May 9, 2012, 4:35 PM

Amazon adds low-priced impulse buys to its product lineup

‘Add-on’ lets consumers buy small quantities of items normally sold in bulk.

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Amazon.com Inc. on Monday launched what it calls an “Add-on Program” that lets consumers buy single-sized versions of products Amazon normally sells only in larger quantities.

For example, a consumer can add a single 9-ounce tin of Virginia peanuts to her order for $5.24, rather than buy a six-pack that Amazon sells for more than $30.

Amazon describes the program as a way to offer low-priced items for sale that would otherwise cost too much to ship on their own. The 32 items featured as part of the add-on program today are mostly in the food and personal care categories and none costs more than $6. Amazon says the add-on program includes thousands of low-priced items.

Consumers can buy one or more add-on items to help them reach the $25 threshold to get free shipping, Amazon says. Consumers who are members of Amazon Prime must spend at least $25 on an order that contains add-on items for those products to qualify for the two-day paid shipping program, meaning a Prime member can’t buy one $5.09 hairbrush and expect for it to arrive in two days; still, the products can be shipped for free if the order meets that $25 threshold.

Products that Amazon considers add-ons are marked with a blue label that reads “Add-on Item” in search results. On product pages, the “add to cart” button is shown on a blue background that also says it is an add-on item.  Consumers can buy add-on items only when their total order value, including add-on, is $25 or greater, Amazon says. If a consumer goes to checkout with an order that contains add-on items but is less than $25, Amazon indicates that the consumer can continue to shop to meet the price threshold or check out without the add-on items. Amazon will keep the add-on product in the “saved for later” section of the cart. 

Amazon.com is No. 1 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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