Nordstrom used to offer online shoppers free shipping—if (and this is a big if) they ordered at least $200 worth of merchandise. But the high-end retailer just announced it is joining the ranks of L.L. Bean and Zappos, which provide no-strings-attached, totally free shipping on all Internet purchases, no matter if the order is for $5 or $500. Free shipping is granted on returns as well.
Nowadays, free shipping on Internet orders is fairly easy to come by with a minimal amount of effort. Amazon provides free standard shipping on most orders of $25 or over, and its Prime program members get free two-day shipping on all orders in exchange for the annual $79 fee. Deal sites such as RetailMeNot and FreeShipping.org are regularly updated with promo codes for free shipping.
Still, the standard policy for a vast majority of retailers is that shipping doesn’t simply come free. It happens when there’s a special promotion, or when some minimum purchase point is surpassed so that the store knows it’ll make money even when free shipping is factored in. The number of stores with no-minimum-purchase, no-promo-code-required, hassle-free, just plain free shipping is slowly increasing, though. In March, L.L. Bean began offering the service, and now, Nordstrom.com has as well.
Well, technically, Nordstrom does have a few restrictions on its new free shipping policy. Here’s the fine print, which lists a few exceptions and stipulations:
*Free Standard Shipping does not apply to COACH items or the Westin Heavenly Bed. Offer is valid for selected merchandise purchased online and through catalog only; not valid in Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack stores or on international orders. Additional fees apply for expedited shipping and handling as indicated on item product page. For Two-Day Shipping, a charge of $15 will apply. Free Returns are not available for international orders. Nordstrom Rack Return Policy applies to all online Nordstrom Rack orders.
Nordstrom and L.L. Bean are hardly the only retailers offering free shipping on (nearly) all orders. A post at FreeShipping.org from earlier this year listed 20 Internet merchants that always (or nearly always) provide free shipping, including Zappos, ShoeBuy.com, Blue Nile, and Kate Spade.
Note that if there’s one thing retailers always offering free shipping have in common, it’s that they’re not exactly known for having the cheapest prices. Guess that means the prospect of free shipping isn’t entirely no-strings attached.