For the first time, Amazon has provided specific numbers around its Prime Membership business, and in the immortal words of Velma, Scooby-Doo’s smartest sidekick — “JINKIES!” In its letter to shareholders, the retail giant disclosed that it has amassed more than 100 million Prime subscribers worldwide since launching the service 13 years ago.
Geekwire did the math and on it’s face, this means that Amazon is pulling in at minimum $9.9 billion a year (5.5 percent of total 2017 revenue) just from membership fees. What started as a way to get faster shipping of your ordered items has transmogrified into a multi-headed beast that includes streaming video, music, and same day grocery and restaurant delivery (in select cities).
The company is also increasing Prime synergies at Whole Foods, which it purchased last year. It’s expanding free two-hour grocery delivery from select Whole Foods, and is using those real world locations to sell more Echo and Alexa devices (which begets more voice shopping), as well as pick up spots for Amazon Lockers.
Additionally, Marketwatch reports that Amazon is folding the Whole Foods loyalty program into Prime, and if all that weren’t enough, the same shareholder letter says that “[Amazon has] also begun the technical work needed to recognize Prime members at the point of sale and look forward to offering more Prime benefits to Whole Foods shoppers once that work is completed.”
This suggests, as industry watchers have predicted, that the company is looking at implementing Amazon Go-like functionality at Whole Foods — perhaps a TSA-like pre-check for fast lane service. In the shareholder letter Amazon seems pretty high on the early results of Go and its cashier-less, “just walk out” shopping. Amazon said top sellers at the Seattle Go location are things like caffeinated beverages and water but went on to add that customers “love” the Chicken Bahn Mi sandwich and Amazon Meal Kits.
Now, this could just be Bezos putting some heavy self-promoting spin on customer reactions to the Go store. However, one of the things we’ve written about here at The Spoon is the power of Amazon’s same day delivery and meal kits. The ability to order prepared ingredients and have it delivered before you get home (perhaps delivered inside your home) has the potential to fundamentally change how we shop and cook.
While we don’t know Prime’s specific U.S. numbers, with 100 million around the world, a good chunk of that is here domestically. Amazon has the audience and all the pieces in place to own the way we discover, buy, and eat all of our meals.