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Amazon Breaks Record for Free Shipping Through Prime

Amazon used its annual post-Christmas press release to talk a lot about its Prime free-shipping program, revealing it actually put the brakes on new member signups at peak periods to ensure current members were not impacted by the surge.

More than one million customers joined its Prime membership shipping program in the third week of December, and on its peak shipping day, it broke its record for the number Prime items shipped worldwide. Amazon said it shipped enough items with Prime this holiday to deliver at least one gift to every household in America.

While Amazon doesn’t release the number of members in the Prime Shipping program, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed in the press release it now has “tens of millions” of Prime members. The company had raised the bar for qualifying for free shipping through Super Saver shipping from $25 to $35 in October, perhaps goosing more shoppers to pay the $79 annual Prime membership fee to avoid having to meet the higher minimum requirement.

In the press release issued the day after Christmas, Amazon stated, “Prime was so popular this holiday, that Amazon limited new Prime membership signups during peak periods to ensure service to current members was not impacted by the surge in new membership.” It also revealed that shoppers ordered over 36.8 million items on Cyber Monday, “a record-breaking 426 items per second,” and said it shipped to 185 countries during the holidays.

Also of interest, Amazon said more than half of its customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday, and between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, Amazon customers ordered more than five toys per second from a mobile device.

Amazon revealed that its digital media selection grew to more than 27 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and popular apps and games in 2013. Prime Instant Video selection increased from 33,000 to more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes in 2013. Amazon Instant Video now includes more than 150,000 movies and TV episodes.

Selection in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in 2013 grew from 250,000 books to more than 475,000 books – books that Kindle owners with a Prime membership can borrow for free with no due dates. And 150 Kindle Direct Publishing authors each sold more than 100,000 copies of their books in 2013.

Amazon Appstore selection worldwide more than doubled in 2013 – there are now more than 100,000 apps and games in the Amazon Appstore and on Kindle Fire devices.

And in referencing the Prime shipping program in Thursday’s press release, Bezos said members benefit from “all-you-can-eat free two-day shipping on millions of eligible items,” and, he said, “our members have a voracious appetite. We are extremely grateful to our customers around the world and wish everyone the very best for the coming year.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.