Brand Registry push
Amazon has stepped up their efforts to increase adoption of Brand Registry amongst brand owners. Many vendors and sellers in the UK, Germany and US have received emails and phone calls over the last few weeks advising them to join the Brand Registry or offering help to complete their application. We believe this is another insight into Amazon's strategy to focus their 1P relationships with brand owners (moving wholesalers to a seller account) and clamping down on counterfeit items which are polluting the marketplace and eroding consumer trust.
Membership to the Brand Registry is free and brings with it a number of benefits to vendors such as accurate brand representation, as you have greater control and influence over your product information; powerful search tools, to find instances of brand misuse by searching by image, keyword or ASIN list; and automated brand protection, to identify and remove potentially bad listings.
Price restrictions lifted in the US
Amazon has dropped its requirement that third-party vendors who sell their goods on its website must always offer their lowest prices there, as the company faces intensifying criticism from partners and politicians. The move to end so-called price parity provisions in the US, also known as “most favoured nation” clauses, comes amid calls for the company to be investigated under antitrust laws. The clauses, which prevented sellers from listing products sold on Amazon’s Marketplace cheaper elsewhere online, had been dropped in Europe in 2013 after the UK and Germany launched investigations into the policy.
The decision to axe price parity provisions could result in slower growth for Amazon. The Marketplace has historically been a cash cow for Amazon. If it becomes less competitive on price and consumers become less loyal, profits will be impacted.
Alexa laundry commands demonstrate the potential of voice services
The Alexa skills designed by some laundry brands are a great demonstration of how you can use voice services to give brands a role in family life.
For instance, using set timers, Alexa can notify you when your washing machine cycle is finished. You can create routine timers and assign trigger phrases to them within the app, so when you want Alexa to start your timer you just say 'Alexa start my washing machine timer'.
To get cleaning tips you can enable the Laundry Buddy skill, provided by Tide (a P&G brand). Ask questions about how to wash certain items such as jeans, car seats, coats, trainers and find out how to remove tough stains like juice, coffee, ink and grass.
Rather than sniffing your clothes to decide whether they are clean, download the laundry mate app to your Alexa which allows you to set reminders to wash certain items in your house. When you wash something, you tell Alexa. Then, when you need a reminder to find out when you last washed an item, you ask 'Alexa, when was the last time I washed my duvet?'
We think experimenting with Alexa skills to understand how your brand can add value to the customer experience through voice services is a great idea. Whilst usage of the skill will be very low, it positions you as an innovator and gives your business valuable learning ahead of wider adoption in the future.
Own brand ads removed from search results
By coincidence or design, Amazon has removed some of its privileged advertising spots it uses to promote its own brand products, just as the anti-trust debate gathers pace. This week, Elizabeth Warren, the leading Democratic candidate and Senator announced that she would seek legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.
The 'top-rated from our brands' widget is strategically placed on the 1st page of search results to boost awareness of Amazon's own brands. Since their introduction last year, many household brands have seen a fall in market share. Amazon will argue that this is just the same as the supermarkets placing their own brands next to competitor products in an aisle. It's unclear whether the removal of these widgets is a permanent or temporary move, only time will tell.