The last week has been big for Amazon. Here are 3 tech developments you might have missed in our retail technology blog
1. Amazon Spark: shoppable stories for product discovery
Spark, released last week, is currently only available for Prime US customers. It’s a shoppable social feed, functioning with the ecommerce style capabilities of Pinterest, combined with the picture-feed face of Instagram (Amazon declined to comment on the similarity).
On signing in, Amazon asks you to select 5 categories that you’re interested in, curating a feed of content that includes relevant products for you as a user.
Users can “like” images with a smile. Non-Prime users may still use the feature, but they are not able to post or comment.
As the picture displays below, product links are visible when clicking on the photo, taking the user to the actual items for sale on Amazon. In a nod to Amazon enthusiasts, you can actually buy Jeff Bezos’ full outfit:
You too can buy Jeff Bezos’ bodywarmer jacket, t-shirt, and jeans.
In a more realistic example, if you’re scrolling the feed and spot a holiday image with a beach towel that you like, you can tap on the towel to see if it’s linked to the product page on Amazon.
This feature makes Amazon Spark different to other social shopping channels, due to the seamless ability to purchase.
As Amazon keeps growing, it’s clearly looking to be more than a trusted banner for convenience and price. Amazon Spark, despite its current beta feel, is an experiment in making Amazon shopping a social experience, too.
2. Amazon Meal Kits: another attempt to crack the grocery market
Amazon has been trying to crack foodies for a while now.
First of all, we had initiatives such as the Amazon Fresh grocery service in the US, then news of the Amazon Go tech-savvy grocery stores, where you can walk out with your sandwich in the knowledge that payment has already been taken care of. Last but not least, we had Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
Rumours circulating last week have been confirmed: Amazon now sells pre-packaged meal kits in the US.
It has similarities to subscription services such as Hello Fresh which is a popular “recipe-discovery” meal delivery service in the UK.
Again, as with the Spark example, Amazon has created a platform with similarities to existing experiences, to make it a relevant one stop omnichannel shop.
3. Amazon Prime Day: bigger than ever, but should not eclipse all retailers
Taking place on the 11th July, Amazon celebrated its most successful 30-hour Prime Day to date, with sales growing 60% globally compared with last year’s figures. Amazon also claimed that its Prime Day sales bonanza resulted in the largest single day of sales ever recorded, overtaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The top-selling item in the UK was the Amazon Echo Dot interactive speaker.
With July being a particularly sluggish time for retailers, Amazon once again used Prime Day as a way to drive Prime membership sign-ups, and boost product sales: Amazon said more new members joined Prime on 11th July 2017 than on any single day in Amazon’s history.
The question with discount events by mammoth etailers such as Amazon remains the same: if you can’t beat them, should you really join them? Discounting should not be promoted for quick wins, due to margin damage. The fact that Amazon can afford to take the losses does not hold true for everyone.
In fashion retail in particular, Amazon’s pulling power does not compare when considered against brands built on strong signature design, a stellar customer experience, and loyalty. Full price sales growth is still the achievable target that omnichannel fashion retailers should be working towards. See how we can help, with our omnichannel supply chain solution, Merret.