Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime has tens of millions of U.S. subscribers. It has become a vital tool to the growth of the online retailer. But if you’re not a Prime member then be ready to face higher prices. Amazon bookstores have been caught charging non-Prime users more money than those who are signed up for the premium service. You won’t find a bargain if you’re not a Prime subscriber.
Prime Saves You Money at Amazon.com, Inc. Bookstores
After eviscerating brick-and-mortar bookstores, Amazon is now experimenting with physical stores. But if you expect to find the same bargains you would find online then don’t hold your breath. Well, unless you’re a Prime member.
It is being reported that cashiers are asking shoppers if they’re members of the Prime member. Reportedly, Prime members are charged the same discounted prices online. However, if the shoppers are not members of Prime then they pay the full listing prices.
The books in the stores do not have price tags. Shoppers have to use a scanner to determine the price. Each scanner now returns two prices for every book: one for Prime users and one for non-Prime users.
Although the reports have irked many consumers, it is a pretty common policy. For instance, Barnes & Noble has a $25 annual membership plan. This subscription comes with free shipping for online orders and discounts as much as 40 percent for purchases in stores. Stores in other industries also have similar programs. Pet Smart, for example, has a PetPerks program that gives members exclusive discounts.
Prime is a $99 yearly service that offers free shipping, free cloud storage and a streaming library.
A Brief Look at Amazon.com, Inc. Bookstores
Amazon is primarily known for its online ecosystem. But the website is beginning to bring its products to the physical landscape, too.
In the last year, Amazon has opened bookstores in Seattle, San Diego and Portland. It plans to open another bookstore in Boston and Chicago. The tech titan says that it’s just an experiment at this point, but company officials say they are “really pleased with the early results.”
The bookstore initiative is allowing Amazon to find out what online retail measures could boost sales in brick-and-mortar stores. One of these ideas could be differential pricing, which is currently seen with Prime. For now, its bookstore endeavor is in its infancy stage, but it could expand in the future.
Amazon is also looking at launching small grocery stores across the U.S. and the rest of the world.
If the Amazon bookstores become popular then it could help the online retail giant in one area: shipping costs. The company said in its third-quarter results last week that shipping expenses spiked 43 percent. If more bookstores open up in the U.S., Canada and Europe then it could help lower its shipping costs, while still bringing in the company revenues.
What many experts find interesting is that Amazon has demolished physical bookstores with its prices and convenience. After destroying most of them, they are now adopting this business model.