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Amazon to launch Prime membership for Singapore, ends free shipping for non-members

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American e-commerce giant Amazon is launching its Prime membership programme for Singapore this week, ending a four year period of free shipping to the Republic.

AMERICAN e-commerce giant Amazon is launching its Prime membership programme for Singapore this week, ending a four year period of free shipping to the Republic.

Under the Free AmazonGlobal Saver Shipping option, shoppers in Singapore and Mexico were previously eligible for free international shipping with a minimum order of US$125 for qualifying merchandise.

But with the impending launch of Amazon Prime this week, "unlimited free international shipping will now be exclusively a Prime member benefit moving forward", Amazon told The Straits Times.

The company declined to reveal the launch date of the Prime programme here.

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An Amazon customer service officer contacted through the website's live chat function on Tuesday said that free shipping to Singapore ended on Monday. A message on the checkout page of Amazon's US store now states that "items shipped to addresses outside the US are not eligible for free shipping". Singapore will be the 16th country - and the first in South-east Asia - to launch Amazon Prime, which gives members perks such as free shipping and access to other services for a monthly or yearly fee.

Prime members here will be eligible for free international shipping on orders above S$60 of more than five million items from Amazon's US store, which will be made available on the Prime Now mobile app.

The e-commerce player made its first foray into the region with the launch of its fast delivery service Prime Now in July. The service, which offers free two-hour delivery from its local warehouse with a minimum order of S$40, will also be made exclusive for members.

Streaming service Amazon Prime Video and gaming subscription service Twitch Prime will be bundled as part of the membership.

The Prime membership here will cost S$8.99 per month. But for a limited period, it will go for S$2.99 a month, although Amazon did not specify for how long.

While existing Amazon Prime Video subscribers in Singapore will not be forced into joining Prime, it will no longer be available for subscription as a standalone service.

Membership in the US costs US$10.99 a month or US$99 a year, and provides access to a slew of services such as music streaming, free same-day delivery and even restaurant delivery in certain areas.

Customers who do not have a Prime membership in the US can, however, enjoy free delivery within the country for orders totalling US$25 or more on eligible items.

Speaking to The Straits Times in a phone interview on Tuesday, Amazon Prime International's vice-president Jamil Ghani said that more benefits will be added over time for Prime membership in Singapore.

"The Prime programme in every geography is custom designed for that region... (Singapore customers) are hyper-connected and mobile-first," said Mr Ghani, who declined to comment on whether a local Amazon online store is forthcoming.

"We have been very encouraged by the strong response and adoption of Prime Now over the last several months," he added.

Mr Ghani acknowledged that some living here already have Amazon Prime memberships for the US site, but encouraged "anyone living in Singapore to leverage the Prime membership package developed specifically for Singapore".

Prime membership is country-specific and not transferable, he added, meaning that those with US Prime memberships cannot convert them to local ones.

Lazada, the region's largest e-commerce site, launched its own membership programme in April called LiveUp in anticipation of Amazon's entry to Singapore.

It offers users benefits such as rebates and discounts for RedMart, Netflix, Uber, UberEats and Taobao Collection.

THE STRAITS TIMES