Amazon Brand Analytics, and Alexa moves into healthcare

Online marketplaces continue to expand

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A new survey by Web Retailer demonstrates the growing influence and diversity of online marketplaces around the world.

Globally, more than 50% of e-commerce sales were made through online marketplaces in 2018, and that is forecast to grow to about two-thirds within five years. The top five global marketplaces are Amazon, eBay, Rakuten and Alibaba. Amazon and eBay are the only marketplaces to break the one billion visits mark, although AliExpress (US) and Mercado Libre (South America) aren’t too far behind with 865 million and 634 millions visits per month respectively.

When you look at the breakdown by Product Category, the top 20 marketplaces predominantly sell items of any type, with only three specializing in a specific product category. Etsy is the largest of the specialists, supporting the trend in handmade and craft items. As you get into the long tail of marketplaces they are very specific and often have a strong community-driven atmosphere. For example, Bandcamp for bands to sell music and merchandise.

Another interesting trend is the number of marketplaces that are also retailers. Aside from Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair and Zalando have feet in both camps. These companies have added marketplaces to their existing retail websites, giving shoppers greater product choice and creating price competition between sellers.

When it comes to regions, there is a really diverse mix represented in the top 20. The top three – Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress – are all global brands, but there are also marketplaces in North America, South America, Southeast Asia, Poland, China, Japan, India and Russia. Europe has the greatest concentration of marketplaces, mainly due to the cultural nuances of different countries. Surprisingly, the largest in Europe is Allegro, a Polish marketplace-only platform, with fashion retailer Zalando coming in second. Despite the UK having the world’s highest e-commerce spend per capita, it’s domestic online marketplaces are weak compared to France and Germany.

This survey emphasizes the potential for brands to expand beyond Amazon to reach new customers in different markets. Whilst Amazon is by the far the leading global marketplace there are many countries in which they don't operate.

New brand analytics for sellers

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Amazon is providing sellers with more information on the customers that are buying their products. This week they opened up a new dashboard in seller central analytics that shows customers demographics, including age, household income, education, gender and marital status.

Amazon Brand Analytics, including the customer demographics report, is available to “eligible brand owners” who are enrolled in Brand Registry. Currently, the feature is only available to sellers who own a brand or who serve as an agent, representative or manufacturer of a brand.

By understanding the Amazon customer profile, sellers will be able to tailor products and services to meet audience needs and develop more targeted messaging to customers and prospects.

Alexa strengthens foothold in healthcare

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Amazon released new software that makes its Alexa voice assistant compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), opening the door for Amazon to strengthen its foothold in healthcare. HIPAA compliance enables health firms and app developers to embed Alexa with more complex and sensitive healthcare actions. Developers can now build skills that incorporate personal medical information to make the assistant a more useful clinical tool, and hospitals can move Alexa devices from the fringes of healthcare delivery into the realm of patient care and administrative functions that entail handling patient data. Some US hospitals have announced plans to enable customers to use Alexa to locate and schedule a same-day appointment.

With HIPAA compliance it should be easier for Amazon to equip Alexa with new consumer-oriented healthcare functions, like chronic disease management services linked to its line of exclusive health devices, or prescription refill skills related to Amazon's developing online pharmacy.