Blog Post - Eric Heller, Jan 28 2019

Amazon samples a new form of eCommerce

Amazon samples a new form of eCommerce

For many, ‘free sample’ means walking around a shopping mall finding as many testers as you can. But what if you could have the same experience while sitting in the comfort of your own home? Crazy right?

Well, no. Last week it was reported that Amazon would be giving out free samples delivered right to their customers’ front doorstep. The latest stunt is another example of how the eCommerce giant is constantly innovating new ways to evolve online shopping.

Vine Voices 2.0

Amazon’s move – aiming to harness its data to issue targeted product samples direct to peoples’ doors – is in many ways a progression from their Vine programme, which allowed customers to choose from a set of curated free samples in exchange for leaving a review.

The reviews would often show prominently on product detail pages, giving manufacturers a way to ‘seed’ their pages with early reviews. However, this was not always beneficial, as positive reviews were not required.

Going beyond customer expectations

Free sampling is a shrewd move for Amazon; they have delivered a new service that goes above and beyond typical consumer expectations. It once again highlights the innovation which has, over the years, solidified Amazon as the biggest eCommerce company in the world.

Indeed, our Future Shopper report showed that 72% of consumers are more likely to shop with retailers that are digitally innovative. The need for a strong eCommerce strategy is as great as ever.

Amazon has taken product sampling and curation to a new level, beyond that of simply showing them on a web page. Using its customer data, Amazon is able to send products that consumers are likely to enjoy and find useful. The success of Amazon’s free sampling scheme will indicate whether data will give accurate information about peoples’ shopping habits.

This move brings us a step closer towards platforms and devices making purchasing decisions for consumers – where, ultimately, a more convenient shopping routine means customers will no longer need to worry about forgetting that one important item on their shopping list.

In addition, by not requiring Vine members to purchase, but instead putting products in the hands of consumers, Amazon ensures products get infused into the marketplace quickly to hopefully build momentum.

Sampling the future of eCommerce

Amazon clearly isn’t afraid to diversify and introduce new services and experiences for customers. As well as that, the company has huge swathes of data which they can use to create ground-breaking, personalised innovations. This makes it an exciting progression for sampling.

The ultimate goal is, as always, to start with the customer and work backwards. By keeping customers happy, Amazon will inevitably ‘lock-in’ customers and maintain future business. Amazon’s initiatives to lock-in their customers highlight the significance of brands having a balanced approach to eCommerce. By having a presence on Amazon, brands open a gateway to attract many more customers.

Brands and retailers take note; it will be interesting to see if the recommendations resonate with customers. This is the type of forward thinking, pre-empting and innovation that customers now desire. As always, Amazon’s peers will be watching closely to see if this approach sticks in the hearts and minds of buyers.

Find out how to forge an Amazon strategy