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Amazon yesterday announced that it is raising the free shipping threshold for non-Prime members in the US to $49, from $35, though in what appears to be a nod to the company's roots, books costing $25 or more will still get shipped for free.

Reuters writes that the move seems to be yet another move by Amazon to get people to enlist in its $99-a-year Prime membership program, which offers two-day shipping. Amazon also "has been spending on rolling out several new services for members of its $99-a-year Prime loyalty program, including one-hour delivery and original TV programming, to attract customers in a highly competitive online shopping market."

In other Amazon news, the New York Business Journal reports that " Amazon is hiring heavily to staff up its Seattle-based Amazon Fashion private label unit which - if successful - could take on everything from fast-fashion chains to sellers of basic apparel such as Walmart." The story notes hat while Amazon has not yet officially announced a "private-label push, but in the last few weeks, a number of job listings have sprung up, including positions for a head of marketing and senior brand manager, senior sourcing manager and senior merchandiser to staff the Amazon Fashion Private Label unit."

Expectations are that Amazon could start the private label clothing business by 2017.
KC's View:
Investors probably will love this. Customers probably will hate it.

As in the case of the Starbucks change to its loyalty program, this is more about Amazon trying to get a little more profitability. In the end, I think, there's nothing wrong with trying to get people to become Prime members by incentivizing them. Amazon may take some heat, but probably not too much ... it isn't my sense that they took a big hit when they increase the cost of an annual Prime membership from $79 to $99.

As for the private label clothing business ... I have no idea if this makes sense. My first instinct is no ... but I'm a guy who buys most of his clothes from LL Bean and don't trust brands I don't know. I can't imagine buying a shirt or sweater with an Amazon tag, but then again, I've bought a lot of things from Amazon over the years that I never would've expected.