The task of finding and employing a skilled laborer has just received the Amazon treatment.
The ecommerce behemoth announced Monday the launch of Amazon Home Services, an Angie's List-style, hyper-local marketplace that connects shoppers with service providers -- allowing shoppers to order a plumber or electrician as easily as ordering up a pair of shoes or a vacuum cleaner.
The home services category is not entirely new for Amazon, and is in some ways an extension or a rebranding of Amazon Local Services. Rolled out quietly last year, Local Services would offer links to service providers when certain purchases were made through Amazon's site.
But with today's launch of Home Services, Amazon takes that approach a step further with a much heavier load of backend details. Amazon will handle the minutia that comes with hiring a skilled laborer, such as vetting background checks and references, assuring the maintenance of proper licenses, and verifying service quality.
Home Services also removes much of the price bartering that can come with hiring a skilled worker. All of the billing and payments run through Amazon, and a worker is not compensated until a project is completed.
As a bonus to consumers, the professionals using the service are required to offer the same price on Amazon as they would if called directly -- even though Amazon takes a cut of between 10 percent and 20 percent of every service arranged through its site. Amazon is also guaranteeing customer satisfaction, offering a redo or a refund in instances where the service failed to meet expectations.
The Home Services announcement comes on the heels of rumors that Amazon is interested in acquiring luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter for an estimated $2 billion. Amazon has been trying to break into the selling of luxury goods for some time, without much success, making Net-a-Porter an attractive option aside from the price tag.
As for Home Services, it seems pretty obvious that Amazon is looking to take on other service provider marketplaces such as Angie's List, TaskRabbit and Fiverr. However, in typical Amazon frenemy fashion, Amazon is bringing TaskRabbit on board as marketplace partner, utilizing its repository of skilled workers to offer more services to shoppers.
Aside from the obvious financial benefits with the home services category, Amazon also stands to rake in boat loads of valuable consumer data that could impact how it sells and markets physical goods. For instance, if the data shows that a large number of shoppers are purchasing fitness training sessions, Amazon could then determine it needs a wider selection of workout apparel or more marketing of fitness trackers.
So far, Home Services is open to those living in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Portland, Riverside, Tampa, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.