Businesses Rival Amazon on Free Shipping
This holiday more businesses are offering free same-day delivery for gifts.
The Amazon Prime service offering same-day delivery – which costs $5.99 for Prime subscribers - was in such high demand last year that in March the company raised the cost of subscription from $79 to $99 per year. Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping for its subscribers, so rival companies are taking notice of the rising customer expectations for free or inexpensive rapid delivery.
Approximately 65 percent of online retailers are offering free or upgraded expedited shipping this holiday season, with 20 percent of those businesses offering that service as late as Dec. 23, according to the National Retail Federation’s e-commerce division Shop.org.
[READ: Social Media Sites Aim for Slice of Holiday Shopping]
partnering with Barnes & Noble and other retailers in some cities to offer same-day delivery through Google Express, which costs $4.99 per order, or $10 per month for a subscription.
Smaller online retailers are also willing to take a hit paying shipping costs to help them attract customers away from Amazon. This December 92 percent of merchants will offer free standard shipping promotions, with 23 percent of those businesses offering the promotion through Dec. 21 or later, according to Shop.org.
Amazon is trying to maintain its lead in holiday e-commerce by working closely with services like UPS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure last-minute orders don’t get delayed on route to Christmas tree destinations.
“We use a variety of carrier partners and we are confident in their ability to deliver for Amazon customers this holiday,” Kelly Cheeseman, spokeswoman for Amazon tells U.S. News.
[ALSO: Online Gift-Buying Grows Beyond Cyber Monday]
failed to deliver part of their Christmas orders on time, according to market research firm Internet Retailer.
This holiday may be even busier, as UPS is forecasting more than 585 million packages to be delivered in December, an 11 percent increase compared with last year, says Susan Rosenberg, spokeswoman for UPS. The busiest delivery day for UPS will likely be Dec. 22, with more than 34 million deliveries worldwide compared with an average delivery day of 17 million packages shipped, she says. To avoid a repeat of last year’s delays UPS has taken extra precautions.
“This includes everything from advanced data feeds for trailer arrivals and load information sent from large shippers to new equipment to scan, measure and weigh packages and affix labels to lightweight small packages typical of e-commerce deliveries,” she says. “We also will have up to 95,000 seasonal jobs, up from 85,000 last year, to expand our workforce.”
The U.S. Postal Service has also hired an extra 30,000 workers for the holiday season, to meet the new consumer demands for rapid shipping, says Sue Brennan, spokeswoman for the post office.
“We began delivering seven days a week on Nov. 23,” Brennan says. “On Sunday, Nov. 30, we delivered more than 2 million packages!”
The postal service is also testing a same-day delivery service called MetroPost to meet consumer demand for rapid shipping “in a number of locations, most recently in the Phoenix area,” she says.