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Target takes on rivals with free two-day shipping for holidays

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Target is turning up the heat in the holiday delivery battle.

The discounter for the first time ever will offer free two-day shipping to all customers, with no minimum purchase and no membership requirement. The service, which will start Nov. 1 and end Dec. 22, will comprise “hundreds of thousands” of eligible items.

The program will complement Target’s same-day deliveries supported by its acquisition of Shipt — a service that is now available “in hundreds of markets” across 46 states, the retailer said. Meanwhile, the company’s Drive Up service will be available through nearly 1,000 stores by the end of October.

The news of more shipping options comes on the heels of Walmart’s plan to make “millions of items” sold on its marketplace eligible for free two-day shipping on orders over $35. The service, which also does not require a membership, will launch mid-November.

In addition to offering more shipping options this holiday season, Target is also expanding its gifting assortment. This year, the company is featuring more than 1,400 new and exclusive gifts, with most priced under $15.

In addition, nearly 500 locations have added 250,000 sq. ft. of additional space for toys.

“From same-day delivery with Shipt, Drive Up, Free 2-Day Shipping and more, no other retailer can match the convenient delivery options that Target will offer this season,” stated Target CEO Brian Cornell.

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Amazon’s new credit card makes a play for small businesses

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon wants to help small businesses manage their spending — and not just on its own site.

Amazon and American Express on Tuesday introduced the Amazon Business American Express Card — the online giant’s first credit card for the small business segment. The co-branded credit card has no annual fee, offers greater visibility into each transaction, and provides an enhanced checkout experience on Amazon Business and Amazon.

There are also benefits for Prime and Business Prime members, including 5% back or 90-day payment terms on U.S. purchases made at Amazon Business, Amazon Web Services, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods Market. All other customers are entitled to 3% back or 60-day payment terms for purchases made across Amazon retail brands.

All cardholders are eligible for 2% back on purchases at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and 1% back on other eligible purchases. They can also access line-item details on purchases made on Amazon Business in the U.S., including cost per item and quantity, a service that offers more visibility into and traceability of business purchases.

“At Amazon, small businesses are integral to our DNA and we continue to innovate on their behalf,” said Samant Nagpal, global head of Amazon Business Payment Products.

“We’re thrilled to launch the Amazon Business American Express Card, which puts the collective strength of Amazon Business and American Express into the hands of U.S. small businesses,” said Nagpal. “The card empowers small businesses to make flexible choices, streamline everyday buying decisions, and have increased visibility into their business purchases.”

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REI goes for four in a row

BY Marianne Wilson

REI wants its customers and employees to get outdoors on Black Friday.

For the fourth year in a row on Black Friday, REI will close all 153 stores, process no online payments and pay more than 12,000 employees to spend time with friends and family outdoors as part of its #OptOutside program. This year, REI is also pledging $1 million in support for the launch of a new center of academic excellence at the University of Washington that will study the link between human health and time spent outdoors.

“Day in, day out, we’re looking down instead of up, looking at our phones instead of the world around us,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “We’re asking people this year to reevaluate that picture of themselves. To see technology as the starting point to a journey outside, not the destination. And to go explore the world with someone they love – on Black Friday and every day.”

REI is an active investor in the growing body of research establishing the link between health and nature. REI has already invested more than $1 million into efforts by the UW, Sierra Club, UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital’s Center for Nature and Health, and the Oregon Public Health Institute to understand how time outside impacts anxiety levels, ability to focus, childhood development, happiness and other health factors.

“The best researchers in the world are proving the case that getting outside is critical to our mental and our physical well-being,” said Stritzke. “It’s time to rethink time outdoors as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.”

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