Who’s Naughty or Nice about Shipping and Returns?

Online shoppers will pay close attention to at least two things this holiday season: shipping costs and return deadlines.

Nowadays, free shipping during the holidays is more of a requirement than a competitive advantage for retailers, according to Christopher Newman, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Mississippi.

"Retailers don't necessarily benefit a lot from offering free shipping, but they definitely run the risk of losing sales if they don't offer it," Newman said via email.

In fact, in a survey of 2,000 American holiday shoppers by Shorr Packaging Corp., 30% of respondents said the thing they dislike the most about online shopping is shipping costs.

Lenient return policies are also important, Newman says. That's because online shoppers frequently purchase products without seeing them prior, so free and easy returns act as a safeguard in case an item doesn't work out.

So what should online shoppers expect this holiday season? We took a look at the holiday return and shipping policies at four major retailers, as outlined on their websites. Here are some of the highlights.

Amazon

Shipping:

-- It's better to be a Prime member. Amazon Prime members get unlimited free two-day shipping on eligible items, and non-Prime members get free five-to-eight-day shipping on eligible orders of $25 or more. In some cities, Prime members can use Prime Now on Dec. 24 to get their gifts by the end of the day on Christmas Eve.

-- Add-on items have special rules. Watch out for so-called add-on items, which are available for purchase only with over $25 of items shipped by Amazon. Amazon says it would be cost-prohibitive to ship these low-priced items on their own.

Returns:

-- Returns extend through January. Items shipped by Amazon.com between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 may be returned until Jan. 31 for a full refund, subject to return guidelines.

-- But return dates...

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Who’s Naughty or Nice about Shipping and Returns?

Online shoppers will pay close attention to at least two things this holiday season: shipping costs and return deadlines.

Nowadays, free shipping during the holidays is more of a requirement than a competitive advantage for retailers, according to Christopher Newman, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Mississippi.

"Retailers don't necessarily benefit a lot from offering free shipping, but they definitely run the risk of losing sales if they don't offer it," Newman said via email.

In fact, in a survey of 2,000 American holiday shoppers by Shorr Packaging Corp., 30% of respondents said the thing they dislike the most about online shopping is shipping costs.

Lenient return policies are also important, Newman says. That's because online shoppers frequently purchase products without seeing them prior, so free and easy returns act as a safeguard in case an item doesn't work out.

So what should online shoppers expect this holiday season? We took a look at the holiday return and shipping policies at four major retailers, as outlined on their websites. Here are some of the highlights.

Amazon

Shipping:

-- It's better to be a Prime member. Amazon Prime members get unlimited free two-day shipping on eligible items, and non-Prime members get free five-to-eight-day shipping on eligible orders of $25 or more. In some cities, Prime members can use Prime Now on Dec. 24 to get their gifts by the end of the day on Christmas Eve.

-- Add-on items have special rules. Watch out for so-called add-on items, which are available for purchase only with over $25 of items shipped by Amazon. Amazon says it would be cost-prohibitive to ship these low-priced items on their own.

Returns:

-- Returns extend through January. Items shipped by Amazon.com between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 may be returned until Jan. 31 for a full refund, subject to return guidelines.

-- But return dates...

Comments are closed.