are using their home pages to promot another kind of deal, a free trial period or subscription. They are streaming video providers Netflix Inc. (one month free) and Hulu (one week), video game rental service Gamefly Inc. (one month) and online family history research portal Ancestry.com Inc. (two weeks).

Topics:

2013 holidays, Aus-Tex Appliance, free shipping, holidays, home page, low-price guarantee, price-match guarantee, price-matching policies, Staples, Top 500

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