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Sears and Kmart to Offer Amazon-like Free Shipping Membership

The guy who invents a transporter beam that instantly delivers any size package anywhere for free will rule the world.

Today, Sears and Kmart announced an upgrade to their Shop Your Way membership program that sounds incredibly familiar – free 2-day shipping on “mailable items” for $79 a year. I’ve always thought $79 was a lot to fork over ahead of time in order to get fast, free shipping but at least with Amazon, you get free movie downloads and ebooks as a bonus.

What’s Sears offering? How about double points on qualifying purchases. Every 1,000 points equals $1 off a future purchase, so it sweetens the pot a little. Then they add in the promise of all kinds of exclusive deals and bonus opportunities. In other words, they’ve turned shopping at Sears and Kmart into a game. The goal? See if you can earn back the $79 you spent without breaking your budget.

Paypal Offers Price Match and Free Return Shipping for the Holidays

At this time of year, it’s the little things that can help sway a shopper over to your side of the street. Paypal’s working that theory by offering not just an easy way to pay for gifts, but protection for purchase missteps.

Most of the hype surrounds their new offer to price match. Basically, if you pay for an item with Paypal and you find it cheaper within 30 days of the purchase, Paypal will refund the difference. There are restrictions. Door buster, one-day, limited quantity and close-out sales aren’t included. That pretty much covers most of what you’ll see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

On the upside, Paypal’s price match is available for both online and offline sales. They’ll even price match NEW Buy it Now items on eBay. That’s huge. They’re also covering airline tickets within 7 days of purchase.

Republican Voters Spend More Online and Other Electoral Ecommerce Stats

While much of the world waits to see how voters in the red and blue states will respond once they hit the polls, Monetate has the answer to an even more important question — how much do they spend online?

Turns out that folks from the red states, the ones that traditionally vote Republican spend an average of $92.22 when they shop online beating the Democratic blue states ($91.62) and the Undecided purple states ($87.63).

This could have something to do with the fact that Romney supporters are also pro Mac. 24.31% of Republicans are using Apple computers compared to 17.63% of Obama supporters. Those guys are much more PC (so to speak).

Overwhelming Portion of Holiday Shoppers Will Start on One Device and Finish on Another

For several years now, we’ve been hearing about the impact of mobile on holiday shopping. But here’s a fact I’ve never heard before.

85% of shoppers will shop for a gift by starting on one device and finishing on another.

The information comes from the Adweek Google 2012 Digital Holidays survey and it’s all about the birth of the multi-screen holiday shopping season. Take a look at this slice from their delightful infographic:

Crazy stuff. And what’s funny is, I actually do these things but didn’t really think about it. I email myself from my iPad all the time. I did this just yesterday after I found a cool gift idea for my husband. Emailing is an inelegant solution to the problem but it works. A better solution is a direct connection between the tablet (or smartphone) and the computer. For example, I also used the Amazon app on my iPad to add items to my Wish List which my husband will later access from his computer.

Consumers Warm Up to the Idea of Varied Pricing Per Channel

Want to pick up a new Kindle Fire this weekend? You can get one from Staples for the same price as Amazon, but you’ll get a $20 Staples gift card as a bonus. Only thing is, you can only get the deal if you go to the store because they’re not available through Staples.com.

That’s a better scenario than when you research an item online then go to buy it at the store only to find the price is higher. The logic is that it costs more to run a store, so they have to charge more. Even if it’s true, is that good business?

A recent study by RetailWire shows that almost half of consumers surveyed said it was fine for retailers to price things differently online and off. Which means almost an equal number said prices should be the same across all channels.

As Thanksgiving Day Sales Become the Norm, We’re Left to Wonder What’s Next?

In 2011, consumers using RetailMeNot.com reported saving more on Thanksgiving than they did on Black Friday. Additionally, consumers using RetailMeNot.com spent 5% more on average per order on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday.

That tidbit comes from the WhaleShark report with the long-winded but accurate title of “OctoNovemCemberTM: Why an Unsteady Economy Is Causing Consumers to Search for Deals Long Before Black Friday.”

What it means is that the retailers who were vilified last year for daring to put profits above family time went laughing all the way to the bank when it opened the next day. Even more retailers pushed their Black Friday opening times back from ‘crack of dawn’ to ‘stroke of midnight’ to make the whole event even more tiresome and exciting.

Real Models and Video Boost Online Apparel Sales

Buying clothes online is hard. Just because you wear a size 9, doesn’t mean you’ll look good in every size 9 dress. And more than once, I’ve bought a piece of clothing that looks luxurious online, only to find that it looks and feels cheap in person. Unlike one-size-fits-all DVDs and books, people want to touch clothes and try before they buy because we’re emotionally attached to what we wear. Don’t believe it? Ask a woman which outfit in her closet makes her feel good, which one is for bad days and which one is for those “feeling fat” days. (Men, do you do this, too?)