Retail giant Amazon has announced free shipping on delivery of small and light items such as mobile phone accessories, cosmetics, earplugs—anything that weighs 8 ounces (230 grams) or less, having dimensions less than or equal to 9 by 6 by 2 inches, and usually comes at a price of less than $10—without requiring a minimum order. This new program is officially called “Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light.”
Who Can Use This Service
You can take advantage of the new free shipping service even if you haven’t enrolled in Amazon Prime—the $99 annual membership program offered by Amazon that includes free two-day shipping on several products, Kindle First, Prime Instant Video, Amazon Prime Music and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.
The program isn’t yet fully implemented though, according to Amazon spokesman. So you will need to be patient until this is fully available.
This new offer will provide you the opportunity to purchase low-priced goods one at a time, without worrying that shipping could cost you more than the price of the item bought, or the need to buy additional products to reach the ‘free-shipping’ threshold.
“The new program provides a cost effective way for sellers to offer low-cost items, and for customers to get free shipping. It’s a win-win for customers and sellers—the new program costs sellers less to ship an item than it would, if they were to do it through their own fulfillment network,” said Amazon spokesman Tom Cook.
Delivery will be done from Amazon’s new shipping hub in Florence, Kentucky and will take around four to eight business days for shipment arrival. Most of the inventory will be provided by the third-party merchants registered with the company.
The Hidden Secret
This move is a result of Amazon’s initiative to lure cost-conscious shoppers. The free shipping feature will help the behemoth to market its services to a wider pool of customers, including those having Amazon Prime membership.
Amazon’s plan to launch free shipping of inexpensive items is its effort to gain market share from its closest competitors Target and Walmart. However, it won’t make Amazon profitable, according to Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
Amazon initiated this program on a trial basis 13 weeks ago, and the final decision was made after observing that the products covered under free shipping without a minimum order threshold sold much faster than they had previously.
“Customers love that even if it’s a $5 item, shipping is free for everybody, Prime member or not,” Neil Ackerman, a senior manager at Amazon, said in an interview. “Customers love it and sellers love it.”
Last week Amazon announced its new same-day delivery service to its Prime subscribers, so this current statement about free shipping is not the only major announcement made by the company. However, you need to place those orders before noon for the same-day delivery; else it will be delivered the next day.
So what are your thoughts about this new free shipping service? Do you think it will give Amazon a strong competitive advantage? Can it help them win customers from their competitors? Please share your opinions in the comments below.