Amazon has an under-the-radar program that sends customers samples of free stuff - here's how it works

1850 FoldgersAmazon

  • Amazon has a program that sends customers free samples of items they might like.
  • It uses machine learning and predictive analytics to send samples of goods like Folgers coffee and dog food to customers who might want to try them, based one what the company already knows about them, according to Axios.
  • It's another feature of Amazon's growing advertising business, in which brands can pay the e-commerce company to reach certain customers.

Amazon and Costco have at least one more thing in common: sampling.

The e-commerce giant has a little-known program that sends small test sizes of consumable products to customers who might want them. Known as Amazon Product Sampling, it will send sample sizes of products like Folgers' new brand of 1850 coffee, Purina Beyond grain-free pet food, Bear Naked Granola, and Dunkin' Keurig coffee pods.

The idea is that Amazon can use information it knows about you to provide products that you might like. For example, if you've purchased a Keurig machine or Keurig coffee pods from Amazon before, the algorithm figures you might be able to use some pods from a different brand. It uses machine learning and predictive analytics to do this on a large scale, according to Axios.

Amazon samplesAmazon

The program is currently small, but according to job listings seen by Axios, it could be expanding.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to provide additional details on the samples program.

The program is another part of Amazon's growing advertising business, in which brands can pay Amazon to reach certain customers. In this case, advertisers pay Amazon to send items to customers who might purchase the product, according to the legal terms and conditions of the program. The brands get access to Amazon's huge customer base without offering the customer data directly to the advertiser.

Read more: Amazon's ad business is set to more than quadruple by 2023 - and Google should be worried

It appears Amazon opts customers in to the program by default. To opt in to or out of the samples program, customers can visit Amazon.com/samples and navigate to the preferences page. Only customers who agree to receive "Marketing Information by Post" in Amazon's general Communication Preferences Center will recieve samples.

It's likely that frequent shoppers are more likely to be chosen as sample recipients, but there's no limit to how many samples customers can get, and they don't need to be Prime members either.

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