Jul 12, 2016

    Wal-Mart dangles free shipping to fight Amazon

    WAL-MART Stores is offering free shipping with no minimum purchase on all online orders for five days starting yesterday, stepping up its battle against Amazon's highly publicised shopping event Prime Day.

    The latter is a sales event for members of Amazon Prime's US$99 (S$134) shipping and digital content service that has turned into a crucial part of the online retailer's growth plan.

    Amazon expects its second annual Prime Day on July 12 to be bigger than last year.

    In 2015, it generated more sales on Prime Day than on Black Friday, a day which officially kicks off the year-end shopping season in the United States.

    Wal-Mart is attempting to take a slice of that fast-growing online sales pie during the middle of the year, keep its customers from straying and attract new online shoppers.

    This is also part of Wal-Mart's broader strategy to strengthen its e-commerce business at a time when its online sales growth is slowing.

    Sales through the company's website and mobile app increased 7 per cent in the latest quarter compared with 17 per cent a year earlier.

    "We believe saving money every day is better than just one, and that all customers should save, not only some," Wal-Mart said in a statement that directly takes on Amazon's shopping event.

    Wal-Mart's free shipping offer will be in addition to a recently launched 30-day free trial of ShippingPass, an unlimited two-day shipping initiative that costs US$49 per year.

    Wal-Mart said customer sign-ups for ShippingPass have more than quadrupled since the offer launch last week.

    It will provide discounts on everything from television sets and clothes to furniture this week.