Free Shipping Day Comes to Canada
Sick of fighting for parking spots at the mall and listening to piped-in Christmas muzak, I'd been seriously thinking of spending most of my money online over the holidays. The announcement that Free Shipping Day is coming to Canada on December 12th may push me over that digital edge.
What's Free Shipping Day, you ask? That would be the budding tradition American on line shoppers have been observing since 2008 in which, for one day, name brand retailers offer free shipping on all orders purchased through their websites with the promise of delivery by Christmas Eve.
Last year, Free Shipping Day south of the border generated over $942 million in online sales, outpacing Black Friday sales by $300 million and was the third biggest shopping day in U.S. history, according to its founder, Canadian Internet entrepreneur Luke Knowles.
Originally from Regina, Knowles -- who now lives in Colorado -- came up with the idea four years ago when he saw statistics suggesting on line shopping peaks in early December. Knowles realized the majority of shoppers didn't shop at this time because they wanted to -- they were doing it because they thought they had to.
"People were worried their orders wouldn't come through in time so I thought 'let's create a shopping holiday to change shopper's habits,'" Knowles says.
Cue Free Shipping Day, which Knowles started as an off-shoot of his site FreeShipping.org as a way to cater to the needs of holiday procrastinators or, in other words, the vast majority of us.
Free Shipping Day in Canada already has 50 merchants on board -- including Roots, Banana Republic and the Apple Store -- and Knowles is hoping to have 100 by the time the day arrives. (In the U.S. he has over 2,000 retailers involved which may be an indication of how the shopping holiday will thrive once it arrives here).
While experienced online shoppers may be used to fully free shipping through catalogue retailers such as L.L. Bean or gratis shipping on orders over certain low dollar thresholds, many bricks and mortar retailers still charge full freight for shipping -- particularly for smaller orders. These charges can act as a deterrent to shoppers looking for a deal online.
But the enormous success of Free Shipping Day may be influencing the online selling strategies of stores down south -- from clothing retailers to computer manufacturers. A recent U.S. survey shows that almost 60% of retailers planned a seasonal free shipping promotion this Christmas.
We'll know in a few weeks if the arrival of this not-so-storied tradition in Canada has the same effect it's had in the U.S. If so, the impact on Canadian retail habits could be as profound, which means less jam-packed malls and more clicks of the mouse. (For more info visit freeshippingday.ca).