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amazonsignageA great wail rose up from the Internet earlier this week when Amazon announced that it was increasing the threshold for getting free Super Saver Shipping from $25 to $35. But according to Amazon, the change was a long time coming.

On the company’s earnings conference call today, CFO Tom Szkutak said that in the intervening ten years since Amazon introduced Super Saver Shipping, transportation costs have gone up while Amazon has broadened the program to encompass more products. At some point, they needed to change the magic number for free shipping to keep up with costs, and now seemed like a good time.

“…we just thought that was the right thing to do,” Szkutak said.

Of course, the timing of Amazon’s policy change seems hardly coincidental. It came right between back-to-school shopping season, when college students on a tight budget would be looking to pick up new books, and the holiday shopping season, Amazon’s highest-volume time of the year.

If the side effect of Amazon’s increase to its spending threshold is an increase in customers who sign up for Amazon Prime, the company certainly won’t mind. When asked, Szkutak said that Prime customers were better for Amazon than their non-Prime counterparts, though Amazon naturally values both kinds of customers.

“Certainly when you look at that in terms of lifetime value, we have a (Prime) customer base that’s certainly staying with us longer, they’re doing more cross-shopping and they’re getting the benefits of Prime that we’re offering, that we continue to add to,” Szkutak said.

Previously on GeekWire: Want Super Saver Shipping from Amazon? That’ll be $10 more, please

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