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Best Buy, Target fight for online shoppers with free shipping promotions

Battling for consumer dollars this holiday season, two major retailers have already announced plans to offer free shipping on all items purchased online. Starting today, consumers can take advantage of free shipping at Best Buy on all items, no minimum purchase required. That promotion will run through January 2, 2016. Normally, Best Buy requires a minimum of $35 in merchandise purchased in order to qualify for free shipping.

Starting on November 1, Target will also run a similar free shipping promotion through December 25. At the moment, Target requires a $25 order minimum to qualify for free shipping. In addition to no shipping costs on all orders, Target is also offer free shipping on all online returns. Listed in the promotion details, Target may charge a handling fee for large items that ship from the online storefront.

Both Walmart and Amazon have yet to respond to these promotions. Amazon requires a $35 minimum order for free shipping and Walmart requires a $50 minimum order. However, both companies promote expedited shipping programs. Amazon Prime offers two-day shipping on orders for $99-a-year while Walmart’s ShippingPass (currently a pilot program) offers three-day shipping on orders for $50-a-year.

Interestingly, a 2015 Pitney Bowes study found that 88 percent of shoppers in the United States prefer free shipping that takes between five to seven days to arrive as opposed to expedited one to two day shipping that costs an additional fee. On top of that, roughly 93 percent of respondents found shipping costs to be “an important factor in their overall shopping experience.” That’s a 23 percent increase from the previous year.

Outside of the online space, Best Buy is attempting to draw shoppers into stores with a promotion on November 7, 2015. Approximately 400 participating Best Buy stores will offer customers tech gifts as well as an opportunity to win a $1,000 Best Buy gift card through a Twitter sweepstakes. The company is also rolling out a live-chat feature within the Best Buy mobile app designed to answer questions from customers about products or holiday offers.