One of the biggest motivations forshopping online is freeshipping. Almost 9in 10 consumers say free shipping would induce them to shop more online, according to a 2016 Future of Retail studyby marketing firm Walker Sands.
Stores have been taking notice. Expensive shipping may become a thing of the past, thanks to subscription services such as Amazon Prime, in whichmembers pay an annual fee to secure free shipping on all their eligible purchases.
Now, Wal-Mart is taking aim at Amazon’s loyal following with a program that offers free two-day shipping.
What does Wal-Mart offer?
At Walmart.com, free two-day shippingis available on eligible orders of $35 and abovewithout having to pay a membership fee. Look for items with the green “2-Day Shipping” logo. Wal-Mart says millions of productsqualify. The program is available in the contiguous United States.
For items that do not qualify, customers can getfree three-to-five day shipping on orders of more than$35. For more information about shipping options, visit the online help page. Marketplace and freight orders count toward the order threshold, but shipping costs and times vary.
In 2016, Wal-Mart launched a pilot programcalledShippingPass, a membership program that customers signed up for to receive unlimited two-day shipping for$49 per year.
The retail giant, which has canceled the program, says all active ShippingPass members will receive a full refund for their subscription.
How does it compare to Amazon Prime?
Wal-Mart’s biggest competitor in the shipping space is Amazon Prime, which is well-established and costs$99 per year or $10.99 per month.
Prime offers members multiple shipping options, including free two-day shipping nationwide on more than 50 million items, free same-day delivery by 9 p.m. on more than 1million items in select areas, and free two-hour delivery on someproducts in select metro areas via its Prime Now option. (Note that you’ll need to order at least $35 worth of eligible items to getfree same-day shipping and have to meet a minimum order threshold for free two-hour delivery.)
Prime offers more thanfast shipping. Members also receive access to movie streaming, photo storage, Prime Music streaming and 30-minute early access to time-sensitive sales called Lightning Deals.
Things to watch out for
Before signing up for Amazon Prime, keep in mind that:
– Not all items are eligible. Not every purchase you make will qualify for free, fast shipping. Consider the types of items you regularly buy.
– Your subscription will renew automatically. If you take no action, yoursubscription will renew automatically after a year. You’ll need to sign in to your account to opt out of the renewal ifyou wish to cancel.
– You should figure outif you’d get your money’s worth. Determine the value of thissubscription in your life. Consider the number ofpurchases you’ll makein a year. Wouldyou accumulate enough in shipping costs to more than offset the membership fee?
What it means for you
For loyal Wal-Mart shoppers,free two-day shipping with no membership fee is a welcome change.
But for those who want a comprehensive online shopping experience — including options for free same-day and two-hour delivery in some metro areas — Amazon Prime remainsa good choice, especially with features such as streaming music and movies.
One more thing to consider: You also can get free shipping from Amazon without a Prime membership. Orders of $49 or more of eligible items or $25 or more of eligible books qualify for free shipping. Delivery will occur five to eight business days after all the items are available to ship.
Updated Feb. 10, 2017.
The article Wal-Mart Takes On Amazon Prime With Free 2-Day Shipping originally appeared on NerdWallet.