Giving the gift of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) this year? The company announced that it will be offering free shipping, free returns, and free engraving on all orders throughout the holiday period. Normally, free shipping only kicks in after purchases exceed $50.
In Shop.org’s eHoliday 2013 Pre-Holiday Consumer & Retailer Study, 85 percent of respondents rated free shipping during the holiday season as important or very important. Retailers surveyed are aware of the level of importance attributed to the perk by shoppers. Of the retailers consulted, 47 percent said there were plans to increase free shipping options this year. Last year, only one-third planned on increasing free shipping options.
Not paying for the product’s journey has little impact on those making tech purchases, such as iPads, since it would have been standard. Instead, those customers will benefit more from the order deadlines Apple published. To ensure delivery by December 24 of the iPad mini with Retina display, for example, orders need to be placed by December 5.
That is the earliest date a product needs to be purchased online for delivery. Previously, Apple stores and retailers had been backordered for the iPad mini with Retina display, or iPad mini 2, due to production problems. The iPad Air also has an early deadline, December 9, for Christmas delivery.
Most other Apple tech purchases need to be made by either December 12 or December 18 in order to be opened on Christmas. Returns can be made through January 7 on purchases made between November 1 and December 25. Normally, customers only have 14 days to return an item unless it is an iPhone, which can be returned up to 30 days following its purchase.
As a whole, Apple’s efforts combine the aspects of what Shop.org’s survey found to be most important to consumers. In addition to free shipping, flexible return policies and user-friendly websites topped the wish lists for those making online purchases. What Apple has not engaged in that Shop.org also includes as a tip for sellers is a promotion or coupon for merchandise. Forty-five percent of retailers surveyed said they would offer discounts on items.
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