As Amazon raises the cost of its Prime free-shipping membership program to $99, ShopRunner issued a press release as a reminder that it too offers online shoppers a $79 membership program to receive free shipping – in its case, from its growing network of retailers. And it’s making a special offer to entice Amazon Prime members to switch allegiance. A special notice on the ShopRunner homepage reads, “Amazon Prime Members: Enjoy 1 year of unlimited free 2-day shipping, compliments of ShopRunner” with a link to more information.
The offer is exclusively for Amazon Prime members who have not yet renewed their membership at the higher rate, and ShopRunner promises it will not charge more than $79 when their free membership renews in a year, and notes, “and we won’t charge your card automatically.”
Retailers are a competitive bunch, but so great is the threat of Amazon that at times they join together, and ShopRunner is proof of that. Among the over 100 retailers participating in the program are Brooks Brothers, Neiman Marcus, Calvin Klein, ToysRUs and Drugstore.com, and in the first quarter of 2014, 15 new retailers signed up to join ShopRunner, including, Cole Haan, Moosejaw, Spanx, Sole Society and TaylorMade.
ShopRunner said with the expansion of its partnership with American Express in the fourth quarter of 2013, it grew its member base of active online shoppers by more than 100 percent over the prior year. (A complimentary ShopRunner membership is available to eligible American Express Card Members who enroll at shoprunner.com/americanexpress.)
In addition to receiving fast and free 2-day shipping, ShopRunner members receive free return shipping, 2-click checkout, shipment tracking and special offers. However, it’s not an apple-to-apples comparison with Amazon Prime, which offers a Kindle lending library and Amazon Instant Prime video.
ShopRunner has 80 employees and is planning to grow headcount by more than 50 percent in 2014. ShopRunner CEO Scott Thompson, who formerly headed PayPal and briefly headed Yahoo, said he believes 2014 is shaping up to be a “break-out year” for the company.
ShopRunner is backed by Kynetic and Alibaba and has offices in San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia.