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Amazon Ups its Assault on National Brands With Private-Label Accelerator

If Amazon’s burgeoning private-label business had you quaking in your boots, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

CNBC first reported that the e-commerce leviathan’s Amazon Accelerator Program plans to supercharge its sizeable own-brand activities, which generated $450 million in sales last year, per OneClickRetail data.

Meanwhile, Amazon is also hiring a senior product manager of private brands to help spearhead the effort, according to a listing on its careers page.

The accelerator program targets manufacturers seeking to help build brands that will be sold exclusively on Amazon alongside existing own-brand efforts such as Lark & Ro, Buttoned Down, Goodthreads, Paris Sunday and Suite Alice.

Private labels and Amazon exclusives—those brands only available through its platform—generate healthier profit margins and give shoppers a breadth of choices they can’t find anywhere else. Forging ahead with private labels could help Amazon grow its share of online sales, which already total nearly 50 percent of the market.

If you’ve shopped on Amazon—and really, who hasn’t?—you may have noticed an option to filter search results by “Top Brands” or “Our Brands.” A landing page describes “Our Brands” as the e-commerce company’s in-house labels, plus “a curated selection of brands sold exclusively on Amazon.” Manufacturers that join the “Amazon family of brands” through the accelerator stand to receive assistance in communicating the brand story, opportunities to trial new products and iterate in response to consumer response, and help with marketing as directed by Amazon’s merchandising group. The company dangles yet an additional carrot: Items that garner top ratings and reviews could be selected for more prominent spotlighting across the platform, Amazon said on its website.

Categories eligible for inclusion in “Our Brands” run the gamut from apparel and footwear to beauty, health and wellness, pets, food and beverage, and toys.

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Amazon’s all-hands-on-deck private-label incursion is prompting some brands to reconsider their relationship with the retail disruptor. “Amazon’s dominance of the e-commerce sphere has forced brands to adopt an Amazon-first strategy in order to remain relevant,” OneClickRetail’s Peter Andrews wrote in a note last week, “but now those same brands are facing off against the retailer’s own products in the fight for the digital shelf.”

Meanwhile, Amazon continues to grow its inventory holdings in the biggest national brands, as it angles for credibility as a fashion destination. The e-commerce firm carries more PVH SKUs than either Macy’s or J. C. Penney’s, according to a MarketWatch article citing a research note by Instinet’s Simeon Siegel, the analyst covering department stores, specialty retail and apparel.