Amazon ends free delivery for orders of less than £10

ONLINE shopping giant Amazon yesterday scrapped free delivery on many orders worth less than £10, in a sign that the retailer may finally be attempting to improve profitability.

The change, which was announced with immediate effect, means thousands of small items will no longer be accessible for supersaver delivery, which takes up to five days for goods to arrive.

Orders that include books, DVDs, Blu-rays, music, computer games and software products will continue to receive free delivery, regardless of their total value.

But thousands of low cost items, such as cables and accessories, will now attract a postage and packaging charge of £3.99.

The company said the policy change would allow it to offer “a significantly expanded selection of lower priced products”.

Universal free delivery was first introduced in 2009. Regular customers who want to buy low-value items on a regular basis will still be able to use Amazon Prime, which costs £49 a year but offers free next-day delivery on all eligible orders.

Amazon has been criticised by high street stores for its pricing policy and preferring revenue growth over profits. This has enabled it to build enormous market share while earnings remain comparatively tiny.

Worldwide sales at the US company hit $61bn during 2012 but the company swung to a $39m loss after investing heavily in its Kindle tablet business.

Sales at its main UK subsidiary were £4.3bn during the same period but the company’s limited profitability in the UK means it paid just £2.4m in British corporation tax, attracting criticism from politicians and some groups of activists.

Amazon’s defenders point out that the company employs thousands of workers at its UK distribution centres and pays other taxes.