With the festive season fast approaching, retailers are making bold moves to lure in the shoppers. This year, deliveries are taking center stage and the biggest US retailers are offering unprecedented discounts which, in most cases, simply wave the shipping fees. Here are some of the seasonal delivery promotions offered by major US retailers:
Amazon: Free standard shipping on all orders. For the first time in the company’s history, the ecommerce giant is offering free shipping for every order regardless of how much you spend even if you’re a non-Prime member. Outside of the holiday season, Amazon offers free shipping to Amazon Prime members and to those placing orders of $25 or more. Amazon is waiving the $25 minimum for free shipping on hundreds of millions of products, but it only applies to standard delivery which takes five to eight days. Prime members will get the added bonus of free same-day delivery without any minimum spend between now and the holidays.
Walmart: Ahead of the holiday season, Walmart is extending its two-day free shipping offer, as well as its returns process, to include many items sold by third parties on its website, as long as the order is of $35 or more. Making this offer available to ‘millions’ of items sold by third parties is what makes it different from last year. What’s more, they’re also making the return process easier for people looking to mail unwanted items back to sellers or return them in store.
Target: From now through December 22nd, Target shoppers will be able to get their items within 48 hours without paying extra. And unlike a similar shipping offer they launched in the spring, this one requires neither a minimum purchase nor the use of Target’s REDcard. The retailer will also be making its drive-up service available at roughly 1,000 locations across the U.S. by the end of this month. Using this service, customers who do their shopping through the store’s app can head to a store within the hour and get the items they purchased brought out to their car.
BestBuy: For a fourth consecutive year, the company will provide free shipping on all online orders, with requiring a minimum purchase. From November 8th through December 25th, BestBuy’s offer will be available across the US. For shoppers who want same-day delivery, an additional $5.99 fee will apply.
While these are all fantastic offers for customers, there’s a broader question for the industry as free deliveries become the industry standard in customers’ minds. As Frank Poore, CEO of CommerHub discussed recently in Forbes, “the shipping perk creates additional pressure on everyone to race to the common denominator — which is fast, free shipping. It’s clearly a conversion driver for retailers and sets the longer term implication that fast, free shipping is going to be expected as the standard at all times and on all items.”
It’s clear that the pressure is on for retailers as free shipping becomes the norm. Orchestrating an efficient distribution and delivery strategy is rapidly becoming an imperative to ensure that first mile and last mile overheads don’t make a disproportionate dent in retail profit margins.