Amazon has been actively staffing up Live over the last year, pitting it in a race against Facebook, TikTok and even Mall of America and Klarna to pitch products through livestreams. To stand out, Amazon is making Live a more friendly space to brands -- and they’re doing that by recruiting official video hosts, as well as by integrating livestreams more deeply into the rest of the Amazon site.
Amazon is continuing to invest in Alexa's conversation technology. A recent rollout is following a number of smaller initiatives from Amazon’s smart speaker team, which -- while relatively under the radar -- total to a notable investment in making conversations with Alexa smoother. Altogether, these innovations might have a marginal impact on customer adoption of voice commerce. And it might also push small brands that have resisted building out Alexa integrations because of lack of resources to develop their own Alexa skills.
A longtime e-commerce business is now entering the Amazon roll-up fray: Berlin Brands Group (BBG) -- a Germany-based company that began as an e-commerce seller in 2005, creating and marketing its own products on Amazon and other platforms. In January, BBG announced that it was, for the first time, entering into the acquisitions space. It's an important milestone for the increasingly competitive Amazon acquisition industry.
Amazon is continuing its quest to offer social media-like features. For Amazon, the concern is that social-media-driven commerce -- long hyped to be the future of shopping -- now seems inevitable. The company’s rollout of Live and #FoundItOnAmazon is about capturing the value of social commerce before other social media companies can cut into its market share -- and its most recent feature, the little-noticed Amazon Posts, could go a long way toward achieving that goal.
In the aggregate, onlookers can draw out broad themes for how a company like Amazon sees itself, based on its investment history. And in Amazon’s case, though those signals are murky, they point to a few of the company’s areas of interest -- including an increased focus on fulfillment and delivery, plus growing fascinations with customer service, sleep and smart home devices. Here, we map out a few potential patterns in Amazon’s investments from the past five years.
Amazon's recent acquisition of e-commerce platform Selz has already sparked speculation about its larger meaning for Amazon’s ambitions. Depending on who is speaking, the acquisition is either the clearest signal yet that Amazon is going to compete directly with Shopify -- or it’s a small, local purchase aimed to expand Amazon’s reach in a new market, Australia, and nothing more. But it does show that seller services is the next e-commerce battleground.
This week, Mitsubishi is unveiling its newest car on Amazon Live. Live-stream shopping has long been hyped to become the future of e-commerce in the U.S., but this past year, tech giants finally invested in the new medium. Amazon’s event represents an escalation of those efforts -- and hints at a possible future where Amazon Live becomes a hub of all kinds of live events and product launches for brands.
Publisher recommendations are being prominently featured in Amazon searches. And sellers are trying to figure out how to capitalize. In recent months, some agencies have popped up with promises to facilitate connections between Amazon sellers and publishers enrolled in the Onsite Associates program -- creating what amounts to a behind-the-scenes industry of brokers that help sellers get their products listed on Amazon's first page. But the overall ecosystem remains murky.
In the past two years, Amazon has rolled out a suite of fashion-tech features, all in the hopes of finding new ways to draw in fashion customers. The pace of innovation is furious, with new features popping up nearly every month -- yet while some of those features have already disappeared and might amount to throwing ideas at the wall and seeing what sticks, they have, in the aggregate, grown Amazon's fashion clout. Here's a look at some of Amazon's high-profile fashion launches over the past year and a half.
Amazon sellers have historically been far too small to reasonably consider going public. But as Amazon’s overall customer base ballooned this past year, so did the size of its top sellers. Per Jungle Scout, 2% of Amazon sellers now boast lifetime profits of over $10 million. The third-party vendor Pharmapacks, for instance, brings in at least $250 million in annual sales. For that upper tier of sellers, going public is no longer out of the question.
Andy Jassy is soon to become the new Jeff Bezos. Does this mean huge changes are in store? Probably not. But agency executives and Amazon insiders think there are many improvements to be made. And they hope that Jassy's experience at AWS can help make a less siloed Amazon ecosystem.
The Federal Trade Commission just announced a $61.7 million settlement with Amazon over its alleged failure to pay tips to its gig delivery drivers. Across Facebook groups and Reddit forums, Amazon Flex drivers expressed pessimism about how much of that money they’d ever see -- and whether the decision will really mark a shift in how Amazon treats its drivers. “I do not think we are treated with the respect we deserve,” said one Amazon Flex driver of three years, who spoke to Modern Retail on the condition of anonymity, referring to the way Amazon engages with its drivers. “I feel we are just a number easily erasable.”
Sellers who spoke to Modern Retail noted that the 'Amazon's Choice' badge appeared to be harder to game than in recent years, and that the number of sales it drives -- while still very high -- has shrunk slightly. In fact, while badges still remain important to the Amazon ecosystem, the company is increasingly testing more human-centric, editorial recommendations in search results -- suggesting that it may be moving away from an algorithmic sorting system to a more human-driven one.
Amazon sellers are increasingly getting acquired. What started as a small, niche phenomenon in the early 2010s -- individual hobbyists buying and flipping Amazon businesses on the hopes of making a tidy profit -- has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. And as a result, the value of a third-party Amazon business is ballooning. This increase is evident on marketplaces like Empire Flippers as well as in the bids of larger roll-up companies -- but some experts see signs of a bubble.
While Walmart Marketplace is growing fast, it’s struggling to gain traction with its relatively clunky seller system that has proven to be especially difficult for smaller and inexperienced sellers to navigate. Meanwhile, those familiar with the program say there are a lot of issues that still need to be worked out. “As a seller, you really should be more established, more experienced, have a team to handle Walmart, because it’s not as intuitive as Amazon,” said Pauline Shiu, marketing director at Zentail, which manages listings for third-party sellers.
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