What once was only an online bookstore is now selling home services to Elm City residents.
Amazon, the largest internet-based retailer in the world, on Monday announced the expansion of Amazon Home Services to New Haven, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, San Antonio and 16 other U.S. metropolitan areas. Amazon is making dozens of services such as television installation, house cleaning and furniture assembly available for purchase through its website.
Though Amazon has just announced the rollout of these types of services, some local businesses have been using the company’s interface to sell their services over the past year. Still, employees interviewed at several businesses that serve New Haven have not yet received substantial business through the site.
“It doesn’t seem like a platform many people are interested in using,” said Steven Ruiz-Diaz, web and graphic designer at New Jersey-based Jeevy Computers, which serves customers in New Haven.
Jeevy Computers, which offers multiple computer services and assembles various home items, applied to be a Amazon Home Services “pro” last July. After the company was accepted, Jeevy Computers started to receive requests from customers throughout New Jersey to install residential summer items such as basketball hoops and fire pits, Ruiz-Diaz said. The company even expanded its service to include assembly of items such as trampolines.
As the seasons changed, the type of assembly requests did as well. Jeevy Computers started to mount televisions and put together furniture after the summer.
But before making any orders, customers first request an estimated price from the company. Roughly 20 percent of price requests led to completed orders, Ruiz-Diaz said.
“A lot of the initial requests are just feelers,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not entirely worth it for us to send all of these customers estimates.”
Along with assembly services, Amazon Home Services also offers house cleaning assistance.
Angelina Grimaldi, owner of the Connecticut-based cleaning service Sparkling Cleaning, received an email from Amazon in September with an application for her company to join the service. Though she has run the company for 30 years without Amazon Home Services, she decided to fill out the application, believing that only invited companies could become pros. With a service area encompassing nearly all of Connecticut, Sparkling Cleaning has only received two orders through the interface since then.
Since Amazon was a popular name, Grimaldi said she expected to receive more requests through the site, but she said Amazon Home Services still lacks popularity and that the company receives more business from the competing website Angie’s List.
Some businesses choose to use two or more websites to attract more customers.
RC Imaging Photography in Branford, for example, has been listed on Amazon Home Services for more than a year, owner Dominick Cenotti said. Still, RC Imaging Photography, which offers professional photo shoots, has received zero orders from the website so far.
“It sounds like a great idea, I’m still hoping I’ll start to get orders from it,” Cenotti said.
Though he has not received any business through Amazon’s site, Cenotti said 30 percent of his company’s sales comes through Google searches, with the remaining 70 percent coming from the website Thumbtack, which he has been using for three years.
On Thumbtack, customers open silent auctions on a service and area businesses cast their bids. After five bids are placed, the lowest bidder is awarded the project.
Though some businesses have found success with these marketing websites, two local bike shop owners interviewed were pessimistic about the potential business they might receive through Amazon Home Services.
“I don’t think it’ll be a back breaker,” Newington Bicycle owner Dave Arnold said.
Though both Newington Bicycle and College Street Cycles created pro accounts in the past month, neither has received a request for service.
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com Inc. in 1994.