By Epoch Times StaffSingaporeans are spoilt with choice when it comes to online shopping sites – Amazon, Shopee, Qoo10, Lazada, Taobao Global, Alibaba, Tokopedia and etc. – you name it.
Today, we are specifically looking at Amazon, the household-name for online shopping sites. For a quick refresh down the memory lane, Amazon is one of the pioneering online shopping platforms, and it has been around longer than Facebook.
With Singapore becoming the 16th country in the world – and the first in South-East Asia – to launch Amazon Prime, it was the most natural feeling to be hyped up.
However, it has been two years since Amazon Prime Singapore launched, but it seems that Singaporeans are not pleased with the online shopping site as it is said to be not as appealing as the services being offered by its U.S. counterparts.
What is Amazon Prime Singapore?
Amazon Prime is a paid subscription service that gives users access to services and perks that would otherwise be unavailable, or cost extra, to the typical Amazon customer. This includes free* international delivery, two-hour local delivery (Prime Now), video streaming service (Amazon Prime Video) and gaming access (Twitch Prime).
*Terms and conditions apply.
How is it different from its U.S. counterpart?
If your biggest concern is if your U.S. Prime membership is convertible to Singapore membership, unfortunately, the answer is no. As far as consumers’ concerns go, the Singapore and U.S. sites are operating as two separate entities.
For those who have signed up for a U.S. Prime membership earlier, you will have to subscribe to the Singapore Prime membership in order to enjoy local benefits as the membership is country-specific and non-transferable.
The Prime membership here only costs $2.99 a month (the original price was set at $8.99 per month), which is much cheaper when compared to the U.S. site where they charge US$12.99 per month. Similarly, new members can leverage the 30-day free membership trial to save money.
First things first, unlike Amazon U.S., the GlobalSaver option was unavailable on the Singapore site. According to Amazon, “unlimited free international shipping will now be exclusively a Prime member benefit moving forward”, which forces online shoppers to sign up for the company’s loyalty program (Amazon Prime membership) in order to take advantage of the free unlimited international shipping.
What more when the free international shipping service only applies to international orders above $60 from Amazon U.S. stores, of which those products are available on the Prime Now mobile app only. Tricky.
Probably the most appealing feature offered would be the 2-hour local fast delivery service by Prime Now. The service offers free 2-hour delivery from the local Amazon warehouse with a minimum order of $40, which is also made exclusive for Prime members.
The fast-delivery service is especially appealing to those who shop for perishables and groceries, as well as urgent orders that you need to receive in a specific time frame.
For local orders less than $40, the delivery fee for Prime Now will cost $5.99 to deliver the orders within two hours (all areas), or $9.99 for a faster 1-hour delivery (specific postal codes).
Amazon U.S. is the go-to online shopping site for American or international products – best known for its wide selection of products on the site, which has everything from books, DVDs, music, games, electronics, homeware, beauty products, groceries, sports equipment, toys, clothes, jewellery… you name it.
On the contrary, the Amazon Singapore site looks less exciting, which mainly features electronic gadgets, digital accessories, kitchen wares and personal care products. What you can buy on Amazon Singapore site is also available on other shopping sites, some with better markdown offers and more choices.
Some loyal customers also gave feedback saying that the Singapore site has very limited products to shop for as many products that they once shipped to Singapore for free are not included in the Prime Now app. For instance, a game console that is listed on the U.S. Amazon site is no longer eligible for free shipping to Singapore if bought from the U.S. store, unless it is listed on the Prime Now app, although in fact most of them are not made available on the app yet.
- Amazon Prime Now facilitates 1-hour and 2-hour fast delivery which is convenient for urgent shoppers.
- Free local 2-hours shipping with minimum spend of $40 on Amazon Singapore.
- Free international shipping with minimum spend of $60 on Amazon U.S.
- Prime members able to enjoy other services that are under the Prime banner, including the video streaming service and online gaming facilities.
- Easy access to online products especially from the U.S.
- Prime members get to enjoy Amazon Prime Day (15 to 16 July) discounts.
- Prime membership fee at $2.99 per month is low considering the shipping benefits and other streaming services which come in the bundle.
- Singapore shoppers are forced to get a Prime membership if they want to enjoy free international shipping ever since GlobalSaver was removed from the option.
- Products being offered on Amazon Singapore is a bit underwhelming compared to other similar online shopping sites in the country, such as Lazada, Shopee and Qoo10.
- Products offered on Amazon U.S. are not eligible for international shipping, unless the product is available on the Amazon Prime Now app.
- Products being offered on the website are not entirely available on Amazon Prime Now app, which makes it less attractive to shop.
- Unlike shopping via desktop/browser where you can open different tabs to compare items, Amazon Prime Now app interface is not user-friendly in terms of comparison shopping.
- There is an uncertainty of price increase on the membership subscription fee, whereby it was said that the membership fee will increase to $8.99, but with no date being confirmed.
Is Amazon Prime Singapore worth the hype? Does it appeal to the Singapore market?
People have different opinions on this and it really comes down to one’s preference. Generally, Singaporeans feel that Amazon Prime Singapore is underwhelming compared to its U.S. counterpart. Also, the existing online retail players in Singapore (and more to come!) are seemingly offering competitive services, which results in a fierce competition in the market.
Nevertheless, Amazon Prime Singapore could turn the table by offering competitive pricing, attractive product ranges and excellent customer service. Currently the online retail giant has millions of customers subscribed to the Prime service all around the globe.