FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — In the world of online shopping the nation’s biggest retailer, WalMart, is upping the ante with free shipping on almost everything. Starting Thursday, the retailer is waiving shipping fees on 80,000 items with no minimum purchase amount required.
“I know a lot of accountants are going to say, ‘This is crazy. Shipping is a cost. This is going to cut into the profitability.’ Actually I see this as an investment in their retention,” says Bentley University professor Bruce Weinberg.
He says WalMart will ultimately gain new customers, who will spend more money in the long run.
He and other experts believe competing retailers will soon follow WalMart’s lead.
If that happens, online shopping could put a significant dent in so called “Black Friday” sales the day after Thanksgiving.
“It’ll be interesting to see what Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be like, but I don’t expect it will be as pronounced this year as it has been in the past,” says Weinberg.
Other stores have offered free shipping with strings attached. At Target’s website, shoppers have to spend at least $50. At JC Penny, there’s a $69 minimum requirement, and at Amazon, shoppers have to spend at least $20 for free shipping.
WalMart’s free shipping deal runs through December 20th.