Posted December 9, 2010 4:36 pm by with 0 comments

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Free shipping! Online retailers are shouting it from the rooftops and it could be the key to staying out of the red this holiday season. ComScore worked the numbers and discovered that unlike last year, the percentage of transactions with free shipping continued to rise after Black Friday. Last year, free shipping orders dropped to 45% late in November, but this year they climbed to 55.1%.

I do the majority of my holiday shopping online and I noticed this trend long before I saw this report. Nearly every online store I visited was offering free shipping on any size order. That’s not just a boon for people buying a whole sleigh full of presents from one retailer. A no threshold offer encourages people to buy small items that would have been too pricey with shipping included like a $5.00 pair of slippers from Kohls.

The good news for retailers is that the average order with free shipping is $125.20, 45% higher than orders with paid shipping. So what you lose in shipping, you should be making up in sales.

The numbers point to a trend that comScore thinks will continue through this holiday buying season and beyond. Consumers have grown to expect free shipping and 84% of those surveyed said it was somewhat to very important.

Free shipping, 50% off discounts, bonus gifts with purchase — if things keep going like this, in a few years retailers will be paying customers to shop with them. . . actually, I think some of them already are.