August 29, 2011, 1:17 PM

Nordstrom makes free shipping and returns standard

The upscale chain joins a growing list of e-retailers trying to gain sales through free shipping.

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Upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc. said today that it will offer U.S. customers free standard shipping and free return shipping on nearly all orders placed on Nordstrom.com. Previously, the e-retailer offered free shipping only on orders of $200 or more or as part of limited-time promotions.

Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, says expanding the retailer’s free shipping offers will make it easier and more convenient for consumers to shop the online store. Earlier this month, the company announced that it would invest about 15% of its capital expenditure budget, some $375 million, toward improving its e-commerce capabilities during the next five years. Nordstrom is No. 34 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

According to terms listed on Nordstrom.com, free standard shipping does not apply to Coach-brand items or on the Westin Heavenly Bed. Consumers can expect to receive their orders within three to eight business days if they choose the free shipping option. Faster shipping options are available for an additional fee, ranging from $15 for two-day delivery to $35 for Saturday delivery.

Free shipping and returns does not apply to international orders. 

U.S. consumers who want to return an item use a pre-paid U.S. Postal Service shipping label enclosed with their order.

Nordstrom joins a growing list of e-retailers that are making free shipping standard on most orders. The list includes apparel retailer L.L. Bean, No. 21 in the Guide, and shoe e-retailer Zappos.com, a division of Amazon.com Inc., No. 1.

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