Is Amazon about to become the don of direct marketing?

Four years in the making, Amazon has announced its latest development, next generation grocery shopping. It is opening a physical supermarket in Seattle. But unlike its rival's stores in the sector it is totally checkoutless. Using smart technology the products are uploaded to customers’ app as they select them from the shelves and as they walk out of the door the balance is charged to their Amazon account. For those of us who hate queuing for a loaf of bread and pint of milk it sounds like a dream come true.

This bold move has umpteen implications for almost every business sector from retail through to financial services. For us however, its impact on marketing, and in particularly direct marketing, are the most interesting. If the Seattle store proves successful and the format is rolled out nationwide and subsequently internationally, Amazon will find itself with arguably one of the most powerful and largest customer datasets in the world.

Already it has captured the online behaviour of its customers – to the point where it has filed for a patent for ‘anticipatory shipping’ which will enable it to ship our next package before we even order it – and now it will have insight into our offline behaviour too. This has the potential to beat Clubcard on an enormous scale.  Moreover, like Tesco before them, Amazon could potentially share the insight with brands to enable micro-targeting. This is significant as last week in this blog we discussed the fact that consumers are actively open to receiving direct marketing when it is relevant and adds value. This is therefore one to definitely keep an eye on!