E-commerce: Is Amazon Prime still worth it?
“Is Amazon Prime worth its new $119 price tag?” asked Jacob Passy in MarketWatch.com. Last month, the retail behemoth raised the annual price of its membership program by 20 percent—the first price hike since March 2014. In justifying the rise, Amazon pointed to its expanded list of perks beyond Prime’s essential attraction: free two-day shipping. Prime now provides members with streaming packages of TV shows, movies, and music that rival those of Spotify and Netflix, plus video games and e-books and magazines. A lot depends on how much you rely on Amazon for everything from paper towels to power cords, said Dwight Silverman in the Houston Chronicle. My wife and I probably order five to 10 items a month and always opt for free shipping, so Prime pays for itself after a couple of months. But a colleague of mine only occasionally buys things, and got a Prime membership so his father could watch its TV shows. “At $119, he’s thinking of dropping it.”
“I say keep your $119,” said Tom Rogan in the Washington Examiner. Free shipping, once the key incentive to sign up, is no longer that unusual. Walmart and Target, for instance, now offer free two-day shipping on orders over $35. Amazon itself also provides free shipping—although admittedly not two-day shipping—on most product categories when you spend more than $25. In its defense, Amazon “countered the dulling of free shipping by building out the rest of the ecosystem,” said Brian Barrett in Wired.com. The company is beginning to offer innovations like in-car and in-home delivery, and the Amazon-owned Whole Foods supermarkets offer free grocery deliveries for Prime customers in some cities. It’s also worth noting that “a year of Prime still costs less than a year of Netflix.” You may not need Prime, but you could “almost certainly slice and dice the benefits in a way that adds up to a yes.”
If the Prime price hike seems too steep, you could split your membership with a family member or friend, said Abha Bhattarai in The Washington Post. Prime memberships—including most benefits—can be shared among two adults through Prime’s Household feature. “But there’s a catch: Users must agree to share payment methods, including credit cards and gift cards.” You can also switch to a monthly payment plan. Instead of coughing up $119 in one lump payment, you can instead opt to pay in monthly installments of $12.99. “Want to stream movies but don’t care about free shipping on orders less than $25?” A monthly Prime Video subscription is available for $8.99 per month. And anyone heading to school can save: “Students with a .edu email address are eligible for a half-price student membership for up to four years.” ■