Amazon free shipping services have changed effective Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. For about the last three years, since 2013, Amazon honored free shipping with the purchase of $35. However, now customers have to spend at least the minimum of $49 to get the free shipping option. That’s the cost of doing business, or perhaps it’s part of the customers’ online purchase obligation or, more likely, it’s a push to get customers into Amazon Prime. Reportedly Amazon has been losing money on free shipping and the increase is an effort to equalize that loss by “upping” the free shipping minimum even though it could result in fewer customers increasing their total purchase. Prime customers will continue to receive free shipping so some people suggest that Amazon’s non-Prime buyers are footing shipping costs for Prime members.
Amazon will maintain the shipment of book orders at the existing option, that is, it will ship free at the set minimum of $25. Other eligible items ship for free at the $49 minimum [instead of $35]. Eligible items are prominently shown with a free shipping message on product detail pages.
Amazon mails out orders with all purchased eligible items that qualify with the free shipping minimum. What used to be called free super saver shipping, but is now simply free shipping by Amazon, usually takes five to eight business days compared to standard shipping of three to five business days. Customers used to not mind having to wait an extra few days for an Amazon order to arrive in exchange for free shipping.
Amazon’s shipping is not unlike several other merchants such as Wal-Mart with a $50 price, Jet.com with $35, and Target with $25. Since shipping cost have recently risen substantially, Amazon is undoubtedly attempting to contain shipping costs. During last year’s fourth quarter, expenses rose 37% or $4.17 billion. These expenses, translated to figures for shipping costs, increased from 10.9% a year ago to 12.5% in last year’s fourth quarter.
The huge online company has seen its services escalate in recent years. Take, for instance, Amazon’s Prime memberships. Once available to customers for $79, a one-year membership was increased in 2014 to $99 per year and receive unlimited two-day shipping on [many] items and also get the streaming movie and music service. Amazon compels participants of Prime to pay the membership fee at the beginning of the year rather than a monthly basis.
The increased minimum purchase requirement was quietly introduced and raised on Monday. The online retailer did not give an explanation other than in a short statement that “from time to time, we review our shipping options.”
Simply put, shopping at Amazon.com just got a little more expensive.