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Amazon tests a tool that allows brands to contact shoppers in departure from its tight control over customers

Amazon tests a tool that allows brands to contact shoppers

April 26, 2021: -Amazon is rolling out a way for some brands on its site to connect with shoppers, in a move that represents a departure from its tight controls over the customer data.

Last week, Amazon started piloting a tool that allows U.S. brands to email marketing materials to shoppers that have opted to “follow” their brand who are part of its Brand Registry program. Brands can later notify those shoppers when they come up with a new product or promotion.

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that “Amazon is committed to serving our shoppers to help them connect with their favorite brands. With Manage Your Customer Engagement, brands will initiate email campaigns about announcements of new product and offers that Amazon will send to shoppers who follow the brand.”

 Amazon’s decision to let brands contact shoppers may come as a surprise to some. The company has long prohibited businesses that sell on its site from soliciting customers directly, keeping data such as their email address private, largely to protect shoppers from spam.

Merchants can communicate with shoppers through a messaging feature on Amazon’s site, but only when it concerns things like their order status.

Shoppers’ contact information will continue to remain private. Amazon will give brands aggregate data when they use the tool that shows them how many emails will go out when they decide to share marketing campaigns with their followers. Brands can also view metrics to see how their campaigns were received.

For now, the free tool is only available to members of Brand Registry, a program launched by Amazon in 2015 to help businesses curb the sale of counterfeits. More than 350,000 brands have registered to be part of the program, which has expanded to include other benefits.

Brands have been requesting that Amazon launch more services to help them build more durable relationships with shoppers on the site, said Fahim Naim, a former Amazon employee who now runs an e-commerce consultancy opportunity.

Features like these have become increasingly table stakes on e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WordPress, and Adobe’s Magento, Naim said. Those platforms have attracted small- and medium-sized businesses looking to set up a website by offering various plugins and app integrations.

 Naim said that providing brands the ability to expand and differentiate their presence on Amazon also builds trust with customers. “Amazon considers the customers ‘Amazon’s customers and not ours,” said Crawford, who has been selling on Amazon since the beginning of last year.

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