The Battle of Free Shipping Continues

A wooden crate with the words "free shipping" stamped onto it.

Image credit: Shutterstock

It’s hard to be a big box retailer these days and charge a hefty price for shipping. We keep seeing big-name stores that were once prosperous now closing up shop, and a lot of that has to do with the ease and affordability of online shopping.

For a time, many still chose to shop in-person because that option offered no shipping fees, but that era is slowly coming to an end–and major stores are now battling it out for the best free shipping deal.

This week, Amazon announced that it would be (once again) lowering it’s free shipping minimum for non-Prime members. Shoppers now only need to spend $25 to forgo shipping costsa price that is very reasonable for most people. At the beginning of 2017, the spending minimum was $49, but that changed when Walmart came out with their own two-day, free shipping deal on orders of $35 or more. With the $25 limit, Amazon is now the cheapest place for shipping.

Yet, that could very well change.

Target, which has been offering free shipping at the $25 rate for quite awhile, is planning to run a test program on next-day shipping, starting this summer. As of right now, the pilot program will only be offered in the company’s native Minneapolis (and only to REDcard members), but if it’s successful, the company would most likely branch out to Targets countrywide.

That said, Target plans on charging a “low, flat-fee” for shipping, although executives have yet to determine what that fee will be. If it’s something insignificant (say, $2.95) and you’re ordering a $500 dresser, that fee is worth the next-day shipping. If people are willing to pay a small amount to ensure their items are delivered in a timely manner, it will be one more sting against Amazon–which is exactly what Target wants.

Target to Stay Open Late

Target has decided to keep half of its U.S. stores open past midnight in order to cash in on late night shoppers. Traditionally, Target’s 1,800 stores open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closing at 9 p.m. on Sunday. Its new expanded hours will give night owl shoppers a few extra hours each night, hopefully bringing in more revenue for the retailer, which has struggled since last year’s massive security breach during the holiday season.

Although the added hours aren’t particularly heavy in traffic, Target feels that enough people will show up to make it worth keeping the store open later. Currently around 0.3% of American shoppers will shop after 10 p.m. on a typical night. Wal-Mart keeps 70% of its stores open 24 hours a day, and Target is still trying to repair its lagging foot traffic in U.S. stores.

The new extended hours for stores will be starting this month and continue through the holidays, when the company will then re-evaluate and see if it wants to continue the late night extravaganza. Target isn’t the only large retailer fighting lagging sales; many others are also having difficulties in lieu of the fact that more shoppers are choosing the convenience of shopping online or smaller businesses over large department stores.

Amazon is one of the companies reaping the benefits of the shifting market balance. The largest ecommerce platform in the world, Amazon brought in more than $19 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal quarter. Other huge ecommerce sites are also coming into the market, including the recent Google Express.

“We did a lot more analysis into how big an opportunity this is, and there is a really big opportunity here,” Target spokesman Eric Hausman said. We’ll see what, if any, benefits Target reaps from its extended hours come first quarter 2015.

Target Uses Top Pinterest Influencers for a New Design Collaboration

It's sweet touches like these "hooray" banners that create a magical atmosphere for your party!

IMG: Joy Cho via Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the top social media platforms for design, so it only makes sense that Target would use it for it’s new design collection. On Monday, Target announced a new design partnership with some of Pinterest’s top influencers and pinners, who will be designing exclusive party-planning collections for Target.

Not only are these people big on Pinterest, but they are popular design bloggers as well. “We’re excited to see the launch of Target’s new design collaboration,” a Pinterest spokesperson wrote in a statement sent to Mashable. “Pinterest is a place where anyone can share the things they love and inspire others to go out and do things. Target’s latest line designed by everyday pinners is proof of that.”

Joy Cho of Oh Joy, who has over 13.6 million Pinterest followers, will have her collection debut on March 16th. Other top pinners Jan Halvarson of Poppytalk (8.3 million followers) and Kate Arends of Wit & Delight (2.6 million followers) will showcase their party planning collections in June and September.

Target, who has a little less than 150,000 Pinterest followers, has actively been using Pinterest for awhile now. When a user searches for an item on Target.com that is no longer available, instead of an error page the users will now see top pins from Target. They also uses small labels to identify popular items from Pinterest inside its retail stores.

Target worked with Pinterest to pick the three designers. “We selected Pinners who we felt would have broad appeal to our guests, have significant followings, a diverse geographic location and their own unique style,” a Target spokesperson told Mashable in a statement.

Target Plans to Lure You In Stores With Facebook Deals

target

Img: storm2k via Flickr

Online shopping dominates the market. While I personally hate paying shipping for something I can run down the street and grab, at times it can be significantly cheaper and provide more options. Target just came out with a new marketing plan to compete with the online retailers; cartwheel. This service combines social networking and discounts which helps to bring more shoppers into their physical store. These discounts do not apply online.

This new program has users use their Facebook accounts to redeem these deals. In order to redeem the discounts and promotions, the shopper has to either print out a barcode or present it on their smartphone. Users can see other deals that their friends have used, and can earn more offers by having their Facebook friends sign up.

This program officially launched today, May 8th. Once you have signed up, you can view your offers on Facebook. Target said that it worked in partnership with Facebook to create this app. The great thing about it is that you can share the deals you chose with their Facebook friends, but offers on more discreet items, such as bras or medicine, will not be visible to others.

“Linking offers through Facebook will let the retailer know exactly what Facebook can or cannot accomplish for it. While Twitter can be useful to promote timely, limited offers, Facebook is ‘the dominant platform’ for connecting with shoppers and, in turn, with their connections.” said Carol Spieckerman, president of newmarketbuilders, a retail strategy firm.

 

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