Aug 27, 2013
Amazon Adds In-App Sale of Real Goods
The Seattle retail giant announced Tuesday that developers can allow physical goods from Amazon.com to be purchased through just about any Android app. That means users could buy an actual calendar to hang on their wall while using a calendar app, or spices from a recipe app.
It is easy to imagine how the new in-app purchasing could appeal for marketers: Stick a virtual pair of the latest Air Jordan shoes on a game character and offer them at a discount.
The announcement is one more sign of how Amazon aims to replace both the corner and department stores by offering nearly all consumer goods with just a click. The company has in recent weeks begun selling fine art and wine, as well as fresh produce in new markets.
Eric Hautemont, chief executive of game maker Days of Wonder, said the new program was a no-brainer. “How else can we close the loop between digital and physical?” said Hautemont. “Our customers want to be able to make these purchases easily.”
Days of Wonder, based in Los Altos, Calif., will offer a new version of its game “Ticket to Ride” in a digital and physical version starting Tuesday, Hautemont said. The physical board game will be sent to customers through Amazon’s own warehouses.
Developers need to opt-in to the new in-app purchasing function by downloading software from Amazon and choosing which physical goods from the retailer’s site they wish to display. Depending on how much merchandise they move each month, developers get between a 4% and 6% commission on the products they sell through an app, in addition to any commission they get through the Amazon site, said a spokeswoman.
The announcement comes just days after Facebook backed off an initiative to sell physical goods like teddy bears and cupcakes through its social media site, due to slow sales. That program had been viewed as a potential threat to Amazon.
Amazon decided to roll out the in-app purchasing of physical goods after a successful test with Activision’s “Skylanders Cloud Patrol” game last year. Users could buy plastic toy versions of Skylanders characters directly through the app for delivery to their home and were also given digital versions to play in the game.
The Amazon spokeswoman declined to discuss specifics of the Skylanders promotion and Activision representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Corrections & Amplifications
Amazon will allow physical goods to be purchased through nearly any Android app. An earlier version of this article said the sales would happen through apps on Kindle.