SEATTLE – The loss of a full-time job in 2013 prompted Juan Marin to plunge all his efforts into the home-services business he and his wife, Yesica, had started in 2010.
They expanded what had started as a housecleaning service into roof and gutter cleaning.
Last October, the 46-year old native of Monterrey, Mexico, heeded the advice of a friend and signed up with Amazon Home Services, a then-nascent marketplace that connects customers of the Seattle tech giant to local plumbers, electricians or someone who can assemble an Ikea bed.
The move gave Marin’s business, Everclean Cleaning Services, a sudden boost. He said that perhaps a third of his work comes from Amazon, and that his plate is filling up after favorable reviews.
“We are looking to hire to extend the services we can offer, because my wife and I can’t keep up,” he said.
It’s been about a year since Amazon.com opened an online marketplace dedicated to the home-services category, throwing itself into a market first carved out by Angie’s List.
It’s not known exactly how many service providers like the Marins have enrolled, but Amazon said it has done well, with orders growing more than 20 percent per month since the marketplace launched in March 2015 in four metropolitan areas. Now Amazon Home Services extends to 30 major metro areas, including the Twin Cities.
For Amazon, the home-improvement business is an interesting field to conquer in its quest to become the place where everybody goes for purchases or services. The company, of course, takes its cut — a 10 to 20 percent commission per job in the case of home services, depending on the complexity of the order.
By taking similar cuts from third-party merchants of everything from diapers to high-priced art, Amazon has built its Marketplace business into what CEO Jeff Bezos calls one of the three “big pillars” of the company.
Amazon Home Services not only adds a segment to that pillar, but also enables its online store to sell more things by, say, selling both a new TV and the service to mount it on a wall.
Erika Takeuchi, a spokeswoman for Amazon Home Services, said Amazon has seen an uptick in certain categories of home improvement and electronics because of the associated services offered.
Amazon brings to buyers and sellers something in return. It does background checks on providers, and its well-established review system allows customers to have some reassurance.
At the site of one of Marin’s window-washing jobs, a customer said it was easier than “asking her neighbor for someone who might or might not do a good job.”
To the service providers, Amazon offers a line into its millions of customers. It handles payment and scheduling, and the way it connects sellers and clients is pretty much automated.
Customers approve a bid online and pay Amazon when the job is completed; then Amazon pays the provider every 14 days.
“You save a lot of time on calls,” Marin says.
That said, there are challenges. For Amazon, dealing with people was different from dealing with companies that sell merchandise. It was a task to reach out to these service providers, many of whom weren’t even online, Takeuchi said.
Its guarantee to customers had to evolve, too. “If you have your roof leaking you don’t just want your money back,” Takeuchi said. “You want to make sure it stops leaking.”