Posts tagged with "Amazon"

Cheap thrills: Goodwill launches an e-commerce site

October 6, 2022

Goodwill is the go-to place for secondhand goods. Indeed, many a first couch has been found at one of the organization’s 3,300 community based brick-and-mortar stores in the United States and Canada. And now, the marketplace is expanding its reach even further, to the online world, reports Fortune.

 GoodwillFinds.com, a new e-commerce version of the chain, has launched—offering everything from the used clothes that make up most of the store to oddities like a crystal bowling ball with a skull. Other items in the current inventory of roughly 100,000 range from books and home decor to additional specialty and collectors’ items.

 While the sales are available to anyone in the online world, proceeds will go back to the region where the item was sourced.

 “Goodwill has built a legacy of strengthening communities through the power of work,” said Steve Preston, CEO of Goodwill Industries Internationalin a statement. “GoodwillFinds furthers that mission through a modern online shopping experience—backed by a century-old philosophy—to harness resale with purpose.”

 Before the launch of GoodwillFinds, the stores had no central online presence, although some stores would work with third-party vendors to sell select items on eBay or Amazon.

 The launch of the portal comes as the secondhand clothing business is exploding, with sales expected to hit $77 billion by 2025. The number of first-time buyers of secondhand clothes in 2020 jumped by 33 million—and three-quarters of those shoppers planned to increase their spending in that market.

 Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Eight food brands are selected for Whole Foods’ Local and Emerging Accelerator Program

August 5, 2022

Ten up-and-coming consumer brands have been selected to participate in Whole Foods Market’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program—eight of them, food brands. The program provides mentorship, education, and shelf space at regional Whole Foods Market stores. Businesses also may receive financial support, reports Food Business News.

“We are delighted to welcome ten exceptional local producers to the first cohort of our Local and Emerging Accelerator Program,” said Will Betts, vice president of Local Merchandising at Whole Foods Market, a business owned by Amazon, adding, “We look forward to sharing valuable insights into marketing best practices, strategy and channel development to help expand the cohort members’ brands while preparing to introduce their products to Whole Foods Market shoppers.

“Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting small, local and emerging producers,” Betts said, “and the Local and Emerging Accelerator Program enhances our ability to strengthen our relationships with local brands and elevate our product selection for communities across the country.”

The program will include a 12-week curriculum, a yearlong mentorship with a Whole Foods Market regional buyer, and access to additional supplier benefits to support growth. All products must meet the company’s quality standards and product safety requirements in order to be sold in Whole Foods Market stores.

Participants may receive a $25,000 equity investment from a donor-advised fund managed by the Austin Community Foundation, with proceeds benefiting Whole Foods Market foundations.

Among the Food brands participating in the program are the following:

  • Buns Bakery, Providence, Rhode Island, a traditional Israeli-Jewish baker of babka, challah, and rugelach (North Atlantic region);
  • CHKP, Brooklyn, New York, a producer of non-dairy, chickpea-based yogurt alternatives (Northeast region);
  • Coyotas, San Diego, a Mexican-American maker of grain-free tortillas formulated with cassava flour (Southern Pacific region);
  • Good Girl Chocolate, Oklahoma City, a brand of gluten- and soy-free bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar (Southwest region);
  • Numa, Fallsington, Pennsylvania, a mother-and-daughter-founded brand of taffy and peanut candies inspired by traditional Asian recipes (Mid-Atlantic region);
  • Onana Foods, Fort Collins, Colorado, a maker of grain-free tortillas made with plantains, baking powder and sea salt (Rocky Mountain region);
  • Pizzazza, Bellingham, Washington, a line of frozen pizzas topped with locally grown and produced ingredients (Pacific Northwest region); and
  • Theo’s Plant Based, Chicago, a creator of beet jerky supporting regenerative farming practices (Midwest region)

Hair care brand Tangles & Beyond, based in Hattiesburg, Misissippi; and skin care maker Vamigas of Alamo, Caliornia also are participating in the program.

Research contact: @FoodBizNews

NFL launches subscription streaming service

July 26, 2022

The National Football League debuted its new subscription streaming video service on Monday, July 25—NFL+, for $4.99 a month or $39.99 annually, reports Axios.

Why it matters: The service will help the NFL reach a wider audience of younger fans who don’t watch traditional TV.

Details: For the first time in the NFL’s history, the service will make all NFL games, including local matches, widely accessible on-the-go via streaming.

But there’s a catch: In an effort to respect its live television partnership rights, the live local and primetime regular and post-season games are only available on phone and tablet.

  • Live local and national audio of every game, however, is available on the app, as well as live video coverage of all out-of-market pre-season games.
  • In addition to live games, the regular tier of the app includes NFL Network shows on demand, NFL Films archives and other content.
  • Users can also buy a premium package for $9.99 a month or $79.99 annually, which includes game replays and other features, such as access to the All-22 Coaches Film, which essentially provides video for those looking to study game plays.

Be smart: The premium version of NFL+ essentially replaces a product called NFL Game Pass in the United States. It’s meant to cater to the more intense NFL fan and will include full-game replays across all devices, including streaming television.

What they’re saying: “Today marks an important day in the history of the National Football League with the launch of NFL+,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

The big picture: The NFL has been aggressive in its efforts to bring more of its games to streaming without cannibalizing its lucrative live TV contracts with various TV networks.  It has already brokered a deal to make Amazon the exclusive broadcaster of its Thursday night games, and it has awarded ESPN+, ESPN’s streaming service, an exclusive game to stream.

The league is expected to soon announce the winner for its last remaining multi-season rights package for Sunday Ticket. That package is widely speculated to go to a streaming service like Apple or Amazon.

Research contact: @axios

Amazon to acquire One Medical for $3.9 billion in healthcare deal

July 22, 2022

Amazon has agreed to acquire San Francisco-based  1Life Healthcare —which operates a primary-care practice under the name One Medical—for $3.9 billion including debt, the retailing giant announced on Thursday, July 21, reports The Wall Street Journal. 

On its website, the company describes itself as “No ordinary doctor’s office. Get 24/7 on-demand virtual care. Or book same/next-day appointments—in our offices or over video—with our app. Most insurance accepted.”

Founded in 2004, One Medical is a membership-based primary care practice with offices in 12 major U.S. markets. It works with more than 8,000 companies to provide One Medical health benefits to their employees.

“We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services. “We see lots of opportunity to both improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days.”

Once the deal closes, One Medical Chief Executive Amir Dan Rubin will remain CEO of the business.

Research contact: @WSJ

Federal regulations are finally taking aim at the ‘Wild West’ of clean beauty

July 18, 2022

Three years ago, several makeup products at Claire’s, the national retail chain beloved by teenagers, tested positive for the presence of asbestos—a mineral that has been known for decades to be linked to several types of cancer and lung disease, reports Fortune.

The Food and Drug Administration did what it could legally do about the fact that teenagers had been applying asbestos to their faces and possibly absorbing it through their pores: It recommended Claire’s recall the products. Claire’s  disputed  the test results, but ultimately recalled the products, even though the FDA had no further authority to act.

“To be clear, there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety,” then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote candidly in a March 2019 statement with Susan Mayne, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the agency.

Not much has changed since then. Federal law regulating the beauty industry hasn’t been updated since 1938—the year that Adolf Hitler marched into Austria and set off the Second World War.

“Cosmetics is the least regulated category in the marketplace: There are more restrictions on the pesticides that we spray on crops to kill weeds than the stuff we spray on our bodies every day,” said Scott Faber, head of Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

All the same, Congress, where several female legislators—including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington—have introduced bipartisan proposals to update the laws, expand FDA authority to oversee beauty brands, and ban the most harmful chemicals. 

At the same time, several states including California, Maryland, Maine, and Colorado have already moved to increase supply-chain transparency in an industry known for its opacity. 

Last month, those proposals were tucked into the FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements Act—legislation that would reauthorize the agency’s user fee agreements related to prescription drugs and medical devices. Since this reauthorization needs to pass, the ride-on cosmetics regulations have their best chance in over eight decades to move through a gridlocked Congress.

The proposals have widespread support from the beauty industry, including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Sephora, and Procter & Gamble, because many mainstream brands and retailers have already started moving into the clean-beauty space.

Olivia Tong, an equity analyst at Raymond James who follows Ulta Beauty, Estée Lauder, Sally Beauty, and other cosmetics and personal care companies, said regulations could establish some consistency in what “clean beauty” means.

“It’s a little bit of the Wild Wild West right now with anything that has a label of ‘clean,’” Tong said. “Investors along with consumers are typically on board with some consistency in terms of what everybody is talking about.”

David Swartz, equity analyst at Morningstar who covers Ulta, said big retailers don’t have much to fear when it comes to proposed regulations. “If anything, it would allow Ulta to promote its brands and bolster its links with the key suppliers,” Swartz said. “There could be some negative impact on Amazon and others that sell counterfeit and unauthorized beauty products, which could benefit Ulta, Sephora, and other stores.”

Indeed, while not everyone in the industry welcomes stricter regulation, it’s clear that current law has fallen far behind global industry standards and consumer preferences. Clean beauty was the fastest-growing segment as of May, according to NPD Group. Clean-beauty market revenues are up 19% from last year, while vegan makeup revenue is up 27%, and vegan skin care 23%, the market research firm told  Fortune.

“There’s way more concern for what goes into products today than there was even ten years ago,” said Larissa Jensen, industry adviser and vice president at NPD Group.

In response to growing consumer demand, the nation’s largest retailers, including Ulta, Sephora, and Target, are launching clean-beauty standards and disclosing more information about how these products are made.

There are no legal definitions for “clean,” “natural,” or “green” beauty products—so companies can use those terms as they wish without fearing legal consequences. “Organic” is the only industry label regulated in the United States.

“What’s clean to one brand might mean something different to another,” said Emily Spilman, science analyst on EWG’s Healthy Living team. “The onus is on the consumer to do that research.”

The nonprofit advocates for stronger regulation of the beauty industry and has launched the Skin Deep cosmetics database as an alternative way for consumers to check ingredients in the products they use in the interim. An accompanying mobile app makes it possible to scan barcodes in a store to see how an item rates.

Credo, a San Francisco–based clean-beauty retailer, has established a Clean Standard for the products it carries. It bans the use of 2,700 mainstream beauty ingredients that raise safety and sustainability concerns; restricts animal-derived ingredients and animal testing; and poses questions about ethics, sustainability, and transparency.

“The standard is really the nexus of how we evaluate ingredient and material safety, sourcing, sustainability, and ethics,” said Mia Davis, vice president of Environmental and Social Responsibility at Credo. The company explains on its website that it created the standard because current law is so limited.

Yet the brand does not think the standard is a stand-in for federal action. Instead, it’s one of the industry advocates pushing for Congress to act. The tide has turned in favor of regulation, and many mainstream cosmetics brands also supported an earlier bill introduced by Feinstein and Collins that is the foundation of the current proposal.

As is often the case in Congress, the extent of the regulation is the crux of debate. The Personal Care Products Council, which represents manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers of beauty products, says the industry is very responsible and responsive to consumer concerns about safety and sustainability. While critics point out that the European Union has banned over 1,600 ingredients; and the United States. fewer than a dozen, PCPC vice president Jay Ansell says the statistics are misleading.

“Nearly all of those ingredients banned in the EU have never been nor would ever be used in cosmetics, including jet fuel, radioactive substances, pesticides, pharmaceuticals like chemotherapy drugs, chloroform, hemlock, cyanide, and LSD,” Ansell said

.However, Credo’s Davis agreed that not all of the EU-banned ingredients are present in American products, but she added that the EU’s approach is demonstrably more precautionary than the one taken by U.S. regulators. Some beauty brands change the formula of their products for the European market, and she believes those versions are safer.

“This industry enjoys a lot of secrecy,” she said. “There’s very little federal information required of the industry. We need more in order to protect the consumer and the planet.”

Still, Tong of Raymond James noted that many other priorities are front and center for multinational beauty brands right now—including economic pressures, inventory and supply-chain challenges, and shifts in consumer behavior amid the pandemic. That means regulations are not the focus—at least not until current proposals advance further in Congress.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Amazon and Grubhub strike deal to bring restaurant delivery to Prime members

July 7, 2022

Amazon  has agreed to add Grubhub to its suite of Prime services in the United States,  in a deal that also gives the e-commerce giant the option to acquire a small stake in the parent of the food-ordering company, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Grubhub’s parent, Netherlands-based Just Eat Takeaway  tells the Journal that Amazon has an initial option to take a 2% stake in U.S.-based Grubhub; and U.S. Prime members can have their delivery fees waived from select restaurants.

What’s more, Amazon has the opportunity to bump up its total stake to 15% of Grubhub, based on performance terms focused on adding new customers, Just Eat notes.

Just Eat still will own Grubhub and will continue exploring a full or partial sale of Grubhub, it comments. The deal will renew annually unless either Amazon or Just Eat terminates it and it is expected to materially add to Grubhub’s business next year, Just Eat said.

The deal brings Amazon further into food-related services through its Prime membership program. The online commerce giant has provided grocery benefits to Prime members under its Whole Foods Market division as a way to make its annual subscription program more valuable.

“The value of a Prime membership continues to grow with this offer,” Jamil Ghani, vice president of Amazon Prime, told the Journal.

Amazon last year said that millions of Prime members in the U.K. and Ireland would get discounts through U.K. food delivery firm Deliverooin which Amazon invested in 2019.

Amazon will offer Prime members a subscription to Grubhub’s membership program for a year—which includes free delivery from a network of restaurants, as well as other discounts.

Shares of Just Eat surged 22% in European trading on Wednesday, July 6. In early U.S. trading, shares of rival DoorDash  fell 9.9%; and Uber Technologies, another food delivery provider, declined 4.4%, with major stock indexes mixed. Amazon shares were slightly lower.

Grubhub CEO Adam DeWitt said the deal will introduce new customers to the company’s membership program and bring more business to restaurants and drivers that work with Grubhub.

Just Eat said in April that it would consider a full sale of Grubhub after acquiring Grubhub in a $7.3 billion deal that closed last year. Activist investor Cat Rock Capital Management, Just Eat’s third-largest shareholder according to FactSet, has pressed the company to focus on its European markets, and sell Grubhub.

Research contact: @WSJ

Amazon just made an unexpected move that could crush FedEx and UPS

April 25, 2022

Amazon  already has become the most dominant online retailer, and it’s poised to take over the delivery space next. The ecommerce giant announced the launch of its Buy with Prime program on Thursday, April 21. The service provides third-party retailers access to the company’s extensive shipping and fulfillment network, even for orders on non-Amazon sites, reports Entrepreneur.

Retailers using the service will have the option to attach the Prime icon to items on their website that are eligible for free two-day or next-day delivery. Additionally, Prime members will be able to use the payment and shipping information associated with their Amazon accounts to place an order.

It’s a major opportunity for Amazon to cash in, as sellers will pay various fees for payment processing, fulfillment, storage, and more.

But Buy with Prime isn’t available to all retailers just yet; for now, only sellers who use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) can take advantage, by invitation only.

Ultimately, the company does plan to expand to include other merchants, which has the potential to level the company even further up in the online-delivery game — potentially far past UPSFedEx, and even the U.S. Postal Service.

Currently, Amazon offers a Multi-Channel Fulfillment program to allow sellers to store and ship goods with Amazon’s services via third-party sites.

Buy with Prime is the company’s latest move in a long-running campaign to maximize profit with its sprawling shipping and logistics operations. According to a report from the company, third-party seller services—including comissions, fulfillment, and shipping fees and other services—climbed 11% year over year to $30.3 billion in the most recent quarter.

Research contact: @Entrepreneur

Why ‘free’ shipping isn’t free

April 1. 2022

The big carriers such as FedExUPS, and Amazon make lots of deliveries that they say are “gratis,” but none of those packages actually is being shipped for “free,” reports CNBC.

“People like free shipping because the word free is very powerful, even if people know that it’s not really free because someone is paying for it,” Kara Buntin, owner of the Etsy shop A Cake To Remember, recently explained to CNBC.

And today, more packages are being shipped than ever before: There were more than 131 billion parcels shipped worldwide in 2020, and parcel shipments are expected to double again in the next five years possibly reaching 266 billion by 2026—according to Pitney Bowes.

“When consumers click that ‘buy’ box, they often don’t see [the] labor that leads to a box on their doorstep,” Ellen Reese, a sociology professor at UC Riverside and co-editor of “The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy,” told CNBC.

“Anyone can offer an Amazon Prime two-day shipping. It’s just the cost that…might [be incurred] in providing that service,” says Dhruv Saxena, co-founder of third-party logistics company ShipBob. He estimates it may cost a company anywhere from $25 to $35 for a typical two-day shipping rate.

Companies such as Amazon, WalmartTarget, and even Etsy benefit from economies of scale because they generate mass online sales. This puts them at an advantage to achieve bulk discount rates, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

Indeed, when CNBC asked the Postal Service for information about how much money Amazon, Walmart and Target pay the service to ship packages, the department said that no contracts exist, but “there may be possibly an agreement in place with negotiated rates to deliver packages. However, we cannot confirm nor deny an agreement exists.”

This is due to federal regulations dictating that acknowledgment of the existence of a specific national service agreement “would cause harm and is confidential commercial information that would not be disclosed under good business practice,” the Postal Service said.

“Many [small businesses] have been under pressure, shutting down and closing because they can’t compete, “Jake Alimahomed-Wilson, a sociology professor at California State University Long Beach and co-editor of “The Cost of Free Shipping: Amazon in the Global Economy,” told CNBC in a recent interview.

In a 2019 survey, three-quarters of independent retailers said Amazon’s dominance is a major threat to their survival, according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

“You can’t really plan for how much [carriers] are going to charge or how much [packages] are going to cost when you ship them, and that makes it difficult to offer free shipping because a lot of times you end up with no profit if you’re not really careful,” Buntin said.

Amazon, FedEx and UPS either declined or could not be reached for comment for this story.

Research contact: @CNBC

Yokesters: The Dutch vow to egg Jeff Bezos’ yacht if a bridge is dismantled to let it pass through

February 11, 2022

It’s not exactly smooth sailing these days in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam, where locals are voicing their objection to a plan that would temporarily dismantle an historic bridge to enable the passage of a mega-yacht reportedly owned by former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, reports NPR.

In fact, some already are making plans—albeit, in jest—for what they will do if the project comes to fruition: Throw eggs at the yacht as it traverses the water under the Koningshaven Bridge, known locally as “De Hef.”

Some 13,000 people are “interested” and nearly 4,000 have said they will attendFacebook event titled “Throwing eggs at superyacht Jeff Bezos,” which has been shared more than 1,000 times in the week since its creation.

“Calling all Rotterdammers, take a box of rotten eggs with you and let’s throw them en masse at Jeff’s superyacht when it sails through the Hef in Rotterdam,” wrote organizer Pablo Strörmann.

He told the NL Times that the protest started as a joke among friends and has quickly gotten “way out of hand.” (The English-language news site also notes that this isn’t Strörmann’s first campaign to go viral.)

The news of De Hef’s potential disassembly, however brief, has clearly struck a chord with both locals and international observers.

It all started last week when Dutch broadcaster Rijnmond reported that the city appeared willing to grant a request to dismantle the centuries-old steel bridge so that Bezos’ yacht could pass through.

De Hef was built in 1927 as a railway bridge, with a midsection that can be lifted to allow ship traffic to pass underneath, according to The Washington Post. It was replaced by a tunnel and decommissioned in 1994–but was saved from demolition by public protests and later declared a national monument.

The yacht’s three masts apparently would be too high for the bridge’s roughly 130-foot clearance. The yacht in question was reportedly commissioned by Bezos and currently is being built at the Oceanco shipyard in The Netherlands, according to Boat International. It will comprise three masts with aluminum and steel construction and will measure more than 415 feet in length.

Once delivered, not only will she become the world’s largest sailing yacht, but she also will hold the title for the largest superyacht ever built in the Netherlands.

The waterway where the bridge sits is the only way the ship can get from the shipyard in Alblasserdam to the open seas, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. So Oceanco asked Rotterdam officials to temporarily remove the middle section of the bridge.

City spokesperson Netty Kros told the CBC that “the applicant” would cover the costs of the project but did not clarify whether that refers to the yacht’s owner, the shipbuilder or both.

Bloomberg reports that Oceanco will foot the bill. NPR has reached out to Amazon and Oceanco to confirm these details.

The city appeared to agree to the arrangement last week, with municipal project leader Marcel Walravens telling Rijnmond that the project would proceed for logistical and economic reasons. He said an exact plan was being developed but estimated it would take about a week to prepare and another week to “put everything back in place.”

Research contact: @NPR

Amazon to launch brick-and-mortar clothing store in Los Angeles

January 25, 2022

Amazon is preparing to launch a brick-and-mortar clothing store, the company announced on Thursday, January 20, according to a report by Good Morning America.

Specifically, the e-commerce giant intends to open an Amazon Style fashion retail space at The Americana at Brand shopping mall in Los Angeles.

The new concept will offer a selection of apparel, footwear, and accessories. The items will have QR codes providing information from sizing to customer ratings, the company said.

With the Amazon Shopping app, users also can send items to a fitting room—where they can use a touch screen to look through more options as well as request more sizes or styles to be delivered directly to their room, according to Amazon.

While Amazon has not revealed which specific brands will be featured, it said customers will have the option to browse emerging designers across hundreds of its top brands.

“Shoppers will find great looks at a broad range of prices, including trend-inspired pieces at affordable price points and sought-after styles that will become wardrobe staples,” wrote in the company’s blog. “With Amazon’s vast fulfillment center network, the selection at Amazon Style will be frequently updated so customers can discover new items each time they visit.”

The clothing store isn’t Amazon’s first foray into a physical fashion store: The retail conglomerate has opened physical grocery stores, book stores; and, in 2017, it bought Whole Foods Market.

In 2021, Amazon launched a hair salon in London for augmented reality hair consultations.

An exact date for Amazon Style’s store opening has yet to be announced, but the company said it will be inviting a select group of customers to experience the store “soon” in its announcement.

Research contact: @GMA