More than 16% of US retailers will offer their first holiday free shipping offer by week of Oct. 28; 34.9% already offer year-round free shipping, compared with 23.1% last year: NRF

WASHINGTON , October 17, 2013 (press release) – Bargain hunters take note: free-shipping offers will not be hard to find this holiday season. According to’s eHoliday survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, 16.3 percent of retailers will offer their first holiday free shipping offer by the week of October 28; more than one-third (34.9%) say they already offer year-round free shipping, compared to 23.1 percent last year. Additionally, more than half (51.2%) of online retailers surveyed plan to start their online holiday marketing promotions by Halloween.

For the first time, asked online retailers when they have or will start planning for the 2013 holiday season, revealing that more than three-quarters (74.4%) had begun planning by July.

“Retailers have been preparing for holiday for months, smartly investing in what’s important to online shoppers: value, free shipping, a user-friendly site, and flexible returns, among other features,” said Executive Director Vicki Cantrell.

“Retailers understand that holiday shoppers also look for merchandise selection and quality, and have boosted inventory to offer ample selection and exclusive products to help customers find just the right gift for everyone on their list.”

Retailers Prep Digital Investments for Holiday Season

Knowing that consumers increasingly use their smartphones and tablets to research and purchase products, retailers have prepared accordingly. . More than half (57.4%) have invested in optimizing their mobile websites, nearly four in 10 (38.3%) have invested heavily in the smartphone user experience, and one-quarter (25.5%) say they invested in mobile commerce apps for smartphones.

Retailers will also tap specific mobile marketing tools to attract holiday shoppers this year. At the top of the list of mobile tactics for over half (55.3%) of retailers: mobile email optimization. Additionally, 44.7 percent will use smartphone paid search campaigns, two in five (21.3%) will use SMS campaigns, and 17.0 percent will use QR codes or other barcode scanning promotions. also asked online retailers about their budgets for online holiday marketing and promotions. According to the survey, 68.8 percent of online retailers say that at least 20 percent of their total 2013 online marketing budget goes towards holiday marketing, and two-thirds (66.6%) say that at least 20 percent of their total online promotions budget goes towards holiday promotions.

Impact of Economy on Marketing, Social Media Plans for Holiday Season

The economy has also had an impact on how retailers have changed their company’s plans for the 2013 holiday season. Specifically, more than one-quarter (27.3%) say they will offer free shipping earlier because of the economy. Discounts will also come earlier as a result of the economy: according to the survey, 31.8 percent plan to offer discounts earlier than they did last year, and another 31.8 percent will increase their use of daily deals for their customers.

Looking for heightened return on their investment, many companies will focus more on social media this year. More than half (54.8%) will increase their use of Facebook in November and December, and 59.5 percent will increase their use of Pinterest. Additionally, 55.0 percent of companies surveyed will increase their use of Instagram.

About the Study

The eHoliday Study provides an authoritative snapshot of the holiday activities of both large and small online retailers, and also includes the sentiments of online holiday shoppers. The study, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for, surveyed 47 online retailers from June 10 – 27, 2013 and 44 retailers September 4 – 23, 2013.

Prosper Insights and Analytics delivers executives timely, consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive resource of information, Prosper represents the voice of the consumer and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and world issues., a division of the National Retail Federation, is the world's leading community for digital retail, offering thought leadership through original research and gold standard events. The community is made up of exclusive networking groups and committees that lead the global conversation surrounding innovative e-commerce trends and digital retail. members include some of the world’s largest most respected retail, technology, research, and consulting companies.

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