We are entering what I sometimes call “shipping season”. The holidays are fast approaching and colleges are back in action. Online shopping will certainly begin its uptick into Christmas and the New Year within the next few weeks. The largest, by no surprise, online shopping experience provider is Amazon. They have diversified their business with e-readers, music and video, but the core business of product offerings is the main driving force. They were also able to create a unique shopping experience through an online paid program known as Amazon Prime. The membership costs $79 a year but offers free two-day shipping on countless eligible orders plus many other digital content benefits.
Aside from it costing $79 per year (although there is a 1 month free trial) its basically a membership program with exclusive benefits. There are variations such as Amazon Student and Amazon Mom which offer various other and differing benefits. The membership can be shared with up to four people which makes it perfect for families, especially those that may have a son or daughter living elsewhere. Benefits include free two day shipping and a discounted $3.99 one day shipping on many eligible items. Also, instant access to movies and TV shows through Amazon’s new and growing video services is included.
How does it work?
If you are familiar with Amazon you probably know they do offer super saver shipping which is free, but you have to spend $25 minimum on select items to qualify and the time is usually over a week. Prime handles this problem well with the free two-day shipping and discounted one day shipping, which can justify the $79 alone, depending on how much online shopping you are doing yearly. Amazon calculates shipping based on the shipment, which means the shipping may be different for various items with a combination of items getting the highest shipping fee.
Available to members in the US, the instant video service is nothing to look past. Amazon provides members with unlimited, commercial-free instant streaming of literally thousands of movies and shows. The best part is that you can watch on your computer or on your Kindle Fire tables as well as internet TVs, Blue Ray players, gaming and set top boxes. This is an obvious competitor to Netflix, Hulu, Roku and many other services making their way to the public doing similar.
Amazon Student and Amazon Mom
These programs are similar, but different. Neither of these comes with the free streaming video (at this time), but I imagine Amazon might change this policy going forward at some point. Amazon Student is nice because there are many deals and promo’s throughout the year that are geared towards and offered only to the Student members. Also, Amazon Student members have the same shipping benefits as prime for six months. Amazon Mom members get the same shipping benefits as Prime for three months and then have the option to extend it by earning an extra month for every $25 spent in the Baby store. Similarly to Amazon Student, Amazon Mom members receive deals geared towards mom’s.
A sometimes rarely discussed benefits has to do with the Kindle. Amazon Prime members have access to a library of books that can be “rented” or “borrowed” The Kindle Lending Library has over 100 New York Times bestsellers and you can “check out” one book a month without a due date.
Yes or No?
Whether you buy the membership is really up to you and your shopping habits. Do you purchase enough items online with shipping where the $79 over a year can be justified? What about streaming video… do you have a Netflix account right now? If so, at $7.99 a month that’s $95.88 a year which is more then the $79 Amazon membership. What do you think? Do you have a membership or will you get one?