The conversation last night started something like this: "Did you know that Amazon raised its price for free shipping?"
Amazon, in an un-Amazon-like manner (meaning quietly), has announced that to qualify for free shipping consumers will now have to spend $35 on the site instead of the $25 threshold that has been in place since what seems like forever.
The move, quite obviously, will help the e-tail giant offset some of the massive costs associated with shipping stuff all over the country for free. Many people, myself included, would until now add a second small item to an order to meet the $25 threshold. Reaching $35 shouldn't be too difficult either, but will it delay purchases of non-essential items or perhaps even make consumers think of choosing another online or in-store option for their purchases?
One clear goal behind Amazon's decision to raise the minimum for free shipping is to move more shoppers into Prime memberships. A note on the page announcing the shipping change reads: "Millions of Amazon customers have already made the choice of faster shipping by becoming Amazon Prime members. Prime includes unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping, with no minimum order size, on more than 15 million items, as well as unlimited streaming of over 41,000 movies and TV episodes through Prime Instant Video and access to over 350,000 books to borrow through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. The service is so popular that more than a year ago we began shipping more items with Prime than with free shipping."
Not all were happy with the way Amazon announced the changed.
An article on The Consumerist website concluded, "It's not so much the shipping requirement that sticks in the craw, but the way Amazon non-announced it. Customers appreciate being filled in on changes before they happen, instead of finding out belatedly when their items are already in the digital basket."
That's how the conversation started last night.
Will raising its free shipping threshold help or hurt Amazon?