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Amazon assembly, installation services bolster big-product sales

🕐 3 min read wants to sell bigger things. To do so, the Web retailer has put together an army of workers who can handle everything from mounting flat TVs on walls to assembling treadmills.

In the year since it rolled out Amazon Home Services, which also offers professional jobs such as painting, plumbing and yoga instruction, the online store has expanded the service to 30 cities from an initial four. Amazon now offers more than 1,200 services, the Seattle-based company said on Wednesday. It’s part of a push by Amazon to expand beyond products, and also a way to make it easier for consumers to buy big items that require an extra pair of hands to set up.

“They are uncovering ways of making the purchase of almost any product easier and more cost effective than shopping in a traditional store,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. “The barriers between consumers making large appliance and home purchases online are falling quickly, and the home-services integration with Amazon is a great example of that.”

The efforts show how Amazon is looking for growth by selling products that shoppers might otherwise find at The Home Depot, Best Buy, Dicks Sporting Goods and Williams-Sonoma. Online furniture sales alone are expected to reach $22.7 billion in 2020, according to the research firm IBISWorld Inc.

Amazon has also increased its warehouse capacity for large items like furniture and flat-screen televisions. A new shipping hub in Kansas announced last week will be among about a dozen Amazon warehouses specifically designed for big products. Others are in Connecticut and California.

Amazon now sells more than 1 million items that give shoppers the option of requesting assembly, installation or other related services, which is boosting the sale of home-improvement products, said Erika Takeuchi, a spokeswoman for Amazon. The most popular services requested are mounting flat-screen televisions to walls and assembling treadmills, she said.

Amazon’s home services also include a wide range of offerings that don’t require purchases from the online store. Housecleaning is the third most popular job requested, according to Amazon. Other services include landscaping, gutter cleaning, pet grooming and yoga instruction. But most service requests are tied to a purchase.

John Burlingame, owner of Hi-Tek Assembly & Installations in Houston, started as an Amazon service provider last year and now gets about half of his business from the Web retailer. A common job entails assembling a trampoline purchased on Amazon, he said, as well as bicycles and home-fitness equipment. Amazon gets 20 percent of the fee and he keeps the rest.

“With Amazon, the only time they take money is when we finish the job,” he said. “That’s a huge benefit for us.”

Consumer faith in the Amazon brand will help shoppers embrace buying larger things online, said Sucharita Mulpuru, analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

“Amazon should absolutely be well positioned to do well here, particularly since they’re putting the brand, which so many people trust, behind everything as a guarantee,” she said. “Local big boxes are the ones most likely to feel the impact of this long term, but for now I don’t think most people are even aware that Amazon even offers any of these end-to-end solutions.”

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