Walmart is going to be providing free shipping on their online Web sites beginning now until December 20, 2010, The retailing giant is hoping to increase its sales by using free shipping as an incentive to consumers to do their shopping with it. They company hopes that this offer will lure shoppers from the likes of Amazon and other online retailers this holiday season.

One recent article states that:

But given Walmart’s scale and influence in the marketplace, its free pass for shipping sets a new high — or low — in e-commerce. And it may create an expectation among consumers — free shipping, no minimum, always — that would make it harder for smaller e-commerce sites to survive.

Walmart says it will not raise prices to offset shipping and will not press shippers, like UPS and FedEx, to absorb the costs. But Walmart and other big retailers already have low-price contracts with shippers, and the stores maintain distribution centers nationwide that reduce shipping distances and costs.

For smaller retailers and Web sites, which pay regular mail rates and may ship from only one location, free shipping is not nearly as affordable and often must be added into prices.

This is one statement that I agree with:

Retailers say that shoppers have already started to revolt against shipping fees. While consumers are sensitive to what an item costs online, shipping costs can have even more influence, according to market research.

I will not order an item online from any retailer when I see a high shipping and handling rate. I have seen some items offered for sale on Amazon or eBay where the shipping fee is more than the cost of the item. If online retailers want my business, they’d better offer free or low-cost shipping on the items they sell.

What about you? Are shipping costs a factor in your online purchases?

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times