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Why retailers shouldn’t shy away from Amazon Prime members

This is based on a byline article published May 15 by Internet Retailer.

Amazon Prime members contributed $6.4 billion in revenue to the online behemoth in 2016. So what can other retailers learn from the digital behavior of this cohort, which is estimated at more than 65 million people? Many things, foremost among them that Prime members are very heavy online shoppers and are not wed exclusively to Amazon. In fact, they spend lots of time on other retailing apps and websites and, as a result, are ripe for conquesting by competitors who can rival Amazon’s seamless shopping experience. Apps should be a key component of this strategy.

Tracking their behavior

To conduct an in-depth analysis of Amazon Prime members, we accessed the passively tracked behavior of approximately 300 and compared their behavior to slightly more than 400 non-Prime consumers. This occurred from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016 via KnowledgePanelDigital, a cross-device single source panel that passively tracks digital behavior among a sample of mobile (smartphone or tablet) device owners.

More than 100 digital shopping resources—from clubs like BJ’s to mass outlets like Walmart and pure play companies like Overstock—were part of our tracking and analysis. Overall, Amazon Prime members made far more visits and spent significantly more time using digital shopping resources than did non-Prime members. Total shopping visits were roughly 50 more per shopper than non-members and time spent shopping online by Prime members exceeded that of non-members by about six hours per person during the five-month period. Prime membership drove twice the number of visits to Amazon versus non-Prime members.

App preferences for Prime and non-Prime shoppers

While Amazon is the most used shopping touchpoint even among non-Prime members, there is a distinct difference in their preferences for apps versus mobile websites. During the five-month period, 91% of Amazon Prime members engaged with Amazon via its mobile site, compared with 77% of non-Prime shoppers. Just 55% of Prime members and 30% of non-members used the Amazon app.

But despite this disparity, apps drove more repeat usage of and longer engagement with online shopping venues than mobile sites. And both Prime and non-Prime consumers showed a willingness to explore retail app options in categories like Pure Play and Mass.

Prime members like to shop all over

Prime members demonstrated an inclination towards online shopping, visiting Pure Play outlets twice as often as non-Prime members and being more likely to access grocery sellers online. One area where Prime and non-prime members were pretty much in sync is in their use of coupons and deals. Their top choices were Groupon (32% of Prime members, 32% of non-Prime), RetailMeNot (20% and 16%), (17% and 19%), Ebates (10% and 8%) and Ibotta (8% and 9%).

The behavior of Prime members during November and December is particularly noteworthy because they showed an increase in shopping time earlier than non-members. Prime members’ shopping activity at places other than Amazon spiked upward in the first week of November, reaching a peak at the end of the month. Prime members did not show an increase in weekly shopping minutes on Amazon until the week of Thanksgiving when deals are traditionally offered.


Retailers should not shy away from Amazon Prime members. They’re very active at all sorts of online retail options and are open to various online shopping experiences. To compete with this highly evolved e-retailer you must elevate your app experience because it’s a great way to generate deeper and longer engagement. And start your holiday deals early. Prime members are in the forefront of seeking out the best merchandise and deals.

Christina Pate is a Senior Research Director at GfK. Please email or leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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