Time for the weekly recap of Amazon news! It's always good to keep up with events related to the fast-moving world of the Amazon ecosystem. I select the most important news updates to share with subscribers each week, which you can sign up to receive right here.
Amazon Go’s public opening in Seattle
Amazon Go, the world’s first ever cashier-free store, opened to the public in Seattle. The store had been open for some time, but only available to use by Amazon employees.
Now, the system has proven itself enough to welcome the public into stores. Curiosity got the best of many people, with lines around the block to test the “just walk out” technology.
The big question is, will Amazon expand the store concept aggressively in other locations? I think there’s a good chance they will if the technology is perfected and the customer experience is overwhelmingly positive. I can’t imagine that Amazon would spend several years and many millions of dollars in developing this technology to just leave it at one concept store.
The other question is whether we’ll see this technology rolled out to the Whole Foods stores. In short, I think it will happen - but over a period of a few years. WF’s store layouts, greater volume of foot traffic, and larger merchandise assortment will be a more complex environment for this technology. That will require more years of testing and perfecting the technology.
More sophisticated reporting in AMS
Our Amazon PPC team passed out virtual High-Fives on Friday last week as Amazon rolled out two features that have long been missed on the AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) platform:
- Custom Date Range for reporting
- More sophisticated Advertising Reports which are similar to those in Seller Central.
This has big efficiency and transparency implications for brands. As our PPC Manager Stefan Jordev said, “What a time to be alive!”
Amazon raises the price of Prime monthly memberships by 18%
The Amazon Prime monthly fee is increasing from $10.99 to $12.99 in the U.S., an increase of 18 percent. The annual membership of $99 (which is not increasing).
Prime has been central to Amazon’s retail domination. And while charging something for membership is necessary, it’s certainly not a profit center by itself.
As Jason Del Rey states in this Recode article, “ Prime is the engine at the center of the Amazon commerce machine — Prime members buy from Amazon more frequently than non-Prime members and also spend more, hence why Amazon introduced the monthly option to lure new members. So, if the company is raising the fee, you can bet that it discovered that the current $10.99 was just not sustainable.”
One month on: how has Amazon Australia performed?
Amazon launched in Australia in December last year. According to analytics company Marketplace Pulse, Amazon Australia has since attracted over 5,000 sellers, surpassing Amazon’s Brazil marketplace which expanded in October.
However, adoption by consumers has been underwhelming. Of all web traffic to Amazon sites in Australia, 70% is going to the US site, and only 9% to the Australian site, meaning that Australians are not finding the pricing, assortment, or shipping terms on the local site to be compelling.
Amazon adds content to search results with ‘Verified Expert Reviews’ and videos
I was first turned on to the addition (or at least testing) of reviews and content to Amazon’s search result pages by this blog post by Seller Labs.
After doing some experimental searches of my own, I found another search result which surfaced similar editorial content by The Wirecutter - this time using the search term 'Instant Pot'. Initially I thought the Wirecutter profile page looked a lot like the publisher and user profiles that appear in Spark, Amazon’s product discovery platform. But the overall lack of information included on the profile and no link back to Spark's other content pages doesn’t seem to support this.
Other searches for popular search terms surfaced videos that were produced by third parties, and Amazon themselves. One video that was created by Amazon as a kind of buying guide for baby cribs, seemed like it was part of a series designed to help new parents make buying decisions.
If only experimental for now, these new features highlight the fact that Amazon wants to start addressing ‘top of funnel’ customer inquiries and drive more editorial type content on the site that will help make buying decisions.
The quiet and underwhelming execution of Amazon Spark always baffled me, since there was so much potential to leverage User Generated Content on actual product pages. But perhaps this is the dawn of Amazon embracing content in its searches. Closer partnerships with influencers and publishers could also be in the near future.
What does this mean for brands? If you’re not already exploring content as a marketing strategy, start now. Amazon and its customers will start demanding more of it, and brands who already have relationships with influencers, publishers, and the ability to create high-quality editorial type content, will be able to act on this quickly.
This is all the news I have to share with you this week. Stay tuned for my next update!