The Holiday Free Shipping Showdown: New Strategy Centered Around PIM

October officially opens the door to the holiday shopping season. In fact, according to NRF’s Holiday Headquarters survey, more than half of holiday shoppers start to research and plan their gifts in October or earlier. As stores set up their fall displays, merchants and manufacturers are working behind the scenes to finalize their seasonal strategies for generating high sales and revenue. For many, it’s a yearly battle of weighing the pros and cons of shipping promotions. Yet new strategies centered on Product Information Management (PIM) are enabling retailers and e-commerce companies to move beyond the burdens of free shipping by ramping up the effectiveness of their product content.

The Free Shipping Lie

We all know free and fast shipping is important, especially during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the Christmas season. According to a customer experience study by UPS, four in five customers feel that free shipping is an important factor when making a purchase online. However, as an article in Fast Company points out, free shipping is often a lie that hits retailers the hardest:

“The implications of the [free shipping] lie aren’t often felt by us consumers, who have come to expect free shipping. The biggest impact is felt by e-commerce businesses, particularly smaller ones, which face what some have called an emerging crisis: The cost of free shipping, in many cases, is unsustainable.”

So what can sellers do to combat free shipping pressures this season and beyond?

Holiday Heavyweights: Shipping Vs. Product Information – Who Wins?

A nugget of surprising yet positive news for retailers and e-commerce merchants can be found in Forrester’s report Polishing Up Your Products – Why PIM Really Matters. The analyst firm found in their research that:

“In aggregate, rich product data yields more influence than shipping prices on the consumer’s purchase decision…When considering a purchase, 71% of prospective online buyers rely on product information and content versus on 57% who seek information shipping costs.”

Effective PIM solutions and strategies are certainly important year-round; however, companies also find a notable impact during peak periods and seasonal sales. This is likely due to the rise of the omnichannel shopper.

Consider the following PIM benefits:

  1. Product content helps connect the dots for omnichannel shoppers, who are found to be significantly more valuable than single-channel shoppers.
  2. PIM enables accurate, consistent, and up-to-date product details across channels to improve your products’ SEO results and website searchability.
  3. Product information plays a crucial role in the product discovery and exploration phases, particularly during research-heavy shopping seasons like Christmas.
  4. PIM populates product suggestions for upselling and cross-selling—powerful tools, particularly during the holiday season.
  5. Leveraging PIM, retailers can curb post-holiday returns by providing accurate product content to help ensure a satisfied customer.
  6. PIM matters for manufacturers. According to Forrester, “the biggest role for manufacturers’ websites is in providing high-quality product information to support the customers’ purchase journey.”

Moving Beyond Free Shipping

The bottom line? Free shipping will likely hold its place of importance when competing for the sale. However, it can’t be your end-all-be-all. In fact, some could argue that its prevalence reduces its impact, not to mention that, for many, it’s simply unsustainable.

By utilizing PIM solutions to compete with content in context, merchants and manufacturers can lean into new strategies for combatting shipping challenges and winning sales during the holidays.

How would a PIM solution impact your omnichannel success this holiday season? Comment below or contact us to learn how EnterWorks can help.

And for more tips on maximizing your product content, click here to download our ebook, Tis the Season for Product Content: A Playbook to Maximize Your Holiday Sales with PIM.

Kerry Young

Kerry Young

Kerry Young joined EnterWorks in 2006 when Ennovative, Inc., the multi-channel publishing software company he co-founded, was acquired by EnterWorks. He directs EnterWorks’ operations and leads EnterWorks’ professional services and consulting organization, ensuring effective customer implementations and ongoing success. Mr. Young brings more than 25 years of technology and business management experience to EnterWorks, having served as CTO for a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, and earlier as VP, Information Technology for Marshall Industries, a $1.7 billion industrial electronics distributor. He previously managed information systems for a subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas Corporation. Mr. Young holds a B.S. degree in Computer Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and an M.B.A. from California State University Fullerton.