Our Amazon updates and previews are always popular. Sales are up 13%, so let’s look at what else is up for Amazon in 2017 in the US and around the world.
Amazon is out to conquer the “athleisure” market next. Fashion sales are expected to grow 28% and if momentum continues, Lululemon, Gap and Under Armour should be nervous. After its Echo sales success and CES buzz, Amazon has partnered its voice technology with big-name brands including Ford, Samsung, LG, Mattel and others. Guess who’s creating 10,000 new US jobs with no help from the new administration? That’d be Amazon and the jobs aren’t just in distribution centers. They’re also in cloud computer services, programmers, logistics and professional support for the new business growth.
Amazon’s rollout of its Prime Video service in 200 markets has Netflix scrambling. Amazon’s more-limited video offer is included in its $99 membership for more than 60 million Amazon Prime members. That gives Amazon deep pockets for new content acquisition as well as country-specific or non-English content which presents future growth challenges for Netflix. Fintech is another target. The new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card provided with Chase, will offer 5% cashback for Amazon Prime members, 3% on Amazon.com purchases and further cashback from shopping elsewhere. Amazon will add a Manhattan, NYC retail bookstore to others in Seattle, Portland, San Diego and Chicago and expects to have eight by the end of the year.
Forbes looks at five other ways Amazon will disrupt retail before you see an Amazon Go convenience store in your neighborhood. PaymentsSource expects payments disruption via checkout-less stores (Amazon Go), AI (Alexa) ordering, Dash product or appliance buttons, faster high-tech delivery and it’s still-available Firefly mobile app and more. While Amazon is already delivering by drone in the UK, it’s filed an FCC request to test “wireless technology prototypes” in Washington state. Finally, Shopify has a new deal enabling its own merchants to sell on Amazon which could be a model for Amazon to further dominate e-commerce.
Amazon grows its apparel empire
Amazon is getting one step closer to dominating department stores.
The ecommerce giant is about to tap into one of America’s biggest clothing trends by launching its own athleisure brand, making it a competitor to Lululemon, Gap’s Athleta, Under Armour, Nike, and other top sportswear brands.
The move will also make Amazon a bigger threat to department stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and JCPenney, which have battled years of declining shopper traffic to malls. Via businessinsider.com
Amazon’s Alexa won the CES battle, but faces a tough war
Amazon’s Alexa voice agent has been the biggest surprise hit for the mammoth online retailer since it moved into the cloud storage business with Amazon Web Services. Alexa showed up at CES 2017 in full force. As Larry Dignan notes, the agent picked up friends in high places, including Ford, Whirlpool, Dish Network, Huawei, Hyundai, Mattel, Lenovo, LG, Samsung and ADT.
That shouldn’t be a surprise to those who noted the rise of Alexa at CES 2016. The disembodied voice agent began its integration march with products from smaller companies and startups, including VoIP vendor Ooma, item finder vendor TrackR, and Bluetooth speaker/digital message board vendor Invoxia. And that was all before Alexa’s strong year-end showing.
Amazon’s progress with Alexa has caused some to proclaim it the winner of the voice wars. Without question, the online retailer has grabbed an early lead in the voice agent space beyond smartphones although, as I mentioned in my column on Microsoft’s 2017 priorities, some of this has been driven by necessity given Amazon’s fiery failure in the smartphone space. Via zdnet.com
Trump deserves no credit for Amazon adding 100,000 jobs.
Amazon is embarking on a hiring spree, the e-commerce giant announced Thursday, pledging to add 100,000 full-time jobs in the United States in the coming 18 months. Some observers were quick to credit the incoming presidential administration. The Wall Street Journal noted the company was “leveraging plans already in the works in part to patch up its contentious relationship with President-elect Donald Trump.” The argument isn’t a total stretch: After criticizing Trump during the campaign, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did take part in the informal meeting between Trump and technology leaders at Trump Tower last month.
At the same time, there’s both more and less here than meets the eye. On one hand, Amazon’s announcement is a sign that the labor market is quite tight. The unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. There have been 75 straight months of jobs growth. And at the beginning of December there were 5.5 million jobs open in the U.S. All of which means that if you need to fill lots of positions, it’s hard to do so by offering temporary or informal work without benefits. You’ve got to promise people full-time work with benefits, even for lower-skilled warehouse jobs. (Thanks, Obama and Yellen!)
Amazon is hiring in part because its many businesses—from web hosting to e-commerce—are growing very rapidly. And creating and sustaining all these businesses, especially those involved in moving lots of goods around the country, are still labor-intensive. Analysts estimate about 60 million people have signed up for Amazon Prime, and they use those order buttons with great frequency and alacrity. Lots of boxes have to packed and shipped every day. And that takes people. Via slate.com
Amazon Prime Video’s Global Launch Looks Soft, But It’s a Game-changer
Amazon’s sudden recent rollout of its Prime Video service in more than 200 territories, in tandem with the global availability of its new series “The Grand Tour,” clearly announced the company’s intention to take on Netflix as ruler of the video-streaming world.
Yet what’s equally clear is that Amazon has some way to go in terms of tailoring Prime to local tastes and maximizing its appeal. Indeed, in some ways, the Dec. 14 global rollout almost seemed like a soft launch. In several countries looked at by Variety, the company hasn’t even bothered to translate the PrimeVideo.com website’s interface from English into the local language. And its content offerings seem scant and lacking in local flavor.
Amazon’s strategy appears to be a two-step process: first set up a global footprint, then go back and build out more tailored platforms in key new markets with better-curated and more local-language content, similar to what the company has already done in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Austria, and Japan. In India, they set up a local operation prior to their Dec. 14 launch there. (Smaller territories will probably continue to have just a generalized global service, not a custom-made one.) Via variety.com
Amazon and Chase Introduce New Prime Rewards Visa Card With 5% Back on All Amazon.com Purchases and Rewards Everywhere Else
Amazon.com, Inc. and Chase today introduced the new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, the only card that offers 5% Back on all Amazon.com purchases and rewards everywhere else you shop, including 2% Back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% Back on every other purchase, available exclusively for eligible Prime members.
Existing Amazon Rewards Visa Signature cardmembers with an eligible Prime membership will be upgraded to the new Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card and enjoy 5% Back on all Amazon.com purchases, a newly designed metal card and no foreign transaction fees when traveling abroad or for cross-border shopping. Prime members can begin taking advantage of these new benefits by using their existing card until their new card arrives.
Card members who are not eligible Prime members will now benefit from no foreign transaction fees and a refreshed card design, in addition to 3% Back at Amazon.com, 2% Back at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% Back on every other purchase. Card members can join Amazon Prime to earn 5% Back at amazon.com/prime. Via businesswire.com
Amazon’s new bookstores are copying independent booksellers
Since opening its first bookstore in Seattle in November 2015, Amazon has now expanded to two more locations in Portland and San Diego. Just last week, it confirmed the launch of a store in New York City, and is expected to have at least eight stores by the end of this year.
What’s driving this change at Amazon, a company who downright rejected the idea for physical stores in a shareholder letter ten years ago?
Amazon is notoriously secretive, but a closer look shows the company may be inspired by a thriving group within the book industry: independent bookstores. Via businessinsider.com
5 Ways Amazon Will Disrupt Commerce Before Amazon Go Comes to Your Neighborhood
In the midst of the year’s busiest shopping season, Amazon.com Inc. surprised some with one of its next-gen commerce announcements. Amazon Go, which promises to eliminate the checkout altogether, generated headlines in mainstream media and prompted some to contemplate the potential demise of retail as we know it. Lost in all this hype is the brick-and-mortar apocalypse is no more likely today than it was before Amazon’s recent attempt.
Of course, Amazon, which is the world’s largest internet retailer, has set the standard for commerce reinvention with fast delivery, near-invisible payments and other perks tied to its Amazon Prime membership platform . Amazon has outpaced the rapid growth of digital commerce in the retail industry globally, increasing its own market share from 12% in 2011 to 19% in 2016, according to the latest data from Euromonitor International. Since its founding in 1994, Amazon has continuously redefined what commerce means. While this Amazon Go idea is intriguing, the reality of a completely frictionless shopping experience is years from becoming mainstream. Via forbes.com
6 ways Amazon wants to disrupt retail payments
Amazon.com has set the standard for e-commerce with fast delivery, invisible payments and many other perks that keep consumers coming back to its site. Increasingly, the e-tailer has experimented with ways to streamline the payment process outside of the trappings of its website.
Amazon has begun partnering with appliance makers to embed its Dash technology throughout consumers’ homes. Dash is Amazon’s system for reordering dedicated products with the push of a button, but if the tech is built into a dishwasher or washing machine, the appliance can sense when it’s low on supplies and place an order with Amazon without having to wait for the customer to act. Companies such as GE, Samsung and Whirlpool are already working with this technology. Via paymentssource.com
Amazon seeks to run wireless tests in Washington state
According to documents unearthed by Business Insider, Amazon Corporate has sought permission from the FCC to run tests of wireless technology prototypes in and around one of its facilities in Seattle, and outdoors in Kennewick, Washington, for unspecified purposes. The person who filed the request for the e-commerce and IT giant, Neil Woodward, is a former NASA astronaut, now a senior manager in charge of flight test and certification for Amazon Prime Air.
The wireless test request could be related to Amazon’s preparations to start drone deliveries in the U.S. Or they could indicate that Amazon is building new communications systems for use in physical security, or data gathering from the company’s considerable infrastructure. Woodward was involved in other infrastructure and security projects during his earlier years at Amazon.
That said, Amazon has already embarked on drone deliveries in England. U.K. regulations were sorted ahead of U.S. regulations where commercial drone flights were concerned, which helped to make that possible. Since the U.S. established its own Part 107 rules governing the use of small, unmanned aerial systems for commercial and industrial purposes domestically, back in August, companies have made moves. Via techcrunch.com
Start Selling on Amazon With Shopify
Whether your holiday sales blew away expectations or left you with unsold inventory, your timing couldn’t be better if the new year has you thinking about selling somewhere new. The Shopify integration with Amazon makes it possible for anyone selling in USD to easily list on the world’s largest marketplace and get next-level product and brand visibility.
Simply add new products to Shopify and sync your product information in the Amazon sales channel to create an Amazon listing. You’ll save time manually entering product information and be able to manage your entire product catalog for your website, retail store, Amazon store, and all other sales channels, all from one place.
To sell on Amazon with Shopify, you’ll need to register as a Professional Seller and upgrade to an Amazon Seller Central Professional account (note: additional fees apply). Via shopify.com
Watch for other market leader updates
We regularly profile other market leaders including Walmart, Target and large e-commerce and retailers in many markets around the world. Let us know if there’s a market or business profile you’d like to see.