In a move directly aimed at Walmart, Amazon announced today they now offer discounted Prime Memberships to customers who are on government assistance programs. To qualify, a customer must have a valid EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card.
The discounted Prime Membership will be $5.99 per month instead of $10.99 per month. Because of the temporary nature of government assistance programs, Amazon is not offering a yearly discount.
EBT cards are used to disburse funds for government assistance programs such as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Program).
The EBT card is not valid for purchases on Amazon or to pay for the Prime Membership. However, customers on the discounted Prime Membership program will receive the full Prime membership benefits, including all video and music streaming services, photo storage, Free 2-Day shipping on over 50 million items, and more.
Amazon set up a special enrollment page to find out if a customer qualifies for the lower priced Prime Membership.
The company continues to offer a Student Prime Membership at 50% off regular price with a 6 month free introductory offer by Sprint.
DISCOUNTED PRIME IS GOOD NEWS FOR MARKETPLACE SELLERS
Amazon enticing to include more customers into their Prime Membership is good news for marketplace sellers. This benefit will help those sellers that offer lower cost non-brand merchandise that lower-income households often purchase.
Walmart has been a staple for lower income households. Amazon hopes this will allow it to better compete with Walmart, Walmart.com, Family Dollar, and other discount retailers.
PILOT PROGRAM FOR OTHER COUNTRIES?
Amazon did not state if they are considering expanding discounted Prime Memberships to other countries. Often the U.S. is a test for new ideas; if successful this program could find its way to other markets.