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Amazon has more than 100 million Prime members around the world, CEO Jeff Bezos revealed in an annual letter sent to shareholders today. Amazon first began to extend Prime benefits to its customers 13 years ago, but the company never shared how many paying customers had signed up until now.
Much of the letter focused on the importance of high standards, but it also touted recent achievements, like the spread of Amazon Lockers at hundreds of Whole Foods stores and expansion of Prime benefits to countries like Mexico and Singapore.
Estimates from earlier this year found that nearly half of U.S. households have a Prime membership. More new Prime members signed up last year than any prior year, including 4 million in one week in late 2017.
The news comes a day after Amazon said it will get rid of the Whole Foods loyalty program in two weeks in order to make Prime membership the primary way to share benefits with shoppers, something the company has signaled since completion of the $13.7 billion acquisition last summer. Work is still being done to make Prime membership recognized at Whole Foods checkout stands, Bezos said in the letter. Free two-hour delivery for Whole Foods purchases over $35 was extended to Prime Now members in February.
Prime benefits added within the past year include two-minute order fulfillment at Instant Pickup sites, Amazon Key in-home deliveries, and free access to Double Jeopardy!, the first paid subscription game on Echo devices.
Bezos also addressed things like Amazon’s growth in India, cashierless Amazon Go stores, and improvements to Alexa’s intelligence that took place within the past year.
“Far-field speech recognition (already very good) has improved by 15 percent over the last year; and in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, we’ve improved Alexa’s spoken language understanding by more than 25 percent over the last 12 months through enhancements in Alexa’s machine learning components and the use of semi-supervised learning techniques,” Bezos said in the letter.
Additional details about Prime are likely on the way next week — Amazon is scheduled to announce quarterly earnings on April 26.
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