Amazon’s Launchpad concept has arrived in Australia, providing a new platform for local direct to consumer brands to launch, market and distribute their products.

The program aims to help local startups and entrepreneurs leverage Amazon’s retail expertise and infrastructure to promote their brands and grow their nascent businesses.

Participants receive custom product pages on the new Launchpad storefront, marketing support and access to Amazon’s local fulfilment network including Amazon Prime.

Businesses must apply to be included in Launchpad but there are currently no fees to join the program in 2019. Amazon says it will be reviewing program fees for 2020.

At launch, over 150 local and international brands are featured on the Australian Amazon Launchpad store. Local businesses participating in the program include sugar-free drink company Nexba, Lyre’s Non Alcoholic Sprits Co and sustainable swimwear brand, Salt Gypsy.

Amazon Launchpad Australia
Amazon Launchpad Australia

“We know that product creation is only one part of the equation in launching a product and that marketing, logistics and finding an audience can be just as challenging. With Amazon Launchpad, we have a program that will help ease some of these challenges for startups and entrepreneurs alike, allowing them to focus on growing their businesses and freeing up time for future innovation,” said Rocco Braeuniger, country manager for Amazon Australia.

Launch strategy

According to Juozas Kaziukėnas, founder of Marketplace Pulse, when Amazon first started Launchpad in the US four years ago, its primary goal was to grow the number of brands available exclusively on Amazon as a way to distinguish it from other online retailers.

“However, despite thousands of products available on the launchpad in the US at any given time, most are as random as the overall catalog. There are of course some exceptional examples, like the Wyze Cam or Exploding Kittens card game, but most didn’t do as well,” he told Which-50.

“Ultimately the Launchpad store is a section buried inside the many pages of Amazon, it’s rarely a destination consumers go to. They find Launchpad products appearing in search just like other products, but there they compete on equal terms with the rest of products.”

Kaziukėnas said sellers can replicate a lot of the services offered by Amazon through the program using software and following the nest practices of successful direct to consumer (DTC) businesses.

“For every brand the Launchpad launches there are thousands more brands launched independently. Of course just as many flop, but in total numbers more succeed too,” Kaziukėnas said.

So, is it worth it?

“For some brands it could be a great fit, but for most brands thinking of Amazon as one of the channels and less as a launch vehicle is probably better,” Kaziukėnas said.

“If we look at the landscape of brands across categories, most of the successes are those who have built a following using modern DTC principles – social media, building a community, direct feedback loop, email lists, etc. Amazon has tools to expose the new brand to many consumers at once, but it lacks in other import areas.”

Amazon Launchpad Australia participant, Beach House Group’s Lance Kalish said his business has had huge success in leveraging Amazon Launchpad in the US to grow customer purchases.

“We are excited to ‘return home’ and bring our products to Aussies from skincare to stationery via the Australian Launchpad store. With the support of Launchpad, we also have more time to focus on our love of innovation and how we can bring the next big thing to market,” Kalish said.

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