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Amazon in Endless competition with itself?

Within the last month, Amazon launched their boutique spin-off e-commerce named Endless. Now, the unique thing about Endless is not so much the products, because there’s plenty of other businesses firing at the same target. No, it’s their competition. In effect, Endless is competing with Amazon itself.

This became apparent to me the moment I read the article Carl fired across to me, so I commented on his article, but I also immediately saw the reasons why:

“Having looked at the two web properties in more detail, through the eyes of a brand designer and a marketeer, the reasons for the separation are clear to me now:

1. Amazon as a brand says nothing about specialist items, such as high value high fashion. In fact, the association of Amazon as a brand is probably damaging.

However, Amazon as a payment fulfilment house adds value through credibility, trust and accountability [which Endless would not have as a nascent brand origins].

2. By spinning these items off, Amazon are hoping to capture some mind share and cache on a very niche, high value series of products.

No tab menu, no TVs, or DVDs or books, just woman’s clothes. Simple, focused and clean.

This is all about reducing times between initial entry into the website and getting right up to the product web page.

And by pursuing a totally separate brand, is unique and (ironically) much easier to bring to market and advertise.

All in all, pretty well done and very shrewd, too..”

By the way: I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I am either a full-blown brand designer and a marketeer, but I can see things as they see them.

It’s clear that Amazon have been thinking long and hard about this, and the Endless end product isn’t none too shabby, either:

“Amazon.com quietly started testing Endless.com on Dec. 11, featuring 250 brands and 15,000 styles and dangling an unusual offer in the online world: free overnight shipping.

The inspiration for Endless.com came from Amazon’s customers themselves, said Steven Goldsmith, vice president of apparel and accessories for Amazon.com and vice president of Endless.com.

Shoppers looking for accessories said they wanted speedier service and were particular about how they search online for such items as only brown handbags and Donald Pliner boots with a particular heel height, he said.”

Compete or get beat

And wise words, too.

So what we have is Amazon competing pretty much head-on with themselves through their new Endless brand. While not competing head-on with their core products, it’s competition none-the-less.

But why would Amazon do this? Maybe there’s a clue in this TechDirt article:

“One of the more interesting ideas that probably makes sense for some larger companies is to build a separate group, whose job is effectively to act as the competition. Let them develop the next great competitive advantage – and if it destroys your existing business, better that it’s done by your company than someone else’s. It looks like Amazon may be practicing a bit of this concept by launching a brand new shoes and handbags store, that looks like it has nothing to do with Amazon.com.”

And when you put it like that, it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

So what we have is Amazon thinking about things from some very intriguing angles. Coming at the problems of competition and quality from such uniquely subtle and cunning angles that maybe, just maybe their strategy might work…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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