Amazon Prime has landed in China.
The world's biggest online retailer said Friday it brought a version of its popular Prime membership service to the country, offering unlimited free deliveries of a selection of US-shipped and domestic products for 388 yuan (about $57) a year through its Amazon.cn website. Until February 28 of next year, the company will offer a promotional fee of 188 yuan (about $28) for people who sign up.
Amazon Prime in the US costs $99 a year, but its skyrocketing shipping costs are cutting into the company's profit.
Prime's expansion into China, its 12th Prime country, comes after Amazon launched the service in India in July. Both countries offer a lot of potential for Amazon to maintain its growth, as it convinces more customers to shop online instead of in stores. But, Amazon so far has been a small-time player in China, with the retailer struggling to compete against local e-commerce companies Alibaba and JD.com. Meanwhile, Amazon has been spending heavily in India, with the investment helping to drag down its latest earnings.
Prime in China may help change Amazon's prospects there, though the new service comes with limitations. Customers can pick from more than 4 million items from Amazon's US warehouses, with free shipping available for orders over 200 yuan. These items will arrive in 82 Chinese cities within an estimated five to nine days. There are also over 9 million domestic products that are available without a minimum order. The cross-border and local selection is small compared to Amazon's total US selection, which reaches the hundreds of millions.
Amazon also will face restrictions on selling items like books, since China has tight rules on foreign media.
In addition to China and India, Prime is available in the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Japan.