E-commerce giant Amazon was built on the concept of a large marketplace that could be the home for all online shopping, whether it was for items and services it was selling itself or those sold by third parties. Now — capitalising on the new trend for direct-to-consumer (D2C) selling, it is partnering with Adobe to step up its efforts to play a role in even transactions beyond the Amazon.com web.
Today, Adobe announced that it is working with Amazon on a new program called Branded Stores for Amazon Sellers, to create what they are describing as “branded storefronts” (not described specifically as websites) aimed at smaller merchants that have already been selling through Amazon (and possibly other marketplace platforms) to build their own first-party commerce experiences — while still using some of the transaction and fulfillment tools of the Amazon ecosystem. For now, those tools don’t appear to include Prime, although from what I understand expanding Prime beyond the Amazon.com ecosystem is on the roadmap. Instead, it covers Amazon Pay, fulfillment and hosting on AWS.
This is not an exclusive deal, but Adobe says Amazon is calling it the preferred partner. The Branded Stores offering is rolling out first in North America, with plans to expand to Europe in the coming months. Pricing has yet to be announced.
The timing of the news is interesting on two fronts. On Adobe’s end, it follows on from an announcement made yesterday, where Adobe (which is holding its Imagine event this week in Vegas) noted that Magento was getting integrations with Amazon and Google. Merchants now can use the Magento platform to manage inventory, pricing and other details on Amazon listings. Today’s news is another sign of how Adobe may indeed have a lot of tools for merchants to fuel its new Commerce Cloud effort (launched in March), but it lacks the scale of transactions and merchant customers that Amazon has.
“Small and mid-market businesses are taking direct ownership over how they manage customer experiences to differentiate, grow, and build loyalty,” said Jason Woosley, vice president of Commerce Product and Platform, Adobe, in a statement. “Our work with Amazon empowers this large community of sellers to get closer to their customers while saving them time and money on development.”
On the part of Amazon, the collaboration with Adobe is a sign of how the company is trying to change with the times, and specifically to respond better to the rise of D2C in the world of e-commerce. In D2C — which has been strong in the fashion world but also appears increasingly in other categories too — brands develop direct relationships with their customers (not via Amazon.com listings) that can span not just websites, but big social media presences on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and so on. In fact, in some cases even websites are being thrown out the window, in aid of reaching customers wherever they happen to be.
“We are excited to support the Branded Stores for Amazon Sellers offering from Magento, which builds on our long-running collaboration with Adobe,” said Terry Wise, VP, Channels and Alliances, Amazon Web Services, Inc. “Powered by AWS, this launch will provide sellers a seamless way to grow their business and scale for peak shopping periods.”
To be clear, Amazon has been offering the option to create brand stores on Amazon.com since 2017. The downside of these is that they are limited in their interfaces and do not give a lot of control to the sellers in terms of functionality. Navigate beyond the first page, and you are likely to find yourself again in the basic Amazon experience: great for Amazon, and I suppose somewhat helpful in its predictability, but not what every brand wants or needs today.
To continue growing, Amazon has been making gradual steps to expand how the commerce tools that it has built for its own platform can be applied elsewhere. In March, the company announced a partnership with Worldpay to build Amazon Pay into its payment experience: this means that any online merchant using Worldpay to take card and other online payments can now offer Amazon Pay as a payment option.
At the time, Patrick Gauthier, VP of Amazon Pay, hinted to us that while Prime was not part of the proposition then, the company was already quietly making a few third-party websites and brands Prime-eligible, meaning that if you were a Prime member, there would be certain items for sale on participating sites that would qualify for free, often next-day or same-day, shipping.
Coupled with today’s development, you can see a gradual picture building up for how Amazon hopes it can continue to remain relevant in the next phase of online omnicommerce, wherever it happens to be.