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We’ve highlighted other stories like this in the past, but according to Geek Wire. Target is offering free shipping on all online orders until August 15, in an effort to latch onto a higher portion of the back-to-school market.

Wal-Mart has made a similar move, reducing the threshold for free shipping from 50 dollar to 35 dollar orders. In both cases, the obvious motive is to better compete with Amazon’s year-round free shipping model. And this season, that motive is enhanced by the fact that the strategy has proven successful before.

The reason we keep pointing this out is because it says a lot about what customers expect from the shipping services associated with their online shopping. In turn, it says a lot about what online retailers may have to do to remain competitive.

If your e-commerce business is filling custom shipping boxes with exceptional products, obviously you’re well on your way to securing a major portion of the market. But whether your company’s shipping service is only moving boxes from Los Angeles to San Francisco or whether you’re shipping crates across the country, some customers in your target demographic are sure to have a growing expectation of free or low-cost shipping.

Because people aren’t taking those additional costs for granted anymore, it’s more important than ever to try to build the crating and shipping services into your overall price structure. And of course, one way to do this is to check various carriers for the lowest price, both in terms of cost of moving boxes alone and in terms of the cost effectiveness of shipping multiple boxes and crates on individual trucks as part of a single order.

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