Friday, March 14, 2008

Nordie's offers free shipping - with a caveat

I was thrilled to learn that Nordstrom is now offering free shipping on online and catalog orders. However, I checked the fine print and it only applies to orders over $200. Boo.

With so many online retailers - Zappos, Shopbop, Tobi, Revolve Clothing, etc. - already offering no-strings-attached free shipping (and often free returns, too), I think it's only a matter of time before it comes the industry standard.

If I recall, studies have shown that online retailers see an immediate rise in online sales when they introduce free shipping - even if the cost of shipping is absorbed in the price of their products. Just saying "Free Shipping!" is a wonderful marketing tool, and a great way to build goodwill and loyalty among customers. To choose just one example, Zappos offers free shipping, free returns, and superior customer service, and they are one of the most beloved online retailers.

I would love love love if started offering free shipping. Currently, they do $7.95 flat-rate standard shipping, which is terribly insidious because I tend to put more items in my cart to "justify" the shipping cost (note to readers: don't do this)! However, on the flip side, I consider's flat-rate $2.95 shipping a steal. Three bucks in shipping doesn't bother me much at all, even if I'm only buying one item - though I'd certainly prefer it to be free.

Anyway, I hope other large retailers - Macy's, JCPenney, et al - take Nordstrom's lead and start offering free shipping on catalog and online orders. This may seem like a stupid move given the rising price of fuel, but consumers are spending less in this crappy economy. If these retailers want to keep sales up, they better give consumers every incentive to buy from them.

[ via lifeinaventicup ]

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