Amazon offers a lot of value in exchange for the $79 they charge for their loyalty program and today they added yet another lagniappe to keep customers coming back.
Starting next week, Amazon Prime members in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas will be able to use their free 2 day shipping option to get their packages on Sunday. Delivery will be handled by the USPS, and Amazon plans to roll out this service to a large portion of the U.S. population in 2014 including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix.
In a way, this should come as no surprise. Amazon is already one of the single largest shippers in the US, with some UPS driversthat half of their daily load is marked with the familiar arrow smile. And that is simply one delivery service; add in FedEx and USPS and the volume of packages grows into a tsunami.
With this new shipping option Prime members will now be able to get their packages 7 days a week, and that's going to give Amazon a major edge over the competition. But on the plus side everyone will be benefiting from this program even if they aren't a Prime member.
The USPS has been pushing for the past year or so to end Saturday deliveries. They are facing tighter budgets, and rather than reorganize to operate more efficiently some have been advocating a cutback in service. But now that Amazon is funding Sunday delivery in some cities that probably won't happen.
But never mind the silver lining; instead let's consider the screams of outrage from the usual quarters. Booksellers, for example, will scream that Amazon is trying to kill them. Publishers will scream that by shipping books faster Amazon is trying to kill them as well. And even Walmart is going to wince; they have trouble managing Saturday delivery, much less Sunday.
Amazon Prime costs $79 in the US, and in addition to the free 2 day shipping Prime members also enjoy free streaming video, a free monthly ebook borrowed from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, a free ebook each month from the newly launched Kindle First sales program, and we can even sometimes get a credit for choosing the free no rush shipping option (Amazon pays us).
image by David Guo's Master