Pouring more water into its moat, Amazon has totally eliminated shipping charges this holiday season, removing the $25 threshold for non-Prime members on items ordered in time for Christmas delivery.
At the same time, Amazon will hire and manage thousands of seasonal delivery drivers to handle the holiday crush, setting wages, providing vehicles and scheduling routes, according to Business Insider. The move came after reports of poor treatment of contract drivers by the ecommerce giant.
This is in addition to Amazon’s plans to create a fleet of small delivery businesses, using 20,000 vehicles it is purchasing, which may in some cases compete with the seasonal drivers.
Amazon’s free shipping offer applies to hundreds of millions of items, while tens of millions of Prime members will get free same-day delivery on more than 3 million items, up from 1 million. Amazon is also providing same-day and even one-hour delivery from Whole Foods in 60 U.S. markets.
Amazon is upping the ante as nearest-in-rearview competitors Walmart and Target continue to expand and improve their delivery and fulfillment services. Target, for instance, last month announced same-day delivery in 46 states from Thanksgiving through Christmas, as well as free two-day shipping plus curbside pickup on hundreds of thousands of items with no purchase threshold, from Nov. 1 to Dec 22.