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Connecting the Dots of Amazon’s ‘Local’ Activity

Last week, Amazon Local Services launched in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, allowing consumers in those markets to book local service professionals online for in-store (e.g. bike tune up) and in-home (e.g. air duct cleaning) services. Coupled with deals and payments services, Amazon has clearly taken an interest in local businesses.

While much has been written about how Amazon Local Services works and the pricing structure, the company’s larger local business strategy remains vague from both the consumer and business perspective. Outside of simple searches on the site, how else will these services be accessible?

In 2005, Amazon launched A9 yellow pages, an online directory of local businesses with aspirations to make a significant impact on the local search space. The company also launched a version of Google Street View before Street View itself. Both were shuttered not long after A9 CEO Udi Manber left to join Google.

While these local aspirations have largely gone unrealized, it is interesting to see the company’s reinvigorated emphasis on local business. However, the user experience and interaction with these service providers is not yet clear.

Amazon could potentially build a distinct services marketplace either within Amazon.com or out of Amazon Local (or via a mobile app). However that remains uncertain. Regardless, Amazon has a great opportunity to leverage its brand and rankings to infiltrate SERPs with service professional listings.  This is a reasonable jumping off point that could help generate more traffic to local service providers on Amazon.

Amazon Local Services and its deals offering aren’t currently integrated.  On the Amazon Local Business page, the company promotes deals and a payments service with no mention of Amazon Local Services. While a service business might also want to promote a deal through Amazon Local, there’s seemingly no simple way to do that at this time.

Looking at how Amazon shares these deals might also provide some perspective on how the site could promote service providers. Businesses communicate deals and offers with Amazon users via the Amazon website (below), mobile app and email. But selling moments already exist for these services and need to be explored.

Amazon_dentist_screenshot

The sale of certain products create plenty of “earned” opportunities to promote services. For instance, when a consumer purchases a new car stereo system, instead of showing similar or popular products, deals and/or listings for installation services could be shared with the consumer.

Also, many businesses that provide installation services also sell the products they install. So once a product that needs installation is purchased, the consumer is immediately prompted to schedule and pay for an installation appointment with the business that listed it.

Many scenarios can be extrapolated, but overall, Amazon is still in early stages of its renewed push into local and much will likely be revealed in coming months. A coherent local business strategy seems to be missing from the company’s efforts today. But given the many moving parts, it looks as though the company is working towards something more interesting and potentially significant.

UPDATE (12/4/14 3:28pm ET): Amazon also just launched a Takeout and Delivery service that looks to only be available in Seattle, but further signifies the company’s aspirations to connect consumers with merchants across many business categories.

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