Amazon Job Descriptions Hint at More Perks Coming to Prime

First, Amazon Prime offered free two-day shipping for $79. Then it started offering add-on services for no additional cost, like streaming videos and Kindle books.

And now it appears the e-commerce giant has even more plans in the works.

A Wells Fargo Equity Research note distributed this week writes: “A key discovery this month is that Amazon has plans to expand the Prime membership benefits beyond the Amazon.com platform.”

The note points to a number of job descriptions, disclosing that Amazon is creating a “Prime Expansion” team, tasked with driving awareness of the Prime program and expanding the scope of its benefits, geographically and on and off Amazon.

So what areas or new benefits might Amazon be expanding into?

It’s not clear, and an Amazon spokesperson did not return emails seeking comment.

But first, let’s throw out the areas where Amazon won’t be expanding to — other online retailers. Today, Amazon sells pretty much everything under the sun, so it would be very hard for it to find a retailer that would be comfortable with letting Amazon run its loyalty program, even if it does mean offering perks like free shipping.

“I think any retailer would have to have their head examined if they allowed themselves to be a customer-acquisition tool for Amazon Prime,” said Mike Golden, president of ShopRunner. “Especially if it’s under the assumption that Amazon won’t compete with them. Because people have been proven false every single time.”

Of course, Golden has his biases.

ShopRunner, which includes eBay as an investor, operates a service — much like Prime — that offers shoppers free two-day shipping across a variety of retailers, including Toys “R” Us and PetSmart, for $79 a year.

But even if other retailers are out of the question, there are still some opportunities Amazon could be pursuing. For instance, it could work with other delivery services that don’t compete with Amazon.

ShopRunner has already demonstrated this through a partnership with Domino’s Pizza, which provides free delivery to ShopRunner members. Other scenarios with national scale could include Ticketmaster or Fandango, which have service fees at checkout.

Another internal program that Amazon is working on that could be a candidate for Prime is free access to Amazon Locker, which allows consumers to pick up packages from secure mailboxes at 7-Eleven. The lockers address a segment of the market that can’t receive packages at their homes because people work during the day and there’s nowhere for a delivery to be dropped off, or because it’s likely to get stolen.

So far, Amazon Prime is considered a very successful program that increases loyalty to Amazon.com — for an annual fee. As is typical with Amazon, it does not disclose how many Prime members it has, but Baird Equity Research estimates that there’s somewhere between seven million and 11 million members.

With even more benefits, it will make Prime — and Amazon overall — even harder for consumers to walk away from.

(Image courtesy of www.cicadamania.com)


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