There isn’t one. Sorry, Charlie. Amazon Prime stands alone as the best deal online. No other service offers the same amount of substance: Free two-day shipping on a ton of stuff, cheap overnight shipping, and a streaming library second in content only to Netflix. Like it or not, Amazon Prime is still a great deal even after the price increase it announced this morning.
Starting on April 17, it will cost $99 a year instead $79 a year. The company hinted weeks ago that this could happen. We all knew it was going to happen and Amazon knows exactly what it’s doing.
Prime launched nine years ago and Amazon had yet to raise the price while slowly adding more benefits. Plus it was ridiculously easy to bypass paying for it at all by signing up for the somewhat limited Student or Mom program. Amazon wanted people on Prime. It was growth hacking at its finest.
For the most part, that’s still the case. Several workarounds were discovered today to avoid paying the new price next year. The Student program now costs $49, which is still a great deal and relatively cheap. And Amazon Mom is still around and offers the free two-day shipping portion of Prime for free.
Competitors have attempted to clone Prime, but none are worthwhile except for maybe Newegg’s. Called Premier, it costs subscribers $50 a year and offers free three-day shipping and free returns. Premier of course lacks the video streaming library found on Prime. Newegg doesn’t have Amazon’s inventory but the U.S.-based retailer does have a lot of stuff.
Another upstart called ShopRunner partners with traditional retailers to offer free two-day shipping. There are 85 retailers currently onboard, including Timberland, Toys’R’Us, AutoZone and American Eagle. The company clearly strives to bring the spirit of Amazon Prime to third-party retailers, but sort of misses a major point of Amazon’s aggregation of goods. There’s no need to go to each retailer’s website. It’s all on Amazon.
Still, ShopRunner smells an opportunity and is currently running a program to give its service for free to Amazon Prime subscribers upset with the price increase.
Amazon is in a tough spot. Put another way, during the last holiday quarter, Amazon managed to miss financial expectations on both its top and bottom lines. Something needed to change and raising the price on Prime was probably an easy decision.
The new price of $99 is toward the top end of the value scale, though. I would argue that it’s worth more — I would pay up to $150 a year — but anything higher than $99 is a big jump and Amazon would probably see a drop off of renewals. There’s a reason it’s $99 instead of $100. And Amazon being the retail data monster it is, probably knows that.
Things change. It’s unfortunate, sure. If you don’t like the extra cost, don’t pay for it and order your home goods from Newegg or Walmart. As it stands right now, Amazon Prime is still a great deal at $99 a year.