Amazon.com Inc.’s latest move to make its Prime two-day shipping program more attractive to shoppers involves telling parents everything they want to know about diapers under a new Amazon brand.
Amazon Elements, a new program exclusive to Prime members, is billed by the e-retailer as “offering an unprecedented level of information—when and where items were made, why each ingredient was included, where the ingredients were sourced and much more.” The site today was selling only diapers and baby wipes, though a statement from Amazon indicates those items were only the beginning. A spokeswoman for the No. 1 e-retailer in North America and Europe declines to give more detail about future products.
The information Amazon was offering through the program is on display with the Amazon Elements-branded Soft & Cozy Diapers, Size 4, Monthly Pack, 160 Count. Beneath a large photo of a carton of the goods—next to which a baby with its tongue out seems to crawl with happy indifference—come three brief reviews of the product pulled from Amazon customers. The reviews are ordered neatly next to a photo of a mom burping her baby and lack the often cluttered appearance of so many online reviews, included those found on Amazon.com. However, the very bottom of the product page features the typical Amazon reviews. At press time, the diapers had received three one-star reviews.
Those reviews are likely to increase, and to give Amazon even more consumer data. That’s because according to Experian Marketing Services, “moms of young children are eight times more likely to write and read online reviews than the average consumer.”
Amazon then explains why it chose the product manufacturer—in this case, Irving Personal Care—and how Amazon arrived at its decision to carry this item: “We went through joint development efforts, multiple prototypes, lab tests, and even in-home testing by Amazon moms and dads to arrive at a highly absorbent diaper with a soft inner liner that provides gentleness where babies need it most—on their delicate skin.”
The page also includes bullet-pointed product attributes—“stretchy side panels to help prevent leaks on the move,” for instance—and then a photo of a forest that looks fit for fairy tale adventure, with product sourcing information to the left, along with a greyish map of Alabama, with a dot representing Coosa Pines. “Loblolly pine tree pulp for Amazon Elements Soft & Cozy Diapers is sourced from forests in Alabama. This species of pine in the southeastern United States is comprised of longer, heavier, and larger-diameter fibers than woods from elsewhere in the U.S., which means it’s stronger and wicks fluid faster. It’s no surprise that this effective, absorbent material is common in disposable diapers.”
That’s not all. Below the colorful forest scene comes a picture of a newborn and his diapered rump along with more details about the item’s ingredients, including a description of sodium polyacrylate and even the ink used to make the “woodland animal design” of the diaper. Then—the product page keeps on scrolling—Amazon offers a lengthy frequently-asked-question feature, tackling such topics as whether the diapers are hypoallergenic, how fast parents can expect to go through diapers, proper diaper sizing and the causes of diaper rash.
Additionally, consumers with the Amazon e-commerce app on their mobile devices can call up product information by scanning a sticker with a QR code on the diaper package.
Amazon Elements represents the e-retailer’s latest move to lock consumers into Prime, for which shoppers pay $99 per year for two-day shipping on some 30 million eligible products. (Amazon also offers free trials to students and other types of consumers.) Earlier this year, for instance, Prime members gained unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive, the e-retailer’s online data storage service. Prime membership also includes instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV episodes through Prime Instant Video, 1 million songs through Prime Music, early access to select Lightning Deals and access to more than 600,000 books to borrow through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
Colin Sebastian, a longtime Amazon observer and e-commerce analyst who works for Robert W. Baird and Co., estimates that Prime has 25 million paid members, though perhaps as many as 50 million users are part of the program, given that households can share accounts.
While noting he has no inside scoop on this new Amazon program, Scot Wingo, CEO of online marketing firm ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps retailers sell on Amazon and other marketplaces, says Elements checks off various boxes for the e-retailer. It adds yet more value to Prime, for instance, and makes use of the colossal treasure trove of consumer data that Amazon has about its online shoppers. The program also reflects the ongoing success of e-commerce subscription models, including through Diapers.com, one of nine e-commerce sites operated by Quidsi Inc., a unit of Amazon.com Inc.
For comparison, a 162-diaper box of Pampers newborn diapers cost $47.99 for a one-time order and $43.19 for the subscription price on Diapers.com. That’s a per unit price of $0.30 and $0.27. On Amazon, a 136-diaper box of newborn diapers costs $31.99 for a one-time order and $30.39 for the subscription offer. That’s a per unit price of $0.24 and $0.22.
Wingo also points out the move may position Amazon better against Honest.com, an e-retailer of natural bath and personal care products, as well as subscription-bought baby products like diapers. Honest.com was founded by actress Jessica Alba in 2012 and has since raised $52 million in venture funding and targets relatively affluent consumers who want to buy “non-toxic” and “ethically-sourced” products. Honest.com earlier this year announced that Target Corp., the retail chain that is No. 18 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, would sell its products inside stores and via Target.com.
“Honest.com has made a pretty big splash in the consumer packaged goods world with their eco-friendly and transparent messaging,” Wingo says, “and they do not sell on Amazon.”
The Amazon spokeswoman declines to comment about “other companies.”