OPINION

Amazon Goes Courting, Bearing Boxes of Gold

If Amazon.com were not such a class act, if it were not the undisputed e-tail champion, the company’s Gold Box promotion would be a joke.

After all, it is incredibly transparent to anyone paying attention that Amazon is desperately trying to get people to buy things from certain categories — especially those pesky kitchen accessories. On top of this, Amazon introduced the promotion smack in the middle of a financial quarter.

Add it up, and it spells desperation. It is enough to make you want to crack jokes at Amazon’s expense. But there is one problem: This is Amazon. Poke fun too hastily, and you could find yourself a laughingstock as Jeff Bezos and Co. giggle all the way to the bank.

George the Second

First, let us dispense with any notion that this is not an attempt to drive sales in the kitchen aisle.

Out of 20 Gold Box promotions I scanned in the past week, 17 featured kitchen items or accessories. George Foreman Grills and rotisseries must be clogging the Amazon warehouse, because these items came up most often. Wine glasses, corkscrews, knife sets — you get the picture.

These promotions jibe with relatively disappointing growth in the kitchen sector in the past. If Amazon had to make an effort to generate interest in one category, the kitchen would be it.

At an analysts’ shindig in New York, normally affable CEO Bezos reportedly went silent when pressed about how the current quarter is going, sales-wise.

It does not take a leap of faith or logic to see that Amazon is trying to ignite a somewhat damp category. The company also might be trying to boost the top line in the final month of the quarter as it heads into the summer months, which are often dreary for retail.

Makes You Wonder

Or maybe, just maybe, that is what Amazon wants us to think. As usual, the company was careful to describe its Gold Box feature as a test. That way, if it backs out of the initiative in the future, it can claim it did not make a misstep.

So, will it work? The answer depends on who is doing the measuring and what yardsticks they use. Is Amazon going to sell a bunch of can openers in the next four weeks, turning a modestly strong quarter into a great one?

While Amazon might be the place to buy books online, it still isn’t the place to buy can openers. Let me be more specific: Amazon has a lot more work to do before it convinces shoppers that it is the best place to buy can openers.

And as a consciousness-raising exercise, the Gold Box is a darn good idea. After all, I viewed 20 coupons in the past week; most of them were for products I had never realized Amazon offered.

I believe most Amazon shoppers frustrate the company by shopping exactly the same way I do: in a narrow, book-lined pathway down the center of Amazon, in parts of the store where I’ve been a million times before.

Rolling the Dice

I know Amazon sells more than books. And the company knows I have never bought anything but books from it. How are we going to get to the next level in our relationship?

Like all good relationships, it is going to take some risk on both sides. Amazon is offering discounts. Well, at least it says it is. I have no idea how much six wine glasses cost to begin with, but I’ll take Amazon’s word for it.

Now it is up to me and a few million others to decide whether we are going to respond to Amazon’s advances. Is Gold Box a guaranteed winner? Far from it. But it is also no laughing matter.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it.


Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.


1 Comment

  • It seems that you only get the mass quantity of kitchen items if you don’t already purchase them. I’ve bought several kitchen items with Amazon, and as such, there were none in my gold box. I had almost exclusively power tools and the like. I haven’t seen a gold box available in several days. I found the promotion interesting, but I still wouldn’t buy things that I wasn’t interested in. I’ll trade my power tools for your kitchen utensils, though!
    Kelly

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