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Newegg counters Amazon Prime with $50 Premier membership

The online retailer's new subscription service promises free 3-day shipping, exclusive deals, and other benefits.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Newegg has taken a page out of Amazon's playbook with a members-only shopping and shipping service.

Announced on Tuesday, Newegg's Premier Membership offers a variety of benefits for people willing to shell out $50 a year for the privilege. Subscribers receive free shipping with delivery in 3 days or less, discounted rates on 2-day and next-day shipping, special alerts to upcoming sales, exclusive deals, a members-only shopping experience, free returns with no shipping or restocking fees, and a dedicated customer support number.

Anyone who signs up by February 18 can score a 30-day trial to check out the service.

"We always seek ways to improve the customer experience and implementing a benefit program is the latest example of how we're making it easier and more rewarding to shop at Newegg.com," Soren Mills, chief marketing officer of Newegg North America, said in a statement. "Free expedited shipping is in itself a great benefit, but beyond that we're including many other perks to enhance the shopping experience."

Once known mostly as a hardware and software retailer, Newegg now sells a wider range of merchandise, including appliances, furniture, sporting goods, jewelry, and car accessories. The launch of Premier Membership comes at a potentially opportune time.

Amazon has revealed that it's considering a price hike for its $79-per-year Prime service that could increase the annual cost by $20 to $40. Of course, Prime offers benefits beyond free shipping, including a huge Instant Video library and e-book lending. And Newegg doesn't stock the variety of products available through Amazon.

Still, shoppers solely interested in the shipping benefits may be swayed by Newegg's $50 service should Amazon raise its price to $100 or higher.

(Via TechCrunch)