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Amazon Local opens to reviews, could be first step to larger local marketplace




IMG_0394Amazon Local is a daily deal site like Groupon but there’s a rumor going around that it’s about to expand into a much more comprehensive service. There’s talk of an Amazon Local Marketplace where you can find a babysitter for your child, a doctor for your dog or vice versa.

Such a service would put Amazon in competition with Angie’s List and Yelp and Forbes says that just talk of Amazon getting into that end of the business caused stock prices for both companies to drop.

Amazon has been experimenting with same-day grocery deliveries for awhile. Earlier this week, I received an email saying that the service was now available in my area  – for a measly $299 a year! I’m sure there’s an audience that wouldn’t blink at that price, especially in Los Angeles. I’m not a part of that audience but if I was a busy executive living in a condo in the city, having someone deliver my groceries for that price would be a nice perk.

Going back to Amazon Local. . . sources say that you can now leave a review of a restaurant, hotel or service you purchased through the program which is where the Yelp connection comes in. Right now, there aren’t many reviews. I couldn’t find a single one in a scan of Los Angeles and San Francisco offers but they’re out there.

You do have to be logged in to your Amazon account to access the Amazon Local deals, so that should help cut down on fraudulent reviews. I also wonder if the app will have more than the usual number of positive reviews. For some reason, Amazon users seem more willing to write a good review. Maybe it’s because they can’t hide their identity. Yelp, on the other hand, is a playground for complainers. Not that some companies don’t deserve the bad feedback but it does seem like more people will log on to complain than to say something nice.

The reality is that 80% of reviews on Yelp are three stars or above but I’m not sure I’d call three stars all that positive.

At the moment, Amazon is in stealth mode and isn’t responding to all of the stories that are popping up about their local business. I’m sure it’s being discussed but I can’t see it taking off anytime soon. More likely, they’ll begin testing in a few major cities and that might be the end of that.

Personally, I turn to Amazon for all my books, DVDs and many of the gifts I buy but I can’t see myself logging on to find a plumber. They have a long way to go before they make that a natural connection.