At the end of April, Amazon announced that they would be extending Prime benefits outside of Amazon.com — so sellers can extend these benefits to their owned website.
This update came as somewhat of a surprise to brands, as Amazon has been seen as a separate business silo from DTC websites. (We here at Blue Wheel beg to differ — omnichannel marketing is the future of ecommerce in our opinion!)
Let’s dive into the specifics of this update and what it means for the future of ecommerce.
ICYMI, Here’s the Scoop
On April 21, Amazon announced that they would be extending Prime benefits to merchants’ own off-Amazon websites. This feature, which is currently in beta, allows select Amazon sellers to offer Prime benefits to their customers on their owned website — including free shipping, next-day shipping, and free returns. These sites will feature a “Buy with Prime” button to reduce friction in the path to purchase.
What it Means for Brands
If you’re a brand that has your own website and sells on Amazon as well, this has a number of benefits for you. It also represents a larger shift in the industry, which we’ll get into shortly.
Utilize Shipping Benefits
This “Buy with Prime” button will allow brands to utilize Amazon’s lightning-fast shipping capabilities and expansive warehousing network. Now, even brands who have limited shipping capabilities outside of Amazon can serve their customers with exceptional shipping rates and times.
Many DTC sites cannot offer the same shipping rates and speed as Amazon. When that happens, consumers prefer to shop with Amazon to get their item quicker and have the option of free returns — moving sales from DTC sites to Amazon. While this certainly isn’t a bad thing, especially if your brand has a comprehensive Amazon strategy, some brands might want to drive traffic to their DTC site via Facebook advertising. This update would allow them to keep the purchase on their site.
Since this feature is still in beta mode, we aren’t sure of the impact this will have on your inventory in Amazon warehouses. Are units separated based on the sales platform? For example, 1K units could be earmarked for Amazon, and another 1K units could be reserved for DTC sales. It will be critically important for brands to ask relevant questions and monitor this to ensure items don’t go out of stock.
Embracing Omnichannel Strategy
If brands have been hesitant to embrace an omnichannel strategy thus far, this is certainly the push that brands needed to go all-in. If your brand chooses not to sell on Amazon or other marketplaces, you’re missing out on a vital opportunity to expand your brand’s reach — and you can bet your competitors will take advantage of that.
This new announcement encourages brands to adopt an omnichannel strategy and not silo their Amazon sales into a separate bucket. A holistic strategy and comprehensive customer experience is key to succeeding in this competitive marketplace.
Preserve the Entire Customer Journey
As we’ve stated before, the customer journey is no longer linear. Someone might see a Facebook ad for your product, browse your owned website, get retargeted on Instagram, and purchase on Amazon after sourcing reviews there.
As the world of ecommerce continues to become more omnichannel, brands will need to embrace this non-linear customer journey in order to succeed. This update allows brands to do just that — keep the entire customer journey within reach.
Owning your Customers’ Data
One downside to Amazon is that you don’t own your customers’ data once they make a purchase. You have access to this data, but it’s not yours. So, while you can send emails to your Amazon customers through Amazon in order to promote new products or solicit reviews, you do not technically own that data — Amazon does.
However, with this new feature, you are able to get all the benefits customers expect while still owning their data, since they’re purchasing through your site. For many brands, this is the best of both worlds!
What it Means for the Industry
Alright, we know what this change means for individual brands — but what does this signal for the ecommerce industry as a whole? Let’s dive in.
Omnichannel is here to stay
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — omnichannel ecommerce is here to stay. With the rise of marketplaces like Amazon and the ease of creating DTC brands thanks to Shopify, brands are embracing the omnichannel philosophy in order to dominate.
As this philosophy continues to guide all digitally native DTC brands, it will only become more relevant. If you’re not adopting an omnichannel strategy, you’re behind.
Amazon vs. Shopify
Perhaps the biggest advance this announcement made was that it shows Amazon is making moves on Shopify. Shopify is the most prevalent builder in digital ecommerce websites, making it easy for brands to go from zero to live in a short amount of time.
Amazon has a similar appeal in that they handle warehousing, shipping, and fulfillment. Once you list your item and start advertising, Amazon handles the rest. But, as we stated before, many brands choose Shopify over Amazon so they themselves can own their customers’ information.
However, Amazon is now making moves to piggyback off of Shopify's DTC dominance by offering their services to those using Shopify (or other ecommerce site builders). Complementing their services is a smart move for Amazon.
Need help navigating the world of Amazon Advertising? Reach out to the team at Blue Wheel today!