Walmart.com is offering online customers free shipping through Dec. 20, an aggressive move that could trigger a brutal fight with rival retailers for crucial holiday sales. The retail giant's website is offering the deal on 60,000 gift items, including toys and electronics (except Apple's iPods and iPads) with no minimum purchase required. What does this mean for Walmart and its competitors? (Watch a local report about Walmart's announcement)
Walmart has to do this to compete: Walmart.com isn't striking the first blow in this online war, says David Gura at Marketplace. Online retailers like Amazon.com, Borders, and L.L. Bean have been chipping away at Walmart's brick-and-mortar sales by luring customers into buying more of their gifts over the internet, periodically using free shipping as bait. Walmart.com is just "playing catch-up."
"Walmart.com to offer free holiday shipping"
This spells doom for small e-tailers: Walmart's promotion will help recession-weary shoppers, says Kent Bernhard, Jr. at Portfolio.com, and it will help the company's suppliers "put a little more jingle in the holidays." But it could also kill small e-commerce players that "don't have the power of Walmart to take the hit of paying for shipping."
"Walmart weighs in with free shipping"
Walmart.com could end up hurting Walmart: Free shipping was a "rare perk" when "e-commerce took off a decade ago," say Stephanie Clifford and Claire Cain Miller at The New York Times. Not that Walmart is joining the game, many shoppers may refuse to buy without it. This is a necessary move for Walmart.com, but it could end up hurting the offline store's bid to revive flagging sales. Walmart would much rather have shoppers visit a brick-and-mortar store and pick up an armload of impulse buys along the way.
"Walmart says 'Try this on': Free shipping"