Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Procrastinator's Free Shipping Day

Don't you love the retail mind? "They" spend so much time and money trying to figure out how we think and how we shop! Do you know there are people who specialize in setting up store aisles just to entice you to buy? They study how you look around as you walk the aisles, what grabs your attention, when you're most likely to grab that spontaneous item that wasn't on your list and more.

They've figured out which music will have you buy more... which is something many of our fast food restaurants and smaller retail stores should study! I'm going off on a side tangent here, but it one of my pet peeves to walk into a store that caters to me with its merchandise, but caters to those working the store with the choice of music. Sure, they have to be there all day, but I'm the one buying the stuff that pays their salary. Many restaurants and stores have forgotten their customers... but as said, I'm off on a tangent.

The "retail brains" have come up with something that is right up my alley. It's perfect for procrastinators like yours truly. I am famous for doing all, and I mean all, of my Christmas shopping Christmas Eve (and after if I know I'm not going to see someone on "the" day). I am not as bad as one lady I talked with who did her shopping at the local drug store Christmas Eve because she missed the regular store closings... but I'm bad.

A large group of stores have banded together to offer FREE shipping on December 18th. That's about as close as you can cut it before Christmas if you're expecting to get those gifts wrapped in time to go under the Christmas tree.

I'll tell you from personal experience though, that even with free shipping and guaranteed delivery dates, things can fall through the cracks. Last year I ordered a group of items from Amazon. I received confirmation on the order, then a few days later a shipping notice on some of the items. I waited a day, then called to verify that the other things were going to make it. They looked it up and assured me they had been shipped with the other items, just later in the afternoon. They said it must have been an email glitch. I went out to try and track them a day or so later, couldn't be found. Long story, but after four or five calls, Christmas Day rolled around and I still didn't have part of the presents.

I called. I wrote. I got so fed up I swore I'd never shop Amazon again (and I won't). They were rude on my second call and it got progressively worse, even though I was very nice and patient until a few days before Christmas. If they'd told me the truth or taken the time to really investigate when I called I could have picked up the items in the store. I had two very disappointed little girls on Christmas day.

So. Order early. Track well. Cancel fast. And whatever you do, don't wait until Christmas Eve to hit the drug stores for gifts .

December 18 is Free Shipping Day, a first-of-its-kind event designed for holiday shopping procrastinators

Holiday shopping procrastinators now have a day designed especially for them. The inaugural Free Shipping Day (www.freeshippingday.com) - which is set for December 18, 2008, and will be an annual event - is a reward for people who wait until the last minute to cross those final gifts off their list.

On Free Shipping Day participating merchants give free shipping to online shoppers with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.

Retailers have embraced the idea, which was hatched by Luke Knowles, founder of FreeShipping.org (www.freeshipping.org), a one-stop destination for consumers to find online retailers that offer free shipping deals. Participating merchants include brands like Amazon.com, Bloomingdale’s, Brookstone, Circuit City, Coldwater Creek, Crate & Barrel, Endless.com, Nordstrom, Sur La Table, Target and Zappos.

Black Friday, which is the frenetic time when consumers descend upon stores the day after Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday, which commemorates the Monday after Thanksgiving when people return to their offices and surf the Internet for deals, are now a part of American pop culture. Knowles believes it is natural that Free Shipping Day will also become part of our nation’s holiday shopping vocabulary.

“Simply put, Free Shipping Day is the last chance for many people to buy gifts and get them delivered to the intended recipient in a nick of time,” Knowles explained. “We are a nation of procrastinators, so I think that Free Shipping Day will become a popular annual event.”

There is also a need among retailers for an event like Free Shipping Day, Knowles believes.
“Numbers show that online shopping dramatically slows after December 12th. Free Shipping Day will encourage people to continue buying items online later into the month of December,” Knowles said. “Free Shipping Day has the potential to increase pre- Christmas online sales by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.”

Next year’s Free Shipping Day will be selected in January 2009, Knowles says. There is no cost for retailers or shoppers to participate.

“Every year, we will consult with participating retailers to determine the latest possible day in the Christmas shopping season that they can offer free shipping and guarantee delivery by December 24th,” Knowles said. “Free Shipping Day will typically fall somewhere between December 17th and 19th.”
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