We’ve got Black Friday. We’ve got Cyber Monday. Now we’ve also got Free Shipping Day.
This year marks the fourth annual Free Shipping Day , this year occurring on December 16. Large and small retailers will offer free shipping on their products online for one day. As a consumer, that gives you the opportunity to save a bit of cash on your online holiday purchases. As a retailer, it could also mean an extra injection of cash just before the holidays, through increased sales.
According to the Free Shipping website , more than 1,500 merchants, most of them small businesses, have already signed up to offer free shipping on the 16th, with delivery guaranteed by Christmas Eve, in the contiguous United States. The Canadian version  of this day is December 12.
Is This What Small Businesses Need?
With the rest of the year being sluggish for sales in most industries, the holiday season is one sure-fire period where small business know they’ll see more sales. But once Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, what else can send a flood of sales to your site?
I think Free Shipping Day is a great idea for smaller retailers looking to stand out from competitors. Many of the retailers listed on the Free Shipping site are eBay or Etsy stores that wouldn’t otherwise have this level of exposure to the general public.
Does It Work?
Before you get skeptical because you haven’t heard of Free Shipping Day, let’s look at last year’s numbers. In 2010, $954 million was spent online on Free Shipping Day , and it was the third heaviest day of online shopping in history. So clearly people respond to being able to get free shipping!
But is it necessary? Abe Yoder, who runs online retail store Amish Crafts Ohio, says he offers free shipping on his website all the time. He believes that small businesses benefit more from offering free shipping year ’round than from doing so just one day a year. Not only does the free shipping entice more sales, but he’s also seeing more international sales as a result: “I have seen the most spurt of business from this come from Canada,” Yoder explains.
Other retailers are offering free shipping for part of December. Powell’s Books offers free shipping  until December 13, guaranteed to arrive by December 24.
Clearly, these retailers believe that free shipping works — to the point that they don’t limit it just to one day.
Will You Join Free Shipping Day?
If you’re interested in participating in Free Shipping Day, you can sign up here . The site charges advertising for the higher-placed logos on the site , and while larger retailers are charged a commission for participating, there is no fee for small businesses. Your listing should be up within a day or two of signing up.
Free Shipping Photo  via Shutterstock