Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has begun quietly rolling out a program that drastically increases the number of products eligible for Amazon Prime's two-day shipping option.
The e-commerce retailer is now offering items from its market partners to be shipped directly from warehouses to consumers, via Prime, according to the Wall Street Journal blog. Previously, all partner merchant items had to be shipped from an Amazon warehouse to be considered Prime.
The Prime unlimited shipping program, for $99 a year, has become central to Amazon's growth. These members spend twice as much as nonmembers who shop on the site. Prime shoppers also account for 50 percent of all purchases on the e-commerce site.
However, merchants signing up to be a part of Prime have to absorb the costs associated with faster shipping.
It is possible that Amazon may eventually list items from third-party merchants as Prime eligible based on the region to where they are being shipped.
Currently Amazon has about 20 million items listed as Prime and the new program could expand that number. Historically, some merchants have been reluctant to store their items in Amazon warehouses due to taxes or the time and cost for the additional shipping step.
The news comes just days after Amazon announced it would launch same-day delivery in 14 U.S. cities.
-See this Wall Street Journal blog
Amazon Prime shoppers make 50% of all Amazon purchases
Amazon makes same-day delivery free
Amazon Fresh now delivering in parts of New Jersey
Amazon takes on Etsy with Handmade
Amazon, Manhattan eateries partner for one-hour delivery