Amazon is quietly rolling out a way for some brands to connect with customers on its website. This is a departure from historically stringent controls over customer data.
Last week, Amazon began piloting a tool that will allow US brands that are part of the brand registration program to email marketing materials to buyers who have chosen to “follow” their brand. Brands can then notify these buyers when they launch a new product or promotion.
The Follow button is found in areas such as a brand’s store page and in videos on Amazon Live, the company’s livestream shopping platform.
The tool, called “Manage Your Loyalty” is designed to encourage repeat purchases for brands and help them build a more robust following in Amazon’s expansive market. In a video describing the tool, Amazon urges companies to “build your brand with Amazon”.
An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement: “Amazon is committed to helping its customers by helping them connect with their favorite brands. With” Manage Loyalty “, brands can post new product announcements and email campaigns Initiate offers that Amazon will send to buyers who choose to follow the brand. “
As the third-party market continues to grow, Amazon has tried to advertise big brands and build a more robust library of quality products on its website. Issues with counterfeiting and pricing tactics have led some brands to increase their Amazon presence, but the coronavirus pandemic has attracted some of them who may have been reluctant to sell on the platform.
According to a February report by Feedvisor that helps brands grow in e-commerce marketplaces, more than three-quarters of U.S. brands are currently selling, or around 78% in the Amazon market, up from 55% in 2019.
To some, Amazon’s decision to let brands connect with buyers may come as a surprise. The company has long banned companies selling on its website from soliciting customers directly and keeping information such as their email address private to protect customers from spam. Merchants can communicate with buyers via a messaging function on the Amazon website, but only when it comes to the status of their order.
Buyers’ contact information remains private. Amazon gives brands aggregated data when they use the tool that shows them how many emails are being sent if they choose to share marketing campaigns with their followers. Brands can also view metrics to see how their campaigns were received.
Currently, the free tool is only available to members of Brand Registration, a program launched by Amazon in 2015 to help businesses curb counterfeit sales. More than 350,000 brands have signed up for the program, which has since been expanded to include additional benefits.
According to Fahim Naim, a former Amazon employee who now runs the e-commerce consulting firm eShopportunity, brands have urged Amazon to offer more services in order to build more lasting relationships with customers on the website.
At Amazon, where millions of products are sold, it is vital for brands to stand out from the competition. To this end, the company has increasingly introduced new tools or improved existing ones, such as Amazon Stores, which are similar to a landing page for brands, or Amazon Posts, a shoppable feed with lifestyle product images in the style of Instagram. Amazon has also made more tools available to brands to use to personalize their product listing pages with interactive video.
Features like this have become increasingly important on ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WordPress, and Adobe Magento, Naim said. These platforms have attracted small and medium-sized businesses looking to set up a web store by offering a range of plugins and app integrations.
Giving brands the opportunity to expand and differentiate their presence on Amazon also builds customer confidence, Naim said.
“Amazon wants you to know better the brand you are thinking of because then you come back to the platform to buy it, not from there,” Naim said, adding that customers may be more likely to buy a product if they know the brand.
Ash Crawford, co-founder of coffee and tea maker Quivr, said the ability to email promotions and product launches to customers is valuable as his brand currently has no way of reaching their customers on Amazon.
“Amazon sees customers as ‘Amazon’s customers’ rather than ours,” said Crawford, who has been selling on Amazon since early last year. “This tool appears to be a relaxation of those restrictions and a controlled way to reach and interact with customers of our products.”
The tool also fixes one of the biggest problems facing brands and sellers – the launch of a new product on Amazon.
Brands often promote new products on Facebook in the hopes that they can drive traffic to their Amazon listings or by putting marketing materials in packaging.
“Amazon is built on algorithms that are based on historical data, so when you have something that doesn’t have historical data, it is very, very difficult to get Amazon to order enough products in the first place,” said Andrea Leigh, vice president of strategy and insights into e-retail consultancy Ideoclick and former Amazon manager. “This would give manufacturers another tool to promote new items.”