RealTime IT News

Online Consumers Get a Break*

Online e-tailers Toysrus.com and Amazon.com, acting to remain competitive in the holiday e-commerce wars, both adopted free shipping policies, but with rather major asterisks.

Toysrus.com said it plans to offer free shipping for a limited time in November as an extra incentive for consumers to shop early "in order to get this year's hot products that may be in limited supply later this season."

Amazon.com, which teamed with Toysrus.com in August to create a co-branded toy store, handles shipping for all toy and video game orders from its distribution network.

Amazon.com also kicked off its own holiday shopping season today, launching a new Gifts store and offering free shipping through Nov. 22 on orders that exceed $100 and are shipped to a single U.S. address.

The Toyrsrus.com offer also runs through Nov. 22 and also carries the "must spend $100" asterisk.

The new Amazon.com Gifts store aggregates gift ideas from across the site in a dedicated holiday area. Shoppers can browse the store by price, age, interests or top sellers.

"We ... wanted to give our customers a gift this holiday season, so we're inviting them to shop early, ship free, and have peace of mind knowing their items will arrive on time ... beautifully wrapped ..." said David Risher, Amazon.com's senior vice president and general manager of U.S. stores.

"The free shipping offer is a great opportunity for customers to get everything they need on their holiday gift list ordered before Thanksgiving while saving money as well," said Greg Ahearn, vice president of marketing, Toysrus.com.

Toysrus.com said free shipping orders for in-stock items will be sent via standard delivery service, and will normally arrive within seven to 10 business days from the order date. The promotion does not include overnight or rush delivery charges. Free shipping will be offered to destinations anywhere within the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico. Toysrus.com does not ship products internationally.

Strategically the moves do seem to make sense; the more folks who shop early the less risk of disappointing customers during the crunch time right before the holidays.

Meanwhile, Toys "R" Us Inc will report its third quarter results on Monday. Analysts are expecting a loss of about 32 cents a share for the highly cyclical business.