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Ahead of Thursday's planned release of quarterly revenue and profit numbers, Amazon's Prime membership and delivery metrics appear to be moving in the right direction.

Business Insider reports that "Amazon had 176 million Prime members in the US at the end of 2023, up roughly 5% from 168 million a year earlier, according to estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The increase follows Prime's first-ever drop in membership growth in 2022, when CIRP said its survey data showed Prime 'essentially stopped growing' in the US.

"CIRP also found that the percentage of US Amazon customers with Prime was 74% last year, the highest ever and up from a 66% penetration rate from two years ago."

These numbers come in a week when Amazon has added commercials to Prime Video offerings, except to people who are spending an extra $3 a month.

At the same time, GeekWire reports that "Amazon continues to increase the speed with which it can get deliveries to customers, announcing Tuesday that it increased the number of items delivered in the U.S. on the same day or overnight by more than 65% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2023.

"Overall, Amazon said it reached its fastest global delivery speeds to Prime members ever in 2023, with more than 7 billion units arriving the same or next day, including more than 4 billion in the U.S. and more than 2 billion in Europe.

"In a post about the news, Doug Herrington, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Stores … said the company is focused on shortening the distance deliveries need to travel to reach customers; improving inventory placement; and building out Same-Day Delivery service."

KC's View:

I've expressed a certain level of skepticism about some of Amazon's recent decision-making, talking about how it seems to be diminishing the customer experience in the search for new revenue streams, and appears to have entered a Today-Is-Day-Two phase at odds with Jeff Bezos' original ethos.

I'll stand by those criticisms. But these numbers reflect the degree to which Amazon - whatever its faults - remains a considerable powerhouse and a competitive threat to pretty much everybody.

I suspect that Thursday's Amazon numbers will be positive, and will add to the image of a company that continues to excel in many areas, even if its priorities have shifted.