The next time you need a last-minute babysitter, you might not have to browse listings on Angie's List, or worse, trawl through sketchy posts on Craigslist. You might be able to go through the same familiar service from which you order 24-packs of paper towels: Amazon.com.
The world's largest online retailer is stretching its legs and is, apparently, looking to get into the local services game. Reuters reports that, according to several people familiar with the matter, Amazon plans on launching a "marketplace for local services" later this year—an intentionally broad umbrella term that includes everything from plumbers to nannies to someone to feed your cat. Per the report:
The move takes direct aim at consumer review sites Yelp Inc and Angie's List Inc as well as U.S. home improvement chains Home Depot Inc and Lowe's Companies Inc, which have both invested in ways to link customers with local plumbers, painters, and other service providers.
What might that look like? Details are mum, and the company declined a request to comment. Still, it isn't hard to imagine Amazon's review and recommendation engine being applied to, say, the guy who replaces your water heater. Or a reputable dog walker.
Generally speaking, moving into the local services biz would be a big move for Amazon. While fantastical machinations of drone delivery and public spats with Hachette might be dominating all the recent headlines, it's Amazon's quieter endeavors—the S3 data centers, the mechanical turks marketplace—where Amazon seems to really flourish. Amazon might be at its best when it's boring.
One of those areas where it excels is Amazon's vaunted same-day delivery, which is available for now in 12 cities. Competitors like Google are already building copycat systems for shoppers, and even IBM recently revealed that it plans on helping its retail partners enable same-day delivery thanks to a startup called Deliv.
Reuters suggests that the local service marketplace will be rolled out similarly to Amazon Fresh, meaning that like the grocery delivery service, the local marketplace will be tested in a select group of markets—Seattle? San Francisco?—to examine demand and work out the major logistical kinks before a possible wider rollout.