We've blogged about the benefits of free delivery as an effective sales driver, and it seems that more retailers are offering it this year.

According to a post on This Week in Etail, the number of US retailers offering free shipping has jumped from 31% to 41% over the past couple of weeks as they attempt to appeal to holiday shoppers.

Judging by some of the emails I've been getting recently, more UK retailers are also offering the incentive this Christmas.

The posts also reference comScore stats showing that, perhaps due to harsher economic conditions, more customers are looking for sites that offer free shipping this year.

In the survey 72% of respondents said that, if an etailer stopped offering free shipping, they would shop at a competitor with the offer instead.

A quick look at Google Trends stats for 'free shipping' shows that searches for the term follow a seasonal pattern, suggesting that it is a big potential differentiator at Christmas:

Google Trends - free shipping

I've noticed plenty of UK retailers are now offering free delivery for the Christmas shopping season. Amazon introduced free shipping for orders over £5 recently, and others have followed suit since then.

Some, like Waterstones and John Lewis offer it regardless of spend, and plenty more, Tesco and Borders included, for orders over a certain threshold.

I searched on Google Trends for 'free delivery', a predominantly UK search term, and a similar pattern emerges: 

Google Trends free delivery UK

I also searched Google UK for 'free delivery', to see which UK retailers are ranking well for the term:

Google UK search results for 'free delivery'

A big win here for John Lewis, Game and Play.com, which have all included the term in the title tag, ensuring both a prominent ranking on such searches, as well as communicating the offer to customers before they have to even click on the site.

So, free delivery offers, as well as being an effective promotional device, can also be a useful SEO tool.

My Twitter page can be found here

Related articles:
Offering free delivery? Then shout about it...
E-commerce delivery options - five key tips

Graham Charlton

Published 12 November, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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