Although you’ve most likely heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you may be unfamiliar with the third pillar in the holiday-shopping trifecta, Free Shipping Day. This online shopping event, held on December 18 each year, has been tremendously successful — in 2011, for example, it produced more than $1 billion in online sales and was the highest-earning Friday in online history.
The creator of Free Shipping Day, Luke Knowles, said that this online event is different from Cyber Monday because it offers consumers the opportunity to shop from small businesses and big retailers all without worrying about delivery fees and deadlines.
The real beauty of this event for small online businesses is the exposure they gain just by participating. Knowles has said that many small businesses report receiving the most traffic to their website ever on Free Shipping Day.
So, is Free Shipping Day Right for Your Online Business?
There is no cost for small retailers to sign up for Free Shipping Day. All that is expected of the retailer is to offer free shipping on December 18 with delivery by Christmas Eve in the continental United States.
That being said, if your business sells large and bulky items, such as appliances and furniture, then the cost of shipping your products for free on this day might not be worth the extra sales you make. However, if you sell small, lightweight items such as jewelry and apparel, the extra sales most likely will make up for the cost of shipping.
How Can Your SMB Prepare for Free Shipping Day?
To get the most out of your participation, you should promote the holiday and your deals. You also need to make sure that your business is capable of following through on the promise of delivering packages by December 24. Here are some steps you should take before the big day arrives:
- Use social media, email marketing and your blog to let customers know in advance that you’re participating in Free Shipping Day. Just because you get some free advertising on FreeShippingDay.com when you upload your logo and link back to your site, it doesn’t mean that you don’t need to tell your existing customers about your deals. Make sure to include messaging that will appeal to those last-minute shoppers, such as “Guaranteed Delivery Before Christmas” and “There’s Still Time.”
- Look at your inventory logs from last holiday season to make sure that you have enough of your most popular items in stock.
- Prepack commonly shipped items to help you get ahead of the rush. Making sure that you have a full staff, ready-to-go packages and a plan will ensure that you get those orders out in time to be delivered to your customers by December 24.
- Consider shipping software to streamline the shipping process. With the right technology in place, you can get orders out the door quickly and take advantage of discounts on postage.
- Be aware of holiday shipping deadlines. The U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail® is often the most cost-effective option to deliver a lightweight package across the country in only 2 days (versus 5-6 with FedEx/UPS Ground®). The last day to ship for Priority Mail is December 21.
Your business is now ready and armed to compete with the big retailers this Free Shipping Day.
For more tips on free shipping promotions during the holiday season, check out our post on how to offer free shipping without breaking the bank.