But Amazon holds a unique position in the global marketplace. From its beginnings in 1994, Amazon’s platform was designed to democratize retail. Small vendors or manufacturers could sell outdoor grills, computer bags, and children’s toys alongside established brands. Now, with its expansion into private label, Amazon has shifted away from being an impartial, may-the-best-product-win distribution partner to being a direct competitor to those other vendors.
Lowitz said that since Prime’s inception in 2005, Amazon has homed in on making the service “compelling” to customers, including with two-day shipping, streaming video service and promotions such as Prime Day. But as it reaches saturation, Amazon must rely on monetizing its existing Prime membership. That might include getting members to listen to their favorite podcasts on an Echo Dot, or a slew of other measures to bring Amazon services and products into daily life.
In December 2015, Amazon stated that "tens of millions" of people are Amazon Prime members. Amazon Prime added 3 million members during the third week of December 2015. It was also during December that Amazon announced the creation of the Streaming Partners Program, an over-the-top subscription service that enables Amazon Prime subscribers to add additional streaming video services to their accounts. Among the programming providers involved in the program are Showtime, Starz (with additional content from sister network Encore), Lifetime Movie Club (containing recent original movie titles from Lifetime Television and Lifetime Movie Network), Smithsonian Earth, and Qello Concerts.
Amazon Supply, launched in 2012, offers industrial and scientific components and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) supplies. Amazon Supply was developed based on experience operating Smallparts.com, acquired in 2005. (The Smallparts.com brand was discontinued with the launch of Amazon Supply.) While Amazon Supply uses the same order fulfillment and distribution system as Amazon.com, its online store provides services to customers in more than 190 countries.
Amazon Webstore allowed businesses to create custom e-commerce online stores using Amazon technology. Sellers selected the category for their business, and paid a commission of 1-2%, plus credit-card processing fees and fraud protection, and a subscription fee depending on the bundle option for an unlimited number of listings. Amazon has chosen a limited number of companies to become an implementation solution provider for them. The Amazon Webstore is no longer available to new merchants.
On July 15, 2015, to commemorate its 20th birthday, Amazon celebrated "Amazon Prime Day", which Amazon announced would feature deals for prime members that rivaled those on Black Friday. Also that month Amazon Prime announced that it would be signing Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May, formerly of BBC's Top Gear, to begin working on The Grand Tour, due to be released in 2016. On July 13, 2016, Amazon Prime said customers placed 60 percent more orders worldwide on "Prime Day".