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Amazon tries for exclusivity with its newest online store

March 11, 2015 05:17 PM
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The newest Amazon.com Inc. online store promises consumers the chance to buy retail items not available anywhere but at Amazon or the websites or stores of those products’ suppliers.

Called “Amazon Exclusives,” the store, which the web-only retailer launched Wednesday, will sell what Amazon calls “innovative new products from popular up-and-coming brands.” Some of these items will have been featured on the TV show “Shark Tank,” where entrepreneurs try to snag venture funding from big-name investors.

Shoppers at the new Amazon store could browse such products as Mary Jane flats featuring tattoo-like designs, iPhone accessories, inflatable paddle boards, signaling gloves for cyclists and other items. Amazon handles fulfillment for the Exclusives store, which means products are eligible for free two-day shipping for consumers who have paid $99 or taken out a trial membership for the retailer’s Prime program.

“The new store is a great showcase for small business brands that have new and innovative products, and a fun destination for early adopter customers looking to browse and purchase the latest items,” says a spokesman for the retailer, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide. “We are excited to provide a discovery experience on Amazon for customers, and the small businesses selling direct to consumer that benefit from the curated exposure to customers.”

Some believe the Exclusives program was influenced by The Grommet, an e-commerce operation that sells products made by artisans and recently launched a wholesale site.  The Grommet also uses videos and narrative-like product descriptions to help sell goods, something Amazon doesn’t do on Exclusives. Still, the best flattery seems to be imitation, says Joanne Domeniconi, co-founder and chief discovery officer of TheGrommet.com.

“Amazon's launch confirms what The Grommet has seen since 2008: that consumers want more choice for thoughtfully designed and innovative consumer products,” she says. “With more than 2,000 products available and hand-selected by industry experts at The Grommet, Amazon is validating that The Grommet is onto something very big, by bringing makers, entrepreneurs, and inventors to a mass audience.”

 

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