Buy.com bids bye to most shipping fees

The online retailer responds to a similar move by Amazon.com with a free-shipping offer that doesn't require a minimum purchase, though some products won't be covered.

2 min read
Buy.com has seen Amazon.com's latest free-shipping offer and is raising the stakes.

The online retailer announced Wednesday a free-shipping offer that, unlike Amazon's, doesn't require a minimum purchase. As earlier reported, some of the company's products will not be affected by the offer, though it will cover a majority of items on Buy.com, including books and consumer electronics products.

But there's no telling how long the promotion will last. "This offer is for a limited time only," the company said in a note on its site. "Buy.com reserves the right to end or change this free shipping offer at any time."

On Tuesday, Amazon revised its own free-shipping program, lowering the minimum purchase required from $99 to $49. Buy.com's move is a response to Amazon's update of its program, company spokeswoman Stacey Doherty said Tuesday.

"Amazon claims they 'lowered the hurdle' with their free shipping offer. Buy.com just ran that hurdle over with our free-shipping truck," Buy.com Chief Executive Officer Scott Blum said in a statement.

Free shipping was standard fare at many Web stores during the dot-com boom. But under pressure from Wall Street to produce profits during the subsequent dot-com bust, many companies dropped their free-shipping programs and other discounts and raised prices.

Amazon started experimenting again with free shipping last summer, picking up the shipping charges when customers ordered two or more books, CDs or videos. The move was quickly matched by Barnes&Noble.com, which kept its free-shipping offer in place even after Amazon stopped its test of the program.

Amazon kicked off a broader shipping war this winter when it announced that it would permanently extend a holiday promotion that offered free shipping on purchases of $99 or more. Buy.com, KBToys.com and Banana Republic's online store quickly followed suit, although KBToys.com and Banana Republic later discontinued their offers.

As with Amazon's program, Buy.com previously offered free shipping on purchases of $99 or more. Products currently marked on the site as being eligible for free shipping will continue to be eligible under the revised program, Doherty said.