So as a one-time Amazon affiliate I received notification recently that the terms of the free delivery (Super Saver Delivery as they call it) in the UK was about to change (as of 1st May 2015). And in my opinion, it’s not a minor change at all, as they’re changing the minimum qualifying order from £10 to £20.
It’s not the first change they’ve made, as the super saver delivery used to be free for all orders. They subsequently introduced a £5 cap, which quickly became a £10 limit – and this was just about acceptable, as it still meant a lot of orders could be considered impulse purchases. And if your basket fell below the £10 cap, sometime you might add something extra items that you knew you were going to use at some point (like a commodity item such as printer paper, or something that cost a couple of quid), just so you hit the minimum order level.
But at £20, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to reach that qualifying cap and it’ll take a good few commodity items to get close.
I can understand why they’re doing it, as postage charges have increased, so they need to cover their costs. And the prices of many items has also gone up too, so from a consumer’s perspective maybe they’ll not notice the cap as much as I think they will. But from a personal perspective, I think it’ll definitely make me think twice about using Amazon if I know I have to pay postage charges.
Some have said that in raising the limit, they’re trying to drive customers to opting for their Prime subscription. At £79 per year, that’s quite a leap of faith and an upfront commitment to the Amazon way of thinking. And for me, as a happy Netflix subscriber (better quality, more devices, better range of material IMHO) and having had the free trial of Prime – I found a worrying range of products that weren’t eligible for Prime delivery and also didn’t particularly rate their Prime TV/video services. I found their apps clunky (compared to Netflix), their range limited (although they do often have slightly better, more modern movies available) and generally the whole experience just felt a little forced.
I’d much rather they did one thing well, rather than many things in a mediocre manner. Netflix understand that and that’s why I’ve been subscribing for a while. eBay understand it too, and I think that with many of their lower ticket items continuing to be offered with free delivery (and no minimum order value) they might be the big winner as a result of this move by Amazon. At one time Play.com might have been a credible alternative, but since Rakuten have taken over, the platform has gone downhill and seems to be confused about what its raison d’etre actually is – not a smart move in such a fast moving, online, very visible world of online retail!
So will I still use Amazon? Probably. Although the delivery charges will make me use it less. And less frequently too, which I think is an important consideration. I’ll not be going online and making an impulse purchase through Amazon any more, that’s for sure. Maybe that’s what they want? Maybe they want us to use their wish lists and basket facility more, so that they can have fewer, higher value deliveries. If that’s the case, then maybe this is a stroke of management genius.
But from a consumer’s perspective, I think they just might have shot themselves in the foot and opened the door to other, leaner, more customer-friendly operators that offer exactly what we want: flexibility, free/cheap delivery, and the ability to make impulse purchases when the moment takes us, not just when we have a sufficiently high value basket of goods.