Amazon reduced on Tuesday the minimum order price that warrants free shipping to Israel from $65 to $49.
The online retail giant experienced a surge in sales in 2019 when it first launched its Hebrew-language website which offered free shipping from the United States.
When Amazon first began offering free shipping, comments on Israeli social media groups dedicated to finding deals on the site showed that customers who previously restricted their purchases to more expensive or harder-to-get items are beginning to buy household staples from the site, which would previously have been impractical to order from abroad due to high shipping fees.
“I have noticed that they prefer lower-priced items like Kleenex tissues and Contigo water bottles,” Avi Parshan, the administrator of one such forum, said at the time. “A surprising amount of people ordered Scott toilet paper, slinkies, and other toys.”
Despite the surge in orders, Amazon axed its free shipping program in countries where it does not operate its own warehouses and logistical centers – such as Israel – and delivery to Israel was halted for three months, from March to June 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2020 Amazon brought back delivery to Israel, but at a much higher price than before, and the shipping times lengthened to three weeks to a month or even longer.
However, in August 2021, Amazon resumed free shipping to Israel on select products, although the offer was limited to orders of $65 or more.
On Tuesday, the company again lowered the minimum order to $49 and on one Amazon-related group on Facebook, English-speaking immigrants mixed celebration with concern that the easy access to the site’s wares would spark excessive spending.
“Oh no. I’m already having trouble with this addiction this isn’t helping,” one user commented.
“I’m admittedly out of control,” another replied.
The new policy does not affect the amount consumers will pay on import duties, and orders over $75 are subject to Israel’s 17 percent value-added tax.
Speaking with Hebrew news site Ynet, sources in the shipping industry expressed concern that Israel isn’t ready to handle the logistical challenge of an increase in incoming freight due to lower shipping costs.
JTA contributed to this report.