Online shopping has it’s appeal – you can shop in the middle of the night, in your PJ’s, all while avoiding the crowds and stress of the mall during the holiday retail crush. But, man, shipping stinks! In fact it’s the number one reason online shopping carts are abandoned prior to finalizing a purchase.
To help, here are some strategies that – when put to the test – can help to curb that annoying postal premium.
Consider Amazon Prime
Amazon devotees know the savings that can accrue by signing up for their premium service. The annual fee is a steep $79 dollars, however, Amazon Prime comes with all kinds of other benefits, not the least of which is free, 2-day shipping on orders over $25 and overnight shipping is just $3.99. You also get access to thousands of free “instant video” movies and TV shows, which are streamed unlimited over your computer commercial free.
Use a Free Shipping Service
If you shop online on multiple sites, you can sign up for a free shipping service like ShopRunner. The service offers free shipping on returns, too, if you need to send something back. It’s similarly priced to Amazon Prime at just $79/year (or $9 a month), but the benefit here is that it’s across dozens of sites — no need to be locked in. If you’re a devoted online shopper, this is a huge savings. There’s a host of other member benefits, too, like being able to track all your online orders from one central location.
Shop Select Retailers
During the mad dash for holiday gifts, certain retailers will try to woo you with their online deals, and one of them is free shipping. Zappos has long been revered for it’s 365-day free shipping along with Staples, and this season, Apple and Target (on their top-selling toys) are offering free shipping close to the holidays as well. For clothing items, RevolveClothing and Nordstrom both offer free shipping and returns.
Search for Discount Codes
Next, in addition to deal sites there are coupon sites like RetailMeNot, CouponChief, and CouponCodes.com that will help you dig out some discounts — check there first to see if there are active codes for free shipping. And FreeShipping.org is a whole site dedicated to free shipping codes (now they have other coupon codes as well). Even if you can’t find any, you may be able to score a discount on your purchase that’ll offset the cost of shipping.
Shop on Free Shipping Day
You could also save up your online shopping for Free Shipping Day, which is December 17th, 2012 – a day when nearly 1,000 large and small retailers will be offering free shipping on holiday orders, including Kohls, REI, Zappos and Best Buy. Just make sure to watch prices to make sure you’re still getting a deal.
Call & Ask
Why not? Online retail is a competitive arena. You may be surprised by the results you get by simply calling the company and asking what they can do to help you cover shipping. Ask them to waive the shipping fees if they can or, maybe they can help you out with a discount code or even honor a past sale (if it’s within 7-14 days) to help cover costs.
Finally, when all else fails, save yourself expensive shipping expenditures by simply shopping early. The difference between sending a last-minute gift to Aunt Gertrude in time for her birthday or Christmas – paying at least 40% percent more for expedited or even overnight shipping – is like lighting a match to your billfold. Simply by looking ahead a week or more and sending something freight, ground or express mail can save you $40, $50, even $80 on shipping. If you can wait an additional day, a package shipped Fed-Ex Express Saver (usually 3 days) instead of 2-day is an automatic 10% savings.
The lesson is, don’t wait — research your options now, check for discounts, and capitalize on all the savings there is to be had on shipping this season.
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