SEATTLE -- Amazon has taken another step to woo low-income shoppers to its site and away from rival Walmart.
The online retailer opened up its $5.99-a-month discounted Prime membership to people on Medicaid Wednesday, giving Amazon an even bigger pool of potential shoppers who may otherwise have been unable to pay the standard fee. Since June, Amazon has offered the same Prime discount to people using food stamps or other government assistance through an Electronic Benefit Transfer card. Amazon declined to say how many people signed up through that program.
Industry analysts believe Amazon is maneuvering both to expand its Prime membership numbers, and to go after people whose first shopping destination may be Walmart.
Adding Medicaid recipients makes Prime, and its free, expedited shipping, accessible to more people, Amazon.com Inc. said.
Nearly 70 million people are enrolled in Medicaid, which provides health coverage to low-income people and those with disabilities. More than 42 million participate in the food stamps program, through what is now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
To apply for the discounted Prime, Medicaid recipients need to take a photo of their Medicaid card and upload it to the site. The $5.99-a-month price is less than half of what Amazon charges for its $12.99-a-month pay-by-month option. It also comes out to be nearly $30 cheaper than its $99-a-year plan.
Besides the free two-day shipping, Prime members get other perks, such as access to Amazon's video and music streaming services.