I love shopping at Amazon. What can I tell you? I’m high-tech but shallow.
If you haven’t looked into the Amazon Prime program, now is the time to consider it, before you start doing your holiday shopping.
When you join the Amazon Prime program for $79/year, you’ll get unlimited free two-day shipping on all items sold by Amazon.
- You can share the plan with family members.
- You’ll get free second-day shipping on packages sent to anyone, anywhere in the country – this will cover all your gifts.
- You can upgrade any item to next-day delivery for $3.99.
- If you haven’t tried Amazon Prime before, you can start a free thirty-day trial and use it for free shipping through the holidays. You can cancel after 28 days, but I’ll bet you keep it.
- There are some ways for students to get Prime for free. If you can meet the conditions, you may find a way to take advantage of the program without paying the annual fee.
- You’ll get free shipping on anything sold by Amazon and shipped from an Amazon warehouse, marked with a little “Prime” symbol. It doesn’t apply to items sold through Amazon’s third-party partners. I’ve found that Prime shipping covers almost everything.
Business Week featured an article recently about the Amazon Prime program, which has been fabulously successful. When you see WalMart, Target, Best Buy and others offering free shipping or promoting similar annual programs, rest assured that it is a direct response to the success of Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime may be the most ingenious and effective customer loyalty program in all of e-commerce, if not retail in general. It converts casual shoppers like Tinsley, who gorge on the gratification of having purchases reliably appear two days after they order, into Amazon addicts. Analysts describe Prime as one of the main factors driving Amazon’s stock price—up 296 percent in the last two years—and the main reason Amazon’s sales grew 30 percent during the recession while other retailers flailed. At the same time, Prime has proven exceedingly difficult for rivals to copy: It allows Amazon to exploit its wide selection, low prices, network of third-party merchants, and finely tuned distribution system, while also keying off that faintly irrational human need to maximize the benefits of a club you have already paid to join.
It’s all about loyalty. Amazon doesn’t need to make money on the annual fee. (I love a detail in the article: Amazon didn’t know how to price the service, so they chose $79 out of thin air because it was a prime number.) It takes more than free shipping to earn customer loyalty, and Amazon has a pretty impressive track record in my personal experience. Amazon prices are always fair and frequently better than almost any other trustworthy source, and I’ve never had a shipping error or a delayed shipment. I order; the right item arrives two days later. It’s great magic. It makes me spend a lot of money.
I would say all those things without any incentive. I like Amazon. But let me ask one favor and turn this all into something self-serving and sleazy. Will you start your Amazon shopping from the link on the Bruceb Favorites page? It won’t do much for you, but it will make me fabulously wealthy.