Amazon Stops Receiving Nonessential Products From Sellers

Amazon is suspending sellers from sending nonessential products to its U.S. and U.K. warehouses until April 5 in the latest move to free up inventory space for much-needed supplies that are in shortage as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a note sent to sellers Tuesday, Amazon said it is seeing increasing online shopping demand from consumers. As its household staples and medical supplies are running out of stock, it will prioritize certain categories in order to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”

Amazon defined five categories as essential products that can continue shipping, including Baby Product, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Industrial & Scientific, Pet Supplies.

The move follows Amazon’s announcement it will hire 100,000 workers for its warehouses on Monday, as the Seattle-based giant is trying to meet growing online shopping need from people who stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Third-party sellers account for over half of the sales on Amazon. Amazon has been courting sellers to use its own fulfillment system, enabling many of them with faster delivery without the risks of sitting on inventories.







It is especially popular for sellers who use a dropping shipping method, meaning sellers import products from manufacturers in countries including China and directly send them to an Amazon warehouse. Amazon earns fees from managing the storage and delivery process.

Sellers supplying products that are deemed nonessential could see their products run out of stock and they will be unable to restock as a result of the measure. Still, they can use other fulfillment methods to directly mail products to customers.

Amazon did not immediately replied to request for comment.



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Amazon Says It Will Create 15,000 Jobs In Bellevue

StockMarketNews.TodayAmazon said it expects to bring the 15,000 jobs to Bellevue over the next few years. More than 2,000 employees currently work in Bellevue, and the company has about 700 job openings in the city.

The company opened its first office building in Bellevue in 2017. The city is also where Amazon got its start. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos founded the company in 1994 out of a 1,540-square-foot house in West Bellevue.

Amazon, which is headquartered in nearby Seattle, has continued to expand there despite rising tensions with local officials. Last month, the Seattle City Council council passed a bill that establishes new restrictions on corporate donations in local elections, which serves as a blow to Amazon, after it donated a record $1.5 million into Seattle’s city council races in 2019. Additionally, Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant has recently reignited efforts to enact a “head tax” on the city’s largest companies, such as Amazon, with the goal of using it to fight Seattle’s housing crisis.

The company has been growing its overall headcount and footprint. In its annual filing submitted last week, Amazon disclosed that it now has 798,000 workers across the globe, which is a 23% increase from the year-ago period. On the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said some of the hires were delivery workers, as it builds out one-day and same-day delivery for Prime subscribers.

Amazon is also growing in New York, where it recently signed a deal to lease more than 335,000 square feet of office space in Hudson Yards and expects to hire more than 1,500 employees. The move comes after Amazon abandoned its efforts to build a second headquarters in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood.

The company is also building out operations in northern Virginia, where it’s building its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. So far, Amazon has hired 400 employees to work out of leased offices in Crystal City, Virginia. It also plans to bring 5,000 jobs to Nashville, Tennessee, where it expects to build two towers.







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Amazon Shares Fall 7%


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Amazon shares fell 7%, as revenue growth for the company’s lucrative cloud computing business slowed down in the third quarter, missing analysts’ estimates. Amazon beat expectations on overall third-quarter revenue, posting a sales rise of 24% to $70 billion.

The news underscores the big investment Amazon is making to cut delivery times to one day for its Prime loyalty members, a way to outmaneuver rivals such as Walmart Inc that have marketed two-day shipping without subscription fees.

Costs for that program will nearly double to $1.5 billion during the holiday season, from what Amazon spent on one-day delivery during the second quarter, the company’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said on a call with analysts.



Expenses rose because the company has to move inventory closer to customers and beef up its last-mile transportation footprint to make the plan work, Olsavsky said. The company also is giving up the fees that shoppers used to pay for one-day shipping and is still learning what the long-term cost structure of the program will be, he said.

Amazon’s rising headcount reflects its delivery ambitions. It hired nearly 100,000 full and part-time workers in the third quarter, bringing its staff size to over 400,000 in the United States and 750,000 globally. “By and away the biggest driver this time is the people that we’re adding for fulfillment and transportation roles,” Olsavsky said.

Still, Amazon is betting that fast shipping will spark sales growth, a strategy that over years has helped it become the world’s largest online retailer.


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“Amazon will not necessarily be spooked by the increase in costs,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail. “Indeed, it sees the higher shipping expense as an investment in the Prime platform and as a way to retain the loyalty of its shoppers.”

Amazon said earlier this year that it now delivers some 10% of its 100 million-plus Prime-eligible goods in one day in the United States. The Seattle-based company did not provide an updated number on Thursday.

DARKENING CLOUD?… Weak holiday quarter guidance has added to worries that the U.S.-China trade spat may be hurting the U.S. retail industry, and that one-day shipping might not be as big a boost as Amazon anticipates.

There was “hope that this investment would lead to a further revenue acceleration in the holiday quarter, whereas the company has guided to the opposite,” said Atlantic Equities analyst James Cordwell.

Holiday sales typically generate a large share of retailers’ revenue and profit. Amazon’s forecast of $80.0 billion to $86.5 billion in sales came short of $87.4 billion that analysts were expecting, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.


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The company also said it expects holiday-quarter operating income to be between $1.2 billion and $2.9 billion, while analysts were expecting $4.19 billion, according to research firm FactSet.

Olsavsky attributed some of the weakness to the timing of events outside the United States, which pushed revenue into the third quarter. For instance, the company saw customers in Japan pre-order goods before a rise in consumption tax went into effect on Oct. 1, he said.

Olsavsky declined to comment to reporters on regulatory scrutiny the company is facing over alleged foul play with merchants on its platform, saying later that the company only succeeds if its sellers succeed. Sales such as fulfillment services for merchants, as well as ad and other sales to merchants, beat analysts’ estimates in the third quarter.

Olsavsky also downplayed concerns about a slowdown in growth for one of the company’s profit centers, Amazon Web Services (AWS). The unit, which handles data storage and computing operations for other enterprises, increased revenue 35% to $9.0 billion, the second quarter in a row in which its rate of growth was under 40%.


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“It’s hard to predict the pace of some of the sales cycles and the enterprise migrations that companies are willing to make,” he said. “But we are having great success, and we’re adding a lot (to) the sales force.”

Not all analysts saw a risk-free future, particularly as the unit’s operating expenses jumped 46% to $6.7 billion in the third quarter. Operating income was $2.3 billion.

“The ‘problem’ is spending,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said. There is “a lot of investment in AWS infrastructure… The company makes these investments without really explaining them in detail, and investors are left on their own trying to figure out when Amazon will start delivering outsized profits again.”







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Amazon.com Inc. Executives Are Re-Evaluating A Planned Campus In New York City


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By Jimmy Petutala | Stock.Market@News.Today

The discussions at Amazon have caused leading government officials in New York who support the project to worry that Amazon may abandon its plan to bring 25,000 jobs to Long Island City and $2.5 billion in investment, according to a government official.

Any change would be a stunning reversal after the company’s public yearlong search for a new headquarters drew bids from more than 200 locales across the country, courting the online retailing giant with billions of dollars in tax incentives.

Amazon executives are deliberating whether to delay some of the initial phase of investments to get the project started, according to one of the people familiar with the discussions. The internal talks haven’t progressed to deciding whether to relocate future jobs or the campus, this person said.

Today’s Stock Market News – Amazon.com Inc. Executives Are Re-Evaluating A Planned Campus In New York City
Today’s Stock Market News – Amazon.com Inc. Executives Are Re-Evaluating A Planned Campus In New York City

The recent change in conversation at Amazon accelerated after Monday’s nomination of New York state Sen. Mike Gianaris, a vocal opponent of the deal, to a state board that would allow him to veto the development plan, people familiar with the matter said. Mr. Gianaris needs to be approved for the post by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, fellow Democrats who have often clashed, agreed on wooing Amazon to New York with up to $3 billion in state and city tax incentives. On Friday, Mr. Cuomo reiterated his support for the deal for Amazon as he warned that local opponents could derail the project.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement the company was working hard to demonstrate it could be a good neighbor with additional commitments such as computer-science classes and workforce training. In January last year, the company narrowed its list of possible sites for its second headquarters to 20 from 238 applicants, and spent months crunching the numbers.

In September, executives decided to split the campus in half and in November said would go to New York and Virginia. Virginia’s governor signed legislation approving its incentive plan for Amazon earlier this week. Local officials in New York have questioned everything from the project’s impact on transportation to neighborhood gentrification and Amazon’s opposition to unionization.


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Government officials working with Amazon in New York have seen the pace of progress slow, a person with knowledge of the process said. Officials are concerned the slowdown indicates a shift in company thinking, the person said. “The drumbeat of opposition, even though it’s clearly not widespread, is making Amazon say, ‘Do we really need this?’” one government official said.

Members of the New York City Council have required Amazon executives to testify at two hearings on the proposed 4-million-square-foot Queens campus. Legislators used the proceedings to air concerns about development impacts and the incentive package. Another council hearing is scheduled for Feb. 27.

Other opponents include the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union—which is trying to organize workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island—as well as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents nearby parts of Queens, and Mr. Gianaris, who represents Long Island City.

Mr. Gianaris has repeatedly said the current deal to lure Amazon should be scrapped. “If they want to threaten that they won’t come here without it, that’s their decision. But we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be extorted,” he said Friday. Mr. Cuomo hasn’t said if he would approve Mr. Gianaris’s nomination to the state’s Public Authorities Control Board.

The governor this week has restated his support for Amazon before gatherings of business and civic leaders in Manhattan and on Long Island. The new campus will help diversify the state economy and create thousands of good-paying jobs, the governor said. In a speech to a Long Island business group Friday, Mr. Cuomo blamed Democrats in the state Senate for jeopardizing the Amazon deal.


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“It is a very small nucleus, and it’s a very small group of politicians who are pandering to the local politics,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It would be a tremendous loss.”“The mayor fully expects Amazon to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers,” Mr. de Blasio’s spokesman, Eric Phillips, said in a statement.

The company has recently battled with Seattle, where the city council passed a new homeless tax before reversing the decision. Amazon has slowed its development there to a crawl as a consequence of the political issues and hostile environment, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The vocal political critics in New York came as something of a surprise to Amazon executives, according to some of the people, although the company believes support among local residents is generally strong.


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Thousands of products were pulled from Amazon.com Inc.’s India website Friday — the first direct impact from the country’s new e-commerce rules


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India’s new restrictions, which went into effect Friday, were designed to help local retailers better compete against foreign-owned giants like Amazon and Walmart Inc.


By Corinne Abrams | WSJ.COM

Thousands of products were pulled from Amazon.com Inc.’s India website Friday—the first direct impact from the country’s new e-commerce rules, a day after warning the restrictions would hurt its business there.

India’s new restrictions, which went into effect Friday, were designed to help local retailers better compete against foreign-owned giants like Amazon and Walmart Inc., as the e-commerce market is poised to boom in the country.

Amazon warned Thursday that India’s restrictions could crimp revenue this quarter and that it was still evaluating the regulations. “We do believe that India remains a good long-term opportunity,” Amazon’s financial chief Brian Olsavsky said.

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In India, rules had barred foreign companies from holding their own online inventory and selling it direct to customers. Amazon previously worked around those regulations by selling products through subsidiaries of companies in which it owned stakes.

India tightened restrictions in late December by saying foreign retailers weren’t allowed to sell online through such companies and barring foreign companies from entering into exclusive online sales agreements. Companies had until Feb. 1 to comply after their requests for more time were denied.

On Friday, thousands of products were removed from Amazon’s India website. On Amazon’s India website, the Amazon Echo and some other Amazon-made products were temporarily unavailable Friday morning before the company scrambled to get other sellers to offer them.

Products from companies partly owned by Amazon subsidiaries also weren’t available, as well as those from other Amazon in-house brands, according to Bangalore-based RedSeer Management Consulting.


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An Amazon spokeswoman said the company was working to make all Amazon exclusive brands available again on the website. Both Amazon and Walmart have made big bets in India, where the e-commerce market is estimated to balloon to $72 billion in 2022 from around $33 billion in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer.

Amazon has pledged to invest $5 billion to expand in the world’s fastest growing large economy, while Walmart’s takeover of India’s Flipkart for $16 billion was its biggest acquisition ever.

The new e-commerce rules are the latest effort by India to try to restrict U.S. tech giants’ dominance in the country and promote homegrown companies in a year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking to win a second term in a general election.

The government plans to introduce a “national champion” policy to encourage the rise of Indian companies, according to a person familiar with the matter. Analysts said the new rules could affect as much as 40% of Amazon’s sales in India and around a third of the revenue at Flipkart, the homegrown online retail leader now controlled by Walmart.

The two companies have been neck-and-neck in terms of revenue: Flipkart’s revenue for the financial year ended March 31, 2017, was $3.8 billion, while Amazon’s was $3.2 billion in India, according to estimates from Barclays Research.

Both Amazon and Walmart, long among the biggest bulls on the India opportunity, were shocked when New Delhi unveiled the new set of regulations and clarifications late last year aimed at foreign owned e-commerce companies that seriously affect how they were doing business.

“It’s very challenging,” for the companies, said Satish Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research . “They have to work out what to do with this inventory,” and rethink their business models, he said.

Tech companies face other challenges as well. Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp meanwhile is under pressure to allow authorities to read the messages of its users in India and is waiting for approval to roll out its first mobile-payments feature beyond the test phase. The new rules also state that one vendor can’t make more that 25% of its sales on one marketplace.


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The 25% rule will likely affect Flipkart, which sells “private” brands or lines made only for Flipkart through its website, said Mr. Meena. Items from the Divastri brand, which Flipkart called a “private label” on its blog, were still available online Friday.

Flipkart sells around a third of its products through private labels, according to research firm Technopak Advisors. Flipkart needs to rethink that model, said Ankur Bisen, a senior vice president at Technopak. A spokesman for Flipkart said the company was working to change its supply chains and systems to comply with the regulations.

“We are disappointed that the government has decided to implement the regulation changes at such haste,” said the spokesman. Walmart declined to comment. Walmart’s bricks- and-mortar wholesale stores won’t be affected by the changes. It runs 23 Best Price stores and two fulfillment centers in India.


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“They will not make big bets like Walmart,” based on the regulation changes, said Forrester Research’s Mr. Meena. “If there is no consistency in policy that is more damaging for companies coming into the market.”



 

Brands Invent New Lines for Only Amazon to Sell. Amazon gets exclusive products, while brands receive faster customer feedback, marketing support and increased sales


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The online retail giant is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon


By Annie Gasparro and Laura Stevens | wsj.com

To build a big line of exclusive products on its site, Amazon.com Inc. is pushing other brand manufacturers to do most of the work.

The online retail giant is asking consumer-goods companies to create brands exclusively for Amazon after finding that developing them on its own is too costly and time-consuming, according to people familiar with the strategy.

The maker of Equal sweeteners and the nutrition brand GNC are among the first to launch products through a program Amazon started last year to outsource the work. Mattress maker Tuft & Needle also recently created a brand called Nod exclusively for Amazon.

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Amazon’s initiative is the latest example of the e-commerce giant flexing its muscles in order to offer the lowest prices and widest selection, as it seeks to cut into the market share of big-brand manufacturers.

Manufacturers generally benefit from selling their products through a range of retailers. Also, they risk cannibalizing higher-margin sales of their main brands by offering comparable products under different labels. But those entering deals with Amazon view the arrangement as a golden opportunity.


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In exchange for creating exclusive products, the brands get help launching their products on Amazon.com, faster customer feedback when testing new products, marketing support, and, of course, revenue from the sales. They also can appear at the top of search results—a big draw given that Amazon’s platform lists an estimated 550 million items.

“We had a lot of flexibility in terms of what we could do,” said Brian Huff, North American president of Equal sweetener manufacturer Merisant US Inc. His team created a new brand called Sugarly Sweet by Equal for Amazon.

Speed was paramount. “We had to take what would normally be 12 to 24 months of development to 90 days,” he said. However, both Equal and GNC said they have faced higher costs selling through Amazon, which can entail having to ship items in a short time frame.



“There are some kind-of-hidden expenses…so we’re trying to balance the profitability,” GNC Chief Executive Ken Martindale said on an earnings conference call in November.

Amazon, on its own, has been quietly adding to its in-house brands in recent years. Analysts estimate the site now offers more than 100. Those include the more obvious AmazonBasics brand, which makes everything from suitcases to batteries, the Happy Belly brand of foods and the Mama Bear baby-products brand.

Amazon sometimes promotes its own brands higher in search results on its site, like “Amazon’s Choice” and sponsored items, or as default results in voice searches using Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

In-house brands often generate a higher profit margin for retailers, including Amazon, and can draw in customers because they can’t find those brands elsewhere. But developing a new brand and formulating products takes time.

Amazon spent several years crafting and launching brands like Happy Belly and Mama Bear. By getting other brand manufacturers to do that work, Amazon can ramp up its private-brand offerings faster and at a lower cost, people familiar with the program said.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the program offers manufacturers a way to “launch brands and products directly to Amazon customers.” Amazon is increasingly important for consumer-product manufacturers. It now accounts for roughly half of all sales online, according to eMarketer.

Selling on Amazon is “a way to contemporize our brand,” Merisant’s Mr. Huff said. Equal tends to attract older shoppers, but the new brand, Sugarly Sweet by Equal, will appeal to younger consumers because of its more modern branding and the fact that it will be sold on Amazon.com, Mr. Huff said.

GNC recently began selling two new brands of supplements—Informed Nutrition and Challenge—that it created exclusively for Amazon. The company is trying to make up for the loss of sales at thousands of vitamin and health-food stores in the U.S. as shoppers moved online, and Mr. Martindale, its CEO, told investors that the online recognition may drive some customers back into the retail stores.


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Amazon’s program also can be used for “orphan brands” that manufacturers have stopped selling or that never made it to market.

A coffee brand that was discontinued by a discount retailer came to Amazon through its accelerator program with the coffee beans and packaging already accounted for. Now, Amazon will have an exclusive coffee brand at virtually no cost.


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“Amazon has no issue going full-court press on private label, and pursuing all these brands. If the quality and pricing architecture don’t fit and they have to pivot, they’ll do so,” said Todd Mitchell, president of Compass Marketing Inc., which works with Amazon. “They’re not limited to the constructs of shelf space.”

Amazon recently expanded its nascent home-delivery service, called Amazon Shipping, beyond test markets in London and Los Angeles


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By Paul Ziobro | @pziobro

Amazon.com Inc., recently expanded its nascent home-delivery service, called Amazon Shipping, beyond test markets in London and Los Angeles. The online retailer is offering to pick up shipments from merchants’ warehouses and deliver them directly to shoppers, The Wall Street Journal has previously reported.

The end-to-end service is part of Amazon’s quest to built up its own delivery network and handle more of the millions of items sold through its site.

To woo shippers, the retailer is promising to cut out many fees that the traditional carriers use to pad their revenues, like extra charges to deliver packages to homes, during the peak holiday season or on weekends, according to an email sent last week to shippers in the New York area and reviewed by the Journal.


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“If it’s a guaranteed service with none of those surcharges, they’re going to undercut the residential delivery market,” said John Haber, chief executive of the supply-chain consultancy Spend Management Experts.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company is “always working to develop new, innovative ways to support the small and medium businesses who sell on Amazon, including testing shipping programs that help these businesses get packages to their customers quickly and reliably.”

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Such fees can add up. The residential surcharge at FedEx is $3.60 per parcel and $3.80 at UPS. That alone can account for more than 40% of the average ground delivery charge, which was $8.81 at FedEx and $8.71, according to the most recent public data.

The two carriers also impose fuel surcharges, which fluctuate with market prices. The current weekly surcharge for a domestic ground delivery is 6.75% at FedEx and 7% at UPS. UPS also imposed surcharges on deliveries during the peak holiday shopping season each of the past two years.

Mr. Haber said fees can add up to more than 30% of the shipping cost in many cases. One merchant who reviewed Amazon’s shipping rates said they were about 10% lower than UPS and FedEx on average.



Large carriers use the fees to cover the added costs of building out their networks to handle the surge in e-commerce packages. Residential delivery, for instance, can have higher costs than delivering to businesses, where multiple items can be dropped off. Fuel surcharges also provide transparency into one of the costs baked into deliveries and can fluctuate.

Since Amazon’s service is designed to deliver packages to homes, not businesses, the costs of residential delivery are factored in, eliminating the need for a surcharge. The company wants to handle more of its own deliveries to keep up with its growth and loosen its reliance on the U.S. Postal Service and other carriers, whose rates continue to rise. FedEx and UPS typically raise rates an average of about 5% annually.

Amazon’s shipping pact with the Postal Service, which delivers most of the retailer’s packages to homes, also has come under attack from President Trump for straining the agency’s operations and not generating enough profits.

In addition to leasing airplanes and trucks, Amazon is recruiting small businesses to carry more of its deliveries during the last leg of a package’s journey to the consumer’s door. It has a program that lets entrepreneurs sign on to lease about 20 to 40 Amazon Prime-branded vans.

FedEx and UPS have in the past played down the ambitions of Amazon, which is a significant customer to both, in the delivery field. They have noted that it would take billions of dollars and years of expertise to build out a full competitor with the breadth of coverage that either carrier offers globally.



A UPS spokesman declined to comment on Amazon’s moves. “UPS has a healthy and growing small-package business,” the spokesman said “capable of transferring goods competitively from dock to doorstep anywhere in the world.”

A FedEx spokeswoman also declined to comment on Amazon’s strategy. “We are confident in our position as a global transportation trailblazer, and optimistic about the future,” the spokeswoman said.


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Amazon is promising other features that position it as more user-friendly than traditional carriers. According to its marketing pitch to shippers, Amazon will offer rates that are easier to understand than the pricing systems that UPS and FedEx use and any delivery mistakes won’t impact seller ratings.

Amazon and Microsoft are currently the two largest providers of public cloud services. That business is generating nearly $50 billion a year in revenue now between the two and is expected to double by the end of 2020


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Can Amazon.com and Microsoft keep their cloud businesses growing strong? It’s the new $1.6 trillion question.

The pair are now the two most valuable companies in the world, with Amazon having recently overtaken Microsoft for the top slot. But market values now at roughly $800 billion apiece mean that investors have placed rather large bets on both.

Amazon shares have popped nearly 29% over the last year while Microsoft has gained about 17%. That is well ahead of most of their Big Tech peers. Apple Inc., valued at more than $1 trillion less than three months ago, is down 13% over the last 12 months.


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High values come with high hopes for the coming fourth-quarter earnings season as well as for the full year. Many large tech companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet Inc., are watching costs rise faster than revenues, pressuring their bottom lines.

Reflecting this, 58% of the tech companies on the S&P 500 that are slated to report results for the December-ending quarter are expected to show earnings growth lagging revenue growth for the period, according to an analysis of data from S&P Capital IQ.

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Amazon and Microsoft, however, are expected to show the opposite. Amazon is seen reporting a 74% surge year over year in operating earnings for the fourth quarter compared with a 19% gain in revenue for the period. Microsoft’s operating income is estimated to have risen 18% relative to a 13% increase in revenue for the same period. Wall Street currently projects a similar pattern for the March quarter.

The two very different companies, whose businesses have been diverging of late, have a common growth engine. Amazon and Microsoft are currently the two largest providers of public cloud services that corporate customers use to offload their computing and software needs.

That business is generating nearly $50 billion a year in revenue now between the two and is expected to double by the end of 2020. The cloud business bolsters the margins of both companies; 60% of Amazon’s trailing 12-month operating earnings came from its AWS cloud segment, which accounted for only 11% of the company’s revenue in that time.



Keeping up that momentum will be key to both companies maintaining their towering market values. That shouldn’t prove a problem for now. Demand for corporate cloud services is expected to remain strong this year; a survey by Goldman Sachs last month found chief information officers intending to move more computing tasks this year to public cloud services like Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s Azure.


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That despite an expected downtick in overall corporate technology spending for the year. A growing cloud is still a pretty safe bet for investors—even if that bet totals $1.6 trillion.

Amazon, Reinvents Itself. The retailer is targeting hundreds of millions of new online shoppers in India’s countryside


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By Eric Bellman

Amazon.com Inc. is building a logistics network from scratch to target customers in India’s rural backwaters—the home of more than 800 million people, many of whom have little access to retailers. Most are new to online shopping and often don’t have smartphones, credit cards or even delivery addresses. What they do have is money to spend.

Amulya Bhuyan, 37 years old, lives in Dhowachala, in the northeastern state of Assam, and has few ways to buy new things. It takes hours to get to the nearest small town from the village of 1,000 people. Mr. Bhuyan, a teacher, made his first purchase on Amazon in 2016. After a recent delivery of a pair of jeans, he showed off other acquisitions: the shoes, socks, pants and shirt he was wearing; in his house, the curtains, glasses, flowery decals decorating the wall, a peacock clock and a painting of seven white horses running in the moonlight.


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“Before I didn’t even know where to buy these things, and now they arrive on my doorstep,” he said.

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Last year India’s rural shoppers accounted for more than $400 billion of retail sales. Investment bank Barclays PLC estimates Amazon in India recorded more than $7 billion in gross merchandise volume, an e-commerce measure of the amount of business transacted, in the fiscal year that ended in March. That’s about 2% of what it records world-wide.

Amazon’s efforts here face direct competition from Walmart Inc. and local startups, who are all trying to capture customers jumping directly to e-commerce thanks to the recent rollout of 4G mobile internet across India. Amazon expects the number of online shoppers in India to triple in the next few years, most of them from rural areas. More than 80% of its new customers this year are from outside India’s biggest cities, it said.

The Seattle giant has modified its app to work with inexpensive smartphones and patchy cellular networks. It has added hundreds of thousands of Indian language descriptions of products and videos for those who can’t read, and it has opened physical Amazon stores to walk people through the process of ordering online. It brought on tens of thousands of local distributors to deliver packages, often by bicycle down dirt roads, where it will accept cash or digital payment on delivery.

Since starting operations in 2013, Amazon has pledged to invest more than $5 billion in India on its warehouses and logistics network, technology, customer and seller recruitment as well as staff and content development for Amazon Prime.

China has proven there are fat pockets of profits for e-commerce companies that reach rural areas. Alibaba Group Holding ’s Taobao, JD.com Inc. and others have been the trailblazers in a rural e-commerce market there that has ballooned sevenfold in the past four years to more than $180 billion. Amazon has small operations in China but hasn’t been competitive with the homegrown giants.


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In India, Amazon invested aggressively, making use of powerful search and logistics technology as well as an advertising blitz and discounts to capture customers. This year it passed Flipkart, the homegrown leader Walmart bought for $16 billion this year, to become India’s biggest e-commerce company by gross merchandise volume, according to estimates by Barclays.

Selling to Indians who live outside cities has long been a challenge. The standard retail outlet in the countryside is a closet-size store, where simple, small and inexpensive products—soap, cigarettes or snacks—are sold after dribbling their way through multiple middlemen. The result is limited selection, poor quality and relatively high prices for rural consumers. Traditionally, big purchases have required a long trip to a town or weekly market.

Now, Amazon is enlisting the small stores as package depots along its distribution network. Other small retailers have become Amazon learning centers for new shoppers. Arjun, 29, runs a tiny Amazon store in Maddur, in the southern state of Karnataka, where people can get help learning how to search and order. Customers walk in with screenshots of something their favorite Bollywood stars wore, and Mr. Arjun, who uses one name, gets the search started.

Seated at linked computer screens, the customers, most of whom aren’t comfortable with English or typing, can follow along as he pulls up options. He helps them pick the right size using a chart on the wall and a foot measuring device. Later, customers come back to pick up their orders and pay cash at the store. There is even a changing room so they can try on clothes before paying.

“It helps me introduce people to the strange new world of the internet, where they can buy everything, try it and even return it,” said Mr. Arjun. He gets an 8%-10% commission on sales.


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A college student, Likhit, who uses one name, comes in to shop for a smartphone, wanting one that takes good selfies and has a fingerprint sensor. Mr. Arjun shows him some models. Mr. Likhit said he likes being able to try products before he pays and not having to worry about English.

“I can’t risk making a mistake and placing an order incorrectly,” said the 18-year old. “It involves money after all.”

To make its screen easier to understand, Amazon added icons for books or electronics or beauty products. When it figured out customers didn’t know the magnifying glass was a standard symbol for search—some were calling it the ping-pong paddle—it added pop-up descriptions and recommendations in Hindi.

Then there’s the “Add to Cart” button. “It is not just about the translation but about the mental model of dropping something into the cart,” said Zahid Khan, senior manager of customer experience at Amazon India. “There are lots of places in India where customers have never even seen a cart. We might have to change that into ‘bag.’ ”

Humans translated descriptions for 35,000 of Amazon’s most popular products into Hindi. That allowed a machine-learning system to master the language, and eventually every product description will be translated. Amazon said it plans to add voice searches and descriptions in other major Indian languages.

Amazon added video descriptions for tens of thousands of its best-selling items, after labs set up to observe Indians’ online surfing and shopping habits noticed that many would find a product they liked, and then leave the site to find a video about it.

The most difficult part of reaching rural customers is delivery. The post office is known for being inefficient. Amazon used data showing the location of people searching its site to figure out which parts of India need more delivery capability. Then it reached out to small businesses for help.

Nogenchandra Das, 31, responded. In the small town of Jorhat in Assam, he operates a dusty, shed-size store, with a few shelves to display basic goods—cooking oil, rice, a few kinds of hard candies—and a corner to pile Amazon packages delivered every morning. He signed up for the “I Have Space” program, along with more than 20,000 mom-and-pop stores, offering to take packages and deliver in neighborhoods for a commission.

Amazon gave him a uniform, a bag and a week of training. A motorcycle deliveryman brings about 25 packages a day from a small distribution center nearby. Customers can come pick them up at his shop, or he will deliver them on his own motorcycle. After living his whole life in the neighborhood, he knows many addresses just by looking at the family name.

Amazon desperately needs the local knowledge; the address system in India is so chaotic people will often give their locations by using a local landmark. “It can be something like ‘behind the temple’—but you don’t know which temple they are talking about,” said Akhil Saxena, vice president of customer fulfillment at Amazon India.


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Stitching small stores into Amazon’s global supply chain meant logistics technology had to work on basic smartphones, the only technology most have. The phone is used to scan deliveries, record payments, arrange for returns and take signatures. For neighborhoods without cellphone coverage, the app can work offline and update the Amazon system later.

Rural users are less likely to have credit or debit cards, so Amazon lets them pay cash when they receive their items. When it struggled to provide all the change needed, it launched Amazon Pay, so customers could receive change or refunds electronically and also pay utility bills and buy things elsewhere online.

Walmart, Amazon’s main foreign competitor in India, is using its national network of wholesale stores to sell and deliver directly to country stores, restaurants and other businesses. Flipkart, the Walmart unit, is also building its own delivery network using freelancers to reach rural customers, and has asked the government for permission to start drone deliveries.

StoreKing is a local startup that focuses on using e-commerce to sell basic supplies to small rural retailers. It said its strategy is to focus on businesses, delivering a small selection of popular items to shops, and helping them manage their costs, inventory and deliveries. StoreKing also works with other e-commerce players, including Amazon, for whom it developed and managed its assisted shopping outlets in the south, for example.

Mom-and-pop shops, meanwhile, are demanding more protection from online retailers. The stores wield power through their voting numbers, and through local and national lobbying organizations such as the Confederation of All India Traders. They have effectively blocked many foreign retailers from entering India. Last week, India unveiled new restrictions on foreign-owned e-commerce companies in response to their complaints.


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Champak Bez, 25, delivers for Amazon in Dhowachala, not far from where he grew up. Every morning, he loads up a big backpack with 30 to 50 packages from the Jorhat distribution center, scanning each package with his phone as he goes.

Most packages are small—purchases are often less than $10, for items such as socks, chargers, cosmetics and sunglasses. Amazon developed “mother bags” to sort the tiny parcels, so delivery people don’t have to handle each one individually in transit.

To get to Dhowachala, Mr. Bez squeezes his motorcycle onto a barge that fits around 20 other two-wheelers, plus people and cars for an hourlong trip across the Brahmaputra River. Downriver is a national park that is home to wild elephants, tigers and rhinoceroses. Upstream are the tea plantations for which Assam is famous.


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Once there he rides his Bajaj Pulsar over backbreaking, rough roads. Most are dirt, and the ones near the river—just like the homes—are elevated 10 to 20 feet to accommodate seasonal flooding.

Google’s map app provides limited detail for the area so he depends on his own experience and asking around. Once he has found a customer he records the exact coordinates, so the next delivery will be easier.

Regulators are pushing Amazon.com Inc. and other companies to disclose more about where they get their revenue


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Regulators are pushing Amazon Inc. and other companies to disclose more about where they get their revenue. Some companies are pushing back. The Securities and Exchange Commission has pressed Amazon to tell investors how much of its revenue comes from its Amazon Prime customers, according to letters between the SEC and the company.

Amazon declined, contending the information isn’t meaningful. Companies including Ford Motor Co. and truck maker Paccar Inc. PCAR also have rebuffed SEC requests to break out parts of their revenue.

That has left many investors without the sort of deeper, granular information about revenue that they were supposed to get from companies under an accounting rule that took effect this year, such as which products, sales channels or geographic locations are driving a company’s top line.

The new accounting rule focuses primarily on how and when companies book revenue. It also requires them to disclose a breakdown of their revenue in ways that would help show investors how economic factors affect the nature, amount, timing and uncertainty of revenue.

Many companies, however, haven’t provided any more detail about their revenue than they did before the new rule, Todd Castagno, a Morgan Stanley accounting analyst, said. “There will have to be more of an outcry for there to be a change.”

The clash may not be over. While the SEC hasn’t forced the issue, it has indicated it plans to continue focusing in 2019 on how companies disclose the makeup of their revenue. If companies continue to resist providing the information, the SEC may insist on it.

Investors want that kind of information: A survey earlier this year by the CFA Institute, a group of chartered financial analysts that advocates for investor-friendly measures, indicated 73.6% of respondents thought disclosures about a company’s segment revenues weren’t detailed enough.

The rule doesn’t require companies to break down their revenue in any specific way. But if they discuss particular sources of revenue in earnings announcements or conference calls, or if they provide their top decision-makers with particular details about revenue, such as how individual products are selling, then they are supposed to consider breaking out the revenue on that basis for investors too.

In Amazon’s case, the SEC noted in an August letter that the company said publicly it had topped 100 million paid Prime members globally and shipped more than five billion items with Prime world-wide in 2017. It asked Amazon to disclose its percentage of sales attributable to Prime members.

Amazon declined, telling the SEC it didn’t believe sales to Prime customers was useful information and that Prime membership is “only one element” of its business. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Prime is “certainly one of the key growth drivers for analyzing Amazon’s retail business,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst covering Amazon for Robert W. Baird & Co. But based on the information Amazon has already provided, he said, “I don’t think there’s any big mystery in terms of how the Prime membership program is performing.”

The SEC asked Paccar in June whether it had considered breaking out its revenue for fleet customers, which are those who buy significant numbers of trucks, and according to light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, since it had discussed those matters on a conference call and in its filings. The company said it didn’t want to do that because it doesn’t manage its business on that basis. Paccar said its spokesman wasn’t available to comment.



Ford, which adopted the new revenue rule early, was questioned by the SEC in August 2017 about why it reported vehicle revenue together with parts and accessories revenue. Ford said the two categories were similar enough for purposes of the disclosure. The company declined to comment further.

The SEC previously pressed companies to disclose the performance of their business segments. Last year, the commission asked Google parent Alphabet Inc. to disclose its YouTube revenue, but Alphabet said it didn’t feel the disclosure was necessary. Alphabet didn’t respond to a request for comment. After it raised the latest revenue-disclosure issues with the companies, the SEC later told them it had finished reviewing the matter, signaling further action was unlikely for now. The SEC has said it wouldn’t be overly harsh on companies initially over their adoption of the new rule.


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Later on, though, it could be a different story. “They’re like, ‘We’re going to be understanding in the first year, but after a reasonable transition period you can expect closer scrutiny,’ ” said Brian Lane, a former SEC corporation-finance director who is now a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are in a tight race for the title of world’s most valuable public company.


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> Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have been neck and neck for the title of world’s most valuable public company.
> As of Monday’s close, Apple took the lead with a market cap of $877 billion.
>Microsoft surpassed Apple in market cap at the end of trading last week.

Amazon, Apple and Microsoft are in a tight race for the title of world’s most valuable public company. The three have tossed around the title over the past few trading days, each closing with a market cap over $860 billion.

Microsoft surpassed Apple in market cap on Friday, only for Apple to overtake it again on Monday. Amazon briefly eclipsed both companies during intraday trading Monday. As of Monday’s close, Apple took the lead with a market cap of $877 billion. Amazon followed at $866 billion, then Microsoft with $860 billion.

The horse race between these tech giants has intensified as the tech sector has seen an upswing from October declines and following the White House’s announcement of a 90-day trade truce with China on Saturday.

The stocks have been closely watched since August, when Apple became the first publicly traded company in the U.S. to reach $1 trillion in market cap. About a month later, Amazon reached the same milestone before markets closed, ending the day just below the $1 trillion mark.

Microsoft’s lead on Friday marked a significant shift in the tech sector, as the company hasn’t closed a year in the top seat since 2002 and has not been the most valuable tech stock since 2010. While Apple and Amazon had been the two front-runners by market cap size, recent setbacks at the companies have given Microsoft a leg up.

The company has seen its value more than triple since Satya Nadella took over as CEO from Steve Ballmer in February 2014, as Nadella has accelerated the company’s transition into cloud-based services and allowed other parts of the business to take priority over the Windows PC operating system.

Since Apple announced on its fourth-quarter 2018 earnings call that moving forward it would no longer disclose iPhone unit sales, investors have worried the company is getting ready for a significant drop-off in sales of its flagship product.


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Amazon saw a similar sell-off after delivering weak guidance in its third-quarter 2018 earnings report. The company expected $2.1 billion to $3.6 billion in fourth-quarter operating income, well below Street estimates of $3.9 billion for the quarter that spans the holiday season.

Both companies have rebounded with the market and the pause in trade tensions with China. On Monday, Amazon closed up 4.9 percent and Apple was up 3.5 percent.

Amazon, Emerges as an Advertising Giant, Its push challenges the big ad sellers, including Facebook, Google and TV networks


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Amazon.com Inc. ( AMZN ) handles nearly half of all online sales in the U.S., giving it a popular platform and a wealth of consumer data. Now it’s on track to become the next juggernaut of online advertising, and its rise threatens to upend Silicon Valley’s ad titans and change the way business is done on Madison Avenue.

The online retailer has ascended to the No. 3 spot in the U.S. digital ad market behind the dominant players, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. Though Amazon has just 4% of the market now, the company is expanding its avenues for marketers and hiring aggressively for its ad unit.

Some marketers eager for a new digital ad alternative are also conflicted about the rise of Amazon—a competing retailer with its own in-house brands to sell—setting up a new potential source of tension.

Amazon’s ad revenue is on pace to double this year, to $5.83 billion, according to eMarketer. Its ad sales are expected to jump $28.4 billion over the next five years, according to Cowen & Co.—more than the combined increases in ad revenue for all television networks globally, according to figures from media-buyer GroupM.

The cumulative effect is an earthquake whose tremors will be felt by anyone selling ads, including digital publishers and TV networks. Retailers like Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Kroger Co. , which get paid by brands to place products in desirable locations within their stores, are already losing business to Amazon, ad executives say.

“I think the giant has been awoken,” said Bill Wise, chief executive of Mediaocean, a software platform that processes over $150 billion of ad spending annually.


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While Amazon has rapidly expanded into a number of new businesses in recent years, including groceries, entertainment and pharmaceuticals, its ad business has grown organically into a high-margin business. Its planned headquarters in New York City will give it a new, stronger tie to the traditional center of advertising, one that could lead to Amazon hiring away talent.

Meanwhile, the world’s biggest ad agencies are racing to become specialists in how Amazon wants to do business, which is unlike anything they’ve seen before.

A big chunk of Amazon’s ad business comes from its retail site, where companies pay to be listed as a “sponsored product” high up in the search results when a user enters a term of search


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Amazon’s ad business now contributes to gross profit and is expected to generate more income than its cloud business—which currently provides the bulk of its profits—as soon as 2021, according to Piper Jaffray analysts.



Amazon is expected to collect 15 cents of each new dollar spent on U.S. digital ads in 2020, up from 5 cents last year, according to an analysis of data from research firm eMarketer.

Today’s Stock Market News – Amazon Inc said on Friday it would carry more Apple Inc products globally in time for the holiday shopping season


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Amazon.com Inc said on Friday it would carry more Apple Inc products globally in time for the holiday shopping season. Amazon.com Inc on Friday said it would carry more Apple Inc (AAPL.O) products globally in time for the holiday shopping season, as the technology rivals put aside past differences to boost sales.

In coming weeks, the world’s biggest online retailer will sell the latest editions of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and other devices in the United States, Europe, Japan and India. Amazon sold a limited assortment from Apple previously that included Mac computers and Beats headphones.



The deal underscores how top brands such as Apple and Nike Inc (NKE.N), which long resisted distributing products via Amazon, are increasingly turning to the e-commerce site because it has become a critical channel for reaching customers. Amazon has taken a harder line on counterfeit goods as well. As of Jan. 4, Amazon will rid its site of Apple products from third-party merchants not authorized by the Cupertino, California-based technology company. Still, shoppers will be able to find non-branded accessories – like headphones – that are compatible with Apple devices.



Third-party merchants will be allowed to sell as they have been through the holiday season, while Amazon will add Apple products to its official Apple at Amazon page.

The lineup will include the Apple Watch but not the Apple HomePod, a high-end alternative to Amazon’s voice-controlled Echo device. Such competition in Silicon Valley has often come at the expense of customers.

Alphabet Inc’s Google pulled its video streaming app YouTube from two Amazon devices last year because of several complaints against the online retailer, including its decision not to sell some of Google’s products. Amazon now carries the Apple TV, but only after it became compatible with Amazon’s Prime Video.



“We’re working with Amazon to improve the experience for Apple customers on their site and we look forward to those customers having another great way to buy iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac and more,” Apple said in a statement.

About 71 percent of Apple’s sales in fiscal 2018, ended in September, were through indirect distribution channels like Amazon.

Amazon is luring the next generation of consumers. To teenage shoppers, there is nothing quite like Amazon (AMZN).

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More teenagers are using Prime membership, too, according to the survey. Prime adoption is at 74%, up from 66% last year. This is in line with the rise of Prime membership penetration across American households. Piper Jaffray estimates that a little over 80 million households are Prime users, up from a high of 70 million in the spring. Another research firm, Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, has estimated that Amazon Prime reached 97 million U.S. members in September.


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Piper Jaffray’s report also broke down the popularity of Amazon based on household income. It found that the Seattle retail giant is the favorite among teens from upper-income families (with an average income of $101,900), it also saw strong growth in the $41,000-$68,000 household income bracket. Piper Jaffray says this may be a sign that Amazon’s efforts to convert lower-income consumers is working.

Amazon has good incentives to lure the young Gen Z group, who are native digital shoppers and will make up the majority of the consumer market by 2030. Savvy about its users’ life cycles, Amazon offers Prime programs dedicated to teens, college students and new parents. Amazon has made significant efforts to attract future consumers. The Prime Student program, launched in 2010, offers free shipping and access to streaming video at a discounted rate.

To facilitate shopping on its site, Amazon Prime allows teens to set up their own logins independent of their parents’ accounts and parents can choose to review their items before allowing the purchase. Teens can send purchase requests to parents, including messages like “Everyone in my school has this.”


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It has also partnered with popular brands among teens. Nike, for example, became a partner seller on Amazon last summer. Snapchat users can shop on Amazon easily, too. As of last month, some Snapchat users are able to point its camera at an item or barcode and buy it from Amazon. Snapchat is the second-most used social media among teens after Instagram, according to the Piper Jaffray survey.

Amazon is scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings aftermarket on Oct. 25.

Amazon.com Inc said on Friday it plans to open its checkout-free grocery store in New York, expanding beyond Seattle.

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2018/09/08

 


Amazon to open checkout-free store in New York – Amazon.com Inc said on Friday it plans to open its checkout-free ‘Amazon Go’ grocery store in New York, expanding beyond Seattle where it is headquartered.

The Amazon Go store, which has no cashiers and allows shoppers to buy things with the help of a smartphone app, is widely seen as a concept that can alter brick-and-mortar retail. Customers have to scan a smartphone app to enter the store. Once inside, cameras and sensors track what they pick up from the shelves and what they put back. Amazon then bills shoppers’ credit cards on file after they leave.

In January, the company opened its first concept store in Seattle and now has three in the city. It said in May there are plans to expand to Chicago and San Francisco as well. Amazon Go stores offer ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Go carries groceries like bread, milk, artisan cheeses and chocolate, as well as Amazon meal kits. Although there are no checkouts or lines at Go stores, employees still need to stock the shelves, make food in the kitchen, and answer customers’ questions.

The stores rely on cameras and sensors to constantly track customers and inventory as they move around. Shoppers need to open the Amazon Go app to enter, and any products they take are automatically charged to their account when they leave. The technology in stores automatically detects when customers take or return products to shelves and keeps track of items in a virtual shopping cart.


 

 


At least four job listings for a new Amazon Go location were posted on Thursday evening, The Information today reported, seeking candidates for a store manager, an assistant manager, a learning and development manager, and a training lead associate. Details on the location were scant otherwise, but an Amazon spokesperson confirmed the news to VentureBeat via email.

The Amazon Go experience has remained relatively consistent store-to-store so far, offering groceries; fresh foods like salads, sandwiches, wraps, and meal kits; and Amazon Go-branded water bottles, mugs, and t-shirts to shoppers willing to download the requisite app.


Amazon confirmed earlier this year that additional Amazon Go stores are in the works.

Amazon Go is but one cog in Amazon’s brick-and-mortar wheel, of course.
The retailer acquired grocery chain Whole Foods in June for $13.7 billion, which it’s integrated tightly with its Amazon Prime membership program and same-day Prime Now delivery service. (Amazon Prime members get discounts on select Whole Foods items.) It operates bookstores in Washington, California, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Massachusetts. And it’s reportedly mulling the purchase of movie theater chain Landmark.


Amazon Go competitor opens a cashierless store in San Francisco.
Standard Cognition’s proof-of-concept grocery outlet is open to the public.

A startup called Standard Cognition hopes to steal some of Amazon’s thunder by opening a cashierless store in San Francisco. Standard Cognition’s store is open to the public now, and it’s the first real-world test for the company’s retail ambitions.

Located in the Mid-Market neighborhood, Standard Market lets you purchase goods without scanning items at a checkout or passing through a turnstile. Once you’ve arrived and checked in using an app, Standard Market tracks the items you pick up using a camera system, and it can tell when you return products (even in the wrong spot) or place them in a bag or your pockets. Once you leave, the company will process your payment, and send your receipt via email.

The San Francisco store will let Standard Cognition test how its tech scales, and trial some new features. The startup plans to expand opening times (it’s currently only open for a couple of hours per day) and the number of products over the next few weeks. It will also let more people shop in the store simultaneously.

Standard Cognition says it doesn’t collect customer’s biometric data or use facial recognition. It is providing its tech to other companies, and it will outfit thousands of stores in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Strikes by Amazon workers in Europe threaten Prime Day sales. Annual event hit as German and Spanish staff down tools and US site is hit by outages

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Between 2,500 and 3,000 of the company’s 16,000 workers in its largest market outside the US refused to work on Tuesday, according to German services union Verdi, although Amazon itself put the number in the hundreds.

The European strikes are the latest blow to Prime Day, Amazon’s 36-hour global discount event. Technical problems hit the company’s US website soon after the sale’s launch on Monday, with website-tracker Downdetector reporting Amazon.com as unavailable across swaths of the key US east and west coast regions.

Amazon’s warehouses have been the subject of long-running protests and concern about insecure work and poor conditions across Europe, particularly Germany where labour laws are tougher than in many other markets.

“[The German strike] is about the wages and wage levels, it’s about health and safety,” Verdi said. “The work is physically and psychologically demanding.”

Workers at distribution centres across the eurozone’s largest economy walked out several times in 2013 and in 2014 over pay and conditions. Verdi, the country’s second-largest union, had wanted Amazon to agree to collective bargaining arrangements and a reclassification of workers in distribution centres as retail workers — a move that would have entitled them to higher pay.

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The company also came under fire in the German press, which is often much more sympathetic to workers than media in other big economies, after a documentary showed security workers mistreating foreign temporary staff. The security company was later fired by Amazon.

Amazon has 11 distribution centres in Germany. Unemployment in the country is at its lowest level since reunification between the east and west in 1990, which has led to bumper pay rises for German workers this year.

Amazon insisted it was a “fair and responsible” employer. “We believe in continuous improvement across our network and maintain an open and direct dialogue with associates… provide safe and positive working conditions.”

It added that Prime Day would be “an epic day of our best deals”.

The German strike comes a day after Amazon staff in Spain also downed tools.

The Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras union said most of Amazon’s workers at its flagship Spanish warehouse near Madrid had refused to work to protest against changes to collective bargaining agreements, leaving only about 80 in their posts on the first day of the promotions.

“In 2016 the company’s [collective bargaining] agreement came to an end,” the union said. “After nonsense negotiations, the company decided unilaterally to apply a sectoral [collective bargaining] agreement and this changed the working conditions of many workers.”

Amazon also contested the Spanish union’s figures, saying the “majority” of its 1,400 workers at the site had gone to work on Monday. The company has about 2,000 fulfilment workers across Spain.

Amazon.com Inc Company Profile:

Amazon.com, Inc. offers a range of products and services through its Websites. The Company operates through three segments: North America, International and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The Company’s products include merchandise and content that it purchases for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers. It also manufactures and sells electronic devices. The Company, through its subsidiary, Whole Foods Market, Inc., offers healthy and organic food and staples across its stores. The Company also offers a range of products like whole trade bananas, organic avocados, organic large brown eggs, organic responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia, organic baby kale and baby lettuce, animal-welfare-rated 85% lean ground beef, creamy and crunchy almond butter, organic gala and fuji apples, organic rotisserie chicken.

Contact Information:

Address: Seattle, WA 98109-5210
United States
Phone: +1-206-2661000
Fax: 302-6365454
Web: www.amazon.com

Amazon is driving brands to increase their advertising on its website for next week’s Prime Day, its annual sales event — potentially giving another boost to a revenue stream that has brought the ecommerce group into competition with Google and Facebook, the dominant forces in digital advertising.

StockMarketNews.Today – With millions of Amazon’s Prime members expected to flock to the site next Monday for discounts on products from Bluetooth speakers to paper towels, analysts say its growing advertising business will be a winner alongside the core retail business.

Amazon is becoming a pay-to-play platform,” said Roshan Varma, director in the retail practice at consultancy AlixPartners. “It’s not enough for brands and vendors to sell on Amazon. If you want to sell, you need to show up on top of the sort order [in product search results] and the only way to do that is beat the algorithm or pay for a sponsored product ad.”

“They position it as you have to maintain your share of voice regardless of the cost,” said Mike Ziegler, a former Amazon advertising manager who now runs Marketplace Clicks, an agency that helps sellers advertise on the ecommerce site.

Amazon stock news n2

Prime Day, which Amazon created in 2015, has quickly become one of the company’s biggest drivers of sales and of growth in Prime members. More than 100m people around the world now pay monthly or annual subscriptions for free shipping, streaming video and music and other services.

Last year’s Prime Day saw the most subscription sign-ups since the Prime service launched in 2005 and was the company’s biggest sales day up to that point, Amazon said. With this year’s event expanding to 36 hours on July 16 and 17 and extending offline to discounts at Whole Foods, the grocery chain Amazon bought last year, sales are expected to rise 40 per cent to $3.4bn from $2.4bn in 2017, according to Coresight Research.

The need to advertise to cut through the crowd on Prime Day underscores the growing contribution of advertising to Amazon’s business. While its Amazon’s core retail operations generate the majority of its revenue, executives and analysts see advertising as a promising growth area. Its “other” revenue segment, mostly derived from advertising, more than doubled to $2bn in the first quarter and the company flagged the high-margin business as “a strong contributor to profitability”.

Amazon’s slice of the $100bn US digital ad market is still very small: 2.7 per cent, or fifth place, this year compared with Google’s 37.2 per cent and Facebook’s 19.6 per cent, according to eMarketer. Its share is expected to reach 4.5 per cent by 2020, passing Microsoft and Verizon’s Oath to climb to third place, while Google and Facebook are predicted to lose ground.

Analysts expect growth to come both within the search, sponsored product and display ads Amazon sells on its own site as well as an expansion of the ads it has begun selling across other websites, using its shopping data to target consumers.

“Shopping behaviour is so much more powerful to a marketer than someone asking a question to Google,” said Jordache Perozzo of BuyBox Experts, an Amazon consultancy. “Facebook and Google know what people like or are interested in, but money talks.”

Mark Mahaney, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, estimates that by 2022 Amazon’s ad revenues will top $25bn and generate more than $8bn in incremental operating profit, making the business “as impactful” to the company as Amazon Web Services, its cloud computing business, is today.

As sellers weigh the cost of advertising their products at the top of search results against the boost in sales that Prime Day promises, they also find themselves increasingly competing against Amazon itself. In recent years Amazon has used Prime Day to promote its own in-house labels and products such as voice-controlled speakers.

“The number of branded items and preferred placements [Amazon] is giving themselves on the site, whether in search or headline search or sponsored products, it’s a thorn in a lot of people’s sides,” Mr Ziegler said.

Prime Day is getting more expensive for sellers in other ways, too. Amazon has raised the fee it charges merchants to offer limited-time “Lightning Deals” to $750 from $500 last year.

Amazon.com Inc Company Profile:

Amazon.com, Inc. offers a range of products and services through its Websites. The Company operates through three segments: North America, International and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The Company’s products include merchandise and content that it purchases for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers. It also manufactures and sells electronic devices. The Company, through its subsidiary, Whole Foods Market, Inc., offers healthy and organic food and staples across its stores. The Company also offers a range of products like whole trade bananas, organic avocados, organic large brown eggs, organic responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia, organic baby kale and baby lettuce, animal-welfare-rated 85% lean ground beef, creamy and crunchy almond butter, organic gala and fuji apples, organic rotisserie chicken.

Contact Information:

Address: Seattle, WA 98109-5210
United States
Phone: +1-206-2661000
Fax: 302-6365454
Web: www.amazon.com