Amazon Prime is going overseas, and landing in China.
A country-specific version of the online retail service has now launched in China, and Amazon hopes that this enormous marketplace may help it grow its business and perhaps even compete with homegrown firms like Alibaba Group and JD.com.
As Reuters reports, Chinese shoppers have long displayed an interest in ecommerce and online shopping, with many taking to digital retailers like Alibaba’s Tmall International. But Amazon has not penetrated the Chinese market nearly as well (it has just a 1.1-percent market share, according to iResearch), though the hope is that the introduction of Prime may begin to turn the tide.
“The launch of Prime in China represents a new convenient way for Chinese customers to access authentic and quality products from all over the world,” Greg Greeley, Amazon Prime’s vice president, told Reuters via email.
China’s version of Prime would charge customers 388 yuan ($57.23) a year for unlimited free international shipping on any order over 200 yuan ($29.50). While American Prime members don’t have to worry about a minimum order amount, they do have to pay more for their membership, at $99. It’s unclear if the Chinese Prime will also offer the other perks that come along with standard membership, notably access to Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Photos, and more.
Regardless, the fact that Amazon has made its way into China at all might be cause for celebration. After all, many other American tech companies and services have been banned from the country. For example, iBooks and Movies from Apple were recently taken down in China, and Netflix has also been unable to make any headway. Facebook and Twitter, of course, have long been blocked.
So if you’re in China and looking to do some online shopping, there’s yet another store at your fingertips.