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What If Amazon Opened Its Marketplace to Retail In-Store Inventory?

What if Amazon opened up its third-party marketplace to retailers’ in-store inventory? That’s exactly what eBay is attempting to do with the help of its acquisition of Milo, and a new report from Wall Street analysts says that may be what Amazon is planning.

But how would brick-and-mortar retailers feel about having their in-store inventory appear in Amazon search results, and how would current merchants feel about the addition of competing inventory – items that would have an edge since shoppers could pick up their orders at the store or have them delivered same-day?

Colin Sebastian and Rohit Kulkarni of Baird Equity Research published a report that said Amazon’s reported acquisition of payments company GoPago could indicate (“speculatively”) that Amazon “could be in the early stages of opening up its 3P Marketplace to physical retailers.”

What prompted the analysts at Baird to speculate that Amazon would follow eBay’s lead was its reported acquisition of GoPago, a company whose point-of-sale solution links merchants and consumers in-store, online and via mobile devices. Sebastian and Kulkarni wrote, “Other speculative use cases for GoPago would include Amazon opening up its third-party (3P) marketplace to bricks-and-mortar merchants (similar to eBay’s efforts to integrate physical store listings into its mobile apps and marketplace site); or less likely, plans to roll out Amazon stores.”

Yes – Amazon stores!

eBay acquired Milo in 2010, a shopping engine that provided real-time inventory and pricing information from 140 retail chainstores. eBay integrated Milo’s technology into the eBay.com platform to provide consumers with access to millions of products from 50,000 brick-and-mortar stores, and it powers eBay Now same-day delivery. At the time, eBay CTO Mark Carges said adding local store inventory to the eBay marketplace was a natural extension of what the company been doing for 15 years – bringing buyers and sellers together.

In fact, eBay recently begun promoting its new in-store pickup service in which shoppers can purchase an item directly on a seller’s listing page and choose to pick it up at the seller’s local store instead of having it shipped to them, as reported in October.

While retailers are wary of Amazon, with many saying it uses their sales data to determine best sellers and then compete with them, it might prove irresistible to be able to serve up in-store inventory to Amazon’s huge base of shoppers.

As for Amazon’s third-party merchants without a brick-and-mortar presence, they would likely feel the same way eBay merchants feel about having to compete with the likes of Best Buy, ToysRUs and AutoZone on marketplaces on which they rely for sales. Upon hearing about an early incarnation of eBay’s local inventory search engine, an eBay seller reacted by writing, “On the First day of Christmas My eBay gave to me, A link to drive buyers to local storeeeeess and away from meeee.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.