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As holiday lists push consumers towards the free and expedited shipping perks Walmart and Amazon offer, retailers are trying to win them back with competing measures. Best Buy, for example, has waived its $35 minimum for free shipping during the holiday season. But shouldering shipping costs can often be costly for brands, and virtually impossible in some categories. Home & Gift retailers are constrained when it comes to eliminating delivery charges because of the size and weight of their packages. However, most use purchase incentives brands in other categories could adopt.

 

While at least 80% of brands in the Shoes & Accessories, Apparel, and Watches & Jewelry categories offer free shipping, just 33% of the Home and Gift brands in L2’s Specialty Retail study do so. And orders must meet certain conditions to qualify, as no Home & Gift brand provides unrestricted free shipping. To incentivize purchases, Home and Gift brands offer “premium” services such as in-home delivery and furniture setup. For example, Williams-Sonoma, Pier 1 Imports, and Ethan Allen offer white glove delivery services.

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Meanwhile others implement flat shipping rates to increase basket size. Restoration Hardware is one of the brands that offer flat-rate shipping for a range of shopping distances. Ikea also incentivizes larger basket sizes with a flat-rate shipping cost, and gives buyers the option of having a store associate select items and delivery through a local courier service.

 

Flexibility – or a wider range of fulfillment options – can be also remove hesitations about a purchase. For example, Crate & Barrel allows consumers to pick up large items at a local warehouse to avoid shipping charges.

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