Amazon CEO and Lex Luthor lookalike Jeff Bezos announced today in a letter to shareholders that more than 100 million people around the world are subscribers to Amazon Prime, providing them the privilege of getting all the crap they buy delivered in just two days.
The figure marks the first time that Amazon has publicly disclosed the global number of Prime subscribers. Estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) projected that Amazon had 80 million Prime subscribers in the United States alone last year – about 25 per cent of the population.
According to Bezos, Amazon shipped more than five billion items worldwide with Prime in 2017. The year also saw more new members join Prime than in any previous year, both worldwide and in the US.
Nii Ahene, Chief Operating Officer at the retail-focused CPC Strategy, told Gizmodo over the phone that analyst projections for the number of Amazon Prime subscribers “is definitely on pace with where they are”.
According to Ahene, Amazon’s dominance in retail – especially during the fourth quarter of 2017 when the company accounted for nearly 50 per cent of online sales – served as a strong indicator that Prime was amassing millions of members.
Ahene said that from a seller’s perspective, being a part of the Prime, which provides two-day shipping of products from Amazon’s warehouses, serves as a huge benefit. “The difference between having a product that is Prime eligible, meaning it is in an Amazon warehouse, and having a product that is not Prime eligible means as much as a halving of sales,” he said.
He also noted that Amazon has done a lot of work over the last year in attempting to figure out what drives people to make the investment in Prime, which typically costs subscribers $US12.99 ($17) per month or $US99 ($127) for a full year. Ahene pointed to Amazon’s ability to attract different demographics to the program as a primary reason for its growth, citing the creation of a Prime membership for lower-income households, a steep discount offered to students, and a wealth of streaming media content provided through Amazon Prime video and Amazon Music.
The success of Amazon’s line of smart speakers has also played a roll in the expansion of Prime, though it’s yet to be seen how exactly Amazon leverages the devices. “I really think Amazon has laid a great foundation with Alexa speakers,” Ahene said. “Now the real question is what they do with that install base, what applications are built on top of those smart devices?”
Amazon has been a little more protective of the number of users its services within Prime attract. The company didn’t disclose how many viewers Prime Video or listeners Amazon Music has. Bezos did note that membership to its streaming music service has “more than doubled” over the past six months, but that means nothing without knowing how many people were using the service last year.
Separate from Bezos’ letter to shareholders, Amazon announced that the company’s CEO was paid $US1.7 million ($2.2 million) in 2017. The Wall Street Journal noted that was about 59 times higher than the median pay of $US28,446 ($36,610) an Amazon employee takes home each year.