In February 2005, Amazon launched Amazon Prime—an all-you-can-eat express shipping membership program for about a million products. Our vision was that fast delivery should be an everyday experience—rather than an occasional indulgence, and many skeptics thought we were crazy.
With Prime, we introduced three things: first—we sped things up offering two-day shipping at a time when most customers expected to pay for 4-6 business days; second—we made next day delivery in the UK predictable and guaranteed; third—we made it unlimited, all-you-can-eat with a single annual membership. In its first year, we gave up many millions in shipping revenue, and there was no simple math to show that it would be worth it.
I'm in a monogamous relationship with Amazon Prime.
Our decision to go ahead was built on the positive results we'd seen when we introduced Free Super Saver Shipping, and an intuition that customers would quickly grasp that they were being offered the best deal in the history of shopping. In addition, analysis told us that, if we achieved scale, we would be able to significantly lower the cost of fast shipping. In fact, tens of thousands of people joined Prime in that first month; and today, four out of five of them are still members with their original accounts.
Amazon Prime has continued to be a hit with members. Members love Amazon Prime—it is one of the world's most popular subscription services—with a 50% increase in members globally in 2014. Tens of millions of Prime members enjoy fast, free unlimited shipping on more than 20 million items, as well as unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, more than one million songs, more than one thousand playlists and hundreds of stations with Prime Music, early access to select Lightning Deals all year long, free secure, unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive with Prime Photos and access to more than 800,000 books to borrow with the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
Prime isn't done improving on its original fast, free shipping promise either. Members in more than 500 cities also receive unlimited Free Same-Day Delivery on more than a million items. In addition, Prime members in cities across the U.S. and in some European cities receive one and two hour delivery on a selection of tens of thousands of everyday essentials. Lots of early reviews read like this one, "In the past six weeks my husband and I have made an embarrassing number of orders through Amazon Prime Now. It's cheap, easy, and insanely fast." We've launched in many cities across the world, and more cities are coming soon.