Amazon wants to distribute products created by hardware startups.
The e-commerce giant’s new Launchpad program will offer those startups the ability to sell things through an Amazon-branded storefront, just like any other mass-produced item. Individual product pages (which look slightly different than those for “conventional” commodities) will include an “About the Startup” Q&A and customer reviews; rather than handle shipping themselves, startups will have access to Amazon’s global distribution network.
But there are a few catches: Startups must apply for inclusion to Launchpad, which raises the possibility that a particular product won’t make it into the lineup. Amazon also takes a commission off product sales, which might prove a deal-killer for those startups that want to keep every possible margin-point for themselves.
Amazon Launchpad currently offers 200 products in a number of categories, including Indiegogo-funded projects; if you ever wanted to purchase a smartphone-controlled paper airplane or a necklace that doubles as a health-tracker, now’s your chance.
Startups regularly complain about the difficulties of focusing a sufficient spotlight on their products. At first glance, platforms such as Launchpad might seem an ideal solution for that particular issue—but if Launchpad becomes sufficiently popular, a plethora of products on its virtual store-shelves could make it difficult for any one individual item to stand out, especially if it doesn’t attract lots of customer reviews and buzz.