It's no secret that consumers love free shipping, which makes buying online as easy, if never quite as fast, as buying in-store. But unfortunately, if you haven't signed up for Amazon Prime, which offers free shipping along with plenty of other perks, getting free shipping from Amazon can involve some confusion. The company's Super Saver shipping program will ship for free to addresses in the United States if you spend $35 or more — on the right items, that is.
Some Non-Amazon Merchants Now Eligible for $35 Threshold
But hitting this mark is about to get easier. Amazon has expanded its offerings by integrating third-party marketplace retailers into its search results, making it a snap to buy from non-Amazon merchants through Amazon. Until now, no items from marketplace vendors helped you qualify for free shipping. This could present a complicated puzzle for shoppers, who could easily fill their shopping cart with more than $35 worth of merchandise but still not qualify for free shipping. Now, however, all items that are listed for free shipping, whether that shipping is provided by Amazon or a third-party merchant, will help shoppers reach the $35 threshold that allows their order to ship for free.
Amazon says that this change more than triples the number of items eligible to meet the $35 minimum for free shipping, which certainly makes the process more straightforward for non-Prime customers. Still, there's confusion to be had: with Amazon shipping some items and third-parties shipping other items, you may find pieces of your order arriving at different times due to speed in processing shipments (at which Amazon is likely to be faster). However, for shoppers willing to wait a few extra days to get items through Amazon's free (but often slow) Super Saver shipping, waiting a bit longer for some items isn't likely to be a deal-breaker.
Increasing Orders, Or Decreasing Prime Memberships?
Another potential benefit of having select third-party items help shoppers meet that $35 total is that it may increase the number of third-party merchants offering free shipping, so long as that in turn encourages consumers to buy more. However, we'll have to wait to see just how this change plays out through Amazon's marketplace.
Though Amazon is clearly trying to encourage frugal shoppers to spend more on the site by making free shipping easier, the site's estimated 40 million Prime members are currently the company's money-makers. Estimates suggest Prime members spend $1500 a year on Amazon, while non-Prime members spend only $625. Putting free shipping in easier reach for non-Prime shoppers might help narrow that gap, or it may make Prime membership seem less lucrative to anyone currently in the program primarily for the shipping benefits.
Whatever happens, making it easier to access free shipping is a good deal for consumers. Will you be taking advantage of Amazon's now easier-to-get Super Saver shipping? Let us know in the comments below.