Amazon yesterday issued something it is calling its "Cart Report," which seems to be the first in a series of reports that will lay out what its customers are shopping for, built around certain themes. In this case, it is a "summer grilling shopping forecast based on last summer’s best sellers," based on purchases made both online and in Amazon's physical stores - but not, apparently, at Whole Foods.
Among the "top takeaways?"
"Mayo is America's favorite summer condiment." "In the great ketchup vs. mustard debate, mustard can’t 'catch-up'." "Americans are flipping more hamburgers than hot dogs." "Pickles are an American favorite." "Dip has become a barbecue staple." And, "Ice cream is a top summer dessert."
- KC's View:
Wow. People use more ketchup than mustard, and eat more burgers than franks. I am gobsmacked!
I mean, really? This is the extent of Amazon's insights?
Now, to be fair, some of the numbers are interesting. Like, the fact that Amazon Fresh customers purchase more than 430,000 gallons of mayo each summer. Or, "Amazon Fresh customers purchased enough ketchup to fill more than 2.5 million cups." (I was a little surprised by the idea that "New Yorkers purchased over 20 times as much ketchup as they did mustard" - that just seems wrong. Must be people who moved to New York from elsewhere.). Or that "Amazon Fresh sells about three times more hamburgers than hot dogs and sold nearly 2 million hamburgers last summer."
But overall, I'm not really impressed, because Amazon isn't really telling me anything very surprising, plus there's no real insights into what this means in terms of the evolving (or, maybe, stagnant) American experience.
For example, I'd be interested to know how much of this product was bought online and then either delivered or picked up at Amazon's physical stores. I'd be interested to see how Whole Foods' shoppers differed from Amazon's in these categories.
There's a passage in the "Cart Report" that sort of points to the potential:
Interested in exploring options beyond Amazon Fresh? We have many different customers with many different needs, and it’s our job to meet them where they are. We do this through our stores—Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Go—each of which offer a unique value proposition, an unparalleled range of brands, and a variety of ways to shop.
The problem with this report, I think, is that it is sort of half-hearted - a bunch of stats thrown against the wall, with the hope that some of them will stick and, if picked up by the consumer press, will encourage shoppers to buy more food from Amazon.
What they need to do, in my view, is stress the degree to which Amazon makes available to shoppers across the board options that reflect the complexity and nuance of the American gastronomic experience. That if you live in the southwest but have a hankering for some New England-centric spice, you can get it in 24-28 hours.
Amazon needs to stress what it does that is different, not the fact that it sells a lot of ice cream and mayonnaise.
I'm always writing here that Amazon's competitors need to do the things that Amazon can do or won't do. But the same goes for Amazon - it has to celebrate the things that make it unique, not the things that make it just like everybody else.