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by InternetRetailer.com

A new study analyzing over 9,000 online holiday shoppers shows what is becoming increasingly apparent to retailers: free shipping during the holiday season has a considerable effect sales.

Free shipping deals play a major role in whether consumers buy in a store or online and, when purchasing online, where they shop, according the study from ForeSee Results, which measures consumer satisfaction with web sites. 18% of respondents said they shop in stores so they won’t have to pay for shipping and 33% said they have bought from web site instead of a store because the retailer offered free shipping. Three out of five online customers said the availability of free shipping greatly influenced their choice to shop at one e-retailer instead of another.

Avoiding shipping costs was the third most common response for why shoppers choose to buy in a store rather than on a retailer’s website, behind the ability to receive the product immediately and being able to see or feel an item before purchase.

Moreover, consumers gave the retailers offering free shipping higher scores in every satisfaction category than those not offering it. The categories include: likelihood to purchase online, brand commitment, likelihood to return, likelihood to recommend and overall retailer satisfaction.

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