"It took, like, two weeks to get here," my co-worker complained. "And I paid for the standard shipping."
The late arrival was an Amazon purchase. Another co-worker asked the question we were all thinking: "Don't you have Amazon Prime?"
Because, of course, she did-unless she was one of the four in five U.S. adults who aren't Amazon Prime members. Turns out she didn't but was considering using her boyfriend's account for her next order. An endless series of excuses followed, but the general consensus was, she and everyone else on the planet really should have an Amazon Prime membership.
She resolved to do better. We all forgave her slow adoption.
It's worth noting here that this wasn't the first time I'd had this conversation with someone-and it surely won't be the last. It breaks out at church, at parties, at work, at family functions (which are sometimes parties). Someone admits to not having made Amazon Prime a part of their life, and a gaggle of individuals instantly jump in to set them on the straight and narrow. The takeaway is always something to the tune of, "You'd have to be crazy not to get an Amazon Prime membership!"
You'll see people exhibit this same behavior when it comes to other products or services they love. Apple devices. Crossfit. Squatty Potty. But with Amazon Prime it actually is true. Their Prime membership program is such a no-brainer that-unless you don't own a personal computer or some kind of nonsense like that-you really would have to be out of your mind to pass it up.
Let's take a look at the facts. An Amazon Prime membership is currently priced at $99 per year. For that annual fee, they give you all kinds of stuff for free. Amazon benefits because people on the program tend to spend more on their site-$500 more per year, in fact, than non-Prime members. And members are cool with this arrangement, so cool that 47% of U.S. Amazon customers (roughly 54 million U.S. adults) have joined. That number keeps growing.
So it's not hard to see why Amazon will pay big money to keep these big spenders on their site. For Prime members, this means the free stuff will keep on coming.
So for the duration of this blog post, I'm going to be one of those people jumping all over you convert you to the ways of Amazon Prime. I'm going to do it because you need to know what 54 million of us already know. I'm going to do it because I care. I'm going to do it because, for only $99 a year (that's roughly $8.25 per month), you get these five awesome benefits:
If you do a lot of online shopping, you know how much you can end up spending on shipping purchases to your door. Sometimes, it can render useless whatever discount you scored-it can be enough to make you walk away from that online purchase altogether.
This was the original idea behind Amazon Prime: charge a manageable fee up front and then take the shipping worries out of online buying. And it continues to this day.
Some simple math makes it clear how valuable this simple benefit can be. The $99 Prime membership fee gets you free two-day shipping for an entire year. If you made one Amazon purchase per month without Prime, you could expect to pay between $120 and $180 a year on shipping costs. A Prime member, on the other hand, in this same scenario would easily make back their investment of $99 and then some.
It's worth noting that Prime membership also entitles you to free same-day shipping in select cities. Just in case two-day shipping isn't fast enough for you.
But free shipping is just the beginning for Prime members.
Of course, Amazon has always been about books. Their flagship product the Kindle has really led the e-reader movement. So it's only natural that Amazon Prime membership should also involve the book side of their business.
As part of Amazon Prime, members get access to the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, which let's them "borrow" one title from the library of hundreds of thousands of titles per month.
If you love reading and your tastes aren't necessarily on the high end, the Kindle Owners' Lending Library has more than enough ebooks to keep you reading month after month. Having said that, however, a cursory glance at online reviews of the Lending Library finds that it's heavy on low-quality self-published books and light on books you would actually recognize. On top of that, the library is really only available to those who, as its name indicates, own an Amazon e-reader (i.e. a Kindle or Fire). Out of all the benefits available to Amazon Prime members, this is probably the least valuable.
Amazon Prime also gives members access to Kindle First, a program that lets members read new ebooks that have been selected by editors especially for the program. The lists change every month and are pretty limited. Finally, Kindle First lists don't usually contain mainstream, popular books. If those are your usual reading fare (or you don't own an Amazon e-reader) Kindle First might not be of value to you.
To be sure, the lending library and Kindle First are not nearly as valuable as Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, which gives members access to titles of all kinds and genres, even audiobooks, for $9.99 per month. But on the bright side, the lending library and Kindle First are available to Prime members at no extra cost. They can use it if they want, or forget it even exists.
This is definitely one of the biggest points of interest with Amazon Prime, given that most of the population is now plugged into video streaming.
Netflix has swiftly secured its place as the top video streaming service, with over 44 million members in the U.S. alone. But Amazon Prime's streaming service could easily surpass it in the next year.
Like Netflix, it offers thousands of TV shows and movies, including original content produced just for Amazon. Some of these shows and movies have even been nominated for and received Golden Globes and Emmy Awards. And Amazon does feature some movies and TV shows that are of much higher quality than Netflix, which tends to be heavier on reality shows and second-rate documentaries. But the fact is, the two are pretty much neck and neck when it comes to what they have to offer to members.
Recently Consumer Reports did a survey to see exactly how Amazon Prime video compares to Netflix. This is how the survey results panned out, on a five-point scale:
"If your primary interest is watching high-definition movies and TV series, Netflix should be your first choice," Consumer Report concluded. "If you'd rather have greater choice but in standard definition, and you swoon at the thought of goodies such as free shipping, music downloads, and photo storage, Amazon Prime may be a better bet. But all things considered, the two are pretty equal."
In addition to ebooks and video, Amazon decided to sweeten the deal by throwing in Prime Music, a music streaming service that gives members access to millions of songs from new and classic artists. Like other streaming services like Spotify or Pandora, you get access to many new songs and artists, although not necessarily all.
One advantage Prime Music has over these other services, however, is that you don't have to pay more to get rid of the ads that interrupt your playlists or to be able to choose specific songs to listen to. It's all covered under your Prime membership.
Finally, unlike the ebook features mentioned above, Prime Music can be enjoyed even on non-Amazon devices-iOS, Android, PC, or Mac.
As if ebooks, shipping, and streaming music and video weren't enough (like I said, Amazon aims to make Prime irresistible) they've also added Amazon Cloud Drive to the mix, which gives all Prime members the ability to upload their photos to the cloud, instead of letting them take up memory on laptops, desktops, and mobile devices.
After a brief setup process, Prime members can instantly save all their photos from their phone or home computer onto the cloud, eliminating the possibility that photos could be lost.
Like all the other benefits listed above, Amazon Cloud Drive is covered under the $99 Prime membership fee.
Ultimately, what makes Amazon Prime such an easy choice isn't any one thing on the list above, but all of them combined. If you're not into online shopping, you'll get your money's worth from streaming video and music. Or maybe you love reading heady fantasy and 50 Shades of Gray wannabes. Whatever your fancy, there's a good chance that Amazon Prime is going to have something that is more than worth $99 per year for you. But don't take our word for it...
To see what real Amazon Prime customers have to say about the service, visit our Amazon Prime reviews page today.