April 23, 2021 at 07:19PM

Amazon is piloting a new merchant-enabled customer engagement tool that allows brands to directly interact with shoppers. This is a first for the eCommerce giant, which typically has kept a lid on user data.

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the new solution is a way for the company to better serve the shoppers on its platform by letting them engage with the brands they love most. Called “Manage Your Customer Engagement,” the tool enables merchants to launch email campaigns that Amazon will forward to users who follow the brands, the spokesperson told the news outlet. In a YouTube video, Amazon said the tool is intended to help the brands on its platform build a strong following of repeat customers. 

About 78 percent of brands in the U.S. sell on Amazon, an increase of almost 25 percent since 2019, a February Feedvisor report indicated, per CNBC. 

The Manage Your Customer Engagement tool is initially available at no charge to the more than 350 merchants that are members of Amazon’s Brand Registry, which was introduced six years ago to help sellers combat counterfeit merchandise. 

The tool also aims to help brands and sellers launch new products on Amazon, something that has historically been difficult, the news outlet reported.

“Amazon is algorithmically driven based on historical data, so if you have something that has no historical data, it’s very, very difficult to get Amazon to even order enough product,” said Andrea Leigh, vice president of strategy and insights at eCommerce advisory firm Ideoclick and a former Amazon executive, according to CNBC. “So this would give manufacturers another tool to try to promote new items.”

Online marketplaces like Amazon have transformed eCommerce, but the model largely decides how funds flow to sellers. The method of invoicing and payments could cause issues for a merchant’s accounting processes. Further, merchants selling on such platforms generally have to follow prescribed rules in order to experience the perks. 

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