Washington D.C. – Free shipping offers will not be hard to find this holiday season, as 16.3% of online retailers plan to promote this perk starting as early as the week of Oct. 28. More than one-third (34.9%) of retailers already offer year-round free shipping, compared to 23.1% last year.
Shop.org‘s eHoliday survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, also found that more than half (51.2%) of online retailers surveyed plan to start their online holiday marketing promotions by Halloween. More than one-quarter (27.3%) said they will offer free shipping earlier because of the economy.
The study surveyed 47 online retailers from June 10-27 and 44 retailers from Sept. 4-23. The study is designed to provide a snapshot of the holiday activities of both large and small online retailers, and also includes the sentiments of online holiday shoppers.
This year, for the first time, Shop.org asked online retailers when they have or will start planning for the 2013 holiday season, revealing that more than three-quarters (74.4%) had begun planning by July.
More than half (57.4%) have invested in optimizing their mobile websites, nearly four in 10 (38.3%) have invested heavily in the smartphone user experience, and one-quarter (25.5%) said they invested in mobile commerce apps for smartphones.
Mobile email optimization tops the list of mobile tactics for over 55.3% of retailers. Additionally, 44.7% will use smartphone paid search campaigns, 21.3% will use SMS campaigns, and 17.0% will use QR codes or other barcode scanning promotions.
In terms of budgeting, 68.8% said that at least 20% of their total 2013 online marketing budget goes towards holiday marketing, and 66.6% said that at least 20% of their total online promotions budget goes towards holiday promotions.
Regarding discounts, 31.8% plan to offer them earlier than did last year, and another 31.8% will increase their use of daily deals.
More than half (54.8%) will increase their use of Facebook in November and December, and 59.5% will increase their use of Pinterest. Additionally, 55.0% of companies will increase their use of Instagram.