Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Amazon Wants to Get College Students Addicted to Prime

[ed. You've got to hand it to them, Amazon is always thinking ahead. Prime is a great idea and a pretty good deal.]

Vincent Wang needed new jeans and a coat just before classes began this semester at the University of California, Davis, where he studies nutrition. Rather than trek several miles off campus to the nearest Target or Walmart, he ordered the clothes from Amazon.com Inc. and retrieved them from new Amazon pickup lockers right next to the university store that sells Aggies T-shirts and hoodies.

Wang, 21, is one of millions of students who have taken advantage of Amazon Prime Student, which offers all the benefits of a regular Prime membership -- quick delivery, music and video streaming and free online photo storage -- for $50 a year, half the regular price. Amazon’s strategy echoes the one used for decades by the credit card companies: snag young consumers early and, with artful promotions, try to make them loyal for life.

The pickup lockers are just another way to pull students into the Amazon universe, giving them convenient locations to retrieve packages if they’re worried about having merchandise sent to dorm rooms and apartments. The centrally located kiosks mean Amazon can offer same-day delivery of 3 million products on many campuses -- faster than standard two-day delivery. The program catches students as they are forming new shopping habits, much like the Amazon program that woos new parents with discounted diapers.

“Even though it’s just a dorm room, college students are setting up a new household for the first time and doing their own laundry and getting their own groceries,” says Melanie Shreffler, senior insights director at the market research firm Cassandra. “Amazon steps in and plays the role of mom and dad for them in making sure they have what they need during this transition.”

Amazon is expanding campus locations much more quickly than bookstores serving the general public. The company has two bookstores in Seattle and San Diego and two more on the way in Portland, Oregon, and the Boston suburbs. By the end of the year, Amazon will have staffed pickup kiosks serving more than 500,000 college students at 16 schools around the country, including Purdue University, University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Pennsylvania. The expansion will continue next year, with Amazon targeting big schools with administrations receptive to kiosks that are meant to complement, not replace, the campus store, says Ripley MacDonald, who runs Amazon’s student programs.

“On a college campus, you have all of your future customers in one place,” he says. “We graduate students into full-price prime memberships.”

by Spencer Soper, Bloomberg | Read more:
Image: David Paul Morris