Screen shot of French Amazon website
Screen shot of French Amazon website - 
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JEREMY HOBSON: Believe it or not we are just two weeks away from black Friday -- and its modern day corollary, Cyber Monday. Wal-Mart isn't waiting though. The world's biggest retailers announced today that it is offering free shipping for online purchases starting now.

We asked Marketplace's Alisa Roth to find out if this is the beginning of a free-shipping war.

ALISA ROTH: Buy a TV, a laptop, or tens of thousands of other presents from, and the shipping is free. Russell Jones is a retail analyst at Alix Partners. He says it's a perk that's popping up all over the place:

RUSSELL JONES: A lot of the major e-tailers are offering free shipping already. Many including for example LL Bean already offering free shipping on everything in the store from now until December 20.

Jones says offering free shipping is a way for other stores to compete with Amazon, which isn't offering free shipping on most orders. It doesn't have to. Because as the king of online shopping, it makes the rules.

Hones says free shipping may hurt stores' margins. But it's better than losing business.

In New York I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.