Update: The article has been updated as requested by Amazon for clarity. 

Amazon is now rolling out a great tool for sellers to help them with their branding. This sudden move represents Amazon's departure from its tight controls over customer data.

Amazon's latest feature for sellers

Last week, Amazon began piloting a tool that enables brands in the United States that are a part of its Brand Registry program to email marketing materials to customers who have chosen to follow their brands.

Brands can then send notifications to the customers when they launch a new product or if they have a promotion.

The new follow button is featured in areas like the brand's store page and videos on Amazon Live, which is the company's livestream shopping platform.

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The tool called "Manage Your Customer Engagement," is created to drive repeat purchases for brands and to help them build a robust following on Amazon. In a video describing the tool, Amazon urges sellers to build their brand with Amazon.

According to CNBC, an Amazon spokesperson said that the company is committed to serving its shoppers by helping them engage with their favorite brands. Shoppers can "follow" their favorite brands and brands are able to engage with these customers.

With Manage Your Customer Engagement, brands will be able to initiate email campaigns about new product announcements and offers that Amazon will send to shoppers who choose to follow the brand. 

Amazon's third-party marketplace

Amazon continues to grow its third-party marketplace and has sought to convince major brands and build a more robust library of high-quality products on its site, according to The Verge.

Issues with counterfeiting and pricing tactics have made some brands wary of increasing their Amazon presence, but the coronavirus pandemic pulled in some of those who may have been hesitant to sell on the platform.

More than three-quarters of U.S. brands, or around 78%, are currently selling on Amazon's marketplace, an increase from 55% in 2019, according to a February report from Feedvisor, which helps brands grow on e-commerce marketplaces.

Some people may be surprised by Amazon's decision to let brands contact shoppers. The company has long prohibited businesses that sell on its site from soliciting customers, keeping data like their email addresses private, largely to protect customers from receiving spam mails.

Merchants could communicate with customers through a messaging feature on Amazon's site, but only when it concerned things like the status of their order.

Customers' contact information will continue to remain private. Amazon will give brands aggregate data when they use the tool that shows them how many emails will go out when they decide to share marketing campaigns with their followers. Sellers can also view metrics to see how their campaigns were received.

For now, Amazon's free tool is only available to the sellers and brands that are members of Brand Registry, a program that was launched by Amazon in 2015 as a way to help businesses curb the sale of counterfeits.

More than 350,000 brands have registered to be part of the program since it launched, which has since expanded to include other benefits.

Brands have been requesting that Amazon launch more services to help them build more durable relationships with customers on the site, said Fahim Naim, a former Amazon employee who now runs e-commerce consultancy eShopportunity.

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Written by Sophie Webster

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