- Amazon unveiled a hub for discounts, affordability programs and other features dubbed Amazon Access, the retailer announced Monday. Within Amazon Access, shoppers can also view information about Prime Access, the retailer's newly renamed discounted membership program for recipients of government assistance.
- In addition to Prime Access, customers can find information on Amazon Layaway, SNAP EBT and discounts. Shoppers can also pay online without a debit or credit card, and pick up purchases at lockers or pickup counters.
- Prime Access is $6.99 per month, less than half the full Prime membership cost. From 2019 to 2021, membership into the program increased by more than 300%, per the announcement. Customers who receive government assistance can upload their identification or government assistance documentation to see if they’re qualified.
The retailer’s push to make Amazon Prime benefits and discounts more accessible to a broader group of consumers follows price hikes for its main membership earlier this year. In February, the retailer increased its Prime membership fee for the first time since 2018. The change, from $119 to $139, came after a challenging fourth quarter where the e-commerce behemoth saw its operating expenses rise 12.9% to $134 billion and its operating income drop by nearly half to $3.5 billion.
The e-commerce giant continued to face challenges in the second quarter. Though the company reported a 7% increase in net sales to $121.2 billion in its second quarter, its Q2 net loss was $2 billion, and its operating income dropped from $7.7 billion to $3.3 billion.
To incentivize Prime enrollment for consumers seeking early holiday deals, Amazon introduced a second sale for Prime members on October 11–12 in 15 countries and debuted a holiday gift guide featuring major brands, including KitchenAid and Peloton. In a similar move, Target is also offering its holiday deals in October, but it's doing so on Oct. 6–8 and also giving customers a price match guarantee.
The rollout of discounts comes as consumers seek bargains in response to inflation woes. A Morning Consult survey released in August found that 85% of respondents cited increasing inflation as the reason behind their changing shopping habits. While 79% of respondents sought discounts from retailers, 77% had reduced their shopping. As consumers try to stretch their dollars this holiday season, they will likely shop around for the best price and begin shopping well before the holidays arrive.