Retailers fight to deliver the best shipping deals

Target is taking a significant risk by offering free holiday shipping without a minimum purchase amount.

Target is taking a significant risk by offering free holiday shipping without a minimum purchase amount.

Retailers across the nation are looking for ways to reduce shipping costs and time in order to attract more holiday customers. projects that this season will generate $105 billion in online sales, and businesses like Wal-Mart, Target and Macy's are adapting their shipping policies in hopes of competing with e-commerce giants like Amazon.

Jeff Simpson, a director in Deloitte Consulting's retail practice, told The Washington Post that retail shipping strategies are often "the difference between making money and losing money on a transaction."

Large retailers are beginning to realize that they have to start competing in the e-commerce realm if they want to generate satisfactory sales in the winter months. For example, Wal-Mart depends on the holiday season to form a third of its yearly profit, but in-store foot traffic has fallen over the last two years. To make up for this, the company has invested in new shipping technologies that have reportedly reduced its package delivery time by 15 percent.

Target, on the other hand, has waived its usual $50 free shipping minimum for all orders received before Dec. 20th. This new offer is, in part, a reaction to the security breach backlash the company experienced last winter, and is an effort to lure back customers who might have stopped patronizing the stores.

However, companies are gambling when they make a move like this one. If, for instance, the shipping gambit fails to attract more customers, Target stands to lose a good amount of money.

Meanwhile, companies like FedEx and UPS are hiring more seasonal workers than usual and doing their best to give accurate shipping estimates to consumers.

Whatever your business is, the right shipping plan can work wonders for your customers and your bottom line. Consider hiring a third-party logistics company to take care of the specifics for you, especially around this time of year.