June 12, 2014 - 13:03 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Amazon.com Inc later this year plans to launch a marketplace for local services, a broad term that encompasses anything from babysitters to handymen to birthday clowns, beginning with a single market, several people familiar with the matter said, Reuters reported exclusively.
Amazon aims to gauge demand and test logistics before rolling out nationwide, mirroring its approach to its grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh. Fresh was tested in Seattle for years before expanding to San Francisco and Los Angeles last year.
The move takes direct aim at consumer review sites Yelp Inc and Angie's List Inc as well as U.S. home improvement chains Home Depot Inc and Lowe's Companies Inc, which have both invested in ways to link customers with local plumbers, painters and other service providers.
Amazon declined to comment.
Services marks a new frontier for Amazon, which has focused on selling products as it expanded from books into consumer goods, groceries and media. Local services are massive and growing, but it has been tough for marketplace companies to turn a profit, since offerings must be tailored to each city or region.
In recent months, Amazon has reached out directly to service companies as well as to several startups in Seattle and San Francisco that already connect service providers, from home repair to massages, to customers through their own web sites and mobile applications, according to the people.
Amazon has also been experimenting with ways to tie services to the products it sells. In one example, Amazon recently ran a test on its website offering installation services to users who bought Nest thermostats.
The moves reflects Amazon's long-running efforts to have services tied to every product sold by Amazon on its website, according to one person close to the company, who like others declined to be named discussing confidential plans.