FedEx Ends Delivery for Amazon, Supports Other E-Tailers

FedEx will not renew its contract, which expires end of August, for ground delivery of packages for Amazon. In June, FedEx ceased shipping Amazon packages by air but continued ground delivery. FedEx is cementing its relationships with Target, Walmart and other big e-tailers that compete with Amazon. The company released a statement that its move is “consistent with our strategy to focus on the broader e-commerce market,” and its chief operating officer Rajesh Subramaniam said FedEx is “all-in on e-commerce.” Continue reading FedEx Ends Delivery for Amazon, Supports Other E-Tailers

Amazon Revenue Strong, Record Profitability Streak Ends

After posting its best profits over the previous four quarters, Amazon broke its streak; its Q2 profit rose 3.6 percent from a year ago, to $2.63 billion, missing analysts’ predictions. Profitability got a hit from the increased costs of shipping, as Amazon struggled to make one-day shipping the standard for all its Prime members. Chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said that “when the dust settles, we will regain our cost efficiency over time.” Revenue was a bright spot, however, with performance above analysts’ expectations. Continue reading Amazon Revenue Strong, Record Profitability Streak Ends

Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

Amazon’s Accelerator program for independent merchants, launched in spring 2018, provides marketing support, product reviews and visibility in exchange for the right to purchase the brand with 60 days notice, for a fixed price, “often $10,000.” It’s part of the tech behemoth’s strategy to build its portfolio of exclusive brands. According to third-party sellers, this is also the first selling program that gives Amazon direct control over independent brands. One source reported that Amazon has not yet purchased any brands. Continue reading Amazon Accelerator Program Draws Mixed Vendor Interest

The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

According to Amazon, this week’s Prime Day 2019 topped last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Despite competing discounts offered by eBay, Best Buy and Walmart, Prime members purchased more than 175 million products during the annual sales event. The tally is challenging to compare to previous Prime Day events since the e-commerce giant keeps expanding the duration of the sale (this year it was 48 hours, compared to 36 hours in 2018 and 30 hours in 2017). However, the event set a number of sales records, including new milestones for Amazon devices. Continue reading Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Although Amazon bypassed New York City for its second headquarters four months ago, the Big Apple has attracted numerous other high-tech companies that are renting office space and creating jobs. Google inked a deal to lease 1.3 million square feet in lower Manhattan, with plans to add 7,000 jobs over 10 years. Facebook is also in talks to lease one million square feet of office space on the far West Side. Now, actor Robert De Niro and his son are part of an investment team building a film and TV production studio in Queens. Continue reading Tech Expands its NYC Foothold, Investors Build Film Studio

Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

A shift in antitrust thinking is gaining momentum in the U.S. as regulators are increasingly scrutinizing Big Tech. Scholars are examining antitrust issues in a context that focuses on the clout of leading companies. Antitrust regulation has historically focused on consumer welfare and whether or not there is economic impact. In recent decades, tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have experienced massive growth by offering free or cheap digital services. “People might enjoy using the tech platforms but they are also asking, ‘What kind of society do we want?’” suggests Hal Singer of George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy. Continue reading Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

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Facebook Cryptocurrency Gets Backing From Major Players

Mastercard, PayPal Holdings, Uber Technologies and Visa are among the more than a dozen companies that have agreed to back Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, codenamed Project Libra. Each company will invest $10 million and be part of the Libra Association, a consortium to control the virtual currency, said sources. The invested money will fund the currency, which will be linked to a collection of government-issued currencies to make it more stable. Facebook has been developing the project in secrecy for over a year. Continue reading Facebook Cryptocurrency Gets Backing From Major Players

Bond’s Meeker Predicts Our Digital Future in Annual Report

At Code Conference 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona, Bond Capital general partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual, highly anticipated Internet Trends Report. The 333-page slideshow looked at trends from the growth of Internet ad spending to digital delivery services in Latin America. One eye-opening fact she reported is that about 51 percent of the world, equaling 3.8 billion people, used the Internet in 2018, up from 49 percent (3.6 billion) the previous year. Smartphone sales are slowing since so many people likely to be online already are. Continue reading Bond’s Meeker Predicts Our Digital Future in Annual Report

Amazon’s AI-Enabled StyleSnap Is Ideal for Fashion Market

Amazon, which launched its new StyleSnap feature to select iOS and Android users in April, will soon make the in-app tool widely available, said company worldwide consumer head Jeff Wilke at the company’s re:MARS AI conference in Las Vegas. Users can reach StyleSnap via a shortcut found by tapping the camera icon in the Amazon app’s upper right-hand corner. Based on image recognition, the machine learning-enabled StyleSnap (and Pinterest Lens competitor) will offer similar items to any photo or screenshot uploaded by a user. The algorithms also incorporate computer vision and deep learning. Continue reading Amazon’s AI-Enabled StyleSnap Is Ideal for Fashion Market

Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

Amazon created features — such as searching by star ratings or browsing best-selling products — to help consumers navigate “choice overloads” when selecting among thousands of similar products in any given category. The online shopping behemoth also offers “Amazon’s Choice,” which it says is given to “highly rated, well-priced products available to ship immediately.” Amazon will not reveal if a human or an algorithm is making these choices but, given the massive number of products, the latter is more likely. The company did reveal, however, that it recently began adding recommendations from outside publications. Continue reading Amazon Adds Human Touch to Its Recommendation Model

Etsy Turns to Google Cloud to Improve Search, Boost Sales

Etsy, the online crafts marketplace, boasts more than 60 million unique items and is using Google’s machine learning technology to help boost sales. Because more than 80 percent of its search-based purchases come from the first page of results, it is crucial to provide relevant items on that page. With that in mind, Etsy started a move to Google Cloud in 2017, motivated by the platform’s artificial intelligence capabilities. About three-fourths done with the migration, it’s already seen $260 million in incremental gross sales.

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Amazon, Google Overlap in E-Commerce, Digital Ads, More

Amazon and Google have become more competitive over the years, and at the latter’s annual Google Marketing Live conference this week, the company introduced new products to target online shoppers. At the same time, many shoppers now begin their search on Amazon, which has also been making inroads into Google’s traditional bailiwick of digital advertising. Marketing analytics firm Jumpstart reported that, in 2015, about 54 percent of product searches began on Google, and 46 percent on Amazon; those numbers flipped by 2018. Continue reading Amazon, Google Overlap in E-Commerce, Digital Ads, More

Amazon Will Pay Employees to Quit, Start New Companies

Competing for delivery drivers in what The Wall Street Journal calls the tightest U.S. labor market in 50 years, Amazon is willing to pay its current employees to quit their jobs to start local package-delivery businesses in order to help the e-commerce giant with its ambitious delivery goals. In an increasingly competitive market, Amazon is looking to move away from depending on the U.S. Postal Service and other companies to make deliveries happen. Instead, Amazon announced plans to invite entrepreneurs of its own making into the mix.

Continue reading Amazon Will Pay Employees to Quit, Start New Companies

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