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November 15, 2017

Free shipping for Xmas ecommerce campaigns: yes or no?

As we head towards the end of the year, Xmas and New Year campaigns are high on the agenda for retailers. The temptation for brands during the Christmas period is to offer customers the world, including free shipping, to ramp up website visits and boost conversion rate.

Space 48 Head of Insight Oliver Lees has helped many global brands in making this decision. In this blog, Oliver discusses free shipping for holiday campaigns and outlines his key recommendations for ecommerce delivery options.

How important is free shipping to customers at Christmas?

“Free shipping is certainly appealing, but you should focus on delivering great customer experience and clearly-presented delivery options and shipping details, rather than raising customer expectations with wide-reaching free shipping during Christmas campaigns,” Oliver answered.

Offering a word of caution for retailers, Oliver continued: “Don’t overpromise during Christmas, as you may overextend your capabilities to fulfil orders or dilute your long-term strategy. Consider only offering free shipping for limited-time promotions, loyalty rewards or new customers incentives.”

Key recommendations for delivery offerings during Xmas campaigns

Product discounts and a good range of delivery options, which are easy to understand, can prove more valuable to customers than free shipping. Here are Oliver’s key recommendations for Xmas campaign delivery offerings:

Give customers a good range of delivery options

Although the majority of customers opt for standard delivery, you should still offer a wide range of delivery options for customers seeking alternatives, such as speedy delivery or click-and-collect. Don’t miss out on a chunk of conversions to your competitors during Xmas because you haven’t offered people enough choice.

Customer preferences depend on industry, channel, device and product type. Consider larger items that are more suited to in-store pick-up, rather than home delivery. Whilst mobile shoppers who make impulsive purchases might be keen to select next-day or express delivery.


Prioritise urgency over free shipping

The closer it gets to Christmas, urgency for consumers is heightened. Although free shipping is an attractive hook for customers buying multiple items, if they’re spending a lot of money on your website, speed of service, flexible delivery options and products enabled to be shipped together may be more valuable.

Tip: Test and implement any changes in delivery options well in advance of Xmas campaigns. It could be a risk to try and chance too many factors during the holiday season.

Be more transparent with delivery details

This is where you can encourage more conversions, without needing to offer free shipping. Being transparent builds consumer trust, but it’s useful for people looking to buy multiple products.

Here are some great ways to show transparency in the route to purchase:

  • Let customers know that if they purchase by a certain time, they get same-day delivery or receive packages by a particular date
  • Display details of your shipping partners
  • Give clear delivery date expectations
  • Use delivery threshold prompts – i.e. “Spend £X to get free shipping”
  • Give visitors a heads up on last Xmas post dates – fashion retailer, House of CB have already included this in their on-site banner!


CB xmas banner.png


You may have many of these on your ecommerce website already, but making them easier to find and placing them on key positions will give shoppers a better customer experience.

Be customer-centric

Use your data to better to understand your customer needs. Your insights should steer your Xmas campaigns. Speak with your logistics partners to fill gaps in your delivery offerings. Consider what delivery options should be added that you’re not currently offering customers. Many brands we work with trial new delivery options in the quieter periods of the year, so that everything is tested and optimised in time for Xmas and New Year.


It’s crucial to meet customer expectations during the holiday season. Do extensive testing and get the right infrastructure in place to manage increased demand and ensure your fulfilment is top notch. Free shipping and seasonal offers should be secondary to good customer experience, transparency of service and suitable delivery options.


Space 48 is a leading UK ecommerce consultancy, based in Manchester. Specialising in Magento ecommerce website development, we help brands to create award-winning omnichannel strategies. Need help with your seasonal campaigns? Contact our ecommerce consultants and see how we can help improve your performance.