Overstock.com (BYON -3.67%) is raising the bar considerably higher on free shipping heading into the holidays, announcing that the program it started in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic will become a permanent fixture for the e-commerce site.

The retailer said no matter what you buy, regardless of price, it will ship for free. Overstock also noted consumers don't have to join a membership program to get the benefit and there is no minimum purchase requirement to qualify.

Excited woman opening a box

Image source: Getty Images.

Reducing customer friction

Overstock said the free shipping program was initiated to help customers save on the cost of buying merchandise when states implemented lockdown orders. The retailer said the concept was immediately popular and attracted new and existing customers to the site, noting shipping costs are one of the top concerns consumers have when choosing where to shop.

Overstock's president of retail, Dave Nielsen, said in a statement, "Free shipping is typically only available through an annual subscription fee or a minimum purchase price. Overstock has removed these requirements for customers during tough economic times and ahead of the holiday season."

It serves as a challenge to Amazon.com, which of course got the ball rolling on free shipping with its Prime member loyalty program, which now costs $119 a year. Walmart is also in the crosshairs as it launched its own Prime-like service last month called Walmart+, which charges $99 a year.

Free shipping on Overstock was available beforehand if orders exceeded $45 or if they were members of Overstock's own loyalty program, Club O. While the new initiative could undermine the value of joining the service, which costs just $20 annually, members still receive free returns, price match guarantees, 5% rewards on every purchase, and other benefits.