Amazon is testing out a shopping site for consumers who don't know specifically what they want, but are willing to receive some automated recommendations to help them find out. The new service, Scout, asks shoppers to like or dislike a product (thumbs up or thumbs down) and responds by showing other products based on their choices. For example, if you are looking for a coffee table and you give a thumbs up to a rectangular table with a glass top and thumbs down to a circular table, you may be shown another transparent table with a shape similar to the one you liked.
Amazon is using machine learning technology to address one of the core issues with the site - that it is a great place to buy things, but hopeless if you don't know what you want. Whilst Amazon is the largest global e-commerce retailer, there are many e-commerce sites (e.g. thread and chaplar) and social media sites (Pinterest and Instagram) that provide a more personalised and visual shopping experience. Scout is only currently available in the US for home furniture, kitchen and dining products, women's shoes, home decor, patio furniture, lighting and bedding.
Amazon is strengthening their association with merchants through an online store where shoppers can buy specifically from U.S. small and medium-size businesses.
Unveiled last Monday "Amazon Storefronts" is accessible from the Amazon.com homepage and directs shoppers to nearly 20,000 shops across the US. Online customers can search for goods through 25 product categories, such as back to school, home, kitchen, pet supplies and books. To help push the image of smaller U.S. firms forming part of Amazon's makeup, the website will also host videos featuring company owners and their stories. To support the launch, Amazon is broadcasting its first-ever national TV commercial starring businesses that sell on Amazon. The ad will attempt to convey how Amazon is, in fact, a "big collection of small."
Not only is this a great commercial initiative, but it is also great PR for Amazon. A timely reminder that Amazon helps provide jobs for millions of people working in small businesses and gives customers the widest possible selection, Everything from A to Z.
AmazonGo Stores expansion plan revealed
Following successful tests in a few U.S.cities, Amazon is planning to open 3,000 AmazonGo stores by 2021.
AmazonGo stores are completely cashierless. Shoppers use a smartphone app to enter the store. Once they scan their phones at a turnstile, they can grab what they want from a range of salads, sandwiches, drinks and snacks, and then walk out without stopping at a cash register. Sensors and computer-vision technology detect what shoppers take and bills them automatically, eliminating checkout lines.
The automation of retail grocery stores could revolutionize the industry, effecting the prospects of many grocery retailers. Automation of the grocery aisle can only work efficiently at scale and requires significant investment, which only a handful of grocery retailers can sustain. Amazon has pumped $1million of hardware into their first store in Chicago and will continue to invest until they have a globally scalable solution.
If Amazon can scale these cashierless stores it can bring significant benefits to the wider group:
The lower cost of retailing could give Amazon price competitiveness over their rivals, as they have more margin to play with.
The expansion from e-commerce to high street retailer expands their customer base.
Increases frequency of visits to the Amazon platform driving core business.
Gives them more customer data to improve personalisation of Amazon services.
Makes their loyalty scheme more attractive, increasing retention and average spend per customer.
The key to AmazonGo's success is the convenient location, because if the store is more than a short walk or bike ride from the customer’s home, the novelty of the technology won't matter. They need locations in dense urban areas with lots of young, busy, affluent residents willing to spend a little more than a typical fast-food experience for better quality food.
The next AmazonGo opens in New York this autumn, adding to their three other locations across the U.S. We expect many of Amazon's competitors to be visiting!
Frustration-Free Packaging deadline
Last week, Amazon sent letters to thousands of brand-owner vendors affected by a new packaging program. To help reduce packaging waste and improve efficiency of e-commerce shipping for its vendors, Amazon will require that select products being sold and fulfilled by Amazon arrive in its fulfillment centers in certified packaging under its Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) programme. This means that the packaging does not require any shipping preparation or an overbox to be applied. The vendor will retain its own branding on the shipment.
The deadline to certify your packaging is the 1st of August 2019. The program offers an incentive to vendors, a generous one-time early adopter credit “to assist in the transitions costs. After that date, there is an ongoing chargeback for every package not certified. They have given a long notice period so merchants have time to make the changes in their supply chain in order to comply with the new rules and regulations around packaging.