Avoid Christmas shopping crowds: Australia’s biggest online stores offer free shipping

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Christmas gift
Christmas during a Christmas gathering, organized by local relief organization "Die Johanniter", with presents for the children at the former US army barracks used as a refugee camp in Hanau, Germany, December 24, 2015. Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Australian retailers are slashing shipping costs as Amazon’s arrival approaches. More than 40 of Australia’s biggest online stores are offering free shipping on eligible purchases this Christmas.

These online stores include Toys ‘R’ Us, Booktopia, Myer, Target, Showpo and Cotton On. Experts believe that new initiatives from Australian retailers gear up for one thing: the arrival of Amazon.

For instance, metropolitan shoppers can join a new membership program powered by Australia Post called Shipster for $9.95 until January 1. Members will have access to free shipping when they spend $25 and over at participating stores. They will also enjoy free delivery of one Deliveroo order every month.

Retail expert Jo Munro said the move is a way for Australian retailers to offer a better deal prior to Amazon’s arrival. Munro described it as great news for shopaholics like her. It remains unclear when exactly the online giant would land here.

Munro said it is a good deal particularly for regular online shoppers buying usual things online such as clothes and toys. She also said Australia retailers are learning to be more aggressive, news.com.au reports.

Online shopping has grown 15 percent from 11.5 percent to in the past year, Australia Post stated. The service is predicting more gifts to be bought online this Christmas.

Australia Post’s acting managing director and group chief executive Christine Corbett said Shipster allows consumers to shop with confidence knowing there will be no surprises at the checkout. “When you shop with Shipster, all you need to do is spend $25 and over to unlock free shipping from more than 40 of Australia’s biggest and most-loved retailers,” she said.

The initiative has been rolled out in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Amazon is expected to be operating from its base at Dandenong South, Melbourne.

Based on a recent survey by digital marketing agency DataSauce, 90 percent of respondents know that Amazon is coming. However, only 48 percent knew about the Amazon Prime offering, a premium service that offers shoppers free and fast shipping.

Tzvi Balbin, former head of digital at Catch of the Day, said the Amazon Prime offering is more advanced than nearly any of the services offered by retailers in Australia. “This means that even those who have upped the ante with quicker delivery times may still struggle to compete with this service and match the level of investment,” Balbin added, according to Business Insider Australia.