Amazon Crowdsources Retail Innovation With Build It

The Kickstarter-like program allows customers to vote on what products they want to see by pre-ordering them.

Need to Know

  • The new Build It program lets Amazon customers tell the retailer which concepts they want to see by pre-ordering them before production.
  • If a concept reaches its pre-order goal within 30 days, Amazon will build it; customers who pre-ordered will be the first to receive the finished product.
  • Build It has launched with three concepts: a smart kitchen scale, smart cuckoo clock, and smart sticky note printer, all of which work with Alexa.
  • All three products are tied into Alexa, which likely means all upcoming Build It ideas will lean into virtual assistant integration.


Amazon is letting its customers decide which products it manufactures next with Build It, a new program that uses pre-orders to determine which concepts the retailer will green-light.

Build It, which launched on February 17, presents a number of potential concepts to Amazon shoppers. Shoppers can then essentially vote for which product they’d like to see made by pre-ordering; if an Amazon concept hits its pre-order goal for a concept within 30 days, it will make the product — a process similar to the one used by Kickstarter.

Built It is an extension of Amazon’s Day 1 Editions program, which soft-launched beta versions of products to Amazon customers, in order to solicit feedback and improve products before releasing them to the wider public. When Amazon users pre-order a concept, they will lock in a special introductory price, and will only be charged for a product when it ships.

“Obsession over you—our customer—has always been at the core of everything we do,” Simon Joinson, principal of tech product management at Amazon Lab126, wrote in a blog post announcing Build It. Joinson cited the launch of Echo Frames, which the company developed with its Day 1 Editions program, as an example of the successes Amazon has had utilizing customer feedback.

“We had to ask ourselves: How can we involve customers even earlier in the process?

Amazon has launched Build It with three concepts. The first, a cuckoo clock with built-in speakers for timers and alarms, works with Alexa and has a removable pendulum so it can be wall-mounted or placed on a wall. Second is a smart nutrition scale that uses Alexa to provide nutritional information for food items, based on weight when they’re placed on the scale. And the third, a smart sticky note printer, uses thermal technology to print shopping lists, reminders, and other notes, with the help of Alexa.

The launch of Build It is just the latest innovation in a series from Amazon that is focused on unconventional—and contactless—means of customer engagement. In June of last year, the company partnered with Modiface and L’Oreal to bring AR try-on technology to the platform, enabling shoppers to virtually try on color cosmetics while shopping on Amazon. The platform also launched a program that offers cash rewards for third-party data and introduced an Alexa-enabled care hub that allows users to check in on loved ones remotely.