Amazon Rebrands Gift Card Balance as ‘Amazon Pay’ Balance, Touts Faster Checkout

Amazon has quietly made a change on Wednesday where it rebranded its Gift Card balance as Amazon Pay, which the company is touting as the fastest way to pay. It’s essentially the same as gift card balance – and unlike wallets, there are no limits on how much you can transact in a day, and the money stored in your Amazon Pay balance is only valid for one year, post which it will expire – but instead of having to purchase gift cards, you can simply top it up directly on the Amazon website.

Amazon Rebrands Gift Card Balance as 'Amazon Pay' Balance, Touts Faster CheckoutThe new Amazon Pay balance is handy if you shop a lot on Amazon, and don’t want to enter your OTP regularly when shopping – once you’ve filled up some balance, you can just use that money to complete shopping with a single click. There are some restrictions – you can’t buy gift cards, gold coins, or bank cards, on using the Pay balance – but otherwise, you can use it to buy all other items on the website. “We are happy to launch Amazon Pay Balance. All customers have to do is load their balance; a friction-free payment experience awaits them,” added Sriram Jagannathan Vice President Payments, Amazon India.

Your remaining gift card balance is automatically transferred to Amazon Pay, and for refunds on cash on delivery items, you have the option of choosing Amazon Pay to receive the money, which Amazon says is much faster than choosing a refund to your bank.

However, you can’t transfer money from your Amazon Pay balance to your bank account – this means that the money is effectively locked into Amazon’s ecosystem. Amazon plans to incentivise usage of Amazon Pay by giving special offers to use it. You can add up to Rs. 10,000 at one time, though there is no limit on the number of transactions you can make.

Amazon had earlier launched Pay with Amazon in India – it has not linked the two yet, but it would be an interesting way for the company to expand into payments, at a time when other e-commerce companies are investing in areas such as UPI (Flipkart), or have their own wallets (Snapdeal, Paytm).

Amazon launches Lumberyard, a cross-platform 3D game engine that’s free to use

Amazon has launched a new video game engine it’s calling Lumberyard. The e-commerce giant says its free, cross-platform, 3D game engine will allow developers to make top-notch titles and tap into its bevy of web services (for a fee, of course).

Lumberyard is packed with hundreds of features including cloth physics, character and animation editors, a particle editor, a UI editor, audio tools, weather effects, vehicle systems, perception handling, camera frameworks and more. Amazon even says developers can add cloud-connected features like community news feeds, daily gifts and server-side combat resolution in minutes using a drag-and-drop interface.

As you’d expect, Lumberyard is fully integrated with Twitch. With the Twitch ChatPlay feature, viewers can use the chat interface to directly impact the game they are watching someone play in real-time. For example, a developer could make a game that lets Twitch watchers vote on game outcomes using simple chat commands. Another feature called Twitch JoinIn lets Twitch broadcasters invite viewers from their audience to play alongside them on-the-fly.

Amazon also detailed a new managed service for deploying , operating and scaling session-based multiplayer games called GameLift. The company promises it’ll reduce the time required to create multiplayer back-ends from thousands of hours to just minutes.

Available as of today in beta, Lumberyard allows developers to build both PC and console games with support for mobile titles and virtual reality platforms coming soon. Lumberyard is free to use, including the source code. Amazon stresses that there aren’t any seat fees, subscription fees or requirements to share revenue. Should a developer want to use AWS services, however, standard fees will apply.

GameLift, meanwhile, is priced at $1.50 per 1,000 Daily Active Users on top of the standard AWS fees for AWS services consumed.

If you’re serious about creating that game you’ve already dreamed of or are an established developer looking to broaden your horizons, Lumberyard may be worth a look.

There’s more to Amazon Prime than 2-day shipping

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In case the Super Bowl commercial and accompanying jingle didn’t clue you in, there is more to Amazon Prime than simply free two-day shipping. And while the chorus line points out a few of the additional benefits, there are even more perks than could be squeezed into that minute-long spot, some of them more heavily promoted than others. As such, we thought it was a good idea to make sure you knew about everything you have coming to you.

Free two-day shipping

Still Prime’s main selling point, you get free two-day shipping with no minimum on most orders. Ordinarily, one needs to spend at least $35 to get free shipping. Even then, it is standard shipping which takes twice as long.

No-rush shipping credit

What if you don’t need your order in two days? Amazon provides an incentive for letting them take their time getting your order out the door. Depending on what you buy, you could get a digital credit towards an eBook, MP3, or movie, or a credit towards a Prime Pantry order.

Guaranteed Delivery (which can result in free Prime)

But what if you really, really do need your order in two days and it takes longer? Amazon will give you an extra month of Amazon Prime for free. The only catch is that you have to ask. See also: How to Get One Extra Month of Amazon Prime for Free

Same-day delivery

What if you really need your order right now? If you happen to live in one of the 21 cities where Prime Now is available, you can get most items delivered the same day, and many items as soon as within two hours.

Streaming music, movies, and television shows

The most promoted of its secondary benefits, a Prime membership gives you access to millions of songs and thousands of movies and television shows — including Amazon original programming (Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, The Man in the High Castle, etc.).

Unlimited cloud photo storage

If you’re like some people I know, your phone quickly fills up with photos. Then, this perk will be especially lucrative. Your Prime membership allows you to store all your photos in the cloud, freeing up your memory for taking even more photos. This was a big perk until Google decided to offer the same thing (with better search tools) withGoogle Photos.

Free Kindle eBooks

Like a virtual public library, Prime gives you access to more than 500,000 eBooks. You can borrow one book per month and there’s never any late fees. Note: This feature only works for Kindle owners, not Kindle app users.

Early access to deals

Ever miss out on one of Amazon’s amazing lightning deals? With Prime, you get a 30-minute headstart over the rest of users and that could make all the difference between scoring a lucrative deal or not.

Prime-only prices and coupons

In addition to getting a headstart on lightning deals, a Prime membership also gives you access to deals to which you wouldn’t otherwise be privy. In the past few months, we’ve seen an increase in the number of these Prime-only prices. Additionally, we’ve also seen a recent uptick in the amount of clippable coupons being available only to Prime members.

Prime Pantry

Especially when it comes to buying large quantities of household items, Prime Pantry is an big added bonus. For just $5.99, you can have 45 pounds of groceries delivered to your doorstep.

Amazon Family

For those with infants or young children, Prime’s Amazon Family perk can be a godsend. Diapers and other items are 20% off when ordered with Subscribe & Save (which can be cancelled at any time), saving you money and a trip to store for this necessity.

Amazon Household

And like a cherry on top of the proverbial sundae, one of the best things about Prime is that you can share nearly all the perks with another member of your household. Choose wisely.

Amazon quietly increases free shipping minimum for those without Prime to $50

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Free two-day shipping is the main reason why millions of people are willing to shell out$99 annually for a subscription to Amazon Prime. What some may not know, however, is that many items sold on Amazon can be shipped for free without a Prime membership (albeit a bit slower) so long as you spend a certain amount.

For the longest time, that minimum order amount (on qualifying items) was $25 although in late 2013, Amazon raised it to $35. Now, Amazon has quietly bumped that minimum up to $49 as first noted by TechCrunch.

Interestingly enough, there’s sort of a way around it as order that include $25 of eligible books will ship for free.

Amazon continues to dominate the e-commerce sector in the US and has bolstered its Prime membership to include same-day delivery in certain cities, access to a wealth of streaming music, movies and TV shows, unlimited cloud photo storage, free Kindle eBooks and early access to select deals, just to name a few perks. Those investments have certainly paid off as Amazon’s Prime subscriber count grew by 51 percent worldwide last year.

The company’s latest move is little more than a subtle push to try and get more people to sign up for Prime (not that there is anything wrong with that). In addition to securing $99 up front, signing people up for Prime eliminates the minimum order threshold for free shipping which means members are likely to order more frequently and make impulse buys.

Amazon quietly launches its own clothing brands

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Amazon has never hesitated to compete with traditional brick-and-mortar outfits (no pun intended) and its latest endeavor is certainly no exception. The e-commerce giant has quietly launched its own in-house fashion lines comprised of more than 1,800 individual fashion products across seven different brand names.

According to WWD, KeyBanc Capital analyst Ed Yruma disclosed the launch in a recent note to investors. Amazon’s “house” brands include Franklin & Freeman, Franklin Tailored, James & Erin, Lark & Ro, North Eleven, Scout + Ro and Society New York. The brands sell a range of products including men’s dress shoes, suiting and accessories and a variety of women’s clothing.

The majority of products are said to be in the women’s dress and handbags line, Society New York, which makes up 911 of the roughly 1,800 SKUs. Men’s accessories line Franklin Tailored features around 250 unique SKUs, we’re told.

Those in the fashion industry aren’t entirely surprised by the move. WWD reports that in recent weeks, the e-commerce powerhouse has posted job listings looking for marketing and senior brand managers, a head of marketing, a senior sourcing manager and a senior merchandiser to staff its private label unit.

Pricing on some of the private label brand products indicates Amazon is content to tackle the cheaper end of the price spectrum. While that approach may not bring in the most profit per sale, it’s likely that Amazon generate more sales overall to make up for the difference.