Amazon is reportedly expanding a program that customers hate

amazonReuters/Lucas Jackson

  • Amazon is reportedly increasing the number of items that have the "add-on" designation, according to Bloomberg.
  • Add-on items can only be purchased if they are added to a purchase of $25 or more, even for Amazon Prime members.
  • Being forced to buy things as add-on items can be frustrating for customers, especially Prime members who are used to ordering whatever, whenever.
  • Amazon is likely doing this to prevent losing money on some orders.

Amazon is reportedly trying to limit a customer behavior it previously encouraged.

The retailer will expand the items it designates as "add-on" items, according to a Bloomberg report. Add-on items can only ship with carts whose items total $25 or more. That limit applies even to Prime members, even though Prime membership otherwise includes free, two-day, no-limit shipping.

The add-on designation currently applies to some low-cost items, but the new rules would greatly expand the program to include most health and personal care items that cost less than $7.

The change reportedly comes after Amazon took a look at what it could do to improve the margins on these low-cost items, which it doesn't earn much - if anything - from. Previously, Prime would let customers order these items whenever they wanted, even as a one-off.

Need toothpaste, for example? Here it comes, two days later for Amazon Prime members. That customer behavior ends up being expensive for Amazon, but the company was previously willing to tolerate that expense because it kept customers in the lucrative Prime ecosystem and built loyalty from customers who would use it as a go-to for everything.

Prime members order more and more frequently from Amazon, according to data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, which was cited by Fortune.

Without that kind of perk for essentials, customers have two options: either pony up and plan for fewer - but more expensive - orders, or go somewhere else. Amazon is likely betting on the former.

Amazon did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment on its plan to expand its add-on item selection.

Customers have already been vocal about their distaste for add-on items, as they often limit choice.

Amazon add-on itemsTwitter

Amazon add-on itemsTwitter

Amazon add-on itemsTwitter

Complaints of this nature will likely only increase as add-on items become more common, and some customers might reconsider whether Prime and its $99-a-year - or $13-a-month - cost is actually worth it.

The move comes as other retailers beef up their own shipping offerings. In 2017, Walmart debuted free two-day shipping with orders of $35 and over.

Target recently launched free two-day shipping for most items in orders of $35 and over. Target credit-card members do not have a minimum.

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