Target Fires First Salvo in Holiday Shipping Wars

Looking to jump-start its holiday sales, Target announced yesterday it would offer free 3-to-5-day shipping on all orders, commencing immediately and running through December 20. “We’ve been building capabilities that put us in a strong starting position, including the right digital tools,” said Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell in a press release announcing the move.

Citing a 40% increase in conversion rate via digital channels so far this year, Target is priming its online systems to ride the trend. It’s increased to 65,000 the number of items it makes available for online order and store pick-up, claiming it fulfills 80% of these orders within an hour. The retailer will soon introduce new holiday wish list apps for mobile phones and tablets.

As of today, Target’s major competitors have yet to answer its shipping challenge. Walmart was continuing its policy of shipping for free on orders of $50 and up, Kohl’s on $75, and Best Buy on $35.

For an added fee, shoppers can upgrade to one- or two-day delivery. Holders of Target REDcard debit cards get an extra 5% off purchase with their free shipping.

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