Posts tagged with "Amazon"

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

Amazon updates AI after Alexa tells ten-year-old to try ‘penny challenge’

December 31, 2021

Amazon updated its Alexa artificial intelligence (AI), reports The Hill, after a user posted that an Amazon device told her child to do what is known as the “penny challenge,” a company spokesperson said on Thursday, December 30.

“Customer trust is at the center of everything we do and Alexa is designed to provide accurate, relevant, and helpful information to customers,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding, “As soon as we became aware of this error, we quickly fixed it, and will continue to advance our systems to help prevent similar responses in the future.”

The update comes a few days after a user on Twitter, Kristin Livdahl said her ten-year-old asked Alexa on an Echo device for a challenge. In response, Alexa gave information about what is known as the “penny challenge.”

“Here’s something I found on the web. According to ourcommunitynow.com: The challenge is simple: plug in a phone charger about halfway into a wall outlet, then touch a penny to the exposed prongs,” Alexa responded, according to the screenshot shared on Twitter.

The “penny challenge” trend gained popularity on the video sharing app TikTok, but some fire departments have been warning about potential dangers that it poses. Captain Brian Tanner with the Provo Fire Department in Utah posted a TikTok in January warning users against the challenge.

Livdahl explained that the mother and daughter were engaged in physical challenges, such as “laying down and rolling over. holding a shoe on your foot, from a [physical education] teacher on YouTube earlier.

Livdahl said that her timely intervention helped avert a disaster.

“I was right there and yelled, “No, Alexa, no” like it was a dog. My daughter says she is too smart to do something like that anyway.”

Research contact: @thehill

TikTok ousts Google to become world’s favorite online destination

December 29, 2021

Move over Google; TikTok now is the world’s most popular online destination. The viral video app gets more hits than the American search engine, according to Cloudflare, a U.S.-based IT security company.

The rankings show that TikTok knocked Google off the top spot in February, March, and June of this year, and has held the number one position since August, reports the BBC.

Last year Google was first, and a number of sites—among them, TikTok, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Netflix—were in the top ten.

Cloudfare said it tracks data using its tool Cloudflare Radar, which monitors web traffic. The company surmises that one of the reasons for the surge in Tiktok’s popularity is the ongoing worldwide COVID pandemic—as lockdowns meant people were stuck at home and looking for entertainment.

By July this year, TikTok had been downloaded more than three billion times, according to data company San Francisco-based Sensor Tower.

The social network, which is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance, headquartered in Beijing, now has more than one billion active users across the world, and that number continues to grow.

In China, to comply with the country’s censorship rules, the app is called Douyin, and runs on a different network. Douyin originally was released in September 2016. This year, China ruled that users under the age of 14 would be limited to 40 minutes a day on the platform.

Research contact: @BBC

Amazon slaps a $9.95 fee on Whole Foods deliveries—and Walmart pounces

November 1, 2021

Whole Foods shoppers may have received a shock this week, if they noticed a new $9.95 delivery fee on orders placed through Amazon Prime, reports CNN.

Amazon, which acquired Whole Foods in 2017, had previously offered free two-hour delivery for Prime members, but warned shoppers last month a new charge was coming.

The fee was put in place to help cover delivery operating costs like equipment and technology without raising product prices, a Whole Foods spokesperson told CNN Business. Whole Foods delivered three times as many orders in 2020 as it did in 2019, the spokesperson added, as the pandemic deepened customers’ dependence on delivery.

Although the fee is new, some Prime perks will remain, including free pickup on orders over $35 and exclusive discounts.

In an email to customers last week, Walmart announced that anyone who signed up for Walmart+—the retailer’s version of Prime—on Monday, October 25. would receive $9.95 back.

“Because customers deserve a grocery delivery service that won’t leave a Whole in their wallet for delivery fees — whoops, typo,” the email reads.

Walmart+ offers subscribers free grocery delivery, free shipping with no order minimum and contact-free checkout. The subscription costs $12.95 per month, or $98 for the year. Amazon prime costs $12.99 per month, or $119 for the year.

Research contact: @CNN

Macy’s sues to block Amazon from filching the billboard at its Herald Square flagship

October 4, 2021

In the heart of Manhattan, a battle is brewing between the traditional, bricks-and-mortar department store Macy’s and the e-commerce giant Amazon.

According to a report by The New York Times, the disagreement is over the high-visibility billboard next to Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square. For 60 years Macy’s has advertised itself on the 2,200-square-foot perch that wraps around the corner of the building, with its star logo prominent against a red background during the annual Thanksgiving Day parade that Macy’s organizes.

Now Macy’s has sued to block Amazon from getting that prime piece of advertising real estate.

Last week the retail chain filed a lawsuit in New York State Court against the billboard’s owner, Kaufman Realty, claiming that the negative impact of allowing a “direct competitor” to promote itself from a block that has long been associated with Macy’s “would be immeasurable.”

“The damages to Macy’s customer good will, image, reputation and brand should a prominent online retailer (especially Amazon) advertise on the billboard are impossible to calculate,” Macy’s said in the complaint.

Amazon and Kaufman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the suit, which was reported earlier by Crain’s New York, Macy’s accused Kaufman of discussing the billboard with Amazon before its lease agreement with Macy’s expired in August. Terms set in 1963 prevent Kaufman from allowing a Macy’s competitor to advertise on the billboard, a prohibition that “runs with the land forever,” according to the complaint.

Macy’s said in a statement that it “continues to have rights relating to advertisements” at the location, adding that “we expect to realize the benefits of these rights and have asked the court to protect them.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Amazon to launch Fire TV sets in bid to firm up its foothold in living rooms

September 10, 2021

Amazon plans to roll out  a line of Fire TV sets that will feature its Alexa voice assistant—an expansion that also showcases a growing ambition to place itself at the center of customer living rooms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

On September 9, the tech giant announced two lineups of Amazon-branded TVs—one named Amazon Fire TV Omni Series, starting at $409.99, and the other Amazon Fire TV 4-Series, which will start at $369.99. The TVs will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy. locations in October.

TV brands including Toshiba and Best Buy house brand Insignia have for years sold televisions powered by Amazon Fire TV’s operating system after Amazon and Best Buy joined forces in 2018.

What’s more, the Journal notes, Amazon has become dominant in streaming, with its Fire TV devices regularly ranking among top sellers. Its entertainment services include the Prime Video streaming platform, Fire TV operating system, and an assortment of streaming devices.

In recent years, Amazon has expanded its own-brand business in several arenas, including apparel, groceries and even items such as batteries. The company has opened branded grocery shops and plans to operate several department stores that will feature its private-label brands, the Journal reported last month.

Through its branded TVs, the online retailer is taking on a segment of electronics known for low margins that have dissuaded some competitors. Apple spent years studying the potential for an Apple TV, but has so far only developed a streaming device and the video service Apple TV+. The iPhone maker has long targeted opportunities to integrate hardware and software to make products where it can command hefty premiums and profit margins.

Amazon, meanwhile, historically has sought market share over profit and to appeal to customers with lower prices. The company in recent years has released an array of Alexa-enabled products, including ear buds and glasses.

An Amazon TV “speaks to Amazon’s product road map—anything customers spend time on, they want to take a shot at,” said Loup Ventures tech analyst Gene Munster. “There will be a market for cheap, good tech.”

The streaming industry is crowded with competitors. Amazon has faced steep competition from Roku  while being challenged by broadband giants such as Comcast,  which has worked with Walmart  and Chinese manufacturer Hisense to develop smart TVs.

Amazon said its Omni Series TVs will be equipped with the company’s Alexa assistant, which will feature “far-field voice controls” that enable customers to ask Alexa questions without a remote, much like the company’s Echo smart speakers.

The TVs will be available in sizes ranging from 43 inches to 75 inches diagonally and will have 4K resolution. Amazon said its Fire TV 4-Series will support Alexa capabilities available through its Alexa Voice Remote. The more affordable 4-Series TVs will be available in 43-inch, 50-inch and 55-inch models.

Daniel Rausch, vice president of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, said the television lineup will build on the company’s effort to bring ambient computing to people’s homes. He likened their capabilities to its smart speakers, with the Omni Series models responding and turning on to a wake word—often programmed as “Alexa”—even when they are turned off.

Finally despite launching competing TV products, Amazon said its partnerships with Toshiba and others aren’t changing. The company Thursday also announced new Fire TV-powered televisions by Toshiba and Pioneer. Amazon has clashed with partners and potential partners over how it has launched products that compete with them. The company has said it doesn’t use confidential information that other firms share with it to build competing products.

Aside from its branded TVs, Amazon on Thursday also revealed the latest iteration of its Fire TV Stick 4K product. The new Stick 4K “Max” (priced at $54.99) will include Alexa features and have power and networking upgrades.

 Research contact: @WSJ

Forever young? Jeff Bezos is backing anti-aging startup Altos Labs

September 8, 2021

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is pushing the envelope—on marketing, on suborbital space travel, and now on longevity. He is among a group of investors backing a new anti-aging company, according to a new report obtained by Fox News.

The company, Silicon Valley-based Altos Labs, is working on biological reprogramming technology that is targeted at essentially prolong human life, according to MIT Tech Review.

A Russian-born billionaire tech investor, Yuri Milner, and his wife, Julia, also have invested in the company, according to the report. Milner—who is known for investing in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb—is worth about $4.8 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.

Altos was incorporated earlier this year in the United States and the United Kingdom; and has plans to create institutes in California, Cambridge, and Japan, according to the report obtained by Fox News.  

It’s also reportedly seeking university scientists with deep pockets dedicated to researching how to reverse the process of aging cells.

Bezos’ investment office, Bezos Expeditions, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

However, this isn’t the first time the world’s richest man has invested in this kind of research.  The 57-year-old Bezos has also invested in the startup company Unity Biotechnology, the New York Post reported.

Unity, according to its website, is working to develop a “new class of therapeutics to slow, halt, or reverse diseases of aging.”

Representatives for Unity did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Research contact: @FoxNews