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Amazon Prime Has Room to Grow in the UK

User penetration and sales share are about where the US was in 2015

April 12, 2017

Amazon Prime hasn’t yet reached its potential in the UK, according to an analysis by Cowen and Company, which finds the global ecommerce giant’s paid subscription service finished Q1 2017 about where its US analogue was in early 2015.

Based on its own calculations, company reports and Office for National Statistics (ONS) – UK data, Cowen and Company found there were approximately 8 million Amazon Prime subscribers in the country as of March 2017—a 33% UK household penetration rate.

That figure is the same as Prime’s US penetration rate circa April 2015, so the UK has “room for significant growth,” Cowen believes, based on the fact that Prime penetration in the US grew to 47% in Q1 2017.

In another similarity to Amazon’s US figures from two years ago, Cowen estimates that 43% of Amazon UK purchasers were Prime members in Q1 2017, mirroring the 43% rate seen in the US in Q1 2015.

Share of UK Amazon Buyers Who Have Made Prime vs. Non-Prime Purchases, Jan-March 2017 (% of respondents)

Prime members contributed to a UK gross merchandise value (GMV) for Amazon of nearly £20.30 billion ($27.20 billion) in 2016, up 22% over 2015 and equivalent to approximately 40% of UK ecommerce sales for the year, according to Cowen.

Overall, Amazon’s leading UK product categories in March 2017—as measured by the percentage of purchasers who purchased goods in a category—were physical books, CDs and DVDs, home and garden products, ebooks, and electronics priced less than $50. Among Prime members, the top five purchase categories were essentially the same, but slightly shuffled.

Prime or no Prime, Amazon has changed the way most digital buyers in the UK shop to some degree.

About 77% of ecommerce-using UK adults surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in September 2016 said Amazon had affected their shopping behavior. That influence ran the gamut from checking prices on Amazon (49.4%) to shopping exclusively with the online retailer (5.8%).

—Cliff Annicelli

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