Target.com has now lowered their minimum order amount which will qualify for free shipping to $25, down from the previous $50 threshold. The $50 minimum is on par with what Walmart.com charges, but higher than competitor Amazon’s $35 minimum. Under the new rule, Target.com will beat Amazon’s threshold by $10.
Most Target shoppers have a Target REDcard and receive free shipping with no minimum. The REDcard comes in three versions: a credit card version, a debit card version, and a prepaid debit version; all three get free shipping with no minimum. The recent change will only affect those who are paying with a different credit/debit card or with a Target gift card.
The move signals a seriousness on the part of Target to conquer the ever-expanding demand for online orders as an alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Target also has a subscription program, similar to Amazon’s better-known Subscribe-and-Save program. (Target’s subscription service has a maximum discount of 5%, versus Amazon’s program which starts at 5% but can get an high as 15% when subscribing to five separate items.) As in the case of Amazon as well, subscription orders from Target.com are shipped free with no minimum. The subscription discount is in addition to the 5% discount which Target REDcard members receive on all purchases, whether in-store or online.
Just to add my 2 cents: I always question the wisdom of creating easy free-shipping requirements, since ultimately shipping costs money and the companies can’t cover it without making the products more expensive. For example, my pricings indicate that Amazon is usually more expensive on many household items such as soap and tissues. If the free shipping requirements would be harder to reach, they may be able to be competitive. For example, if there would be a $50 minimum for everyone including Prime members, they may be able to offer competitive prices and it could be worthwhile to order large orders of such items from the comfort of your living room.
In the deal-seeking community, there are often ways of getting certain items for very cheap with free shipping from Amazon with a one-time coupon and the like, but for regular use – as a substitute to Walmart or Target – I haven’t found it worthwhile. Similarly, from a (very limited) test I did on Target.com, I found the prices more than in-store. Again, for purchasing a single item or for certain sales, the lower threshold on free shipping may be a boon, but I question the wisdom of it when considering online shopping as an alternative to in-store shopping.