In 2007, Amazon released a subscription option that enables anyone to become a Prime member by paying a one hundred nineteen dollar annual fee. With an Amazon Prime membership, people can access free shipping, fast delivery options, streaming services, shopping benefits, reading choices, and membership sharing. There are no differentiating shipping costs between shopping carts with Prime, and there are millions of items for sale that have will be delivered in no more than two days. Some items are even eligible for free two-hour delivery. Prior to browsing Amazon with no Prime membership, there is no way of knowing when the items you have in mind will be shipped or delivered, but with it there are plenty of items that are eligible to purchase and quickly receive. Amazon offers its Prime members a variety of streaming services that no other users can access: Prime video, Prime gaming for free games and a subscription to Twitch, Prime music to listen to different songs, artists, and playlists, and Amazon channels with easy access to television episodes, movies, and amenities like HBO, STARZ, and SHOWTIME. Its shopping benefits include savings at Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh free grocery delivery service, and a free monthly styling service (in select regions). Also, when it comes to reading, Amazon Prime members have access to the Prime Reading catalog where books and magazines can be borrowed and read on Amazon e-reader or apps. Membership sharing makes for simple exposure to Amazon Prime benefits and opens up a pathway for people to become members of their own (good job Amazon). With all of these different benefits offered only to those who have a subscription, this makes for a great disadvantage to those who do not.
For anyone who is looking to purchase something through the famous Amazon without this special subscription, there are certain barriers presented that make the shopping experience a little bit harder. For starters, one of Amazon’s focuses is on being an intermediary for wholesale companies. An example of a company it works for is Petco, where Amazon markets their pet supplies, and non-Prime members have to deal with the shipping and delivery terms set by Petco. Without a Prime membership, there are difficulties in determining beforehand what the shipping costs will be and when the product will be delivered, assuming there is no prior research. Next, there are great discounts offered to Prime members that no one else can receive. Modern day technology is taking over many United States households and members are given many discounts on items that can be somewhat expensive, especially towards Amazon brand-named items, which significantly increases the true value of a Prime membership. JPMorgan estimated that the true average value of a subscription is around seven hundred eighty-five dollars compared to the actual near one-hundred-dollar annual fee. Students are also put at a bit of a disadvantage given their little-to-no annual income and lasting demand for household necessities, often purchased through Amazon. College attendees are offered a Prime membership at half-price so that they do not have to pay too much out of pocket and can be offered discounts and shipping ease. Although they are not placing strict restrictions on regular Amazon shoppers, they are offering benefits to members that only barely surpass the bare minimum when it comes to online shopping. One of the main attractions towards online shopping is the convenience factor, where it seems as though only Prime members are able to really enjoy a convenient shopping experience.
Amazon places these restrictions because they are working toward a single goal: to stay the biggest and most successful e-commerce company in the world. Non-members are not explicitly restrained from utilizing Amazon’s services, but they are significantly out-of-the-loop regarding real convenience. The limitations are subtle and places carefully so that the superiority of Prime members is not blatant. Although the exclusions are present, the overall concept of Amazon Prime is to help and not to hurt. The service is beneficial to anybody who pays the yearly membership fee and is actually a great deal for consistent online shoppers!
“About the Amazon Prime Membership Fee.” Amazon, Goettsche Partners, 2011, http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8.
How Does an Amazon Prime Membership Work? (2013, August 05). Retrieved October 31, 2020, from https://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/how-does-an-amazon-prime-membership-work/
Leighton, M., 2020. 13 Reasons Why An Amazon Prime Membership Is Worth The $119 Annual Fee. [online] Business Insider. Available at: <https://www.businessinsider.com/is-amazon-prime-worth-it#shipping-costs-1> [Accessed 31 October 2020].