Amazon’s Prime Now delivers beauty in a hurry

Discussion
Photo: RetailWire
Sep 19, 2016
Tom Ryan

Amazon.com last week began offering one- and two-hour delivery of beauty products under its Prime Now service.

The launch took place in Chicago in a partnership with Merz Apothecary, a family-owned Chicago institution with three locations that has been in business for 141 years. Becoming Prime Now’s first beauty brand, Merz Apothecary will support the delivery of personal care, beauty and natural health products in as little as an hour. One-hour delivery costs $7.99 and two-hour is free.

“We think customers will love the convenience of superfast delivery of thousands of beauty items,” said Simoina Vasen, director of Prime Now, in a statement.

Anthony Qaiyum, owner of Merz Apothecary, said Prime Now is a natural extension of its customer-centric approach. He added, “As the owner of an independent, family-run business, I am especially excited for us to be able to combine our unique products and our expertise in our field with Amazon’s unrivaled delivery operations. I think it is a recipe for customer satisfaction and business growth.”

Launched in Chicago in July 2015, Prime Now offers tens of thousands of items from Amazon in addition to local restaurant and grocery delivery. More than 180 local restaurants are now available through the service in Chicago. Amazon also offers delivery from local grocery stores Eataly and Plum Market.

If relationships with other beauty brands are further rolled out, Amazon could put pressure on beauty specialists such as Ulta, Sephora and Sally Beauty Supply as well as drug store chains.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How much demand do you see for one- or two-hour delivery of beauty products? How big of a threat could Prime Now be to beauty specialty shops and drug store chains?

Braintrust
"What Amazon has done is made itself the “go-to” place for beauty products."
"Amazon has once again thrown down the gauntlet to other retailers -- innovate or suffer the loss of sales."
"I guess the answer to the question “Why?” is “Because we can.”"

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11 Comments on "Amazon’s Prime Now delivers beauty in a hurry"

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Ian Percy
BrainTrust

I guess the answer to the question “Why?” is “Because we can.”

I am struggling to imagine a reason why one would just have to have a beauty product delivered in an hour. Perhaps we should put a carbon tax on the delivery.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

The question should not be how much demand is there for the instant delivery of beauty products. The point is that Amazon has once again thrown down the gauntlet to other retailers — innovate or suffer the loss of sales. Amazon already has the truck. It is providing one- and two-hour delivery for other products. Why not beauty products? Why not an increasingly powerful line-up of additional categories?

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

Excellent point about the gauntlet Max. You make me think. Here’s where I think that challenge strategy has weakness. First, I’ve found that Amazon consumers who get a product in an hour or two or even the same day like to marvel and brag that it happened. When asked if they actually needed it that fast I’ve never heard anything other than no. So if that act is just to fire a shot over the bow of the lesser retailers — as distinct from being driven by real market demand — it may begin to unravel rather quickly.

And if retailers pick up the gauntlet they are likely to try and out-deliver Amazon. Generally most organizations suck at innovation as reflected in the “best practice” mentality. We’re pretty well a bunch of mimickers. Coming up with true original innovations that differentiates an operation from all others is a daunting task.

Tom Brown
Guest
1 year 4 days ago

Innovating is not just a daunting task. It’s also very risky.

Keith Anderson
BrainTrust

Not being a heavy beauty shopper myself (I am naturally beautiful), I am taking a risk commenting here.

The question is not whether people want to have beauty products delivered in an hour, though I am sure there are women with big days or nights out who would happily pay for convenience

The real questions to answer are:

  • Do shoppers generally want to receive items in more time or less time?
  • Do shoppers generally prefer to do more work or less work?

If you answer those questions honestly, this and many of Amazon’s other moves don’t require much speculation.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

The question is not about how often and how many people will use Prime Now for beauty products. What Amazon has done is made itself the “go-to” place for beauty products. They might need the product in a few hours, but why not start with Amazon just in case?

Roger Saunders
BrainTrust
Amazon is adding to the peddler’s cart. Selling HBA products to an affluent city market — inner city downtown and Gold Coast and emerging near West Side — will add incremental revenues for Amazon. It will also be a benefit to a sharp, family-owned enterprise like Merz Apothecary. The service is not scaleable across the country, or for the Chicago metropolitan area at this stage, or at least until more carts and horsepower are added to the distribution pipeline. The need for instant gratification from HBA products (2 hours or less), is limited. These products are more planned purchases, and consumers will be patient enough to receive them in 2 to 3 days. The Internet is growing as the source of where consumers shop MOST often for HBA. Based on Prosper Insights & Analytics consumer patterns, slightly less than 1% of the general population, as well as Gen X and Millennials, favored the Internet MOST often for HBA purchases. It took until 2014 to reach 1.9%. By January 1, 2015, it rose to 2.5%, then 3.5% in January, 2016. As of August, 4.3% of Millennials and Gen X are choosing the Internet most often for HBA. Two hour delivery is… Read more »
Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

I see this as an excellent way to support certain types of SMBs, such as Merz Apothecary, and give them a unique advantage over their competition, in this case, the ubiquitous CVS and Walgreens stores that dominate street corners.

Love the fact that an established, 141 year old brand is partnering with an online retailer and gaining a new revenue stream with on-demand delivery. I think it will be successful in urban areas and is a service certain demographics will utilize.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Amazon has been doing this in a number of markets and customers love it. They have been and will continue to be a disrupter. It’s all about convenience. Customers will be willing to pay for it. Should specialty shops and retailers be concerned? Absolutely. They will find a way to compete. It may be with a higher level of service, knowledge, unique and hard-to-find items, exclusive items that can’t be bought anywhere else, emotional connection between customers and employees, etc.

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
1 year 4 days ago

Beauty is the number one frequency driver for department stores and while not #1 for drug stores, it’s still a significant traffic driver. So with this Amazon provides yet another reason for customers to NOT have to visit a shopping center for beauty items. This is a BIG threat for the reasons cited above but mostly because Amazon makes it easier to buy stuff than any other merchant on the planet. Bad news for those merchants that don’t get the idea of putting the customer at the center of everything.

Adrien Nussenbaum
Guest
Adrien Nussenbaum
1 year 3 days ago

This is Amazon leveraging the Marketplace model even further by allowing local partners to add products that can be delivered quickly to the mix. Amazon can continue to build out fulfillment capabilities in major markets or have partners completely fulfillment depending on what makes the most sense for each market.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"What Amazon has done is made itself the “go-to” place for beauty products."
"Amazon has once again thrown down the gauntlet to other retailers -- innovate or suffer the loss of sales."
"I guess the answer to the question “Why?” is “Because we can.”"

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