Amazon has finally launched its Prime subscription service in India. Users can sign up for Amazon Prime via the Amazon website, starting with a 60-day free trial. If you sign up now, Amazon Prime will cost Rs. 499 for a year after the free trial, though the usual price for Amazon Prime in India will be Rs. 999 per year. It's unclear at this point how long this inaugural price will be valid.
If you are wondering what Amazon Prime includes in India, you may be in for disappointment. As of now, Prime comes with unlimited one-day and two-day delivery with no minimum order size and early access to some deals on Amazon, as well as some Prime-members only deals. Other benefits available to Prime members in the US like Amazon Video and Amazon Music - the shopping giant's video and music streaming services respectively - are not available in the country yet, though Amazon says the former "is coming".
Amazon Prime costs $99 (approximately Rs. 6,700) per year in the US, which makes the India offering a relative bargain, though US subscribers also enjoy other features like access to over a million e-books via Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and free unlimited photo storage, in addition to Music and Video.
"Since its inception in every country, Prime continues to evolve as we add millions of additional items that can be delivered incredibly fast and free," said Greg Greeley, Vice-President Worldwide Prime, Amazon. "We have also introduced unique digital benefits like Prime Video featuring Amazon Original Series and Movies - you'll be hearing more about that in the coming months."
Amazon rival Flipkart offers Flipkart First at Rs. 500 per year, which provides similar benefits like free in-a-day delivery, early access to deals, and special member-only deals, but the service hasn't evolved much since it was launched in 2014. With Video, Amazon will steal a march over its rival, so it will be interesting to see how Flipkart responds to this move.
It's worth pointing out that Amazon Prime members won't qualify for free delivery on all products - this benefit is available only on products with Prime badge next to them. For all practical purposes, most 'fulfilled by Amazon' products should qualify for free Prime delivery.
Right now, Amazon charges Rs. 40 for 'standard delivery' (between 2-10 days, depending upon the product) unless the order contains 'fulfilled by Amazon' products worth Rs. 499 or more. One-day and two-day delivery are charged Rs. 100 and Rs. 80 respectively. Amazon Prime members can avail these delivery options for free without any minimum order and will need to pay just Rs. 50 for same-day, morning, and scheduled deliveries, against a charge of Rs. 150 for non-Prime members.
Amazon Prime delivery benefits will be available to customers in 20 cities across India. For deliveries to cities not yet eligible for one-day or two-day delivery, members will receive free delivery with no minimum purchase.
"We are very excited to bring Prime to our customers in India. With Prime, guaranteed one-day delivery becomes an everyday experience instead of an occasional indulgence, and with no minimum purchases, it provides unlimited convenience all year long," said Amit Agarwal, Vice-President & Country Head, Amazon India.