Amazon is unveiling the gifts early this year for its Prime members. The company just announced that its $99-a-year membership program now comes with free, unlimited photo storage in the Amazon Cloud drive (great for the snap-happy among us), but the real news is that Amazon Prime's free-shipping benefits will start bleeding out to other shopping websites, a move that has been in the works for some time now.
This is Amazon's big play to make its membership program the "VIP pass for the web," according to Re/code. The idea is that Amazon membership perks will extend beyond its site, providing exclusive free-shipping deals at a host of big-name retail sites.
At the moment, the effects are small: The fashion brand All Saints will offer free, next-day shipping on its website -- which is faster than Amazon Prime's typical two-day free shipping -- to all Amazon Prime members, who sign in with their Amazon credentials on AllSaints.com. While Re/code reports that the ecommerce giant approached bigger names including Abercrombie & Fitch and Neiman Marcus, All Saints is the only online retailer that has agreed to the partnership so far.
It's easy to see why Amazon is pushing this program – Prime members spend, on average, twice as much on the site as non-Prime members, and by adding free-shipping and other benefits (All Saints is apparently considering giving Prime customers a sneak peak at new products, along with exclusive access to clothing deals) from a list of popular online retailers, Amazon is making its membership considerably more enticing to a segment of online shoppers who haven't flocked to the service in the past.
Of course, first Amazon has to get retailers onboard, which could be a tough sell. Retailers have expressed concerns that the value of their brand will be washed-out by advertising on Amazon's site, while others are relunctant to grant the tech behemoth access to information about which items are popular with customers, Re/code reports. (Apparently, there's some nervous speculation that Amazon is looking to launch its own clothing line).
From All Saints' perspective, however, the deal with Amazon is a win – so far, the partnership has increased sales and reduced check-out times, an executive at the fashion brand told Re/code.
If Amazon can convince more big retailers to adopt a similar mindset, it will be getting its foot in the door of the $174 billion apparel industry.