The Power of Amazon Prime
Click. Receive. Gratify. Repeat. How Amazon’s shift to offering virtually on-demand goods is changing our shopping behavior.
by Berna Dikicioglu
Back in the day, Amazon used to sell books. Only books. Is anyone in my millennial generation even aware of that?
Over the past twenty years, Amazon has brilliantly expanded its business model in tandem with the cultural shift of consumers needing (expecting!) goods to be available on-demand.
Sometimes this means same-day delivery, sometimes it’s two-day, but it is getting closer to real-time every day.
Even Walmart is finally getting the hang of it: the company grew its U.S. e-commerce sales 63% year-over-year in Q1.
E-commerce is no fad, as many shoppers don’t want to shop any other way. We all know people who can’t be bothered to go into stores and deal with lines or other people (sometimes, I’m that person).
There’s a running joke with millennials: At 28 years old, our parents already owned homes and were raising us. Yet at 28 years old in 2017, we are ordering food through apps so we don’t have to interact with people, while raising dogs in an overpriced rental.
Economics aside, this is sadly and largely due to our shift into modern media culture, where most everything can be handled digitally through online services or apps. When we shop online, we crowdsource reviews in order to find the perfect item, a necessity that’s not often available in-store.
Let’s take a step back: a few years after Amazon was just selling books, it began offering free shipping on orders over $99. Today, Amazon offers everything from Amazon Web Services (a billion dollar business of its own) to Echo, to Prime Video and — this week — live TV in the UK, with many things in between.
In fact, it’s what Amazon couldn’t dream of becoming that has made it what it is today —the Internet’s top retailer, #29 on the Forbes list of America’s top public companies, and one of the most powerful brands in the world.
Its market value is currently north of $450 billion and climbing. That’s double Walmart. Six times Costco. To put those numbers into perspective for my social-media-obsessed generation, that’s about $23 billion more than Facebook.
It makes sense. Not only does Amazon cater to what every consumer needs in close to an instantaneous manner, but the brand has created a name for itself based on its reliability.
Amazon Prime ups the ante at near-instant gratification, and is one of the most successful loyalty programs in modern marketing history. Currently, the membership fee for Prime is $99 per year, or $10.99 per month. While that may sound like a lot, the fee provides you with millions of items delivered to your doorstep within two days, plus free shipping — guaranteed.
If you’re one of the few people in this world who isn’t addicted to instant gratification, you can opt for No-Rush Shipping. You will still get your package the following week, but as a thank you, you’ll also receive a promotional reward that’s automatically applied to your account once the package has shipped.
That’s just one tiny corner in the world of Amazon Prime. Most members (including myself, until now) are unaware of the plethora of ordering opportunities that are available. You can order food, have ad-free access to more than a million songs, store unlimited photos on the Amazon Cloud drive, stream movies and TV shows while also adding your own third-party streaming apps (like HBO NOW) to your Prime account — you know, for efficiency.
Last week, I was inspired to make mashed potatoes. After reading 600+ reviews, I received my very own potato masher within two days.
Ask me if I’ve used it yet.
Want mashed potatoes, but don’t want to make them? There’s a solution for that, too. Amazon Prime Now allows you to order food from nearby restaurants, delivered to your doorstep in two hours or less.
And if you want to watch the big game while you eat, guess what? Soon, Amazon Prime will be streaming some Thursday Night NFL games. This represents a large shift in viewing behaviors; as cord cutters proliferate, media companies must follow.
Some e-commerce companies (I’m not naming names) should invest in a few upgrades. You’re competing with Amazon! If you want to attract and retain customers (me), you have to provide faster service. People are impulse buying because it’s there, it’s fast, and it’s easy. The prices aren’t even that competitive.
Companies are learning that millennials and Generation Z are shopping differently. Start-ups have an easier time designing business models from scratch, but they often do not have the resources. Established companies have the opposite problem.
I believe virtually everything will be on-demand soon enough. On-demand goods are the most logical option for the on-the-go person with a computer in her pocket and ubiquitous wifi. We’re ordering what we want, when we want it, and not a second before.
The real question is, now that Amazon has gained my trust and ingrained my behavior, is it leading me to buy things I don’t really need?
Amazon is like a bad diet. If there’s ice cream in the freezer, you are going to eat it.
Amazon took the gamble in investing in themselves and in what they believed to be the future of consumerism. With that, they effectively changed the game. Through A/B testing and crowdsourcing information in order to give us that “prime” experience, they’ve created a shopping experience that is perfect for the 21st century.
What’s next? You may want to hide your wallets. I, for one, cannot wait.
Berna Dikicioglu is a Project Manager at Mistress.