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Amazon debuts new shopping portal for customers on government assistance

(CNN) — Amazon on Monday launched a new shopping portal called Amazon Access that is designed for shoppers receiving government assistance.

The shopfront features SNAP EBT on Amazon, information about the Amazon Layaway program that shoppers use to pay for their orders over time and spotlights discounts and coupons for essential grocery items.

Amazon already offers some services for low-income customers, such as discounted Amazon Prime membership. It also accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits for groceries purchased through Amazon Grocery, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods. The company said the new portal is meant to be a centralized hub that puts these individual benefits all in one place.

“Given the tough economic climate with many facing rising costs on essential needs, we want our customers to know about all the accessible offerings available on Amazon, no matter their circumstances,” said Nancy Dalton, Amazon’s head of community partnerships.

Amazon also announced it has renamed its discounted Prime membership to Prime Access. Eligible customers can sign up for the service on Amazon Access.

Neil Saunders, retail analyst and managing director at GlobalData Retail, said the new portal could be useful for lower-income shoppers.

“It is something positive Amazon can point to, which shows it is helping hard-pressed consumers during a more difficult economic period,” said Saunders, adding that Amazon “should be able to generate some incremental sales out of consolidating the benefits into a new shopfront.”

At the same time, he didn’t think Amazon Access would help boost Prime membership numbers significantly.

“Amazon sees this as a way of growing Prime at a time when it is near to saturation in the US, as there are still many lower-income consumers who do not have access to the program,” said Saunders. Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in an April 2021 letter to shareholders that the company has more than 200 million Prime members worldwide.

Earlier this year,Amazon said the price of its annual Prime subscriptions would increase from $119 to $139 per year in the United States and its monthly subscription would also increase from $12.99 to $14.99.

The company said it was increasing the cost because of “expanded Prime membership benefits,” such as added Prime Video content and expanded free same-day shipping, as well to compensate for the rising costs of labor and transportation in its distribution network.

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