Prime subscriptions grow four times during Amazon's festive sale

A little over a year after launching Prime in India, Amazon says its loyalty programme has begun paying dividends, with subscribers shopping more often and on average spending more than non-Prime subscribers.
Prime was once again the largest selling ‘item’ during Amazon’s Great Indian Festival sale, with the company selling four times as many subscriptions this time compared to last year. During the first two days of the sale, which kicked off on Thursday, the company said one in three products sold by it was to Prime members.

“Prime has been building up very well in the past one year. During sales, we would give members 30 minutes early access to deals, but, this year, we gave them a 12-hour head start. We did this because the number of Prime customers is so big that we needed to give them enough time to shop,” said Manish Tiwary, vice-president of category management.

While Amazon does not reveal data of its Prime subscription service, analysts estimate that on average in the US a Prime subscriber spends twice as much ($1,200) in a year when compared to a non-Prime user. It should be noted that the average spend by e-commerce users in India would be much lower.

In terms of Amazon’s overall performance during the sale, the company said it sold two and a half times as many smartphones this year when compared to last year. Other standout categories were large appliances, whose sales grew by four times, and fashion which grew by seven times.

“These past four days, along with the 12 hours of early Prime access, has been our biggest shopping event (in India) ever. We have around 32 different categories and more than half of these saw sales more than doubling when compared to the Diwali sales last year. We saw a very good distribution of sales across categories,” added Tiwary.

Amazon refrained from sharing data around units sold or market share, citing the war of words that rivals unleashed to undermine the company’s growth last year. However, it maintained that it was India’s largest marketplace based on number of visitors to its site, number of app downloads on smartphones and its active base of customers and sellers on its platform.

While the US online retailer has picked up 5 per cent stake in one of India’s leading offline retailers, Shoppers Stop, Tiwary said there was still a long way for Amazon to go in India’s online retail space before turning its attention to offline retail. However, a deal between the two companies will see Amazon setting up offline experience centres within Shoppers Stop stores. This would help the online retailer woo more customers to shop on its platform.

“We are looking at an offline play, and the agreement with Shoppers Stop is the first one that will help us with experience centres. We are also working with Vodafone in some cities in a limited way where you can experience some of the smartphones sold on Amazon,” said Tiwary, adding that the intent was to help offline consumers experience Amazon but not sell products offline just yet.

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