Happy Labor Day! Many Americans aren't working today, but there's always activity somewhere in the Amazon ecosystem so there's news to share. Here's my curated round-up of the top news items for the week. Make sure you hit "Follow" to get notified of my future posts!
Beta program adds video to Enhanced Brand Content pages
Amazon now appears to be piloting a video-uploading function for Enhanced Brand Content users within Seller Central.
Product videos have been a feature previously reserved for Amazon Vendors who were using A+ content pages. Video has been widely recognized as a way to improve conversions on e-commerce product listings, so this will be a big win if rolled out to all brands on Seller Central. Remember that you must be enrolled in the New Brand Registry to access Enhanced Brand Content.
Amazon’s Transparency beta program
We covered Amazon’s Transparency program on our blog last week, which aims to reduce counterfeiting on the marketplace. Consumers are growing increasingly unhappy with the growing number of scam sellers and counterfeit products on the Amazon marketplace, and Amazon's attempts to definitively solve this problem have not done so. Transparency could become an example for other e-commerce platforms if it works out.
Some of Amazon’s own brands and a handful of outside vendors are currently piloting the program. It's expected to be platform-wide in 2018.
Venture capital heats up the competition on Amazon
The Amazon ecosystem is seeing an influx of venture capital—both in terms of venture-backed service and software providers, as well as VC and private equity firms buying up top-selling brands on Amazon.
Venture backing gives physical product brands in particular a leg up in a world where capital is everything. Without the constraint of relying entirely on cash flow to fund inventory purchasing, marketing, and operations expenses, these companies can do much more to accelerate their growth than bootstrapped brands can afford to do.
In short, VC firms getting interested in Amazon means one thing: more competition.
Amazon wastes no time in leveraging Whole Foods private label brands
With the ink barely dry on its contract to acquire Whole Foods, Amazon has made hundreds of Whole Foods’ house brands available to buy on Amazon Fresh. The selection includes gourmet foods, bath and personal care products, and items from the 365 Everyday Value and Whole Paws brands.
Amazon has been making a big push into launching and expanding its private label brands over the past couple of years. It now has existing brands and trademarks in most of its selling categories. With the wealth of sales data it has available, why wouldn’t they leverage it in every way possible?
I’m sure we’ll see a lot more activity within Amazon’s own brand portfolio in the next 12 months.
Wal-Mart doubles its e-commerce footprint in Canada
Not one to easily give up, Walmart has doubled down on selling in Canada. The company has now doubled its online product assortment in Canada and expects to quadruple it by the end of 2017.
Even then, however, the Wal-Mart Canada marketplace only has 27 third-party sellers, in comparison to the 21,000 marketplace sellers active on Amazon.ca in December 2016.
To be fair, this is partly because Wal-Mart methodically selects and vets each seller individually, which is certainly harder to scale up. Compare this to Amazon’s process of basically allowing anyone to sell on the platform.
This is yet another skirmish In the Amazon versus Wal-Mart turf war. Once again, consumers are the clear winners.