Amazon reduces delivery to two minutes through Instant Pickup
SEATTLE — Amazon has finally reduced the last mile equation to a matter of minutes with its Instant Pickup, a free service offering Prime and Prime Student members a curated selection of daily essentials available for pickup in two minutes or less at five of Amazon’s fully staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Berkeley, Calif., Columbus, Ohio and College Park, Md.
“Instant Pickup is another way Amazon is making life more convenient for Prime members,” stated Ripley MacDonald, director, student programs, Amazon. “As shopping behaviors continue to evolve, customers consistently tell us that they want items even faster. Whether it’s a snack on-the-go, replacing a lost phone charger in the middle of a hectic day or adding Alexa to your life with an Echo, Instant Pickup saves Prime members time," he said. "While Instant Pickup is available at select pickup locations today, we’re excited about bringing this experience to more customers soon.”
With Instant Pickup, Prime and Prime Student members can use the Amazon App to shop hundreds of need-it-now items like food, cold drinks, personal care items, technology essentials and Amazon devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV and a selection of Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. Prime members can browse the selection, place an order, even add last-minute items to an online order and pick it up from a self-service locker – all within two minutes or less.
Instant Pickup is available at five select pickup locations and will be available at more locations in the coming months. Amazon operates a total of 22 staffed pickup locations on or near college campuses across the country.
ModiFace launches virtual skin assessment platform
TORONTO — Augmented reality technology provider ModiFace has unveiled its latest effort — a web-based skin assessment platform for skin care brands. The patented technology allows users to upload a photo that it then analyzes for a virtual skin consultation, after which it suggests appropriate products for identified needs.
"We realized that instead of scoring the user's skin based on different dimensions, it would be far more useful to provide specific personalized advice that is both motivational and instructional,” ModiFace founder and CEO Parham Aarabi said. “In other words, instead of criticizing the user's skin or measuring their 'skin age', we tell users what is great about their current skin and how to maintain and enhance their skin health.”
The new platform was built in HTML and is compatible with all operating systems on mobile, tablet and desktop devices. The company said that it has been jointly testing the technology with L’Oréal’s Vichy skin care brand and was widely deployed on Vichy’s web and mobile sites.
ModiFace said the technology is immediately available for integration by skin care brands, noting that the integration consists of a single line of code that can be integrated within brand websites.
Limited assortment, smaller format stores yield greater sales gains for suppliers
CATONSVILLE, Md. — Suppliers who gain distribution through limited assortment and small format retailers are afforded much larger increases in sales, relative to that from large assortment stores, according to the study "The Effect of Retail Distribution on Sales of Alcoholic Beverages," co-authored by Richard Friberg and Mark Sanctuary of the Stockholm School of Economics.
"Small formats with limited assortments like Save-A-Lot and Aldi and neighborhood stores like Target Express have been growing recently in popularity in the United States and around the world," the economists wrote. "For brands, the limited assortments mean greater competition for shelf-space, raising the question of whether it is worth expending marketing effort and slotting allowances to get on to their shelves. According to a forthcoming study in a leading INFORMS scholarly marketing journal, Marketing Science, the answer is 'yes.'"
In general, answering the question of how much distribution affects sales is challenging, due to a "chicken and egg" problem. Sales increase with distribution, but firms also increase distribution when sales increase, making it hard to tease out the effect of distribution on sales from the effect of sales on distribution.
The authors examined SKU level sales data from Systembolaget, a Swedish state-owned monopoly for retailing alcoholic beverages such as wine, beer and other spirits from 2006-2011. The advantage of the Swedish data is that the monopoly has to follow a certain set of rules when changing distribution for brands. These rules were established to ensure fairness to wholesalers and to satisfy conditions for Sweden's accession to the European Union. The Swedish retailer classified stores into four tiers based on assortment levels. All brands chosen for distribution are initially sold at the largest format stores. As they become more popular, their likelihood of being sold in the next tier of smaller format stores rises. These distribution decisions are all made twice a year.
"Given we knew the firm's rules and timing for distribution changes, we know which brands have similar chance of being chosen for distribution in the next tier at a given time," Friberg explained. "From among this set of similar brands, we compare the increase in sales for those who gained distribution to the next tier relative to those that did not. This allowed us to isolate the effect of distribution on sales, because the rule allowed us to eliminate the effect of sales on distribution."
The authors found that a 10% widening in the retail distribution of wines, for example, yielded increases in sales by 1.2%, 2.1% and 6.2% as the product gained distribution to the next tier of stores with smaller assortments. "Our results suggests that gaining distribution in one large store with a certain turnover is less effective in increasing sales than gaining distribution at two small stores that have the same combined turnover as the larger store," Sanctuary noted. "Hence gaining distribution in small retail formats remains important for larger brands."
The authors dig deeper into why they found that the effects of increasing distribution to smaller format stores are greater. They rule out explanations such as greater word of mouth that arises from larger distribution and conclude that a brand gaining distribution in limited assortment stores can get a larger share of sales relative to shares at larger assortment stores.
"Getting a larger share of a smaller pie at limited assortment stores is well worth fighting for," Friberg said, with clear implications for brands deciding to expend effort in gaining distribution at such stores that are growing around the world.