Amazon estimated to have 16.7M Prime subs; Janney a fan of Kiva's robots

|By:, SA News Editor

Research firm CIRP estimates Amazon (AMZN -0.8%) now has 16.7M Prime subs, up 72% from a year-ago level of 9.7M. The firm also reports 93% of Prime subs responding to a survey said they're happy with the service, and plan to renew.

The estimate meshes with a recent report from Dan Rayburn, who was told by an Amazon insider the e-commerce giant ended Q3 with 15M+ Prime subs.

Amazon's October decision to hike its minimum free shipping order size to $35 from $25 could be fueling a pickup in Prime subscriptions (free two-day shipping for $79/year, no order minimum). More recently, Amazon struck a deal with the USPS to enable Sunday delivery for Prime subs in major metro areas.

If CIRP's estimate is reasonably accurate, it means close to 17M Amazon accounts now have access to Prime Instant Video (whether they're using it is a whole other question). Rival Netflix (NFLX -0.2%) ended Q3 with 31.1M U.S. streaming subs.

Separately, Janney estimates Kiva Systems' robots could lower Amazon's per-order fulfillment costs by 20%-40% from a current $3.50-$3.75. That, in turn, spells estimated cost savings of $458M-$916M/year.

Amazon mentioned in its Q3 report it deployed 1,382 Kiva robots during the quarter in three fulfillment centers.