Are “All You Can Ship” Deals Worth It?

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Williams Sonoma Gift WrapI was poking around on Williams-Sonoma the other day when I saw that they have a new program called Williams-Sonoma Reserve. For $30 a year, you get free standard shipping on most items and no minimum purchase. It’s a riff off Amazon Prime, which gives you free two-day shipping on most orders with no minimum purchase. The difference here is that Williams-Sonoma usually charges you shipping, whereas Amazon waives it on orders over $25.

As more and more stores move towards this model, is it worth it?

Whether or not it’s worth it depends on a variety of factors and has to be decided on a case by case basis. I’ll be using Williams-Sonoma as an example in this but you can really apply it to any store (as you should if you want to buy their free shipping service).

How often do you shop at the site? The knock against Williams-Sonoma is that they have a limited number of product categories. You can buy almost anything at Amazon from books to kitchen gadgets to diapers. Williams-Sonoma doesn’t sell diapers. Or books that aren’t cooking related. If you don’t shop enough at a store, you won’t use enough free shipping to cover the $30 fee. Since the number of products I would want to buy is limited, I don’t see myself ordering online all that often.

Would you even order it online? We have a Williams-Sonoma about ten minutes from our house. Since we’re going to have to pay sales tax on our order and because I have no patience, I would prefer to drive to the store and buy something before I’ll pay $30 for free shipping. I probably wouldn’t even take a free shipping offer if I can pick it up in the store because then I won’t have to worry about the package in transit.

How often is free shipping offered? I don’t know if Williams-Sonoma ever offers free shipping but since I generally buy things on sale (Williams-Sonoma has some pretty high prices normally), there is probably going to be a free shipping code floating around somewhere. Why pay $30 when I’m only going to order once a year and get free shipping that way?

Do I really want to be “locked” in? I don’t mind being locked in at Amazon because they have great prices but Williams-Sonoma competes with a lot of other stores and they aren’t known for low prices. They’re known for quality brands. Whereas with Amazon (and we have Prime through my wife and their education promotion) can probably beat competitors on price in enough categories to be worth it, I doubt the same can be said for Williams-Sonoma.

While this post probably sounds unusually harsh on Williams-Sonoma, I don’t intend to be. They are just the example in this particular case and I enjoy visiting their store in the mall, I just don’t see myself buying enough from their online site to justify paying even $30 for shipping.

I applaud them for offering this as it will be a boon to those who buy a lot and buy often on their online site. Many of the products they offer are heavy (cast iron!) and a service like this is a great thank you to loyal customers.

(Photo: VancityAllie)

{ 9 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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9 Responses to “Are “All You Can Ship” Deals Worth It?”

  1. cubiclegeoff says:

    For Amazon, Amazon Prime might make sense since they have almost anything you need. For specialty stores, like Williams Sonoma, this doesn’t seem to make sense at all. Unless you have one big purchase where it would make it cheaper to send things this way.

  2. Jason Ronis says:

    I can imagine, I retire in the middle of BFE, and my wife and I cook all day so we want specialty kitchen gadgets delivered for free…

    But with the stores so close I wouldn’t pay for it now either.

  3. Courtney says:

    Kmart offered a free 30-day trial of their ShipVantage service (normally $79 a year) so I signed up because we were ordering several large items (desks and bookcases). Unfortunately the shipping service was so dismal I called to cancel after only 10 days.

    We got a free year of Amazon prime when they did the student .edu special, but I’d totally pay for it this year. Occasionally we have gotten items 12 hours after ordering if it’s a weekday and the distribution center is close by.

  4. Gabe says:

    I really love my Amazon Prime. I order a lot from Amazon, especially through my cell phone. I do a lot of comparison shopping and find I can almost get it a lot cheaper than the local big name brand store. Plus it comes in 2 days or less!

    I usually can do without an item for a day or two anyway.

  5. Marilyn says:

    Overall I don’t believe in all you can ship deals. We have Amazon prime and we do order a lot from Amazon but I am shopping around more. Case in point–the toothpaste that we use was more than twice the price on Amazon that it was at Target. I was at Target when we needed toothpaste so I made the purchase. The more I shop around, the more I find that Amazon is higher priced about 50% of the time and, like the toothpaste example, Amazon’s higher prices aren’t typically a small difference. I also feel like I’m seeing more things on Amazon that don’t qualify for Prime. I’m pretty sure that with Amazon we continue to buy enough from Amazon to make Prime worthwhile but the higher prices are starting to chip away at what we purchase. Because we don’t order from any other web site with the same volume, I can’t see myself ever buying an all you can ship deal again.

  6. zapeta says:

    I’ve got Amazon Prime now through the .edu email address deal. I love it, but I’m not sure if I will want to renew at full price next year. One bonus of prime is that you get free unlimited streaming of the 5000 movies in their instant viewing library. We pay for Netflix but if Amazon had the shows and movies that we watch it would make sense to get Prime and cancel Netflix.

  7. Strebkr says:

    I have never done it so I can’t really say. I just don’t think I would pay for prime because I don’t buy enough to justify it.

  8. Shirley says:

    Amazon Prime is the only one that I’ve thought might be worth it to us because we buy a lot of used books there. Then, in checking it out, I found that used books don’t qualify for it. So much for that idea!

  9. skylog says:

    as others have stated, i do not really think it would be worth it for me…except with amazon. i purchse so many products from them, in some ways it would pay for itself.

    now, that said, i have used several different free trials and offers and loved all of them, but i have yet to pay for the service.

    eventually, when push comes to shove, i will sign up.

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