Amazon is constantly testing new and innovative ways to get products to consumers in Seattle. Programs that work well in Seattle will be expanded. In this episode, we take a look at some of those programs and how they might impact third party sellers.
Eric Heller from Marketplace Ignition is this week's Amazon insider.
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New Programs Amazon is Testing
Description: Amazon is constantly testing new and innovative ways to get products to consumers in Seattle. Programs that work well in Seattle will be expanded. In this episode, we take a look at some of those programs and how they might impact third party sellers.
Have you ever heard of the Amazon Treasure Truck? The truck is covered with flashy signs and billboards and drives around Seattle carrying a limited amount of flash deals. You can buy them in advance or have a notification sent to your phone through the Amazon App when the truck is close by. Several weeks ago it had the new Nintendo Switch.
Amazon loves testing new and maybe a little quirky ways to get products to consumers. The Treasure Truck is just another example of that. Earlier this year Amazon patented the design of the truck and it looks like Amazon may be expanding it.
“So there’s all this experimentation and if you say ‘How can third party sellers think about this?’” says Amazon Insider Eric Heller.
Eric spent seven years working at Amazon. He helped some of the first merchants grow on the Amazon Marketplace. Now he helps more than 300 brands optimize their performance through multiple online channels with his own company Marketplace Ignition.
Eric saw the truck in person at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The truck is a great way for brands and products to get immediate sampling. In Seattle, it’s working, and people watch for their favorite repeat items to be re-loaded onto the truck.
“Funny thing is for people I know that live in Seattle that go to the treasure trunk the number one thing they tell me they love off that thing is steaks,” says Eric, “Which is just a bizarre non sectorial for people who don’t live in Seattle and associate buying steaks off Amazon.”
In Episode 023, we’re talking with Eric about things like the Treasure Truck. There’s several things Amazon is testing in Seattle right now and if they’re doing well in Seattle, you know it will be expanded. Some programs are already expanding, like Prime Now.
“My friends in Chicago love Prime Now,” says Eric, “They love that they can get their groceries from local grocery stores.”
Prime Now is now in 30 cities. We talked about Prime Now in Episode 018, a little over a month ago. At that time, it was in 28 cities, so in just the past month Amazon has added two new cities.
“What I would say is that, over time these same day,same time programs that are getting super popular,” says Eric, “Maybe you have a storefront that can register to be part of the Prime Now delivery inventory.”
Or perhaps you own a deli market or a local restaurant. Those types of businesses are included in Prime Now. Or here’s another example using PCC Natural Markets that’s based in Seattle.
“Suddenly think about this you’re PCC, your local organic market. You don’t probably have a big ecommerce business,” says Eric, “Suddenly your entire inventory is exposed to Amazon shoppers through Prime Now through an app and everything else.”
So with the growth of Prime Now local inventory, local stores and restaurants are all a vital part of making prime now work. Prime Now also includes other products from the Amazon Catalogue. Third party sellers interested in getting involved should look at getting inventory close to cities where Prime Now is located. You may also want to consider selling some of your products to Amazon as a vendor to get involved that way.
The next thing Amazon is testing is a new pick up service. It’s called Click and Collect.
“I think the big trend this year that we’re going to start hearing more and more same day, same hour,” Eric Says.
Click and Collect looks a little bit like a Sonic Drive-In. The concept is you place an order for groceries, then drive to your Click and Collect location, park in a spot and your purchases are brought to your car and you’re on your way. Amazon has yet to make a formal announcement on this concept but it will open this year.
If you go to Seattle in the future it’s something you should check out along with the Amazon Bookstore and Amazon Go Store. You probably remember hearing about the Amazon Go Store just recently. The concept is that shoppers can walk through, fill their cart or basket and Amazon’s Just Walk Out Technology keeps tabs on everything you’ve taken. There’s no line to check out instead you just leave and Amazon will charge your account. Right now it’s still being tested with Amazon employees but this is another thing that opens this year.
Now let’s talk about the Amazon Bookstore.
“You start to think ‘Wow, if this bookstore was going to be in my town’ and we might as well assume that ventures that Amazon’s working on that look like they’re working will be expanded and the bookstore when you walk in definitely feels like it’s working,” Eric says.
Alright, so the Bookstore is working. So this is an important thing for you to watch. There’s five Bookstores right now across the country with five more opening soon.
“Then you say ‘Ok great, if it was gonna be expanded, how would I get my hdmi cable in there?’ would it be worth selling that product to Amazon to try and be part of that,” Eric says.
Third party is a big part of the Amazon website but they didn’t allow merchants on the platform right away. Now the Marketplace is huge and it accounts for 40-percent of Amazon’s yearly sales. So, a couple years from now, maybe five years from now, if Amazon has a retail footprint, you can expect third party will be a part of it.
If you can, go to Seattle. Go see the Amazon Bookstore. Maybe plan your trip so you can shop the Amazon Go Store. It will help you understand the future of not just the Amazon Marketplace but of Amazon in general. Spend enough time in Seattle to find the Treasure Truck.
Keep in mind, that the programs you see working will continue to expand. Some, right away will open up to third party sellers. Others might require you to sell some product to Amazon but either way, Amazon is continuing to innovate and change how consumers shop. As a merchant you’re already a part of that.