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Amazon is still recoiling from a week in which it nearly faced a large-scale boycott
With just two weeks before Black Friday, it’s just about time for retailers (including those of the Web variety) to start doing somersaults and handstands, anything to get the valuable customer’s attention.
Walmart announced Thursday that for most of the holiday season--now until December 20--it will be providing free shipping on nearly 60,000 holiday items, with no minimum purchase requirement or subscription fees. Holiday items include all electronics (except for iPods and iPads), plus thousands of select video games, toys, home appliances, furniture, jewelry, baby items and more.
Standard shipping, which takes about 3-5 business days, will be offered for free. Walmart, not the shipping companies, will absorb the costs of shipping, and not at the expense of item prices.
“Everyone’s trying to figure out how we can serve a customer that’s trying to save every penny they can,” said Steve Nave, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart.com. “It’s the most competitive offer out there, and we’re pretty excited about it.”
The title of the press release says it all: “Walmart Offers Free Shipping to Home This Holiday Season With No Minimum Purchase Requirement online at Walmart.com.” Because you know who offers free shipping to homes with a minimum purchase requirement? Amazon.com. (You'll often see an item that qualifies for "Super Saver Shipping," which means if you spend at least $25, shipping is free.)
And considering the week Amazon had to suffer through, Walmart’s move is a bloody one-two punch.
Amazon came under heavy fire Wednesday for offering a book for the Kindle called The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure, a book that, disgustingly, lives up to its title. Though the company’s initial excuse for not pulling the book hinged on free speech values and the First Amendment, public pressure mounted so rapidly and vehemently, with some shoppers calling for an all-out boycott, that by Thursday Amazon had succumbed and removed the distasteful book.
One can almost imagine that any other time of the year, Amazon would have considered standing up for itself. But two weeks before the ringing in of the busiest shopping season of the year? Not a chance.
In reality, Amazon will probably have a relatively successful shopping season in spite of Walmart's shipping deal. The ones that will certainly suffer, however, are the smaller retaiers and less well-known ecommerce sites that can't possibly step up to Walmart's size and strength.
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