Amazon has been dangling larger carrots on even shorter sticks to tempt customers onto a Prime membership. If Prime didn't appeal to you this time last year, chances are recent developments have put a slightly different spin on the service even though it now costs $20 more. For starters, there are free e-books, music and/or movies, along with free local deliveries on quite a number of items, within a two-hour timeframe. So, you know, why not use the service?
While it's still in the early stages, Prime Now will be rolling out further afield and into more cities in 2015, so this is more than an experiment. This is a proper game changer, one that will surely sway many to commit 99 of their hard-earned dollars to Amazon each year, and it's for this reason that local retailers and grocery stores should be very afraid.
In recent months, Amazon has been adding a ton of incentives to the mix to make the subscription an easier choice. In addition to Prime Instant Video, which lets those in the U.S., U.K. and Germany access a decent selection of movies and TV shows on demand, similar to Netflix, since 2011 users have also been able to access the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which lets them borrow one e-book each month.
In the past 12 months, the Internet giant has launched a free, ad-free music-streaming service for Prime members, unlimited cloud storage for photos and an "ethical" own-brand line of products. You can also forget about one- to two-day shipping - Amazon has been ramping up its same-day offering across a myriad of cities throughout this year, with Prime members getting preferable pricing treatment.
Today, however, Amazon revealed the biggest sign yet that it really, REALLY wants you to sign up for Prime. Although it's only open to those in Manhattan for now, Prime Now is a one-hour delivery service for "tens of thousands of daily essentials," such as books, toys, soap, cereal, batteries and general groceries.
It's not the first time that Amazon has been accused of killing small businesses, be it your friendly local bookstore or independent electronics retailer, and likely it won't be the last.