Each month, The Mars Agency’s Ecommerce team compiles a Marketplace Assessment to help clients identify the potential business opportunities arising from recent initiatives and events at Amazon. As the preeminent experts in connected commerce with a specialty practice dedicated to maximizing brand performance across the Amazon ecosystem, The Mars Agency is ideally suited to help brands understand and optimize these opportunities.
As the world gears up for this week’s “Prime Big Deal Days,” Amazon’s second massive sales event of 2023, we present highlights from the team’s latest Marketplace Assessment. For more recent news, read our report from last month’s Amazon Accelerate conference for sellers.
Making It Easier to Search and Shop
The Story: Our last monthly report was titled “Amazon Keeps Tinkering with the Formula” because the ecommerce giant keeps doing exactly that, developing new ways for shoppers to find the products they want — and for product advertisers to find the shoppers they want.
Amazon has recently implemented a number of new search and discovery features that are designed to improve the shopping experience by giving its customers even more options. Among them:
• Enhancing search by allowing shoppers to use text and images in combination, making it easier to find products when they don’t know what they’re called. (Amazon’s visual search algorithm finds the most likely matches.)
• Expanding the View in Your Room feature to accommodate table and countertop items in addition to furniture (see image below).
• Adding recent sales information (“100+ bought in last month”) to help shoppers discover popular products more easily.
• Introducing “Find-On-Amazon, a new feature that lets consumers who see an item they like anywhere online (social media, email, etc.) tap the “Share” button and select the Amazon Shopping app to be directly linked to similar products for purchase.
• Making it easier to reorder a previous purchase by moving the item to the top of search results (along with the date purchased) when the algorithm determines a connection. For frequently purchased products, a thumbnail image of the item linking to its product detail page pops up in the search bar.
Improving Engagement Opportunities
Amazon has also undertaken a number of efforts to strengthen and expand opportunities to engage with customers for both itself and its advertising partners. These include:
- Potential plans to launch stand-alone subscription programs for healthcare and grocery as a way to make Prime membership more attractive to younger and lower-income consumers. Although Prime already enjoys impressive penetration levels (167 million, or 71% of U.S. shoppers), its appeal among those two groups isn’t as strong, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Amazon might be adding primary healthcare services through its own One Medical business to the existing suite of Prime benefits by the end of 2023 — another way to boost memberships as growth rates slow to single digits.
- Adding a feature to Amazon Echo devices that opens a dedicated session letting users converse with Alexa without repeatedly invoking a wake word. Driven by Amazon’s latest generative AI model, the feature will soon be preview-able on existing Echo devices.
Although Amazon was first in the conversational commerce space, shopping through Alexa has been a miss so far, based on reports. Enhancements like these that facilitate easier interaction could improve those results.
- Inserting commercial breaks into streaming movies and series on Amazon Prime Video beginning in 2024. Amazon is simply following the lead of most other streaming services, which offer ad-free and cheaper, ad-supported service tiers. Ad-free Prime Video will be available to members for an additional $2.99 per month (on top of the basic $14.99 charge).
Amazon had already integrated advertising into its new NFL Thursday Night Football stream. It also presents sponsored movie recommendations. We expect to see more opportunities like these to integrate Amazon retail advertising into Prime Video content going forward.
Meanwhile, The Mars Agency’s London-based International team reports on recent happenings in Europe.
Grocery Developments in the UK
Amazon in talks with UK-based Waitrose to sell their groceries on-site alongside an existing deal in place with Morrisons and a similar, recently signed deal with the Iceland chain. This pact will enable Amazon UK to extend their grocery offering across a lot more of the country without having to make a costly acquisition. However, Waitrose and Iceland do not provide 100% coverage of the UK, their systems and logistics will not be as sophisticated as Amazon’s, so there is a question regarding the customer experience that may result. Amazon refer to themselves as being “customer obsessed,” so it will be interesting to see how these deals progress and if the two retailers can deliver on Amazon’s customer-centricity.
Brand Story Use Still Slow in the EU
As yet, there has been a slow uptake among EU brands in the adoption of Brand Stories, a module for creating customised A+ Content that expanded from a US-only capability over the past year — despite being free to utilise and known to improve average order value, listings ranking, and brand value. To utilise this feature, companies must sign up as brand owner in the Amazon Brand Registry for the ASINs they want to spotlight.
It’s Time Again for ‘unBoxed’
To register for the free livestream of Amazon Ads’ unBoxed event for advertisers in New York City Oct. 24-26, click here. The Mars Agency will have a strong presence at this year’s show. To set up a meeting with us, visit here.
FTC Initiates Anti-Monopoly Action
Recent news hasn’t all been positive for Amazon, however, as the Federal Trade Commission and 17 state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit alleging that the company is using a number of interlocking, anti-competitive and unfair strategies to illegally maintain a monopoly power over the ecommerce industry.
It’s too early to tell or even speculate about how this potentially protracted legal action might impact Amazon in the near or long term, but it’s certainly something the commerce industry needs to watch.
To obtain a complete copy of our latest Marketplace Assessment or learn more about how The Mars Agency can help you win at Amazon, contact Melissa Wightman, VP-Ecommerce, at [email protected]. To learn more about the EU marketplace, contact Ross Halliwell at [email protected].