Customers can once again get a monthly subscription to Amazon.com Inc.’s popular Prime program, rather than paying the $99 annual fee that Amazon itself charges—as long as they have the right mobile services provider.
Sprint Corp. has begun offering its customers monthly Amazon Prime memberships for an additional $10.99 per month. That fee includes access to all the benefits that annual Prime members enjoy including free two-day shipping as well as streaming video and access to Amazon’s two-hour or less Prime Now delivery service, which is available in 24 markets in the U.S.
The $10.99 charge is added on to Sprint customers’ monthly bill and customers can cancel their Prime membership at any time. A Sprint spokeswoman says the deal is exclusive to Sprint, but the company declined to provide any further details about its agreement with Amazon.
“We know customers love shopping on their mobile devices and having access to entertainment at their fingertips while on the go or at home, so we’re excited to team up with Sprint to introduce this special Prime offer,” Amazon senior vice president Jeff Blackburn says.
This isn’t the first time shoppers have been able to purchase a monthly Prime membership. In late 2012, Amazon itself offered monthly Prime subscriptions for $7.99 per month, while competing service ShopRunner was offering Prime subscriptions for $8.99 per month. Neither Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, nor ShopRunner offer monthly subscriptions anymore, though both offer a free, 1-month trial. Amazon did not return an email seeking further comment on the Sprint offer.
Amazon does not release figures on how many Prime subscribers it has. Securities research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC estimated earlier this year that Amazon has 54 million Prime subscribers in the U.S. alone.
Tom Caporaso, CEO of shipping software provider Clarus Commerce, says the Sprint tie-up may help Amazon reach consumers that are not already loyal customers, and give them a chance to try the program that’s been shown to increase sales.
“From a pure customer acquisition opportunity, it probably benefits Amazon because you’re tapping into a customer base or a marketing channel that they have previously not tapped into,” Caporaso says. “Third party data says if you’re a Prime customer, you’re shopping 2-3x more than a non-Prime customer. Amazon would not be continuing to try to feed the funnel of Amazon Prime if it wasn’t working.” While Amazon provides few details about its Prime program, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners LLC estimates that the average Prime member spent $1,100 on Amazon.com in the fourth quarter of 2015 versus $600 for Amazon shoppers who did not belong to Prime.