Amazon is already the most popular digital retailer on the planet, but that doesn’t mean Jeff Bezos and the rest of the team are satisfied with their success. The site is always looking for any edge it can get, and according to Recode, that now includes free one-day shipping on almost any cheap product for Amazon Prime subscribers.
As Recode’s Jason Del Rey notes, Amazon used to make it difficult to pick up a single tube of toothpaste or a stick of deodorant, forcing consumers to bundle it with other items and spend at least $25 in order to qualify for quick shipping with Prime. But the barriers to purchase a singular item worth $1 or $2 have been lifted throughout the year, and it is now just as easy to buy a single package of floss with fast shipping as it is to buy a TV.
Recode goes on to cite a September research note from Edgewater Research, in which analysts acknowledge that Amazon has “essentially turned off its Add-On program in recent months.” This may not appear to be a drastic move on its surface, but as Recode points out, many people visit their local Target, CVS or Rite Aid for random items such as this. But now that they can tap a single button and have a brush or a pack of Q-Tips or virtually any other cheap household good delivered to them free of charge in 24 hours, why ever stop in Walgreens again?
Unsurprisingly, this has also raised concerns from antitrust groups, who believe Amazon is taking whatever temporary loss it deems necessary in order to snuff out the competition and build out its monopoly even further.
“There’s no way that shipping costs are less than 75 cents, and there’s no way any other company that wants to sell a makeup brush could deliver that for free,” Sally Hubbard of Open Markets Institute told Recode. “It’s not possible and it highlights how pricing strategies can be used to drive rivals from the market. But antitrust law currently misses this anticompetitive conduct with its obsession on low prices.”
And perhaps most hypocritically of all, these revelations come just as Bezos himself pledged that Amazon would be carbon-neutral by 2040. If single sticks of deodorant are going to be shipped out on trucks every day for the foreseeable future, that seems at least somewhat counterproductive to saving the environment.