RealTime IT News

Buy.com Aims to One-up Amazon

The front-line action in the e-commerce wars is shifting to shipping charges as Amazon's reduction this week was quickly topped by privately held Buy.com, which instituted "free shipping site-wide with no minimum purchase required."

The big question is whether some of the smaller players can afford to keep up the fight. And if they can't, don't expect any tears from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Seattle-based Amazon this week followed up on the many hints it has been dropping and began a marketing test in which it cut the minimum order size to qualify for free shipping from $99 to $49.

Buy.com responded less than a day later.

"Amazon claims they 'lowered the hurdle' with their free shipping offer - Buy.com just ran that hurdle over with our free shipping truck," said Buy.com founder and CEO Scott Blum.

Those are brave words from an e-tailer with a past as troubled as Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Buy.com, which was taken private last August by Blum for pennies a share when the company ran head-on into the Internet recession.

While smaller e-tailers may be taking a chance, some analysts, such as Morningstar's David Kathman, feel that "is financially healthy enough to experiment like this," said adding that the company's earlier offer of free shipping for orders of $99 or more "was surprisingly successful."