Online giant Amazon has boosted its presence in the pool and
Since 2004, the products have been sold on Amazon, mostly by
third-party retailers who used the site as a sort of hub, but
fulfilled orders themselves. This summer, Amazon expanded the
number of goods it sells on its own.
“We aim to offer customers everything they are looking to
buy online,” said Matthew Dean, director of the Seattle-based
firm’s Tools & Home Improvement store. “We learned
that customers are looking for selection and value in pool
products, so we have built offerings based on their
Amazon has added to its lines of chemicals, automatic pool
cleaners, cleaning tools, pumps, filters, heaters, toys, slides and
diving boards. The company declined to reveal exactly how many
products it now offers, but did say they number in the
The retailer also would not discuss its delivery methods, but
industry insiders said orders will be fulfilled by pool and spa
distributors throughout the country.
Those most immediately affected should be existing Internet
retailers, according to Manuel J. Perez de la Mesa, president/CEO
in Covington, La.
“The difference between Amazon and JohnDoePoolSupply.com
is that Amazon already has existing traffic and a certain brand
awareness,” he said. “There are consumers …
already shopping on the Internet who will feel comfortable buying
from an Amazon, albeit at a modestly higher price, than they will
at a site they’re not familiar with.”
Perez de la Mesa said his company has not been approached by
Retailers are closely watching the Fortune 500 company, which
claims to serve more than 94 million active customers.
“There are dozens of guys on the Internet from the pool
industry, but for some reason, this Amazon move has a lot of people
stirred up,” said one industry insider who wished to remain
anonymous. “Amazon is not from the pool industry.
That’s the big wrinkle. And they’re potentially a game
changer. If we look out 10 years, what percentage of the business
is going to be Amazon vs. everybody else? It could be quite a
Still, some think Amazon doesn’t pose the type of threat
that could significantly affect their businesses. For one, the
clientele may be different.
“I’d be naïve to say that it won’t have
any impact,” said Brenda Murr, vice president of Mermaid
Pool, Spa & Patio in Anderson, Ind. “But people come
to us because we have the expertise. … I don’t think
anybody will go to Amazon for expertise.”
Manufacturers and distributors now working with Amazon expressed
concern over possible backlash from the industry. But they insist
the company is a genuine vendor.
“They’re just as much a legitimate retailer as any
Internet retailer that we’re doing business with,” said
the head of one distribution company that was approached by
That outlook should translate into equal footing on all fronts,
added the distributor, who wished to remain anonymous: “They
will be buying at the same price that we sell to our local dealers
and other Internet retailers. We have not given them any special
pricing, and we don’t intend to.”