Amazon launch underwelms users

Online retailer Amazon has launched its Prime service in Singapore, ending four years of free deliveries.

Singaporean customers previously benefited from free international shipping if an order cost more than US$125 for specific items.

But some consumers said they were let down by limited products and compatibility issues between its app and the desktop site.

The new subscription service enabled “unlimited free international shipping will now be exclusively a Prime member benefit”, Amazon proclaimed.

Lazada, the region’s largest e-commerce site, launched its own membership programme in April called LiveUp ahead of Amazon’s arrival in the Lion City.

It said it now had “hundreds of thousands” of members.

LiveUp offers discounts for RedMart, Netflix, Uber, UberEats and Taobao Collection.

Singapore is the first Asean country to launch Amazon Prime, which also offers access to other services like the retailers’ streaming service.

Prime members receive free international shipping on orders of US$60 from Amazon’s US products.

App users have complained about having to switch between the “Singapore” and “international” tabs to access US products.

Amazon launched Prime Now in Singapore in July, offering free two-hour delivery of goods available within the republic for orders upwards of US$40. The deal is now resticted to Prime subsribers.

Regular Amazon shopper Cheok Kong Ming, 34, said he had been accumulating purchases to ensure free shipping.

The logistics firm boss had planned to buy Christmas presents from Amazon but instead found that free shipping was unavailable and items like DVDs were now unavailable.

“I tried searching for titles from the Spiderman series, but couldn’t find it. If we customers cannot find the items on the app, the shipping cost would kill us,” said Cheok. He said it would cost about US$30 in postage if he went ahead with the order.

The Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo Switch were no longer available, he complained.

“We now have to use the app to enjoy free shipping, but the selection on it is so limited,” Cheok said. “Amazon should have integrated both the app and desktop, to make it a seamless user experience for shoppers.”

Singaporean Prime membership is due to reach US$8.99 per month after a promotion period.

Amos Tan, a Singapore Polytechnic marketing and retail scholar, said Amazon’s removal of free shipping for non-Prime members was an attempt to lock in loyal customers.

 

High-tech Singapore is ideal for online shopping. Picture credit: Wikimedia