They also can appear at the top of search results

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019

To build a big line of exclusive products, Amazon is having other brands do most of the work:

The online retail giant is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon after finding that developing them on its own is too costly and time-consuming, according to people familiar with the strategy.

Equal sweeteners and nutrition brand GNC are among the first to launch products through an accelerator program Amazon launched last year to outsource the work. Mattress maker Tuft & Needle also recently created a new brand called Nod exclusively for Amazon.


In exchange, brands get help launching their products on, faster customer feedback when testing new products, marketing support and revenue from the sales. They also can appear at the top of search results — a big draw, given Amazon’s platform lists an estimated 550 million items.


Amazon, on its own, also has been quietly growing the number of its in-house brands in recent years. Analysts estimate they now have more than 100. Those include the more obvious AmazonBasics brand, which makes everything from suitcases to batteries; the Happy Belly brand of foods; and the Mama Bear baby products brand. Amazon sometimes promotes its own brands higher in search results, like “Amazon’s Choice” and sponsored items, or default results in voice searches using Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.


Amazon is increasingly important for consumer product manufacturers. It now accounts for roughly half of all sales online, according to eMarketer.


  1. Graham says:

    Combined with the earlier-reported idea of doing away with their warehouses and distribution and just being a portal for publishers who send out the orders themselves, I marvel at Amazon’s future.

    They will have comprehensively destroyed the marketing, distribution and retail channels of entire industries, including eventually brand identification, and will end up doing nothing except being the only recognized retail portal through which customers access all goods and services. The vast spending on the physical side of the business that kept them so long unprofitable, will be simultaneously wholly justified in retrospect and done away with as unnecessary.

    Of course, then the US government can nationalize it as a public utility and pay no compensation. Checkmate.

  2. Freddo says:

    I’m old enough to remember when Walmart was doing the same to its suppliers, up to reviewing the business details & finances of their suppliers and telling them where and how to cut costs. I know I’m supposed to feel worried, but every time I read about marketing departments getting cut I get this warm fuzzy feeling inside.

    My expectation is that at some point in the future an anti-trust lawsuit will force Amazon into separating the ecommerce platform from all other business, but if they get to charge 1-5% overhead for being the nations/worlds premier ecommerce platform that is still a lot of money.

  3. Albion says:

    Fifty years ago my father told me that one tactic of the then buoyant Woolworths chain was to get a manufacturer to supply them exclusively and then, when the company involved had taken on more staff and expanded production capabilities/premises, ‘Woolies’ would cut the order, leaving that company high and dry.

    On the basis that there is nothing new under the sun, maybe Amazon will catch a cold if it starts doing the same. Perhaps in time they might go the same way of Woolworths, but who knows?

  4. Kirk says:

    This, too, shall pass. Amazon will have its moment in the sun, and then the organization will start to ossify and turn into Sears-Roebuck, eventually declining while smaller, nimbler, and more hungry entities eat their lunch out from under them.

    If you go back and look, these were the same things people were complaining about with Sears, back during the opening heyday of Rural Free Delivery, and all that which revolutionized retail sales during the late 1800s.

  5. Sam J. says:

    Amazon is a vile evil financialization created monster that lost money for a massive amount of time. I read cases of 10 years. Here it says less

    The goal is total market domination and it should be broken up immediately.

    Amazon is but one of the many, many scams where the people with favored access to capital are able to buy out other companies, services and sectors of business. Smaller players pay taxes while they write every thing off with debt and pay nothing.

    Junk bonds, leveraged buy outs, etc. are nothing but financial scams on the taxpayer.

    And yes I’m a hypocrite as I buy stuff from Amazon. It’s also very convenient.

  6. Graham says:

    I survived just fine in the retail world of the 1990s before Amazon. The stock at big music and movie chains like HMV or bookstores like Chapters was impressive and the latter ran a few upscale mall bookstores that were quite respectable as well.

    When Amazon started, even in those retail categories it opened up new worlds in terms of rapidly identifying, sourcing and purchasing books or media the moment one heard of them, and of giving one new ideas for purchases one might not have heard of. It was a revelation. But it was that part about new ideas that was the revelatory bit. The retailers I knew before that had quite a lot available, beautifully presented. The late 80s-90s were a revolution in themselves in book and music retail.

    (For US equivalents, say Borders or equivalent large bookstores, I forget the other big ones, and maybe Tower or Virgin Records megastores. Not sure what you had back then and memory fades).

    A good chunk of those retail palaces are ruins now. Interestingly, I find that Amazon’s recent model of mixing their own listings with those of the independent sellers, and different editions and pricing models, has gotten sloppy and less user-friendly over time. Not everyone will have had this experience, but I also think their recommendations engines have slipped a few notches. Or perhaps the products available in the world have just become less for me. There’s that. The decline of CDs and DVDs has helped that along.

    What I wouldn’t give to walk into the classical music floor of HMV on Toronto’s Yonge Street circa 1990 one more time. Any floor, really. Or Sam the Record Man, a far more dumpily organized but equally large and even better stocked independent one block north.

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