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.
Echo & Alexa innovations: what does this mean for brands?
On Wednesday last week, Amazon announced the launch of five new Echo products.
One of the new devices is Echo Plus, which now packs an additional functionality, acting as a hub for smart home devices. It looks like Amazon is far ahead of competitors Apple and Google when it comes to its smart home device lineup, especially considering such a low-priced offering.
There have been some other interesting developments announced in the past week. This time for Alexa, which will soon be rolled out in the new BMW and Volkswagen vehicles.
Another launch has been pushed by menswear brand Perry Ellis with Alexa Skill, which supports customers in finding the right look and shopping accordingly. When customers ask for outfit suggestions, Alexa returns several options based on venue, dress code or even weather to help create an appropriate look.
So what does this rapid innovation both in the Echo device lineup and Alexa service mean for brands?
In my opinion, it means that voice commerce is a space to start paying close attention to. Brands need to learn how Alexa works when it comes to product ordering. At Bobsled Marketing, we already test and optimize product pages and PPC advertising for the mobile shopping environment. We will also start optimizing product assortments for voice commerce soon, so keep an eye on this space.
Amazon unveils new Inventory Performance Index & Inventory Planning Dashboard
Last week, Amazon launched a dashboard that gives Sellers a more clear overview of certain inventory and product information.
The Inventory Performance Index (IPI) is a single metric that brands on Seller Central can use to gauge the performance of their inventory.
Amazon describes the IPI score as “a new metric that aggregates data from your sales, inventory, and costs to measure the overall efficiency of your inventory management. The higher your score, the better your performance.”
There are 3 categories that affect your IPI:
- Excess Inventory Percentage.
- In-Stock Rate.
- Stranded Inventory Percentage.
So what do we think of the new Dashboard? The general consensus from the team at Bobsled Marketing is that it is easy to navigate and gives some helpful high-level information about SKUs and overall catalog performance.
Here’s what Project Manager Noelle Barnes said: "The actual pages are pretty interesting - there's a lot of easy-to-find functionality in one place. I just pointed there a vendor who was having trouble figuring out her way around Seller Central - and it was really helpful.”
Revenue estimates for Amazon’s private brands
Click Retail has calculated estimates for Amazon’s top selling rival labels: Amazon Basics, Amazon Elements, Pinzon, and Lark & Ro. The numbers are somewhat surprising: Basics accounts for 85% of sales of the tracked private brands while the brands holding 2nd, 3rd and 4th place have only generated $5m - $10m in the year to date. I don’t know what figure I expected, but I expected it to be higher. One Click Retail suggests there is some cannibalization going on: Basics is stealing share from the other brands. In the Darwinian Amazon brand environment, we can expect the winners to be fed more traffic and catalog options, and the runts will die off.
The article also points out that when Amazon made 2000 Whole Foods products available at the end of August, they generated $500K of sales within a week and sold out of many items. This proves that the WF private label brand could become a top contributor in Amazon’s private brand stable.
Amazon to create the next Game of Thrones?
Finally, to end my news recap with a bit of fun, The Verge reports that "Amazon is developing three new sci-fi shows in an attempt to find the next Game of Thrones”.
Amazon has had a good run with its studio content, but now the head of Amazon Studios, Roy Price, said that Amazon is looking to create “big shows that can make the biggest difference around the world”. If it succeeds, you can count on the already-addictive Prime membership program to become even stickier.
This is all the news I have to share with you this week. Stay tuned for my next update!