If you're familiar with Amazon Prime delivery and use it a lot, then it's probably difficult to imagine shopping on Amazon without the service.
The ability to get items delivered so quickly, with free shipping, was a huge game changer when it debuted years ago. Sure, there's a monthly (or yearly) fee that also happens to come with music and streaming service (at least the package I'm signed up for, anyway). But it's a subscription fee many gladly pay.
Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a $100 yearly recurring charge from Amazon in one shot. And with the lack of free, two-day shipping options available, a low-income customer might be dissuaded from buying something online.
But Amazon's latest discount brings the cost of Prime down to a more attractive $5.99 a month for low-income customers who receive government assistance.
In a press release, the online mega-giant said that customers interested in the discount must have a valid electronic benefits card used for programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often known as SNAP. Customers will also be able to use benefits to pay for qualifying goods and groceries with the online retailer.
Customers who qualify will also receive a 30-day free trial of the service, which also includes free Amazon Prime video streaming, select free books, and streaming music.
Amazon Prime's Vice President, Greg Greeley, spoke about the company's reasoning behind the price cut:
"We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime."
Reuters suggests that the move from Amazon is a direct attempt at cutting into Wal-Mart's SNAP benefits market share.
"The online retailer's move directly challenges Walmart — the biggest beneficiary of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — where at least one in five customers pay by food stamps."
It certainly seems like it would be in Amazon's best interest to try and convince low-income shoppers to spend their benefits on its website. The Wall Street Journal reports that Wal-Mart earned $13 billion in sales from the SNAP program, and 1 in 5 of its customers make SNAP transactions, so it's a huge part of the company's bottom line.
Making online shopping easier for low-income customers could further change the retail market landscape, and the lives of purchasers, as well.
It could open up a whole new world of options for customers who now don't have to waste time in lines or gas or bus money to get to the store to get the groceries they need. This option is also great for people with disabilities or health issues that make it difficult to leave home to run to the store.