Is Amazon about to change the way that shoppers shop? If the latest reports are anything to go by, then quite possibly!
Whilst free samples aren’t revolutionary or new, targeted free samples that people haven’t chosen yet are still highly likely to consume and enjoy could well be the big breakthrough. Well, this is what Amazon is planning on anyway and they have a pretty good track record with services (think Prime and Fresh!).
Of course, this isn’t just a nice freebie for Amazon users, there has to be some benefit for Amazon and for any brands whose products are being given away. The benefit for Amazon comes in the form of brands paying to have their products sent to customers, with the brands’ benefit coming in the form of Amazon’s data and targeting to ensure the samples will be well received and thus increase the likelihood of full paying orders.
The samples format isn’t even a new thing for Amazon really. Amazon Fresh customers can pick from a few free samples each time they make an order. The difference this time is that with the Amazon Fresh Sample Store, customers are actively searching for and choosing a sample, whereas the new reports suggest that customers will simply receive a free sample from a brand that they are likely to be interested in. There is no choosing or decision making from the customer.
Amazon is banking on samples giving it an edge on some of its biggest competitors including Google and Facebook. It is hoping that those two cannot match the service with Amazon having both the purchasing data of customers and importantly the logistics infrastructure to offer actual product samples. Analysts are also suggesting that this could be much more effective than display ads on Facebook or search ads on Google. Currently, display advertising contributes significantly to Amazon’s advertising revenue (which is roughly $5bn), but its thoughts are that the new samples will provide brands “a higher likelihood of conversion than display ads.” If it can prove that samples are more effective, then inevitably brands will consider moving spend from traditional display ads to Amazon samples.
But how is offering free samples the end of shopping? Well when you think about it, Amazon has vast amounts of data on its customers from previously ordered items to search history and of course, demographic data to know exactly how old you are, your gender and also where you live, there is even a possibility that it knows what line of work you are in if you often have deliveries sent to a work address. With this data, Amazon can understand what you like and even when you might like it, so instead of people actively going out and making a decision, Amazon’s samples have taken care of the decision making process. Shoppers may well end up using and buying products that they didn’t realise they would ever need, all because of a sample sent.
Understandably, there are going to be questions about security and the data that Amazon has, plus some customers may not like the idea that Amazon thinks it knows what they want. However, there is a good level of customer trust in Amazon in terms of ordering and delivery, so the vast majority of samples are likely to be received well. Plus, who doesn’t like getting free items especially those which have been picked especially for your interests/habits?!
So, that is how a simple free sample could well be the end of shopping as we know it!
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