Online retailers offer free shipping day

December 16, 2011 (CHICAGO)

"Isn't every day free shipping day?" asked shopper Liz Rollins.

Over the last three years, the number of merchants who are part of free shipping day has grown by ten times. Last year on free shipping day, online shoppers nationwide spent close to $1 billion, which means that for retail dollar volume free shipping day is ahead of Black Friday and closing in on Cyber Monday.

"Any time you can save an amount of money that puts more income in your household and that income you don't have to spend, that's a huge savings, so that's very important," said Harvey Isom, Sears State Street store manager.

With so much riding online, retailers want to make sure their sites don't succumb to any hiccups.

At Sears' Network Operations Center (NOC) all of the company's associated websites - over two dozen of them - are monitored 24/7. If any of their websites gets sick, they've got to launch the fix it team.

Do bells and whistles go off?

"We don't have audio alerts...we have color codings that tell us when we're having a problem, so we activate those color codes and we have procedures in place to notify folks and page them out," said Tony Parrilli, Sears.

The general rule is if the screen is green at NOC, things are good. And that is also retail mantra on this free shipping day.

"It would be nice if they would ship to Africa, but I don't think they'll ship that free," said Benneditker Molokwu, who is visiting Chicago from Nigeria.

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