Amazon Weekly News Digest - September 4



Target Slows Its Marketplace Roll

I was excited when Target launched their new marketplace, Target+ a few months back. They were testing out a decidedly different approach to Amazon: only inviting in a small, curated number of brands rather than the current free-for-all that exists on Amazon. But last week Marketplace Pulse confirmed that just 55 brands are selling through Target+ today, compared to 30 when the marketplace was first announced. 

It appears from Target’s growth that they may not need the marketplace after all. Its CEO described stores as “quickly becoming the preferred fulfillment choices for our guests.”  and products sold on Target+ are not fulfilled from or available in stores 

What this means for brands: Sadly, one less option if you wanted to diversify. 

Aggressive Amazon Tactic Pushes You To Consider Its Own Brand Before You Click ‘Buy’

No doubt you saw this expose from the Washington Post or other publications that picked this up. 

If you didn’t  - basically Amazon has created a unique ad placement for its own private-label products, right above the buy box.  This is viewed as particularly egregious by brands, because of the significance of where the ad is located: right where the customer is ready to buy. A brand may have even paid for the click to get the customer to the page when boom, Amazon corners the customer right in the checkout line.  

What this means for brands: Amazon not doing itself any favors during all this talk of anti-trust. Share stories like these, raise a ruckus and help Amazon (and regulators) to understand that this behavior is anti-competitive. 

Amazon Not Expanding As Fast Internationally

Amazon’s rate of growth in international markets has lagged North America for some time (surprising since the US in particular is fairly mature), despite international growth being a big priority for Amazon. Bloomberg’s Shira Ovide says there are 2 reasons: either Amazon is sowing the seeds for future success; or Amazon’s international operation is not working. Particularly troublesome is India, which Amazon is very bullish on but has challenging structural and regulatory issues. 

What this means for brands: be conservative in estimating growth that might come from an international expansion strategy.

Amazon’s private label products are not immune to highjackers

The Verge found several AmazonBasics and other private-label brands had been the victim of “highjacking”, where another seller uploads unrelated ASINs to a well-performing product listing in the hopes of gaining sales. At least we know that Amazon’s on an even playing field with this particular brand protection issue. 

What this means for brands: have a chuckle, then get back to work.


This week has been pretty light, I’ve been preparing for my book launch (register here to attend my launch party in NYC on the 26th!) and our Q4 workshops in San Francisco and New York next week.