popSLATE CEO Yashar Behzadi, left, and CMO Greg Moon on popSLATE cases. (Photo Courtesy of recode.net)

Two New Product Trends By Amazon: Exclusives And Launchpad

A good entrepreneur knows that staying on top of current trends can provide a real competitive advantage. Whether it’s a tech-trend, a marketing-trend, or a PR-trend, early adapters — especially start-ups — can reap huge benefits from identifying and exploiting trends.

In a past Forbes article titled Staying On Top Of Trends: How I Used LinkedIn And Groupon Early Enough To Reap The Benefits, I described how my early adoption of Groupon and Linkedin immensely helped the early growth of my startup, The Fresh Diet. As someone who strongly believes that identifying and utilizing trends is a core competence for any entrepreneur, I want to introduce my readers to two of the latest trends on selling your products online. Both by Amazon.com.

In March of this year, Amazon launched Amazon Exclusives, a new online store that gives consumers access to innovative and new products, including some products featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and some started via crowd funding. In a press release accompanying the launch, Peter Faricy, VP of Amazon Marketplace, said that the mission of Amazon Exclusives is to “make Amazon the destination of brands and innovators to launch and sell their products, providing Amazon customers early access to new products.”

Amazon didn’t stop there. On July 28th, Amazon unveiled “Launchpad,” a platform on which hardware and physical goods startups can “launch, market and distribute” new products on Amazon. Unlike Amazon Exclusives, Amazon Launchpad only works with new products or products still in development. Amazon says it is working with over 25 VC firms, accelerators, and crowd-funding platforms on the new service. The roster includes some of the biggest names in the business, such as Andreessen Horowitz (an investor in Product Hunt), Y Combinator (where Product Hunt was in residency not too long ago) and Indiegogo.

To discuss these new initiatives, I reached out last week to Pete Sauerborn, GM of North American Marketplace for Amazon. Here is a transcript of our conversation.

Zalmi Duchman: Amazon Exclusives launched in March of this year. Now that you are a few months into the new project, can you update me on how it’s performing?

Pete Sauerborn: We are very pleased with the feedback that we’re receiving from sellers and customers. Customers are visiting in greater numbers every week, which is giving great exposure to the up-and-coming brands participating in the program.

Duchman: Are there any new and exciting plans within Exclusives that you can talk about?

Sauerborn: We have some very exciting launches — including popSLATE — who launched this week, and we will continue to evolve to provide the best experience to customers and sellers.

Duchman: What has been the most successful item within Exclusives so far?

Sauerborn: Since launching Amazon Exclusives we have had many success stories. Sellers like Tower Paddle Boards — who have been participating since our launch on March 11th — have seen great results. Some recent success stories include MegaTiny (Nanosuction phone case) and GripGear (smart phone camera stabilizer). These are great products that have launched with great fanfare.

Duchman: With the launch of Launchpad, do you see Amazon starting their own crowd-funding platform in the future to compete with Kickstarter and Indiegogo?

Sauerborn: We are always looking for ways to innovate on behalf of our customers and sellers. We do not comment on our product roadmap.

Duchman: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to get their products on Amazon Exclusives or Launchpad?

Sauerborn: Go for it. If you have a great idea, go get it manufactured and sell on Amazon Exclusives. The Amazon Exclusives program has a seller application on www.amazon.com/exclusives. We are always looking for the next great product.

As you can see from my conversation with Pete, Amazon is excited about these two platforms and strongly believes in the value they bring to any start-up with a great product. As entrepreneurs, the first part of exploiting a trend is identifying it. Now that you are aware of these two exciting trends for selling products online, do your own research to see if these platforms will work for you and your product. There are constraints. For example, Amazon Exclusives requires that you sell your product exclusively with them, with your website as the only exception. Although Amazon has shared some success stories on Exclusives, they’re unwilling to share specific sales numbers. For a platform asking entrepreneurs to sign exclusivity, more in-depth sales results on past product performances would be helpful. Since I am an investor in popSLATE, a mobile-phone case with an additional screen on the back of it, I’ll follow up with details on how Exclusives is performing for them in a few weeks…so stay tuned.

You can find me on Twitter (@ZalmiD) and learn more about my work at www.ZalmiD.com

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Originally published at www.forbes.com on August 14, 2015.

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