April 18, 2012, 1:05 PM

Amazon courts students in Germany

A new membership program offers students free delivery for a year.

Lead Photo

Amazon.com Inc.’s German site, Amazon.de, this week launched a discount program for students in the country. The Amazon Student Membership program gives students a free one-year membership to Amazon Prime, Amazon’s loyalty program that offers unlimited free next-day delivery and other perks. After a year, students can sign up for Amazon Prime for 15 euros (US $19.64) a year—about half the regular price— and keep that discounted price for the next four years.

Through the program, German students can also get 20% higher value for products they turn in to Amazon via Amazon Trade-In and use the credit they receive to purchase products from 25 categories on Amazon.de.

Amazon launched a similar U.S. student discount program in the U.S. in 2010. That program gives college students free access to Amazon Prime for six months and sends them e-mail alerts for special discounts and promotions. After six months, Amazon charges U.S. students $39 a year for Amazon Prime for up to four years, with automatic renewal. After a student graduates or at the end of the fourth year of his Amazon Student membership, Amazon will automatically renew his Amazon Prime membership at the full rate of $79 a year, unless the consumer cancels.

 Amazon.com Inc. reported nearly 40% year-over-year sales growth in Europe in 2011, according to Internet Retailer estimates. 2011 Europe sales totaled 12.9 billion euros (US$16.78 billion) compared with 9.36 billion euros (US$12.11 billion) for 2010. Amazon.com Inc. is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe Guide.

Amazon is trying new strategies to build its European customer base and make online shopping more convenient for consumers in the region. The retailer is running a pilot in the U.K. that allows Amazon customers to have their purchases delivered to coded drop boxes situated near two busy subway stations. When the parcel is ready for pick-up, Amazon sends the shopper a text message with a code that will open the box. It’s also running a test with Italian postal service, Poste Italiane, in which postal carriers deliver Amazon goods, and in some cases accept payment.

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