December 7, 2012, 11:22 AM

Home for the holidays

(Page 2 of 2)

Sears Holdings Corp. is zeroing in on holiday shoppers with a home page that proclaims, “Holiday Deal Hunter Extras Online Only—extra 5-15% off plus free shipping.” The special ends today. A large box lists product categories at 5%, 10% and 15% off. A box in the middle of the page reads “50% off gifting blowout,” leading to Sears’ biggest deals. And an area for daily deals highlights a countdown clock informing shoppers how much time is left for the day’s deal. Sears, No. 8 in the Top 500, is offering free shipping on orders of $59 or more.

A huge rotating hero image on the home page of Recreational Equipment Inc. promotes holiday gifts and links to the retailer’s gift center. The holiday gift center offers many ways to find gifts and information about shipping, gift boxes and gift cards. It also promotes free shipping, and guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24 for orders placed by Dec. 21. REI, No. 64 in the Top 500, also is featuring a major markdown promotion on winter clothing, with more than 11,000 items for sale. And until Dec. 9, shoppers get a $20 gift card when they spend $100. REI also is offering free shipping with no minimum purchase.

Macy’s and L.L. Bean Inc. both are offering blanket discounts to holiday shoppers and aggressively promoting the discounts on their home pages. Atop Macy’s page is a banner that tells shoppers they get an extra 20% off purchases plus free shipping when they use the code “EXTRA” at checkout. Similarly, L.L. Bean informs shoppers they’ll get an extra 10% off all purchases made through Dec. 12. Plus, L.L. Bean is giving away free $10 gift cards with purchases of $50 or more through Dec. 24. Macy’s is No. 14 in the Top 500; L.L. Bean is No. 18.

Like some other retailers, The Home Depot Inc. is highlighting on its home page a holiday gift center. A badge that reads, “Find more unique gift ideas in our gift center,” floats atop the hero shot on the right edge. Clicking on the badge takes a shopper to the gift center where bars for “Gifts Under $20,” “Gifts Under $50” and “Gifts Under $100” appear at the center of the page. There are also areas for the “Top 6 Gift Picks” and gift cards. Back on the home page, Home Depot, No. 42 in the Top 500, features a section labeled, “Up to 30% off select holiday decorations.” Home Depot is advertising free shipping on over 300,000 items.

Shoppers looking for a computer for Christmas get a special bonus if they buy online at the HP Home and Home Office Store, No. 21 in the Top 500. The home page expansively features the special offer: buy a PC and get a Nook Simple Touch e-reader free. The hero image is a PC and a Nook surrounded by a pine tree branch with pine cones.

Williams-Sonoma, No. 24 in the Top 500, is taking the discount route on its home page, encouraging shoppers to shop more to save more. Consumers can save 10% on orders of $50 or more, 15% off $100 or more, 20% off $200 or more, and 25% off $500 or more. It also is offering on its home page what it describes as a deeply discounted gift of the day.

And at Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., No. 29 in the Top 500, the chain retailer offered a two-day cyber-sale this week, featuring discounts up to 35% off thousands of toys. On another sale front, one of the hero shots on the home page promotes, “Our great big Christmas sale.” Clicking on that promotion takes a shopper to a page with a grid of 16 products without prices. A shopper clicks on a product to be taken to a page where she can discover the deals offered on that product or category. The sale ends December 8.

As the 2012 holiday shopping season progresses, consumers are likely to see many more deals on the home pages of retailers’ e-commerce sites, experts say.

“The proliferation of deals during the holiday season will continue, and anyone not in the game yet will enter soon,” says Brant Cruz, vice president of e-commerce and retail practice leader at e-commerce and m-commerce research and consulting firm Chadwick, Martin and Bailey. “Think of the home page as the front door for holiday shoppers. E-retailers want to make their place as inviting as possible, draw a crowd to their party, and make up in incremental sales—because so many of us will buy one more gadget if we feel like we’re getting a great deal—what they lose in margin.”

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