Target Corp. announced Monday that it has broadened its free shipping policy to simplify online shopping for customers and better compete with Web retailers.
Now, nearly all online orders of $50 or more on Target.com, with the exception of oversized or heavy items, will qualify for free shipping. Previously, only some items were eligible, but online shoppers didn’t always realize that and were sometimes frustrated when they checked out and discovered they were being charged for shipping because only some of the items in their cart qualified.
The change in policy, however, makes tens of thousands of additional items eligible for free shipping, said Target spokesman Eddie Baeb, who added that qualifying items sometimes willchange based on various promotions. Some of merchandise that now will be shipped for free include a 50-inch Smart TV from Vizio, the Xbox One, and a LEGO Disney princess castle. Previously, Target.com charged to ship these products.
“Now it’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s across the board,” Baeb said.
The development is one of a number of ways the Minneapolis-based retailer is trying to catch up and accelerate its digital efforts after years of being criticized for being behind the curve. It recently announced the formation of a digital advisory council to help it innovate faster and said it will hire at least 50 more software engineers to bolster its Target.com and mobile teams. It also is testing same-day delivery in Minneapolis, Miami and Boston.
Jason Goldberger, senior vice president of Target.com and mobile, said in a blog post on A Bullseye View that the retailer has “doubled down” on digital in the last year and a half and has been making a number of improvements to its website. Upgrades include an expansion of the items available for purchase online, adding in-store pickup as an option, and improving the way it organizes and displays items, as well as enhanced search and analytics.
“But the reality is, our guests continued to tell us that our shipping policy was frustrating and confusing to them, and holding us back,” he wrote. “In fact, our internal research told us that more than half of Target.com shoppers who abandoned their shopping carts said their decision was related to shipping costs.”
Goldberger said the new shipping policy should lead to more online sales and customer loyalty. And he noted that other online retailers exclude a large percentage of items for free shipping deals, whereas Target’s new policy excludes a limited number of heavy or oversized items such as sofas.
“While we’re not the first retailer to provide free shipping, we think our new offer is among the most compelling in the industry in terms of value and breadth,” Goldberger wrote.
Holders of Target’s Redcard have been able to get free shipping at Target.com with no minimum purchase since November 2011.
Target’s new shipping policy went live on its website on Sunday. Its offer is for delivery within three to five business days.
Walmart.com offers free shipping on orders of more than $50, but it has a longer delivery window for such orders — six to nine days. For orders of more than $50, Wal-Mart customers have to pay $2.97 to get the item in three to five business days.
Amazon offers free shipping on qualifying items on orders of $35 or more that will be delivered within five to eight business days. It also offers free two-day shipping with its Prime membership.