By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Amazon Prime members have access to free 2-day shipping with the retailer, but Amazon will soon let customers enjoy free shipping on third-party websites. Technology news outlets such as Re/Code began reporting the offer, and the first store to offer the option, AllSaints. The British clothing retailer will be the pilot store, but more retailers are expected to follow suit.
Amazon launched its Prime service in 2005, and since then has added several bonuses for its members. Recently, the company announced Prime members had access to unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive. The retailer first began its integration with other retailers when it offered a universal “wish list” button, allowing shoppers to put products from any website on their Amazon wish lists. The expanded shipping option seems to build on this ability, and lets consumers use Amazon as a portal for their shopping needs.
Retail and technology analysts say Amazon is in talks with other companies, but is focusing primarily on clothing retailers at this time. Re/Code reports that Abercrombie and Fitch and Neiman Marcus declined to participate in the Prime program. AllSaints has included their clothing listings in Amazon search results, and customers have to purchase their merchandise by signing in with their Amazon login credentials. From there, they'll receive the free shipping offer. Re/Code reports that Amazon will take a small fee from AllSaints when consumers visit the clothing retailer's website from Amazon.com.
While Amazon has yet to release an exact number of their subscribers, experts estimate there are over 50 million Amazon Prime members worldwide, and retailers could benefit substantially from the exposure on Amazon. The free shipping expansion, referred to internally on Prime Pass, will eventually compete with ShopRunner, an online pay service that lets its members enjoy free 2-day shipping on any size order, plus do free returns and more. ShopRunner has high end partners like PRADA, Nine West and beauty.com. However, ShopRunner works with stores in all retail categories, including clothing, baby, health, and more, and at this time Amazon is only approaching clothing retailers. As Amazon recruits more retailers into the Prime Pass program, how ShopRunner fares against the new competition will be interesting for the shopping giant in 2015.