This is the best year ever to shop online on Black Friday

PackagesGetty/Drew AngererOnline shopping is easier than ever in 2017.
  • Retailers are offering more discounts than ever online this year.
  • This year marks the first holiday season for many perennial offers, like Walmart’s free 2-day shipping with $US35 purchase.
  • This adds up to the best holiday season ever for online shoppers.

This year’s holiday season will go down as a watershed moment for online shopping.

It’s predicted to be the biggest year for holiday online shopping yet again, but that’s not the whole story.

And this year, the perks retailers are offering customers online far surpasses every other year.

Most of the Black Friday deals offered by retailers will also be offered online, and some retailers are even offering exclusive discounts online because there are just more products for available.

Cyber Monday has been ceding space online to Black Friday through the years in general merchandise, but this season many clothing retailers are expected to offer discounts online on Friday.

This year, only 29% of retailers are not offering free shipping to customers for the holiday season, according to e-commerce software firm Shippo.

That’s much lower than last year when 40% of retailers didn’t offer free shipping. Same- or next-day delivery offerings have tripled from 1% to 3% year over year. More retailers are offering free or discounted returns than ever before, as well.

PackagesChina Stringer NetworkBetter logistics mean its less likely for major shipping delays.

Earlier this year, Walmart — still far and away the US’ largest retailer — debuted its new free two-day shipping with every $US35 online purchase. It isn’t changing up its free shipping policy for the holiday.

Amazon is also keeping its same free shipping policy, which is reduced to $US25 earlier this year. The free shipping threshold stood at $US49 last holiday season. Amazon Prime subscriptions also continue to grow, and many Amazon shoppers will be able to take advantage of the two-day free shipping. Customers can also subscribe to Amazon Prime on a monthly basis now, so if they want the free 2-day shipping benefits just for the holiday, that is now possible.

Target is offering free standard shipping all the way up until December 23, dropping the $US35 requirement. Best Buy is also waiving its $US35 requirement, offering free standard shipping until Christmas.

Behind the scenes, incremental upgrades like additional distribution centres and better logistics continue to chug along, reducing the chances for lost packages or delayed orders — even on Black Friday and the rest of the time before the holiday crunch.

Customers are expected to flock online in ever-increasing numbers. In a survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 84% of holiday shoppers intend to shop online at least in part, and on average, intend to split their online and in-store shopping evenly.

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