( Image Credit : ScottandKat )

Amazon lets Prime members send gifts with only an email address or phone

( Image Credit : ScottandKat )

Amazon today revealed a new option to deliver gifts using its mobile app, just in time for the holiday shopping season. Instead of providing the recipient’s mailing address, which many people don’t know in today’s digital world, Prime members can now send a gift to a buddy using their phone number or email address.

The functionality works by giving you the option of not specifying a delivery address during the checkout process. If you don’t know someone’s address, a new option called “Let the recipient provide their address” will appear. Then you type in the person’s email address or phone number.

After you complete checkout, the gift receiver will receive an email or text, depending on the information you supplied, with instructions on how to accept the gift by supplying Amazon with their desired delivery address from their Amazon account.

They can also exchange the item for an Amazon gift card in the same amount provided the gift-giver selected the “add a gift receipt” option at checkout. Of course, just like in real life, this transaction can take place without telling the gift-giver. And, because Amazon informed the recipient of the purchase, they can still express gratitude for the exact present chosen.

Anyone who wishes to shop on Amazon will not be able to use the new feature. Instead, the store is using it as a new incentive to get people to sign up for a Prime subscription ($119/year or $12.99/month). Because it addresses one of the annoyances of the holiday gift-giving season, it may persuade a few on the fence to join.

But, more than likely, it isn’t enough to persuade people who haven’t yet considered joining Amazon Prime to do so. After all, you may always simply ask a family member, acquaintance, or coworker for their address.

However, for those who already have a Prime membership, it could be a good retention strategy, especially for last-minute gift-giving or forgetting a gift.

Beginning on October 4, Amazon said the function will be available to Prime subscribers in the United States through its mobile app.

The retailer also announced early Black Friday offers today, as well as a multi-week beauty haul event with discounts on a wide range of products.