The world’s largest retailer will end free shipping for online orders under $50 Canadian starting April 2.
Monday found high-end outdoor gear Backcountry.com taking an order every 16 seconds and shipping out 6,000 packages. Traffic, sales and call center activity broke records, but the retailer prepares for an even bigger day ahead.
Backcountry.com had a lot more sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving than it did on same day last year-92% more. It also has a lot more sites. Under a micro site strategy that creates highly-niched online destinations for seekers of specialized gear such as snowboards, what were two Backcountry sites last year –Backcountry.com and Backcountryoutlet.com-have expanded to include Tramdock.com, Dogfunk.com, Explore64.com and Steepandcheap.com. Together, the newer sites accounted for 26% of Monday’s sales, says vice president of marketing Dustin Robertson.
On Monday, Backcountry, No. 176 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, took what it estimates was an order every 16 seconds, and shipped more than 6,000 packages by the end of day. That’s another record, but Robertson says the retailer anticipates another day, Dec. 12, will be its biggest of the season. That’s the last Monday before Christmas on which orders of $50 or over can be shipped free for guaranteed holiday delivery; after that date, delivery can be guaranteed for orders received up to Dec. 23, but customers pay for the expedited delivery.
One star performer of the day was Steepandcheap.com, a Backcountry micro site that offers for sale one product per day, at a deeply discounted price. 500 pairs of polarized Smith sunglasses in the popular Director`s model sold out almost immediately at a price of $30, well under half the normal retail price.
In anticipation of Q4, when Backcountry does an estimated 45% of its sales, the retailer has been preparing on back and the front ends throughout the year; for instance, fine-tuning processes at its new 250,000-square-foot warehouse. “We use handhelds to pack and scan, so if the page takes 10 seconds to load, times 6,000 orders, there is a lot of time we can save by dropping it to five seconds,” says Robertson. “Little changes like that, when you are doing this kind of volume, can have a big impact.”