Your online orders from Amazon are about to get more expensive, one way or another. The online retail giant has announced an increase on the threshold for free shipping, from $35 to $49 for non-Amazon Prime members.
The only exception to that rule is books: Book orders can ship for free when they reach $25 in purchases. A purchase of non-book items will still ship free even if it is less than $49, as long as there are $25 in book purchases included in the order.
This rate hike comes as little surprise, given that the United States Postal Service recently increased its shipping rates for retailers across the country. Amazon has their own deal with the USPS, but it was inevitable that Amazon would have to pay more for the same services.
The costs of that increased shipping are now being passed on to consumers. For physical store retailers, that presents an opportunity.
Capitalizing On A Changing Online Market
Convenience and lower costs have long been selling points of online commerce. Amazon’s decision to raise its free shipping threshold is emblematic of an adjustment every retailer will have to make: Shipping costs are on the rise. As consumers are asked to foot the bill, it diminishes the cost benefits of buying online versus in stores.
There are still plenty of cases where those shipping costs won’t apply, of course. Big purchases through Amazon will be unaffected. And Amazon’s free shipping for non-Prime members was never quite “convenient” in the first place, since it could take up to nine business days for a product to arrive at the purchaser’s home.
But cost is leveling out, and it could push consumers to consider two alternatives. One is shopping in stores, the old-fashioned way. The other is online-to-offline commerce, which many large retailers are starting to offer, if they don’t already.
In most cases, online-to-offline can provide the convenience of shopping online with the speed and efficiency of visiting a store. In fact, the process is even more efficient than traditional shopping, since shoppers enter a brick-and-mortar store specifically to pick up an in-stock item they have already reserved.
Higher shipping costs, along with a desire to reap the best benefits of online and offline shopping, are why Amazon is looking to open its own retail locations as O2O hubs. Increased shipping costs only offer more incentive for both retailers and shoppers to give it a try.
The alternative is swallowing higher shipping fees. After years of being spoiled with free or low-cost shipping, don’t expect consumers to accept this change with open arms.
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