In times of inflation, nothing is safe. Not even freebies on your birthday. In the latest inflation stunt since costs on shipping is Sephora’s efforts to launch a $25 online purchase minimum in order to receive a birthday gift.
The beauty retailer revealed in an email to customers the alterations to its birthday gift policy, which will become effective June 1. In order to receive its once coveted free birthday perk, customers will have to make a minimum online purchase of $25 when redeeming their birthday gift. However, customers can still redeem their birthday gift in Sephora stores without any minimum purchase requirement.
The latest update comes about six months after to another modification to its birthday gift benefit, which restricted the number of birthday gifts that could be dispatched to a single address annually.
In November, Sephora incorporated language into its terms and conditions that specified a maximum of 150 birthday gifts that could be conveyed to a sole address every year, encompassing both residential and office buildings as well as parcel forwarding establishments. The retailer confirmed that it would cancel any orders that went beyond this limit.
In March, PYMNTS reported that retailers were either reducing their “free shipping” offers or adding conditions to them. At the time of the report, it was found that businesses were increasing the minimum order size necessary to qualify for free shipping, decreasing the speed of delivery, charging additional fees for faster delivery, and increasing subscription prices that provide free shipping benefits.
Retailers were also raising their product prices to compensate for the expenses of free shipping or even eliminated their free shipping offers altogether. It was also noted that these businesses faced various challenges, such as increased expenses for products and shipping, deceleration in eCommerce growth, and apprehension over a potential economic downturn.
These measures have even been taken by Amazon, which has started charging a fee for some returns to UPS Stores. The tech giant has imposed the fee on customers who return a product to a UPS Store when they could have returned it to a Whole Foods, Kohl’s, or Amazon Fresh location that is equidistant or nearer, Seeking Alpha reported Monday (April 10).
In response to PYMNTS’ request for comment, Amazon spokesperson Lauren Samaha stated, “We provide Amazon customers with hassle-free and convenient returns, which include one or more options for returns without labels or boxes, and are free of cost.”
Similar steps have also been taken by H&M, which started charging for returns in September 2022, as well as Zara.
See also: Amazon Charging New Fees on Some Returns
PYMNTS’ research discovered that the additional shipping cost might be sufficient to discourage consumers who are trying to save money wherever they can. In this case, with Sephora, the requirement to make a purchase of at least $25 may not seem attractive to some, while others could go on unfazed.
The modification in the policy may steer more customers to visit brick-and-mortar stores to claim their complimentary birthday gift. The modification comes on the heels of Sephora’s recent Beauty (Re)Purposed program, which requires customers to bring their used beauty products to the nearest Sephora store for recycling purposes.
Both programs have been designed to drive in-store traffic and additional sales, as customers are encouraged to visit physical stores to participate.
Similar to Amazon, Sephora’s adjustments to its free birthday perk, as well as the rollout of its new take-back program, appear to align with the in-store strategy that many retailers have been focusing on.
From D2C brands looking to enter more stores or even make their foray into physical retail, to retailers making in-store experiences and advertising opportunities more personalized, like interactive displays, retailers are doubling down on their in-store strategy, even if it means add more costs for the consumer on the online front.
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