If you’re an Amazon customer looking for quirky and innovative small business-produced goods—or a small business selling online—you might like Amazon Launchpad, a virtual storefront that highlights new and emerging brands on Amazon.com.
What’s the Point of Amazon Launchpad?
Launched in 2015, Amazon Launchpad aims to attract startup businesses that will sell their goods through Amazon.com. It’s a marketing program that charges a 5% premium for sellers in exchange for inclusion in the Launchpad storefront, special email promotions, and preferred placement during holiday and Prime Day events.
Launchpad began as a “partnership” (what this means exactly is not clear) with venture capital firms and accelerators such as Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, and Indiegogo to capitalize on the recent startup craze. The idea is to make selling on Amazon a win-win for both startups and Amazon: Startups get more brand exposure, and Amazon gets fresh products for its store (while also making extra money in commissions).
Launchpad began as an invitation-only service, but today, small Amazon sellers with less than $5 million in gross sales can apply to join the Launchpad program. The Launchpad contract lasts for 12 months, and then the firm is free to “transition” out of the program and back into regular Amazon seller status.
Does Launchpad Benefit Amazon Customers?
Amazon has positioned Launchpad as a place for startups to specially promote their products through Amazon.com, but it has a slight chicken-and-egg problem in that not many customers actually know about the Launchpad store.
The good news for customers is that if you’re interested in buying new and innovative products from startups on Amazon.com, you might enjoy browsing through the Launchpad storefront. You’ll find lots of quirky products like treat-dispensing pet cameras and a special shelf that sticks out from the side of your bed.
Some of these products are gimmicky, pie-in-the-sky stabs at quick growth that remain the hallmark of venture capital-fed firms. Who knows how long they’ll last on the market or be supported. But you’ll also find genuinely new ideas that might grow into the next Tile or Stripe. And the Launchpad toy category is particularly fun.
The Launchpad curated store is also a great way to avoid the deluge of low-quality and counterfeit goods from China that have overwhelmed Amazon.com in recent years. If Amazon applied its Launchpad curation model to the entire Amazon.com site, it might make for a better Amazon shopping experience in general.