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Amazon Attracts 10 Million New Shoppers to Prime Shipping

Amazon issued a press release the day after Christmas boasting about the performance of what was its 20th holiday season, though it didn’t reveal overall growth rates or sales figures.

Wall Street analyst Colin Sebastian of Robert W. Baird & Co noted in a research report that unlike most prior holiday releases, Amazon did not provide peak day order and unit sales for the 2014 holiday period, calling it of “slight concern.”

“Previously, Amazon consistently reported strong growth in these metrics,” he said. “However, Amazon’s Europe releases were somewhat more informative, including record unit shipments from its distribution network in France.”

Nearly 60 percent of Amazon.com customers shopped using a mobile device over the holidays. Mobile shopping accelerated as customers got later into the shopping season, and customers ordered more than 10 times as many items with Same-Day Delivery compared to 2013.

Prime Numbers
Amazingly Amazon doesn’t release the number of members to its Prime Shipping program, but it did boast that 10 million shoppers tried out Prime for the first time during the holiday season. It didn’t say how many stuck with the program after the free trial.

Amazon CFO Tim Szkutak said in the fall that the biggest return on investment for Prime is that members buy more, “including and especially physical products.”

Amazon launched Prime 10 years ago as a free, 2-day shipping membership program costing $79/year. Since then it has added many more perks for Prime members, including Prime Instant Video, Prime Music, a free lending library for owners of its Kindle ebook readers, Prime Photos, Prime Pantry, and Amazon Elements, as well as access to certain expedited shipping programs such as Prime Now.

This year it raised the subscription price of the program to $99/year. Third-party sellers can make their products available to Prime shoppers, but only if the sellers use Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA).

Black Friday Migrates Across the Pond
In the UK, the company said for the first time ever, Amazon.co.uk’s busiest day fell on Black Friday (November 28). “More than 5.5 million items were ordered on Black Friday, which is a record-breaking 64 items per second, with sales peaking at 8.29 am,” Amazon UK reported.

Amazon Founder Speaks
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted in the post-Christmas press release:

“We are excited to welcome more than ten million new members to Amazon Prime this holiday season, who benefited from unlimited Free Two-Day Shipping on their holiday gifts. Prime members can also borrow more than 700,000 books, listen to one million songs and hundreds of playlists, save unlimited photos and watch tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes including the Golden Globe nominated show from Amazon Studios, Transparent. We are working hard to make Prime even better and expanding the recently launched Prime Now to additional cities in 2015.”

Amazon Holiday Fun Facts
Among the “Holiday Fun Facts,” Amazon released are the following:

  • Amazon shipped to 185 countries this holiday.
  • Sunday Delivery expanded across the country, delivering holiday packages to thousands of cities in the US.
  • Cyber Monday continues to be Amazon.com’s peak mobile shopping day. Black Friday had the most rapid growth in mobile shopping.
  • Total holiday sales from the Amazon app for smartphones doubled in 2014 in the US.
  • This holiday, 16 times more Amazon customers shopped on smile.amazon.com than over the 2013 holiday season. Since launching, AmazonSmile has generated millions of dollars in donations for customers’ favorite charitable organizations.

Amazon also said that following its November launch of Prime Photos, members uploaded nearly one billion photos with free unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive.

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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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.