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article imageHoliday wars commence — Amazon to offer free shipping to all

By Karen Graham     Nov 5, 2018 in Business
The battle for consumer's online shopping orders is heating up this holiday season, with E-commerce giant Amazon raising the stakes by offering free delivery to customers without having to meet the $25 minimum purchase threshold.
According to Business Insider, this is the first time in recent years that Amazon is offering free delivery in an effort to add new Prime members and bulk up the season's sales numbers. The promotion started today and is for a "limited" time, according to Amazon.
Last year, during the holiday season, unless you were an Amazon Prime member, you had to spend at least $25 to get free shipping. But even the $25 is down from the $49 Amazon was requiring several years ago. Amazon is also claiming it has the largest free-shipping selection in the U.S., with “hundreds of millions” of items available.
Amazon had some bad news when the company's revenue projection for the remainder of the year fell below some Wall Street analysts' estimates suggesting sales growth is slowing for the e-commerce giant while higher pay for warehouse workers could hurt the bottom line, according to Bloomberg.
The company expects sales for the fourth quarter to be between $66.5 billion and $72.5 billion, falling short of analysts’ average estimate of $73.8 billion. Operating income will be $2.1 billion to $3.6 billion, Amazon said. Analysts projected $3.9 billion.
Shoppers will just have to keep in mind that the promotion is good for Amazon's five-to-eight-day shipping speed. Prime members will still get free two-day shipping. But even with 5 to 8 day deliveries, Amazon is expected to clean up this year in the holiday shopping wars.
What's the competition doing this season?
Walmart is not sitting by twiddling its thumbs this holiday season. Walmart has opted on both an in-store and an online strategy to meet customer demands this year. Customers will now find store workers in the busiest sections of its 182,000-square-foot supercenters and smaller stores outfitted with mobile checkout scanners to ring up customers on the spot.
Besides customers not waiting in long checkout lines, Walmart is also adding detailed digital store maps to its mobile app to allow shoppers to quickly find aisles and products. Walmart has taken to heart a Moody's report released earlier this month that says that even with the growth of online shopping, 85 percent of retail sales still take place in stores.
Walmart has updated its online shopping strategy, redesigning its webpage and adding over 2,000 additional items. Walmart will also add a "deals hub" that will refresh regularly with new promotions. It has also expanded its selection of items available for two-day delivery on its marketplace. Eligible orders must be worth $35 or more.
Target is also preparing for the holiday shoppers, rolling out its new service, called Skip-the-Line, designed to help customers avoid one of the biggest frustrations with shopping in stores over the holidays: busy checkout lines. Target employees will be armed with mobile devices to complete shoppers' checkout process from anywhere in its stores, the company said.
Target announced its Skip-the-Line service two days after Walmart announced their mobile checkout service. Actually, this will prove to be a huge benefit for both retailers in competing against Amazon. The announcement by the two retailers - Walmart and Target - highlight the "importance and growing popularity of mobile point-of-sale technology in stores," said Michael Jaszczyk, CEO of GK Software USA. "Checkout lines are a huge pain point for both customers and retailers, especially during Black Friday and the busy holiday season."
More about Amazon, Free shipping, Competition, purchase minimum, Online shoppers
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