Free Shipping Promotion Entices Last-Minute Santas It's "Free Shipping Day," a day when more than 1,700 businesses are offering free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Many well-known businesses and online retailers are taking part, but so too are many small businesses. Melissa Block talks with Jean Schilling, owner of Kaleidoscopes to You, about why her company is participating in the promotion.
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Free Shipping Promotion Entices Last-Minute Santas

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Free Shipping Promotion Entices Last-Minute Santas

Free Shipping Promotion Entices Last-Minute Santas

Free Shipping Promotion Entices Last-Minute Santas

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/132144948/132144931" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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It's "Free Shipping Day," a day when more than 1,700 businesses are offering free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Many well-known businesses and online retailers are taking part, but so too are many small businesses. Melissa Block talks with Jean Schilling, owner of Kaleidoscopes to You, about why her company is participating in the promotion.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

If you're still doing some holiday shopping, consider that today is free shipping day. The online movement started in 2008 with 250 businesses promising free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve. Well, this year, some 1,700 businesses are taking part. Big companies like Dell Computers, Saks Fifth Avenue and Mattel.

Also, tiny companies like Where the Streets Have Your Name. They sell framed photos of street signs like Melissa Drive or Robert Lane. And then there's the family-owned business, Kaleidoscopes To You. Karl and Jean Schilling have been selling kaleidoscopes for more than 20 years. And Jean Schilling joins us now from company headquarters in Manly, Iowa. Jean, taking a little break from your work to talk to us, thanks.

Ms. JEAN SCHILLING (Owner, Kaleidoscopes To You): Actually, Melissa, it's nice to sit down for a few moments.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: It's been a little busy today?

Ms. SCHILLING: Very busy. It's been a wonderful season for us. This is our strongest season in the last three years.

BLOCK: Let's talk about the free shipping. Usually you offer free shipping on orders $150 or more, but today it's free shipping across the board. Why'd you do that?

Ms. SCHILLING: Well, how this works, this is our first year taking part. And we thought, you know, this is a fun way to try and drive some more traffic to our business. And it really has. The traffic that we're seeing on our website is more than double what we had yesterday.

BLOCK: Well, have you figured out the math? I mean, is there sort of a tipping point at which, you know, the money that you're spending on shipping is outweighed by the sales, the increased sales you're getting.

Ms. SCHILLING: Yes. I would say any order under the $35, $40 bracket we will lose money on today. But we thought, let's give it a try. We figure we'll have enough orders over that range where we won't lose money on the shipping and let's drive the traffic. And, you know, there's a few orders where it's a single $6 kaleidoscope and, you bet, we're going to ship it free for today. And that's part of the fun of it. We're getting kaleidoscopes out there for people to get into Christmas stockings.

BLOCK: It's the right shape, isn't it?

Ms. SCHILLING: Exactly. It's long, it's cylindrical, it fits right in there. We've even had Santa Claus order a few kaleidoscopes.

BLOCK: Is that right?

Ms. SCHILLING: Yeah.

BLOCK: You know, I wonder if people get used to the notion of free shipping and then we expect it all the time. We don't want to pay for shipping after we know what it's like not to.

Ms. SCHILLING: That day may come. You know, it may like long distance. Think about what you spent on long distance 30 years ago and what you spend on it now. And I'm sure it's less. So, I don't know. We'll have to see how that shapes in the future.

BLOCK: In the meantime, the UPS man or woman in your neighborhood today is getting a little bit of an extra workout, it sounds like.

Ms. SCHILLING: Yes. We have great service from our local UPS driver. I better give a shout out to Dan(ph). Why not?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SCHILLING: They're a fabulous team around here. He'll come in and say, man, you guys really worked hard today.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Well, Jean Schilling, have a happy holiday and thanks for talking with us.

Ms. SCHILLING: Absolutely. Thanks for your time, Melissa.

BLOCK: Jean Schilling and her husband own Kaleidoscopes to You in Manly, Iowa. It's one of more than 1,700 businesses taking part in free shipping day today.

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