Following in the footsteps of many retailers who are seeking to remain competitive with Amazon, Macy’s is the newest online merchant to roll out a free shipping option for customers.
The new policy, which ships all orders of $99 or more on macys.com for free, officially went into effect yesterday. Orders that don’t meet the $99 threshold will instead be shipped for a flat fee of $8 according to Macy’s.
“In response to requests from our loyal customers, we are implementing this extremely user-friendly shipping policy that does not require special codes and is available every day of the year, not just during promotional periods or holidays,” says Peter Sachse, the chief marketing officer at Macy’s. “We think our customers will enjoy the savings and convenience of this special offer.”
The offer is also good on orders of $50 or more in one of Macy’s most popular categories, beauty products. And while purchases of apparel, jewelry and house wares that fall below the $99 threshold will be subject to the flat fee shipping rate, there are a few other additional restrictions as well.
Free shipping won’t apply to larger, bulkier products such as rugs and furniture that normally call for additional shipping charges anyway. Products from Coach are excluded too (the only specific brand name to be excluded that we know of), as are items shipped to U.S. territories or APO/FPO addresses. Customers can not take advantage of the offer on gift wrap charges or gift cards either.
Nevertheless, the parameters of the shipping deal aren’t so restrictive that Macy’s won’t expect to see some benefit from it.
Macy’s move is just the latest in a long line of online retailers who are revamping their shipping offerings to compete with Amazon’s popular Prime package, which charges an annual fee of $79 to subscribers for free standard shipping on all purchases. One of Macy’s largest competitors, Sears, already offers free shipping on items from Sears.com and Kmart.com for a $79 annual fee.
A number of multi-retailer groups are employing a similar fee-based model for shipping as well. FreeShipping.com, which we’ve covered here on Junkie before, runs a members-only program centered around free shipping from more than 200 different merchants. And another, ShopRunner, also charges a $79 fee each year for free two-day shipping and free returns with a number of leading retailers.
We expect to see more free and discounted shipping offers coming this year as more companies strive to compete with Amazon’s Prime model. But what do you think? Is free shipping really enough of a benefit to keep you online when shopping? Leave us your thoughts and comments.