Monday, March 4, 2013

Kindle News: Amazon's new 'Add-on' Item shipping option. Flipboard on Kindle Fire gets nicely formatted NY Times articles

Amazon's new Add-On Item shipping option

These new items "ship with orders that include $25 or more of items shipped by Amazon, excluding gift cards."

I noticed that some low-priced items ($3 to $6 or so), EVEN when shipped from and sold by (normally eligible for Prime shipping), currently carry the label "Add-on Item."

  I also noted that, even for Prime members, these lower-cost items are not shippable for Prime shipping benefits of FREE Two-Day Shipping," until they can be combined with an Amazon Prime order of "$25 or more" -- in which case it THEN arrives with free two-day shipping.

  They add that "Non-Prime members can combine Add-on Items with other items to take advantage of FREE Super Saver Shipping."

  One of the advantages of Prime shipping at $79/year (the Instant Video and Kindle Lending Library perks are added to the basic shipping benefits) has been that you did not have to wait until you had an order of $25 or more to get two-day shipping.

  On these, though, if I'm reading it correctly, they would either require a wait until you could add them to either a $25+ Amazon Prime order to get Prime's 2-day shipping or combine them "with other items" but somehow NOT get that 2-day shipping feature.

  It looks, at first read, like a cutting back of that particular, important Prime benefit (no minimum order) for items such as:
  1. a $5.99 bottle of Jarrow Formulas lozenges, shipped from and sold by itself, or
  2. a $3.49 card with Clover beading needles

The explanation you see in the image that heads this blog article is that
"This item is available because of the new Add-on program," which allows Amazon "to offer thousands of low-priced items that would be cost-prohibitive to ship on their own."
  They ship with "qualifying orders over $25" and are eligible for Free shipping (2 days on Prime or longer on Super Saver Shipping).

A question I have then: Why can't one of these, "shipped from and sold by," be added to a PRIME order of UNDER $25 and given free 2-day shipping along with that Prime order that's under $25?  It would be shipped from Amazon and not shipped "on its own" -- so why is it 2-day-shippable only for Prime orders OVER $25?
  When did we have $25 minimums on Prime shipping?

At the "About Amazon Prime page," I don't see descriptions anymore about not having to bunch your orders to reach $25, but at the same time they don't say there that a Prime order has to be $25 or more.

  But here's a Prime benefit listed that I've not seen before nor seen as an option when buying items.  I've italicized some of it.
' FREE No Rush Shipping for typical delivery one week after placing an order.

Note: You may receive promotional credit for selecting No-Rush Shipping.  Credit will be automatically applied to your account once the first package from a No-Rush Shipping-eligible order ships.  You'll receive an e-mail as soon as the credit is available.  You may select No-Rush Shipping as many times as it's offered to you, but you won't be eligible for the credit if you cancel your No-Rush Shipping order or return items from it. '

So, it looks to me as if the Prime Shipping program may be costing Amazon more than anticipated.  Again, this is my immediate take.  If you've other thoughts on it, please add your thoughts to the comments area or to the Facebook page, which is easier for some.

  If true, the "fixes" involved keep a "free" shipping of an item available while adding a minimum-$ order when needing, in Prime, the 2-day shipment on an "Add-on" item.   The two-day shipping on even smaller items has been a boon and seems still available for some Prime orders.

I think that on any yearly program purchases, if any benefits are somewhat changed, these should be spelled out.
  If the program is not working for them that well in the way they began it, or they are working with less-flexible agreements with shippers (and maybe all the new Agreements on Instant Video fare which is part of Prime have raised costs quite a bit), they should just say so.  There are still benefits to the program.

The Flipboard Kindle Fire and Android App
now has some very nicely formatted features from The New York Times.  From a Business Wire release:
' The New York Times ( today launched The New York Times on Flipboard for Android and Kindle Fire, which delivers the latest news and award-winning journalism of The New York Times, designed and formatted for optimal reading on Flipboard’s apps for Android phone and tablet devices and the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.
  . . .
Following authentication within Flipboard, existing Times subscribers will have full access to all content on both Android and Kindle Fire. As with other New York Times news applications, the Top News section is free. '
Details and pricing for the various subscription plans are available at The NY Times site.

TechnologyTell's Juli Monroe likes it better on her Android (Nexus 7) than on the iPad.  In the Apple iOS version there is an ad with each article, she writes, which she doesn't mind, but she's not seen them yet in the Android version, except for a "quick ad between articles reminding me to subscribe to the digital version of the Times for full access)."  As with many of us (I already have a newspaper subscription and I've been enjoying the NY Times Latest News blog stream about 5 times a day on the Paperwhite, at $1.99/mo.), she has the free account and receives only "Top Stories" (there are quite a few).

  And also like many of us who use the Flipboard app, it's her favorite news reader on all her devices.  I think it's a beautiful news app, full of surprises, though there are some who prefer all-text and other layouts, as described in this blog's earlier story on Flipboard.  Flipboard was introduced in the this blog story 5 days before that.

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  1. Have noticed these in the past few months too. Seems kind of hit or miss about what's considered an 'Add-on.' Last month, I bought a new case for my iPhone, $4.99, just a regular Prime transaction. Last week, a couple of OXO Kitchen gadgets, $5-$10, each was an Add-On. Maybe Amazon is testing different incentives, methods, price models. Who knows.

    1. Interesting info, Peter. -- that the higher priced Kitchen gadget at $10 could be considered an Add-on while the small $4.99 iPhone case was a regular Prime transaction. I imagine you're right about testing different pricing models. I find it odd but am hoping it doesn't apply to too much that I want to buy :-) Have really liked that I didn't have to wait until I needed $25 worth of other things.

      But it can be difficult if any of us buys a lot of $5 items singly and the shipping price is about that much, I guess. They'd likely be articles that would not ever be eligible for Prime alone because the costs of small isolated shipments may be starting to override the revenue when that happens too often. The credits available at times would be necessary, actually, as the $79/yr was for Prime as it was at the time people chose it. I've read articles by Wall St types who wonder how they pay for Prime costs, which now include agreements to license something like 30,000 movie and tv videos for which there's no added payment for Prime members.

    2. I think Jeff Bezos is really, really smart, knows what he is doing, much more so than Wall St types, and isn't afraid to try new methods. He just sees Amazon as something different than conventional retail, or mail-order, categories that fit Wall St thinking. Weren't Wall Streeters predicting a few years ago that Amazon would have to give free Kindles to their Prime customers to stay viable? Personally, I've always felt a bit guilty ordering a $5 or $10 item by itself, just doesn't seem right to ship something of so little value, and have always tried to Wish List those small things until I've got 3 or 4 or more items. A number of years ago, I Prime purchased two extra stylus-pens for my Palm Tungsten-T. They showed up in two days, the sole occupant of a box that could have held six books, plus a laptop!

    3. Peter, you're a very responsible purchaser.

      What I do like is that with recent Prime orders, a $10 print book today that is just beautiful, they are not waiting for 2-day delivery as they used to. These came within one business day.

  2. Wow, that's interesting about the limitation on Prime free shipping! I have had Prime for a little over a year, and I have found that it drives me to shop at Amazon for all kinds of things-- cat treats, cat food, household items-- that I never would have bought online before. Since I don't buy that many physical books anymore (I'm on my 5th Kindle) I'm not sure I would bother with Prime if the "no minimum" advantage goes away. I guess it depends on whether the items I want are affected.

    1. Carmen, that's exactly how I react. Right now there's no language that there's a requirement of a $25 minimum, but certain products, for whatever reasons, are deemed to require shipping WITH an order (even Prime) that's at least $25.

      I'm one of those who do use the small orders a lot (I could be called an 'abuser' of that :-), and I spend willy nilly and choose Amazon for that reason, but if the expense of it isn't met at times, I guess they need to adjust things and then I have to consider this aspect when buying. As I mentioned, I'd prefer that changes be noted though, depending on what Prime included when purchased.

      It seems some of the add-ons have been included earlier (maybe they added these items in stages), and the credits for patience re shipping delivery (for Prime) has been offered during holiday season, though I've never seen that on my own orders that I noticed.

      The Prime Instant Video is probably a draw for me and the cost of those agreements (that I've read about) are really considerable. So, it's a matter of how much we each value this or that aspect of Prime as it changes some. I've always mentioned to people who wondered about the value, that it's about $6.58/mo. but you dont' have to wait until you gather up $25 worth of items. It seems to remain true for the bulk of orders I make, at least. I've not run into this, but just saw these today while browsing.


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