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Amazon won't charge for shipping on small, light items

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In an effort to better compete with rival eBay, Amazon announced a new service today that offers free shipping on small, lightweight items for every customer -- not just Prime members. Dubbed "Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light" the new shipping scheme will bring tiny items your door in four to eight business days without the need for a minimum order value. The items just need to weigh less than 8 ounces, measure under 9x6x2 inches and cost less than $10 to qualify. Amazon reportedly hopes to attract a wider customer base including cost-aware shoppers -- ie folks worried that shipping and handling will cost more than their ear bud inserts. Additionally, the new program will act as an alternative to the company's existing $99 a year, delivery-in-two-days Prime subscription.

All orders will be fulfilled from the company's Florence, Kentucky shipping hub. A majority of eligible items will be from third party vendors that give Amazon a cut of their profits in exchange for the mega-retailer handling storage, shipping and logistics of the products themselves. Previously customers had to order at least $35 worth of goods to qualify for free standard shipping. "Customers love that even if it's a $5 item, shipping is free for everybody, Prime member or not," Neil Ackerman, a senior manager at Amazon, told Bloomberg. "Customers love it and sellers love it." Or at least Amazon is hoping customers will love it.

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