Definition and Example of ShopRunner
ShopRunner is a company that offers annual membership for a fee in exchange for benefits when you are shopping online. These benefits for subscribers include free two-day shipping, free returns, special deals, and other exclusive benefits on orders.
For example, ShopRunner partners may offer deals such as discounts on select items, or on orders over a certain amount, that are only available to ShopRunner members. To be eligible for these benefits, your order must be with a store that is in the ShopRunner network.
If you frequently shop online, you will likely end up paying high costs for shipping and returning your orders. ShopRunner can help you avoid unnecessary spending by offering free two-day shipping at nearly 100 retailers. Retailers that partner with ShopRunner include:
- Nieman Marcus
- Under Armour
- American Eagle
- Urban Decay
- White House, Black Market
- Kate Spade
While these benefits are labeled "free," you do have to pay for your ShopRunner membership. It would be more accurate to say shipping and returns are offered at no extra charge on top of your membership fee.
How ShopRunner Works
To use ShopRunner, you must sign up for an account on the ShopRunner website. Annual membership costs $79, although free trials and even free memberships are available through partnering services. ShopRunner members can also add up to four other household members to the membership at no additional cost.
Once you have opened an account, you can start an online shopping session with one of the merchants in the ShopRunner network. While shopping or during checkout, look for the ShopRunner logo on items you wish to purchase, which indicates that it’s eligible for free two-day shipping. If you accessed the retailer's site through your ShopRunner account, you will already be logged in. Otherwise, you will need to click the ShopRunner logo and enter your account login information.
Once you are logged in, free two-day shipping will be applied to eligible orders. Some retailers may require a minimum purchase amount to activate your ShopRunner benefits.
You can also browse items and make purchases through ShopRunner's companion mobile app, which is called District. You will be logged in through your account on the app, which will create shipping and returns at no extra cost.
If you don't like what you ordered, you can return it to the retailer at no additional cost with a prepaid shipping label. You can get the return label from the ShopRunner website by logging into your account, viewing your past orders, and selecting the appropriate order to start your return. Returns are always sent to the retailer, not to ShopRunner.
ShopRunner doesn't offer monthly billing; you'll be charged annually at the end of your subscription period.
How To Get ShopRunner
There are a few ways to become a ShopRunner member:
- Via PayPal or Yahoo: Sign up online for ShopRunner as a PayPal member or Yahoo! member, and you may be eligible for a free one-year trial.
- Through your credit card: ShopRunner offers complimentary one-year membership to consumers with a Chase or World Mastercard and World Elite Mastercard. If you have an American Express credit card (U.S. consumer and small business cards), you may be eligible for free lifetime membership. Enter your card information on the ShopRunner site for the corresponding card issuer or network.
- On the website: Go to ShopRunner.com to sign up for a free trial, or purchase a membership if a trial is unavailable.
Pros and Cons of ShopRunner
Comparison shopping tool
Differing return policies
Besides the obvious free two-day shipping and no-cost returns at select retailers, there are several more perks that come with a ShopRunner membership.
- Special discounts: Visit the ShopRunner website to browse through exclusive member-only discounts from partner merchants. These can help you get an extra percentage off certain purchases or snag products at marked-down prices, on top of free shipping and returns.
- Comparison shopping tool: You can also use ShopRunner to discover the different products on offer at different retailers before finding the one that’s right for you.
No service is perfect, and ShopRunner does have a few shortcomings. These probably aren’t deal-breakers if you’re getting a free membership, but they might give you pause if you’re considering paying the annual fee:
- Differing return policies: While shipping is fairly straightforward, return policies vary a bit more, ranging from “All sales are final” to returns accepted within one year. In addition, certain retailers only provide refunds on commercial products. You can see a full list of retail partner policies on the ShopRunner site.
- Limited retailers: Nearly 100 retailers are represented, but if your favorite brands don't partner with ShopRunner, membership won’t have as much value for you.
- Shipping restrictions: Not every item will be eligible for free, two-day shipping. Many merchants also require that you meet a minimum spending threshold, usually between $25 and $59, to take advantage of free shipping and returns.
ShopRunner vs. Amazon Prime
Both ShopRunner and Amazon Prime ship at no additional cost and come with an annual subscription fee. You might even decide that you can benefit from having ShopRunner and Amazon Prime memberships, but if you have to choose one, there are a few key distinctions to consider.
Which subscription service is the best fit for you depends on where you prefer to shop and what type of products you want to buy. ShopRunner partners primarily with name brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdales, or Peet's Coffee. You might prefer Amazon Prime if you don't mind buying primarily from third parties (although Amazon does offer some goods from name brands, too).
Amazon Prime offers a much broader selection of products than ShopRunner, including movies, music, TV shows, and e-books in its library. ShopRunner doesn't offer streaming media, only physical goods in nine categories ranging from clothing to home products.
Amazon Prime also offers more free shipping options. In addition to free two-day shipping, your membership can help you score free one-day or same-day shipping. ShopRunner doesn't have a one-day shipping option. However, many retailers in the ShopRunner network offer express checkout, allowing for single-click ordering. This is comparable to Amazon Prime's one-click ordering option, which is available for eligible products.
You'll pay more for Amazon's offerings and increased shipping options—$14.99 per month (plus tax) or $139 per year, compared to ShopRunner's $79 annually (or free in many cases). Like ShopRunner, Amazon Prime also offers free trials, albeit not typically of the duration that ShopRunners offers them.
Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t have both, especially if your credit card offers free ShopRunner membership. Having both gives you more free shipping options so you’re not at the mercy of one or the other (or running out to a brick-and-mortar store) for items you need quickly.
|Cost||$79 per year, or potentially free.||$139 per year.|
|Benefits||Free two-day shipping and returns, and some discounts.||Free same-day, one-day, and two-day shipping, and a large streaming library of movies, music, TV shows, and e-books.|
|Checkout||Some retailers offer an express checkout option, but not all.||One-click ordering options on desktop and mobile app.|
|Retailers||Mostly well-known chain stores.||Amazon or third-party, independent retailers, but carries some name brands.|
Is ShopRunner Worth It?
At the end of the day, if you can get a free ShopRunner membership through your credit card, there’s no reason not to sign up. Even if current merchant partners don't appeal to you, when it’s time to order a gift, knowing that you can get it in two days for free might help you avoid a dreaded holiday-season shopping trip.
If you'll have to pay for ShopRunner, the membership is valuable if you think you will regularly shop with at least one of the partner retailers in a dollar amount that meets the minimum-spending threshold. Taking advantage of a free trial can help reduce your costs.
- ShopRunner is a $79 annual membership that grants you free two-day shipping and free returns on orders placed with nearly 100 partnering retailers.
- You can shop through the ShopRunner website or companion mobile app, or directly through the retailer's website.
- ShopRunner also offers member discounts and can be used for comparison shopping.
- Return policies between retailers and limits on retailers and shipping are drawbacks to consider.