Amazon has raised the minimum order to $49 for non-Prime members to be eligible for free shipping on items other than books, up from the previous minimum of $35, according to an updated support page from the e-commerce giant.
The move is being widely viewed as an effort by Amazon to get more of its customers to switch to its Amazon Prime membership program, which costs $99/year and offers free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible items as a core membership benefit.
For non-Prime members, the new threshold is $25 worth of qualifying books to receive free shipping. Free shipping for non-Prime members on qualifying orders still takes five to eight business days.
Update: Amazon issued this statement on the changes.
Our objective is to offer customers low prices, as well as convenient free shipping options, on the millions of products available on Amazon.com. From time to time, we review our shipping options. We have recently lowered the Free Shipping eligibility for all orders containing $25 of books. Additionally, all orders containing $49 or more of eligible items across any product category, also qualify for Free Shipping. All other services, including Amazon Prime, remain unchanged.
Amazon’s net shipping costs — the difference between what it charges customers for shipping and what it pays to UPS, FedEx and others — rose to an all-time high of $1.85 billion in the fourth quarter. The company has been buying tractor trailers and making other moves to take more of its shipping and logistics business into its own hands, aiming to reduce costs in the long run.
The company previously raised the threshold for shipping in October 2013, when it increased the minimum order to $35 from $25 for what was then known as the company’s “Super Saver Shipping” program.