If you buy an air conditioner on Amazon.com, the site will help you find someone to install it for you.
Amazon Local Services is a marketplace for local businesses to offer services to online shoppers. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that the company introduced it in New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. It appears that the service is currently being beta tested in more than a dozen cities in nine states -- including Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Green Bay, Wis., and Lexington, Ky. -- according a page on the website that includes information for plumbers, installers and handymen who want to sign up to have Amazon broker contracts on their behalf. Amazon declined to comment.
From the consumer's perspective, here's how it works. Let's say you find the air conditioner you want. Below the price and shipping details, you'll see a message:
The link will take you to a list of local businesses. You'll have the option to select the service you need, for instance for new installation or to replace and haul away your old A/C, and review price quotes and reviews from Amazon users and Yelp. Then, just add the service to your cart.
Here's how it looks from the contractor's side:
Amazon takes a 20 percent cut of what you pay your handyman, plumber, electrician, computer tech, mechanic, home media installer or appliance specialist, which includes a 5 percent transaction fee and a 15 percent "service platform" fee. They tack on another 15 percent for services over $1,000.
Service providers pay a monthly subscription fee (which Amazon is waiving through June 30, 2015), and cover the $40 to $50 background check fees. Because some of the services take place in customer's homes, each employee who will perform onsite work needs a check.
This is the second time in less than a week that Amazon has opened its shopping cart to non-physical goods. Amazon Travel, a hotel booking service, is rolling out for independent and boutique hotels near L.A., Seattle and New York.
For now, shoppers in most parts of the country will have to get their air conditioners installed the old fashioned way (Yelp, Google, Angie's List), but eventually they will be able to enjoy one-stop-shopping for a wide range of services, from bike tune-ups to toilet hook-ups, iPhone repairs to tire rotation. You'll even be able to get someone to come over to put together your new furniture, hook up your video game console, or set up your wireless printer.