Is free shipping sustainable for retailers?

Shoppers who ventured into stores on Black Friday, November 29, may have noticed significantly less frenzy than in previous years, when the traditional start of the holiday retail season made headlines for stampeding crowds racing in for doorbusters and desperate parents fighting over the last Tickle Me Elmo toy.
To be sure, Americans shopped in record numbers this year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported nearly 190 million consumers made purchases in the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, an increase of 14% from last year. But more of them abandoned physical stores for the ease and limitless choices of online shopping. The biggest draw to digital was free shipping, according to NRF. Nearly half of shoppers surveyed said free shipping was the push they needed to make purchases they were otherwise hesitant about. A fifth of shoppers cited the option of buying online and picking up in store as another factor in favor of virtual retail. Read more…