In this Amazon Seller's Week in Review, Julie Spear, our Operations Manager, shares her take on recent news highlights and what these could mean for brands selling on the Amazon marketplace.
1. Amazon Works to Make Dinnertime Easier and More Delicious
We have a lot of grocery related news this week! Amazon continues to signal their view of the grocery market as a high opportunity sector. GeekWire has shared information regarding permits for AmazonFresh Pickup. Identifying two locations in the Seattle area, these stores would allow customers to place their AmazonFresh order online, schedule a pickup time, and have the option drive up or walk in to collect their order. While Amazon has not directly confirmed this latest venture, GeekWire cites city permits that indicate these locations may open soon.
Not only could Amazon soon offer curbside grocery pickup, they might make your dinnertime even easier as they join the meal prep kit game. Last week, Amazon announced plans to partner with Martha Stewart (through Marley Spoon) and offer her meal kits to AmazonFresh customers in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, and Philadelphia. This already successful industry (reported $1.5 billion in sales in 2016) continues to grow, with projections of more than $5 billion in sales in the next five years. While it’s a booming industry, that includes names like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, it’s not one without its challenges. The logistics and cost associated with delivery fresh grocery items in the kits as well as the current model that calls for customers to plan ahead and select menus in advance are just two challenges that might limit the growth potential of the industry. With AmazonFresh already up and running, the logistics challenges will be answered and the model will also allow customers to choose the meal that sounds good to them at the moment, as opposed to a week in advance.
And perhaps you’d like a glass of wine or cold beer to round out your Martha Stewart meal? If you’re in Cincinnati or Columbus Amazon will make that easier for you as well! Amazon announced the addition of wine and beer delivery to Prime Now customers in the Ohio cities. Stephenie Landry, vice president of Prime Now worldwide, says “Whether you run out of wine at your dinner party or need more chilled champagne for mimosas at a family brunch, Prime Now can save customers time with super fast delivery so they can skip a trip to the store.”
2. Walmart Wants in on the Drone Game Too
Move over Amazon… Walmart appears to be adding drones to their customer service plans as well. Reports of Walmart filing a patent for drones that only fly within retail locations share details of Walmart’s efforts to make the customer experience within their stores easier.
According to the patent, these drones would receive a customer request for a product, locate the product within the store, and then collect and deliver the product to the customer. Walmart’s plans for using drones within their retail spaces avoids dealing with the federal regulations facing Amazon as they pursue developing drones to deliver customer orders to their doorsteps. However, a different set of challenges exist with Walmart’s in-store drone delivery initiative; navigating the interior obstacles of products and shelving, the logistics of managing multiple customer requests at once and customer comfort to name a few. While it’s not confirmed that Walmart will, in fact, employ this system, it is an interesting idea to consider. How would you feel about perusing the aisles with drones hovering overhead, carrying a customer’s order to them?
3. Fashion Updates on Amazon and Walmart
An Amazon Prime membership now includes a new perk that can answer the question, “What should I wear today?” Prime members who access the Amazon iOS app (an Android app is in the works) will be able to receive free advice about outfits of their choosing. Using Outfit Compare customers can add two photos of themselves wearing different outfits. After analyzing the fit of clothes, colors, styling and fashion trends, an expert will respond telling the customers which outfit looks best. You might wonder how this new feature helps Amazon. It could be this addition to the list of Prime benefits is meant to further underscores the overall value membership in the program offers Amazon customers.
Meanwhile, Walmart continues to invest in the apparel/fashion category of products. Last week, Walmart confirmed its purchase of ModCloth, an apparel and accessories retailer for women aged 18-35. The acquisition of ModCloth follows recent purchases of Shoebuy and outdoor apparel retailer Moosejaw. ModCloth sells their own line of designs as well as those of hundreds of other designers.
4. Amazon Continues to Expand Its Logistics Operations
According to the Amazon Logistics website, Amazon plans to develop an air cargo option for Chinese sellers. As we have reported over the past few months, Amazon continues to make significant strides to own their logistics, making their operations even more efficient. This includes assuming the role of freight forwarder between China and Amazon warehouses in the US and announcing plans to build a Prime Air Cargo Hub in northern Kentucky.
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