Amazon is extending one of the main benefits of Prime membership to all U.S.-based customers for the 2018 holidays: free shipping, no minimum order required (previously it was $25). Because it's the giving season, maybe?
Frankly, it was something they had to do. At least, that's the way CEO Jeff Bezos undoubtedly sees it, given that Target and Wal-mart, Amazon's biggest competitors, also just introduced free, two-day, no-minimum-order shipping for the holidays.
So, yes, this is less about growing in the hearts of loyal customers (even though Amazon has some of the most loyal customers out there), and more about growing market share--or at least retaining it. Even though the e-commerce giant already controls nearly 50 percent of the online retail market, Amazon gives no quarter to its foes, meaning that beneath its glittery goodness, the slashing of shipping fees is actually based on a brutal and barbarous business blueprint.
Of course, we understand that.
In the words of the immortal Otto Biederman, "It's just business."
I don't know anyone who is expecting or even asking Bezos--one of the most ruthless entrepreneurs to have surfed the dot-com wave without wiping out--to dole out any holiday cheer.
Still, if Santa Claus is a rich guy (mustn't he be to own all those toys, not to mention exotic pets?), then Jeff Bezos is almost definitely even richer. He's so insanely rich that's it's basically impossible to even fathom.
With that in mind, I've created a small wish list of things Bezos could gift to the world that would be more valuable than free shipping:
Love or hate him, Jeff Bezos is one of the most successful people ever. I'd like to see Amazon invest more in not only the experience they provide their buyer but the sellers of today and tomorrow. Amazon very recently spun up their own accelerator (from the Alexa Fund--cute), but I expect more from a company with such a commanding presence. That vast vision needs to continue to support innovators, creators, and pioneers.
Amazon has a history of opaque accounting policies and is constantly in the spotlight for poor working conditions and low wages. For once, it would be nice to see at least one global corporation take the lead on being transparent. It's one thing to be coy about your numbers, but it's another to cover up poor policies.
More trees planted.
You might think online shopping is good for the environment. Not necessarily--and definitely not with Amazon. Here's a list of companies who plant a tree for every product sold. Amazon would have a tough time with that commitment, but it's definitely a good direction to go. For every article view, one Alexa is packaged with care.*
All we really know is this: Bezos and Amazon are both radically successful and can afford to stuff a few stockings. We hope it won't be with coal, but if it is, at least it will have shipped for free.
*this is a joke