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Walmart takes on Amazon Prime Day with week-long free shipping deal

TechCrunch TechCrunch 11/07/2016 Sarah Perez

Walmart today announced its plan for taking on Amazon’s Prime Day. Amazon’s annual sales holiday kicks off tomorrow, promising a host of online deals and discounts across a variety of categories, including electronics, toys, household items, apparel, and more. Walmart now says it will have a variety of new deals, too, like those on popular electronics like Apple TV, HDTVs, Xbox One consoles, and more, but its bigger news is that it will offer a week of free shipping with no minimum purchase required.

The free shipping offer is meant to combat the biggest advantage Amazon has today with its Prime membership program: free, two-day shipping on millions of items.

During the week, Walmart says that free shipping will be available for over one million items, and notes that many of its Marketplace sellers are already offering free shipping.

Ahead of this deal, Walmart required a $50 minimum order before offering free “Value” shipping to customers, which sees items delivered in 5 to 7 business days.

As expected, Amazon’s move to launch an online sales holiday has had a rippling effect on the industry.

Hoping to capitalize on the action – and those who are comparison shopping online – Walmart says it’s offering free shipping with no minimum purchase required starting today (Monday, July 11) through Friday, July 15.

This is a new strategy from last year, when Walmart launched a rival, three-month sale in response to Prime Day.

This time around, Walmart is debuting some new Rollbacks (its price drops) on a number of products, but the retailer isn’t really trying to run a competitive sales event of its own. Instead, it’s touting its everyday low prices and special buys, while using the free shipping deal to go after any potential Amazon Prime members who may have otherwise signed up for the annual program to gain access to Amazon’s deals.

Along with Prime Day, the addition of Walmart’s free shipping should prove to boost e-commerce revenue on Tuesday and throughout the week.

While consumers last year claimed to be let down by Amazon Prime Day, mocking it as an “online garage sale,” the retailer said that its sales topped Black Friday. Customers were ordering 398 items per second, it said. It was also Amazon’s biggest day for sales internationally to date. This year, Amazon is promising more inventory and better deals, including double the number of TV units compared with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.

In addition to targeting discount shoppers with free shipping, Walmart is also hoping this week to promote its ShippingPass service, which just became available nationwide. This program offers shoppers free, two-day shipping throughout the year at half the cost of Amazon Prime. (Walmart’s service is $49 per year; Amazon Prime is $99 per year.) During testing, Walmart tried a 3-day shipping service, but then narrowed that window to just two days. 

Walmart says that it will continue to promote ShippingPass on its site, and, as customers are searching, they will see “ShippingPass” flags on items, as well. The company declined to say how many consumers have already signed up for ShippingPass, but notes that daily sign-ups have more than quadrupled since it announced the free 30-day trial.

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