The next hit product is always right around the corner, and if the world's largest online retailer has its way, you might just be introduced to it through Amazon.com.

With support from Silicon Valley powerhouses like venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and accelerator Y Combinator, Amazon this week unveiled Amazon Launchpad, "a new program that makes it easy for startups to launch, market, and distribute their products to hundreds of millions of Amazon customers across the globe."

Through the Amazon Launchpad store consumers can discover more than 200 products created by upstart companies like Bluesmart, which sells smart carry-on luggage, and Osmo, which makes an iPad gaming system.

According to Amazon Vice President Jim Adkins:

As the pace of innovation continues to increase within the startup community, we want to help customers discover these unique products and learn the inspiration behind them. We also know from talking to startups that bringing a new product to market successfully can be just as challenging as building it.

Amazon Launchpad gives customers access to a dedicated storefront featuring a variety of innovative new products from emerging brands.

Beyond the exposure Amazon promises startups that participate in its new program, the online retail giant offers Amazon Launchpad partners help with brand development and access to its global fulfillment network.

According to Amazon, "With Amazon Launchpad, startups can overcome many of the challenges associated with launching new products by using Amazon’s retail expertise and infrastructure to create awareness and drive sales."

Make or break

With the costs developing new physical products decreasing considerably in recent years, a growing number of startups are focusing on creating innovations that consumers can touch and hold.

But bringing a physical product to market still comes with considerable challenges. If Amazon proves capable of helping young companies tap its vast customer base, it could find itself in the enviable position of hit-maker for new products in a variety of important categories such as consumer electronics and beauty.

But despite Amazon's reach and logistics expertise, there's no guarantee the online retailer will be able to predict winners or produce them.

Startups participating in Amazon Launchpad, which is billed as the place "where inventions take flight," will almost certainly find Amazon's help to be valuable, but they should also remember that Amazon's marketplace is vast and competitive.

As such, few physical product startups can afford to ignore multiple channels, offline and online, when trying to break through, even if they have the backing of a major retailer.

Patricio Robles

Published 30 July, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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