Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Making the best of the L.L.Bean Sale

L.L.Bean is running a great holiday sale on the front page of New York Times:

Given these multiple discounts, I wonder if there is any purchase price at which it makes sense to split your order to enjoy separate gift certificates for each part, even if you have to pay for shipping. Let's assume that shipping is $5 for any size order. And of course it is free on orders of $75 or more as sale ad states.

Please explain your answer on our Family Puzzle Marathon site. Solve three puzzles and get a prize!


Kim said...

Absolutely, split that order up! The $5 shipping charge is less than the gift certificate value, so assuming that gift certificate is something you're likely to use, then you want to split up your order into as many small orders (>$25 each) as you can.

Of course, if you have an LL Bean Visa card, there's never any shipping charge (or monogramming charge), so you don't even have to consider shipping! At the risk of sounding like an ad for LL Bean, I'm a big fan of this card, and use mine on all my LL Bean purchases!

Enjoy the snow!!

Maria said...

Yes, magical snow today in MA. Great time to work at home and browse the L.L.Bean sale. They should pay us all for this free advertising.

Great tip from Kim on the L.L.Bean card. But, back to math. Assume that we don't have this magic card. What if your order is $75? I don't think you will benefit by splitting it up into two. You will be loosing the free shipping and paying it twice on your $30 and $35 orders...

I checked the little print of the sale details. They allow only one gift certificate per customer per day. So, when exactly does it worth splitting your order and ordering small parts day after day, and when we should not bother?

Kim said...

Ah, right -- can't believe I forgot the shipping charge applying twice!

You can either treat this as a moral question, or as an economic one --

Morally, I would tend not to want to make the UPS guy make multiple visits to my house, nor to make LL Bean pay for multiple shipments just so that I can eek out a slightly better deal.

Economically, you are trying to maximize benefit. So as long as the value of your gift cards exceed the value of the shipping, then you want to break up the order.

Gain = $(10-5) x number of orders under $75 + $10 x number of orders over %75

if we can break the $75 order into three $25 orders (over three days), then we get $30 in gift certificates for $15 in shipping or a net of $15 (v. a net of $10 -- $10 in gift certificates and no shipping charging if we place the $75 order on one day or a net of $10 if we break it into two orders and get $20 in gift certificates for $10 in shipping).

Of course, if you're facing deadlines (Hannukah for example starts Friday night), then all bets are off! :-)

Maria said...

Kim is right.
For some purchase amounts, like $75, you would pay $75+free shipping - $10 gift cert = $65
while splitting it into three orders will lead to:
3 x ($25+$5 shipping - $10 gift cert) = $60

Similar saving of $5 will come if you split a $65 purchase.

Can it be more than $5? Yes, it can. But you would need to spread your purchase over many many days:
$1,000 purchase would cost $1,000 - $10 gift cert = $990
If split into 40 (!) separate orders:
40 x ($25+$5-$10) = 40 x $20 = $800

A nice saving of $190, but it will require quite an effort on behalf of a person doing 40 purchases, packing, deliveries, and a whole lot of a cardboard. Plus, the sale probably won't go for all 40 days.

New puzzle later tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Aah, but it's important to remember that it's not a $10 discount which comes off the current purchase, it's $10 towards a future purchase (only through Feb. 16, 2010). So unless you know there's something to purchase for exactly $10 (in which case it will be free but with yet another shipping cost to consider), there are other factors to consider. Of course shopping at a store will save the shipping charge but the selection is limited. Not a lot of $10 items ~ socks, perhaps?

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