Amazon Prime has finally arrived in Australia – with some caveats

Amazon Australia launched Down Under with a slightly underwhelming inventory in December last year, but the online marketplace has since been slowly and steadily improving its catalogue. The company is even looking to open a second fulfilment centre in Sydney to keep up with orders.

In another bid to shake up Australian retail, Amazon has finally launched its long-awaited Prime membership service Down Under, which includes free two-day delivery on all domestic purchases. And while the news is exciting, it’s not coming with all the benefits that come with Prime membership in the US. That said, the Australian subscription fee is considerably cheaper than its US counterpart.

Amazon will likely be hoping that the Australian launch of Prime will help temper some of the recent criticism the shopping giant has faced locally. The company announced just two weeks ago that Aussie shoppers will no longer be able to purchase goods from Amazon’s overseas sites – a decision that was made in the face of new laws that mean GST must be applied to all purchased goods shipped to Australia, even if they're bought from international sellers. In a bid to soften that blow, Amazon has set up a ‘global store’ option on its Australian site which offers millions of products that were previously available on amazon.com.

What is Amazon Prime?

The key selling point for Amazon Prime is that it offers fast tracked free delivery on millions of products on the site, along with access to some of the company’s streaming services. 

Prime members also get exclusive early access to select deals and offers and, if Prime Day also launches in Australia this year, there could be plenty of savings up for grabs during this members-only 24-hour sale event.

How much is Amazon Prime in Australia?

In Australia, Amazon Prime subscriptions will cost $6.99 a month, or $54 per year. The Australian membership fee is around half that of the US, where Amazon recently increased subscriptions from US$10.99 to US$12.99 a month and from US$99 to US$119 a year.

As an introductory offer for Aussies signing up for Prime, the monthly membership will be just $4.99 until January 31, 2019. After that, it reverts to the usual $6.99 monthly fee.

As is customary with all of Amazon’s subscription services, there’s a 30-day free trial on offer. If you aren’t happy with the Prime service, you’ll need to manually cancel your membership or you will be charged $4.99 the following month.

What do Australian Prime members get?

According to Prime International vice-president Jamil Ghani, at launch Australia has the widest selection of Prime benefits of any country. These include free domestic delivery on millions of items, access to Prime Video, Prime Reading, and Twitch Prime, plus discounted priority delivery.

The free delivery on domestic purchases, however, is not the 'same day' service that's offered in the US. In Australia, it’s a two-day delivery promise – something that's most likely due to Amazon having only one Australian fulfilment centre located in Melbourne.

On international items bought from the new 'global' area of the store, purchases over $49 will be eligible for free delivery.

Other markets, especially the US, have plenty more features included in Prime memberships, such as the aforementioned same-day delivery, access to Prime Music, Kindle Unlimited and Prime Photos, early access to Amazon’s Lightning Deals and much more. However, Ghani has promised that “this is just the beginning for Prime in Australia, as [we] will keep making Prime better, adding even more selection and benefits”.

That could, however, come at a cost. With US subscriptions having been increased recently, Aussies Prime members might also need to pay more if they want all the bells and whistles that come with a premium Prime membership.