By Spencer Soper
Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said the e-commerce giant has exceeded 100 million paid Prime subscribers and will continue to invest to meet “ever-rising” customer expectations.
Mr Bezos noted the milestone in his annual shareholder letter as he seeks to bolster investor confidence as he continues to inject Amazon’s money into expanding internationally, building a brick-and-mortar presence, and inventing new products like Echo speakers and the Alexa voice-activated digital assistant.
Prime subscribers pay monthly or annual fees in exchange for quick delivery of online orders, music and video streaming and free online photo storage.
The memberships encourage consumers to shop more with Amazon to get their money’s worth.
Amazon has kept its Prime subscriber number a closely held secret, forcing analysts to estimate the figure based on shopper surveys.
Mr Bezos’s comments show that it is selling Prime memberships overseas, demonstrating it can replicate its US success abroad, said RJ Hottovy, an analyst at Morningstar.
Amazon is losing money with its international expansion, but investors will be patient if the company is gaining Prime subscribers, he said. “What we’re seeing in Europe and other markets is similar to what we saw in the US between 2010 and 2014".
People see value in Prime memberships in terms of shipping speed and content. It’s important to investors because membership retention rates are north of 90%.
The CEO also said in 2017, Amazon shipped more than 5bn items with Prime worldwide.