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Amazon’s much-discussed new program for direct-to-consumer brands will no longer be invite-only later this month.
Amazon on Tuesday announced that it will launch Buy with Prime, which embeds Prime services on direct-to-consumer ecommerce stores, into wide release for all US merchants on Jan. 31. An integration with BigCommerce will help roll it out.
In April 2021, Amazon made an ecommerce splash as only it can when it rolled out the new service. Buy With Prime allows brands and retailers to embed Amazon Prime checkout on their off-Amazon stores, and offer Prime benefits like free shipping and returns along with it.
With Tuesday’s announcement, Amazon shared a few updates that will be added with general release. Amazon said Buy With Prime will include a new tool that offers the ability to display ratings and reviews from Amazon on a DTC site. This will launch alongside marketing capabilities that include advertising for products on Amazon’s marketplace, and a badge that can be displayed on DTC stores. Amazon also claimed that the service increased shopper conversion.
“We’ve been working closely with merchants since the launch of Buy with Prime and have been thrilled to hear the results it’s helped drive for them so far,” said Peter Larsen, Amazon vice president of Buy with Prime, in a statement. “We’ll continue innovating and investing in new features, such as Reviews from Amazon, to help merchants of all sizes succeed and give Prime members the shopping benefits they love, whether it’s on Amazon or beyond.”
On initial release, many analysts were in agreement about Buy with Prime: This could be a game-changer. It means the Amazon brand is now extending beyond the #1 ecommerce marketplace's own site, and the Amazon's vast logistics network is available to many more companies that don't sell directly on Amazon. With a simple button, Amazon can extend its reach through the bits of ecommerce, and add to its client base of merchants on the atoms side.
If you felt like Amazon was already everywhere, this could make it even more ubiquitous.
Amazon’s track record in ecommerce carries with it the expectation that it can bend the internet to its will, and decide to turn on new paradigm-shifting features whenever it chooses. But success isn't guaranteed for Buy With Prime, even though it's Amazon. The launch cycle indicates that this is a new program, and it's coming during a tougher time for brands that sell directly through their own sites, whether because of the economic pullback or iOS changes that made advertising more challenging.
So, this year we'll be looking for signs to prove its success. Here are a few burning questions to keep in mind as the launch gets closer:
Will brands want to invite Amazon in?
DTC brands have long proudly stood apart from Amazon, building their own stores and in many cases communities. While Amazon had the crowded mall, DTC had the intentionally-placed and lovingly designed boutiques. This offered DTC brands not just independence, but control over how they executed ecommerce. Amazon is offering to lend its brand in exchange for a presence in the store, and even has additional advertising offerings and a badge to display. It is also now adding reviews, making the experience even more Amazon-like. But will brands want that? Will they fear that more Amazon will enter their store after this launch? Of course, another question is: Will they be able to refuse it?
What will Amazon do with the data?
In a related point, Amazon's checkout will give it a way to access the data of customers who buy using its Prime feature. How will it use that information, and, will it share that valuable info for marketing with brands? The answers could be make-or-break for many brands.
In an FAQ, Amazon said that it shares Buy With Prime data with brands, and collects data about how shoppers use the program.
"We do not collect information unrelated to Buy with Prime, such as non-Prime order information on your site," the company writes.
How will Shopify respond?
As we wrote back at launch, this feature looks like a direct bid by Amazon to move in with the entrepreneurial brands that are tried-and-true Shopify users. It's especially glaring at a time when Shopify is building out its own fulfillment network following last year’s $1.2 billion acquisition of Deliverr, and offering the "Shop Promise" badge to brands that use its services. Last year, Shopify already slid in a code-level warning to brands installing Buy with Prime about the potential for fraud and stolen data. With Amazon's wider launch, will it mount a more overt defense?
To be fair, it's still to be determined whether the companies will cooperate around this feature. On its third quarter earnings call, Shopify President Harley Finkelstein said the companies have been in communication about the implementation of Buy with Prime on Shopify, saying that Shopify wants to do it "the right way."
"What's important for merchants is they want to be able to manage their entire business from one centralized place," Finkelstein said. "They want all the information they need to make really, really good decisions. But at a high level, at a macro level, when great companies, or any company for that matter, makes infrastructure available to small businesses and does so in a way that levels the playing fields further for small businesses, that is a very, very good thing."
Trending in Retail Channels
Amazon partnered with Hexa to provide access to a platform that creates lifelike digital images.
Amazon sellers will be able to offer a variety of 3D visualizations on product pages through a new set of immersive tools that are debuting on Tuesday.
Through an expanded partnership with Hexa, Amazon is providing access to a workflow that allows sellers to create 3D assets and display the following:
- 3D images
- 360 viewing
- Virtual try-on
- Augmented reality content
- High-definition marketing materials, including packshots and lifestyle images through AWS Thinkbox.
Selllers don't need prior experience with 3D or virtual reality to use the system, according to Hexa. Amazon selling partners can upload their Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) into Hexa’s content management system. Then, the system will automatically convert an image into a 3D model with AR compatibility. Amazon can then animate the images with 360-degree viewing and augmented reality, which renders digital imagery over a physical space.
Hexa’s platform uses AI to create digital twins of physical objects, including consumer goods. Over the last 24 months, Hexa worked alongside the spatial computing team at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the imaging team at Amazon.com to build the infrastructure that provides 3D assets for the thousands of sellers that work with Amazon.
“Working with Amazon has opened up a whole new distribution channel for our partners,” said Gavin Goodvach, Hexa’s Vice President of Partnerships.
Hexa’s platform is designed to create lifelike renderings that can explored in 3D, or overlaid into photos of the physical world. It allows assets from any category to be created, ranging from furniture to jewelry to apparel.
A Hexa 3D rendering (Courtesy photo)
The result is a system that allows sellers to provide a new level of personalization, said Hexa CEO Yehiel Atias. Consumers will have new opportunity see a product in a space, or what it looks like on their person.
Additionally, merchants can leverage these tools to optimize the entire funnel of a purchase. Advanced imagery allows more people to view and engage with a product during the initial shopping experience. Following the purchase, consumers who have gotten a better look at a product from all angles will be more likely to have confidence that the product matches their needs. In turn, this can reduce return rates.
While Amazon has previously introduced virtual try-on and augmented reality tools, this partnership aims to expand these capabilities beyond the name brands that often have 1P relationships with Amazon. Third-party sellers are an increasingly formidable segment of Amazon’s business, as they account for 60% of sales on the marketplace. Now, these sellers are being equipped with tools that enhance the shopping experience for everyone.
A video displaying the new capabilities is below. Amazon sellers can learn more about the platform here.
Hexa & Amazon - 3D Production Powerhousewww.youtube.com