Amazon just ratcheted up the war for holiday shoppers with an unprecedented promotion

  • Amazon is offering free shipping for all customers for a limited time this holiday, starting November 5.

  • It marks the first time Amazon has removed the minimum order requirement for its free super-saver shipping tier.

  • The guaranteed time of delivery is between 5-8 days of the time it's shipped. Prime members will still get their stuff in 2 days.

  • It intensifies the war for online customers this holiday, and comes after Target announced free two-day shipping for all customers for the holiday.

Amazon won't be sidelined by brick and mortar stores this holiday.

The e-commerce giant is offering free shipping to all customers this holiday, starting November 5. Amazon didn't say when the promotion would end, but described the duration as "limited."

It marks the first time in recent memory Amazon has removed the minimum order requirement promotionally for its free super-saver shipping tier, which has gone up and down over the years, from a high of $49 to its current low of $25.

It may be because Amazon felt the need to compete with big box stores who are also offered free shipping promotions. Most notably, Target announced it is offering all of its customers free two-day shipping until December 22 with no order minimum. Best Buy also removed its free shipping threshold for the holidays, but gives no time guarantees.

Amazon Prime members still get two-day shipping, but the promotional free shipping deal is only good for Amazon's 5-8 day shipping speed.

Amazon has seemingly reacted to pressure from rivals before. It's $49 free shipping threshold didn't last long after Walmart unveiled its policy of free two-day shipping with every order $35 or more in January 2017. In the wake of Walmart's change, it lowered the threshold twice that same year: to $35, and then to the current non-promotional threshold of $25.

The war for online holiday shoppers is already off to a roaring start, and Amazon is preparing to take the lion's share of online shopping again this season.

Most of this year's sales growth is likely to come from online purchases. Forrester Research is predicting 14% sales growth online but only 1.7% growth in stores. Analysts estimated that Amazon took nearly half of all online retail sales in 2017, and that it will account for even more this year.

Forrester estimates that online holiday sales will account for more than 32% of all online sales for the year.

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