It’s been another big year for Amazon.
For sellers, many of the site’s older, outdated features were retired, while new, more interactive ones were introduced, tested and officially launched.
Amazon itself made big moves with a record-breaking Cyber Monday, not to mention the continued expansion into dozens of private label brands, the launch of new attribution efforts, and the increasing number of ad placements, targeting capabilities and creative tools for brands.
When it comes to the evolution of Amazon’s Marketplace, Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy at CPC Strategy says it best:
It’s no secret that Amazon has become a much more sophisticated, complex, and competitive environment over the last few years.
Between content, inventory, search advertising, display advertising, video, keyword research, catalog management, pricing, competitive analysis, reporting, and a litany of other consideration, brands on the Marketplace can easily get overwhelmed.
What is certain, though, is that paid advertising continues to grow in prevalence, importance, and complexity for brands on Amazon. One only has to look at the evolution of Amazon’s search results pages to see how paid placements have assumed the dominant positions in front of shoppers.
The absence of or failure to execute a comprehensive advertising strategy on Amazon significantly limits the ability of brand to reach customers.
Meet the Experts: The 2019 Amazon Roundtable
This year, we’re asking leading industry experts which trends they predict will shape the Amazon Marketplace in 2019.
We collected predictions from our own experts as well as industry professionals including:
- Daquent Robinson, Director, ETAIL, The Honest Company
- Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace, CPC Strategy
- Scott Kennedy, Director, Ecommerce Analytics & Digital Marketing, Franklin Sports
- Jen Acosta, Sr. Marketplace Channel Analyst, CPC Strategy
- Pamela Hemzi, VP of Ecommerce and Digital, Laura Geller
- Chad Rubin, CEO, Skubana
- Eric Kauss, CPC Strategy, Manager – Vendor Operations, CPC Strategy
- Greg Mercer, CEO, Jungle Scout
- Tanya Zadoorian, Senior Marketplace Channel Analyst, CPC Strategy
- Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder & Publisher, Retail Minded
Amazon Trends Predicted to Shape 2019:
Without any further delay, let’s dive in!
1. Expansion of Amazon Stores
Amazon Stores have come a long way from where they were a year ago, however, the accessibility to shoppers is still limited and often times impossible.
With the latest investments Amazon has made in not only the functionality of brand stores but also the metrics now available to Sellers and Vendors, it only makes sense that Amazon will launch a separate Search functionality so shoppers have more direct access to a Brand’s Amazon Store.
Currently, a shopper would only be able to stumble upon a Brand store by clicking on a Sponsored Brands ad that would direct them to selected landing page, by clicking on a Brand’s logo or name on their detail page (if they byline is setup), by finding them organically in a search engine or by a text ad, or if the brand shares their Store link via Social Media.
Which leads me to my next prediction. Currently, Stores are free, but if Amazon opens up more of a search functionality, I think that will also come with upsell opportunities where sellers can ‘upgrade’ their Store’s functionality by making a one-time investment, or they possibly would have to pay a monthly fee in order to be searchable.
– Jen Acosta, Sr. Marketplace Channel Analyst, CPC Strategy
2. Focus on Amazon Vendors
While there has been a large focus on the Hybrid Model in 2018, Amazon will continue to work to optimize its’ vendor only network, focusing on profitability. This is evidenced by the enhancements occurring on the Vendor Central Platform.
The Hybrid model is a good alternative for some vendors, however, these vendors will confront the significant challenges of running 2 distinctly different platforms as well as pressure from Amazon to stay a 1P vendor on top ASINs.
– Eric Kauss, CPC Strategy, Manager – Vendor Operations, CPC Strategy
3. Amazon Expands Brick & Mortar Presence
As Amazon once began as an online-only store, we have seen it’s expansion into brick & mortar over the past year with the Amazon Bookstore and 4-Star stores.
I predict its presence in brick & mortar will only expand further in 2019 and increase its footprint like a Target or Walmart.
With the acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, they have the space to test a one-stop shop for anything home-related. The question is how soon will they.
– Tanya Zadoorian, Senior Marketplace Channel Analyst, CPC Strategy
4. Amazon to Merge with Social Media
Amazon will continue to make a push towards merging social media and ecommerce, particularly when you look at what they are doing with Amazon Scout, a Pinterest-style take on recommendations and collecting user data.
This will ultimately help Amazon push visitors towards products that a shopper is more likely to purchase—great news for sellers!
However, it also increases the need for having a highly optimized listing (product images, titles, keywords, features, etc) so understanding the keywords that are trending, related search queries, and how to rank your product for the most relevant keywords will be a key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t.
– Greg Mercer, CEO of Jungle Scout
5. Amazon To Leverage Powerful Consumer Data
Amazon will continue to surprise consumers with new ways of connecting with customers through data generated from their massive amount of touchpoints.
With over 100 physical stores and a global reach online, Amazon will find new ways to use this data and make their offerings more consumer-centric than we have seen in the past.
They have done this with their new 4-star stores located in NYC, Colorado, and California, but I anticipate their use of consumer data will be used even more so and unlike we have seen in the past.
Additionally, I think they will offer a returns-based shipping strategy to compliment their online shoppers. How it will work is yet to be discovered but my guess is it will change everything we have known historically about processing returns bought online.
– Nicole Leinback Reyhle, Founder & Publisher at Retail Minded
6. Acceleration of Changes in Advertising Capabilities
For 2019, I expect the continued acceleration of changes in advertising capabilities Amazon makes available to brands.
We’ve already seen this in Q4 ’18 with additional Sponsored Brand Placements, product attribute targeting and enhanced auto-targeting for Sponsored Products, Sponsored Products replacing PDA’s in detail page ad placements, Sponsored Products retargeting, as well as the proliferation of DSP, video, and Stores.
I believe this is just the beginning of Amazon’s effort to create the most robust and powerful advertising platform brands have available to them.
From more advanced targeting, audience segmentation, custom videos, mobile optimizations, and access to off-Amazon customers, I expect changes will come quickly in 2019.
Those brands which are able to adapt and adopt will benefit most from these functionality enhancements while those slow to react will continue to struggle to remain relevant on the Marketplace.
– Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace Strategy, CPC Strategy
“PPC advertising on the Amazon platform will have an explosion of bid modification opportunities including but not limited to – device, geo, time of day and behavioral components.”
– Scott Kennedy, Director, Ecommerce Analytics & Digital Marketing at Franklin Sports
7. Amazon Enters CBD Market
My prediction is that Amazon starts to dabble into the CBD and cannabis industries. With the CBD market predicted to be a $1B industry within the next 5 years, I’m predicting Amazon will begin to develop Amazon exclusive CBD brands to sell on it’s platforms.
Amazon is known to go after growing industries and I think CBD is no exception as consumers nationwide are starting to warm up to the idea of cannabidiol-derived products in mainstream places.
I even think it’s possible in 2019 for Amazon to begin investing or buying a cannabis delivery startup to begin disrupting the marketplace within the states that have already passed cannabis legalization.
– Daquent Robinson, Director, ETAIL, The Honest Company
8. Big Play For Beauty Brands
Amazon makes a big play in the beauty industry. They are the #1 online retailer for beauty products but haven’t made any big news with either acquisitions or new brands, as they have in fashion, home goods or food. My future prediction is that Amazon will roll out a robust loyalty program.
– Pamela Hemzi, VP of Ecommerce and Digital at Laura Geller
9. Amazon To Dominate Market Despite Growing Competition
Amazon will continue to dominate and their market share will continue to rise. I estimate roughly 60% of e-commerce transactions, up from 50% share, further bolstering their moat and dominating position in e-commerce. Regulators will only begin to take notice in 2020.
Online shopping will continue to be driven by on-demand delivery and believe UPS and Fedex will have to transition away from just being a shipping company. New marketplace competition will scale significantly to compete with Amazon such as Google Shopping Actions (Google’s own marketplace) and transition away from a cost-per-click advertising platform.
Other large big-box stores will be forming and launching their own marketplace, enhancing their catalog and also enriching the online shopping experience.
– Chad Rubin, CEO of Skubana
More Predictions From Our Readers
Industry experts are not the only folks with predictions on the direction of Amazon.
In preparation for our second annual AdDiego event, CPC Strategy asked our registrants to take a poll: “What is your boldest Amazon prediction for the next 5 years?”
We received almost 80 responses but managed to narrow it down to 10 popular predictions.
Keep in mind, these predictions get pretty wild (from online organ donation services to dating apps to commercial airlines) but who’s to say what’s possible and what isn’t.
You can read the entire article of predictions from our readers here.
Got a prediction to share? Comment below!