Amazon leads the pack with its innovative approach to online retailing. Not only is it tightening its grip on the ecommerce marketplace, but the thought leaders at Amazon are in the process of reinventing the very essence of ecommerce and our life online.
Moving beyond commodities and into services: Amazon Home Services
Heads Up: Amazon is targeting the Home Services market. Amazon Home Services quite simply is a way to buy and schedule local professional services. Amazon is recruiting service providers from across the country, doing the necessary vetting for background checks, insurance, and licensing. Your online purchase comes with what it is calling a “Happiness Guarantee.” You can be confident the team of professionals that Amazon has carefully selected are guaranteed to provide a satisfactory service or your money back.
Here’s a live example: I want my 3 bedroom house in downtown Philadelphia cleaned, and I estimate I need 3 hours of the cleaner’s time. Presto: a quote for £77.00 from a company called Shiny House with an 81 positive rating from 11 reviews:
Currently available in 5o metropolitan areas in the USA, Home Services includes nearly 60 different professions offering more than 1,200 unique services. The most popular services are TV wall mounting, furniture assembly, and house cleaning.
Amazon considers the Home Services market ready and waiting for digital disruption. Digital disruption means a new entrant that creates a new value proposition and creates a new market. And what a market it, valued at more than US$400 billion. That’s an awful lot of cleaners, furniture assemblers, electricians, and cleaners of gutters.
Amazon’s most recent announcment: Amazon Go
Amazon Go is a new kind of fulfillment – stroll into the shop, pick up what you want, and walk out avoiding the queues with no check out required Known as “Just Walk Out Technology,” the shopper just needs the Amazon Go app on their smartphone and an Amazon account
This is currently only available in Seattle, Washington, and only open to Amazon employees.
Amazon’s connected home: Ecommerce applications in “The Internet of Things”
Amazon is moving beyond simple online shopping and delivery, and moving into integrating ecommerce into every aspect of your day to day life. No need to have a tablet or a smartphone to hand. Now, just speak to Amazon’s Alexa, and as they say, Bob’s your uncle!
Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that is at the heart of your Internet enabled home. At it’s core is Alexa, personal assistant software that understands thousands of spoken commands, and can integrate seamlessly with apps like Uber, Spotify, and Just Eat. But the default music streaming is Amazon’s Prime Music, and it really does make it easy to ask buy stuff from Amazon itself.
There’s a growing number of devices that Echo can control, ranging from lighting to wall switches to thermostats
The Echo was a big hit for Christmas 2016, selling out, and users are getting into the groove of using this new techology:
Amazon Dash Wand
The Amazon Dash Wand allows you to create your own shopping list by using Amazon’s own little gizmo that uses both voice recognition and a barcode scanner. If you want to put a tin of baked beans on your shopping list, then either scan the label, or speak the word into the microphone, and the item gets added to your Amazon Fresh shopping list.
Widely available Amazon Dash represents Amazon’s desire to own the entire customer journey, and it’s ability to innovate on devices designed to get a direct route to market. You are probably familiar with the Amazon Kindle, and the Dash is the next natural step in the world of the “Internet of Things” making a seamless transition from your everyday life into the virtual world of online shopping.
Health warning: you may find the following video makes you nauseous, but it does give a good overview of the service:
Fulfilment and delivery: going the last 100 yards
For many ecommerce retailers, the single greatest point of of failure is fulfilment – successfully delivering the product into the customers’ hands.
Fulfilment is now one of Amazon’s core business areas – and it has a number of existing intitiatives that it is starting to scale up internationally, as well as experimenting with innovative services.
Amazon Prime Air Fleet: the sky’s the limit
On 7 December 2016, Amazon conducted a private trial of drone delivery in Cambridge, UK. Called Prime Air the trial consisted of an electrically powered autonomous drone successfully delivering in just 13 minutes a parcel of popcorn and a Fire TV stick. The drones will be able to carry parcels of up to 5 pounds, which accounts for more than 80% of all Amazon shipments.
Why was the trial here in the UK? In the USA, drones must stay within view of the pilot, making deliveries impossible, whereas there isn’t such a barrier here.
Apparently, you will need an Amazon-branded landing mat for the drone delivery to guide the drone to the perfect spot.
Amazon Air: the future is now
Amazon is now leasing 40 Boeing 767 wide body jet freighters, flying daily out it’s hub in Wilmington, Ohio. Wilmington was previously DHL’s facility. The Amazon project is so successfuly that the airport would ike to open a second runway to increase cargo capacity. These cargo jets are in effect it’s own logistics network, and could potentially replace Amazon’s current logistics partners.
Here’s an interesting fact: Amazon is regsitering all the jets with prime numbers (in other words, a number than only be divided by itself and 1)
Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s free same day delivery of fresh groceries and specialities from local shops and markets. Order your milk by 10 am, and have it delivered by Amazon to the office before you go home. Here in the UK it’s currently only available in central and east London, but iit’s widely available in the USA and I’ve seen the green Fresh van trundling around my home town of suburban Springfield, Pennsylvania.
Amazon is making huge investments in it’s delivery operation and fulfillment centres, and this is what is differentiating it from other internet retailers. Its fast, free delivery is keeping it ahead of the competition. Amazon knows that great delivery service leads to a jump in sales. The internet may give businesses international reach and world wide opportunity, but Amazon recognises customers also want to work with local producers and get local service.
And by working in partnership with local food producers and providers, the international giant, Amazon, is now becoming our local provider of choice.