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Amazon offers Canadian college students 6 months of free 2-day shipping

A zoomed illustration image of a man looking at a computer monitor showing the logo of Amazon is seen in this file photo.

© Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

Amazon.ca is trying to woo tech-savvy young shoppers to its e-commerce site by launching on Tuesday a promotion for college students before the school year begins.

U.S. parent Amazon.com Inc. is introducing a program in Canada allowing university and college students to get six months of free two-day shipping of items eligible under its Amazon Prime membership. The items range from electronics to household essentials and school supplies.

Under the program, after six months students pay half price – $39 a year – for regular Amazon Prime membership, which provides free two-day shipping.

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College students tend to be among the earliest e-commerce adopters who spend a lot of time online, Alexandre Gagnon, country manager for Amazon.ca, said in a telephone interview. "There is a natural fit with e-commerce in that segment," he said. "We hope that they will continue shopping on Amazon."

In the run-up to the start of the college year, retailers rush to draw students as they shop for an array of products – from textbooks to home-decor items for their university residences. Now Amazon, which rolled out the student promotion in the United States four years ago, is intent on grabbing more of that business by recruiting more Amazon Prime members among students here. The online retailer has also introduced Amazon Student in Britain and Germany.

In Canada, Amazon has increasingly added more products to its Canadian website, racing to catch up with the scope of offerings on its U.S. site. In the past 14 months or so, it has added 16 new kinds of products to its website here, Mr. Gagnon said. The new Amazon Student program provides deals on merchandise such as home goods, beauty items and groceries.

Amazon's expansion squeezes rivals at a time when many retailers are lagging when it comes to e-commerce. Loblaw Cos. Ltd. is expected to start testing online selling this fall, while discount titan Wal-Mart Canada Corp. is rapidly pumping up its cyberbusiness. U.S. discounter Target Corp., which arrived in Canada last year, has yet to offer online shopping in this country.

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About the Author
Retailing Reporter

Marina Strauss covers retailing for The Globe and Mail's Report on Business. She follows a wide range of topics in the sector, from the fallout of foreign retailers invading Canada to how a merchant such as the Swedish Ikea gets its mojo. She has probed the rise and fall (and revival efforts) of Loblaw Cos., Hudson's Bay and others. More

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