Compete with national retailers this holiday season by following in their footsteps.  You can if you are informed and can customize their programs to meet your independent store’s needs.   So thanks to Time magazine, here are three early season deals from the big guys, all of which stretch over the next  months:

1.  Free Shipping from Best Buy. Many retailers will be offering free shipping at some point this holiday season. (For that matter, some retailers, such as L.L. Bean and Zappos have free shipping and free returns year-round).   Giving customers free shipping for a specific week or brief window of time often succeeds in boosting sales while the promotion lasts. Best Buy, by contrast, just announced that it’ll offer free shipping, with no minimum purchase, on all orders placed from November 1 to December 27.  The hope is that, instead of using a free shipping promo to attract business for a few days, the longer deal will get shoppers into the habit of purchasing goods from Best Buy without worrying about shipping costs.

2.  10% Back for Toys “R” Us Loyalty Members. Lasting through Christmas Eve, Toys “R” Us loyalty program members will receive 10% back (in the form of store credits) on nearly all purchases at Toys “R” Us. The promotion is a repeat of last year, when the toy retailer boosted membership for its free loyalty program by 2 million customers. The store credits earned through the holiday season won’t be awarded to loyalty members until January—so the promotion obviously hopes to attract shoppers not only in November and December, but early 2012 as well.

3.  Walmart’s Christmas Price Guarantee. In addition to its reintroduction of layaway—which is itself a strategy for attracting business, and repeat business at that—Walmart has announced a special seasonal price guarantee. From November 1 to December 25, customers are supposed to shop at Walmart and rest easy in the knowledge they’re getting the best price of the season. If they buy at Walmart and later spot the same item at a different store for a cheaper price, Walmart will provide the customer with the price difference. Instead of a cash refund, though, Walmart gives the difference in the form of a Walmart gift card. Why? Largely for the same reason that the price guarantee stretches over an extra-long time span—to increase the chances customers will visit stores multiple times over (and after) the holiday season.

Let us know how you are incorporating some version of all or one of these in your store this holiday season…