Amazon Prime arrives in China

Amazon Prime has arrived in China as of today, and it works more or less the same way it does in the U.S. Customers in China can subscribe to a year of Prime for the equivalent of $28 USD during a promotional period, with the regular price being $57 USD. With this comes free shipping, including on imports from the Amazon Global Store. With this new business move, Amazon takes on Alibaba and other competitors.

Chinese customers who order international items will get the products in about a week to a week-and-a-half, though they have to spend at least 200 yuan to get free shipping. All domestic shipping is free, however, regardless of order amount. More than nine million domestic items are available, as well as more than four million imported items.

This marks one of the first services of its kind to launch in China, and may prove to be a large source of competition for established e-commerce giants in the nation like Alibaba. Though Amazon itself hasn't proven terribly popular in China thus far, Prime membership and the big perks it brings may prove to be a turning point for the company.

Movies, TV shows and books aren't offered as part of Amazon Prime China, though, as the company must abide by local censorship rules. As well, the company is tasked with getting citizens' national ID and keeping track of cross-border orders, following regulations that impose annual purchase caps.

Whether Chinese customers will ultimately embrace this type of membership is yet to be seen. Amazon has already introduced Prime in a dozen countries, and while it has seen various degrees of success for its efforts, these international rollouts are a big expense for the company, making them fairly risky.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal