Today, Amazon.com Inc. will offer a one-year Prime membership at a one-third discount. Should you go for it?
To celebrate its Emmy-winning show “Transparent,” Amazon will offer a one-year Prime membership — regularly priced at $99 — for $67. This one-day deal is available to new members, who can sign up by going to Amazon.com/TransparentPrime. “We are thrilled to celebrate Transparent with our customers by offering a Prime discount,” said Michael Paull, Vice President of Digital Video for Amazon.
Those without a Prime membership are likely wondering whether they should jump on this lower price. To figure that out, first, it’s important to understand what the perks of Prime are. These include: two-day free shipping on thousands of items, as well as free same-day delivery for people in certain zip codes; unlimited streaming of thousands of TV shows and movies; free access to more than one million songs via Amazon Music; unlimited photo storage and 5G of free storage for videos and other files; and free access to roughly 500,000 Kindle titles.
Even at $99, experts say it’s often a good bet.
“It’s a very attractive offer,” says Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester Research — who notes that Prime membership offers a lot of perks, in addition to the fact that Amazon typically offers a “good value on its merchandise.” (Indeed, an analysis done last year by Savings.com of roughly 1,500 new products priced at $10 and up found that about half of the time, Amazon did, in fact, have the best price — a compelling number considering that it compared Amazon’s prices to those of 5,000 other retailers). The Prime membership can be particularly worth it if everyone in your household shares it, adds Mulpuru-Kodali.
Of course, it’s only worth it if you use the features — and for most customers, the free shipping is the main consideration, says Britanny Carter, an industry analyst with IBISWorld. Prime membership gives you free two-day shipping, free same-day delivery for some items over $35 in 14 cities (you usually have to order these items by noon), as well as one-day shipping starting at $2.99.
“It’s the market-leading option for diffusing the cost of shipping if you order a lot of items, says And Keith Anderson, the vice president of strategy & insights for e-commerce data analytics firm Profitero.
But remember: Amazon gives non-Prime members free shipping on orders with at least $35 of qualifying merchandise; and a la carte shipping is pretty reasonable. This all means that Amazon Prime’s shipping benefits are particularly worth it to those who want fast shipping and make at least one or two purchases each month that are under $35, says Carter. For those who shop less than once a month on Amazon, make larger purchases, and typically don’t need rush items, the proposition isn’t as compelling, she adds — especially since many e-commerce merchants now offer free shipping.
The music, movie and book offerings are an added bonus, says Carter, but may not satisfy die-hard music, TV and movie buffs or die-hard readers. The free-with-Prime music library has over a million songs with plenty of A-list artists on tap including Daft Punk, Blake Shelton, The Lumineers, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna. But music buffs may want to go with one of the streaming options with more significant offerings like Spotify, which has more than 30 million songs for a cost of $9.99 a month without ads or is free with ads.
Amazon’s free streaming TV and movie library has plenty of options — including popular shows like “Downton Abbey” and “Boardwalk Empire” — and they’re adding both new and original content frequently, says Anderson. Still, Carter says that most customers prefer Netflix, which has more and better options and starts at just $7.99 a month. Furthermore, new television streaming options get introduced all the time now — and for affordable prices.
And the Kindle book options don’t always include new releases and other titles you might want, so avid readers may be disappointed.
The unlimited photo storage and 5G of other free storage is a newer offering, but Carter points out that it too is icing on the cake. “There are so many other alternatives,” she says — and at very reasonable prices.
Still, those looking for affordable, fast shipping on reasonably priced merchandise — and a slew of other perks like free music, books, movies, TV and photo storage — should consider Amazon Prime. “For many people, it’s a good value,” says Anderson.
But if you do decide a Prime membership is right for you, beware of the psychological pull that comes with Prime. Studies show that Prime members are less likely than non-Prime members to shop around, and they spend significantly more on the site. “You need to be mindful of buying more than you otherwise would because it’s so easy to do,” says Anderson.
Plus, don’t overpay for the benefits Prime. If you’re a student, you can get free two-day shipping for free for six months when you sign up for Amazon Student, and then upgrade to Prime for half off after that.
Written by Catey Hill of MarketWatch