Free shipping offers a boon for customers and retailers alike
By Jay Keller
Retailers are ringing in 2013 by offering customers the lure of free shipping in an effort to piggy-back on similar success found during the holiday season.
This is good news for shipping companies like FedEx and UPS who benefit from facilitating the bulk of online shipping business.
Department stores vary in their offers of free shipping via their online portals, some by offering exclusive deals and others waive the fee altogether.
For example, Target offers free shipping to customers who spend $50 on select items while Nordstrom has opted to waive all shipping charges on all products.
Online shipping policies at specialty stores like Victoria’s Secret also vary depending on the merchandise or the sale. Victoria’s Secret is offering a one-day deal of free shipping on orders over $25 with a promotional code.
On the other hand, Williams-Sonoma advertises that online customers receive free shipping on all orders.
Online retailers are also following suit. Overstock.com on Wednesday announced “everyday free shipping” on orders over $50, excluding Hawaii and Alaska. The company still maintains their flat-rate of $2.95 for orders under the cap.
Amazon.com launched on Wednesday for the first time unlimited, two-day shipping service internationally to Canada by offering Amazon Prime to Canadian customers for an annual fee of $79, according to The Globe and Mail.
Previously, Amazon Prime was limited to U.S. customers and this move by the world’s largest retailer comes on the heels of a service upgrade which includes a kids-only subscription service.
International online retailers like inkstation.com are targeting U.S. small businesses by offering free shipping on purchases over $50 on ink cartridges. Their strategy, according to a company statement, is aimed at small business owners looking for ways to cut costs and manage expenses.
The offer for free return shipping influenced online purchasing decisions during the holiday season in 2012, according to the FedEx Peak Returns Survey.
Since the holidays, however, major retailers continue to maintain their policy of free shipping despite price increases at major shipping companies like UPS and FedEx.