Prime Time for Amazon Prime

Rob Hof

When introduced its Amazon Prime program, where you pay $79 a year for free two-day shipping, some analysts thought it would prove to be a money-loser. Amazon itself said last month that it would be expensive.

Well, safe to say, my use of Amazon Prime is certainly burning through a good portion of that $79 I paid. I've been ordering gifts with impunity as I think of them, instead of waiting until I have $25 worth to trigger free shipping. I don't think I've ordered quite enough to make up for that annual Prime payment, but I'm coming a lot closer.

Prime Time for Amazon Prime

Of course, I'm also ordering two or three times as much as usual--including a wide variety of merchandise from books to kitchen gear. For that reason, it's quite possible Amazon will make out well, since it's getting a much larger share of my wallet. Suddenly, with 32 shopping days left before Christmas, that $79--which initially seemed more than I wanted to pay for convenience--looks like a godsend. It's a pretty sure bet I'll re-up early next year.

By the way, when I was ready to check out on a purchase today, up popped a list of five items in my Shopping Cart (the ones I've marked to buy later), and all of them now cost a few bucks less than just three days ago. This is hardly the first time the prices on these products have fluctuated, both up and down, but never this many all down.

It seems a little early for wisespread discounting, though. Anyone else noticed whether Amazon's (and other online merchants') prices are dropping already? Or alternatively, do they seem higher? I'll be leery of reading too much into anecdotal accounts, but it would be interesting to know what you're seeing.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.