Amazon has introduced the Amazon Access program, which provides greater savings and resources for qualified recipients of government assistance. In addition to supporting customers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) payment options, the program also affords easier access to Amazon Layaway. The ecommerce giant noted that the program was introduced to help consumers as they weather rising costs on essentials.
The company’s discounted Prime membership has received a new name — Prime Access — and allows those who qualify to register for the service at a monthly rate of $6.99 compared to the full cost of $14.99 per month. The company reports that members of the Prime Access program saved an average of $1,600 last year through shipping savings, coupons and membership discounts. It also noted that the program expanded its membership by more than 300% between 2019 and the end of 2021.
Amazon Access also provides qualified customers with:
- Expanded acceptance of SNAP EBT payments at Amazon.com, Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh;
- Free shipping on eligible Amazon orders;
- Amazon Layaway, which allows customers to pay 20% of the total cost of items without a credit check, interest or fees;
- Discounted essentials through coupons and Subscribe & Save, which offers up to 15% off with free shipping on automatic deliveries of eligible items; and
- Debit-card free payments through Amazon Cash with pick up at the company’s self-service lockers or staffed counter locations.
A number of initiatives have been implemented on the government and retail sides to alleviate financial stress on lower income consumers in response to the current climate of inflation. In August 2022, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service introduced a $5 million grant funded by the American Rescue Plan to expand SNAP ecommerce by supporting retailers as they upgrade their technology to align with the program’s online capabilities. In September 2022, Instacart and Shipt expanded their payment options to accommodate online shopping with SNAP, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).