In under a year, Amazon has laid the groundwork for a national, physical grocery chain. And that increased expansion comes right as Amazon shuttered one of its longest-running online food businesses, Amazon Pantry, in January. In general, the company appears to have acknowledged that, in order to gain a foothold in the grocery market, it needs physical locations to complement its e-commerce might.
While the Bessemer loss may be a blow, it isn’t slowing down the numerous worker advocacy groups that have cropped up in recent years, including the Target Workers United, Crew for a Trader Joe’s Union and Amazon’s own worker groups, Amazonians United -- and those groups say they will continue to fight on the ground, even if their companies don't officially recognize them.
In his investor letter, Jeff Bezos confirmed that Amazon Prime now has “more than 200 million subscribers” worldwide. But beyond that top-line figure, a few other numbers in the Bezos letter illustrate exactly where that growth is coming from -- and largely confirm existing speculation about the ascendancy of Amazon’s third-party sellers, its accelerating logistics footprint and the growth of its Alexa system.
Amazon just bought Perpule, an India-based tech company that helps local mom and pop stores -- called kirana stores -- move their product catalogs online and implement contactless checkout. Amazon’s interest in kirana stores goes much deeper than a desire to just make profits from digitizing small businesses -- instead, Amazon sees small stores as both drivers of fulfillment for the company and as sources of growth for other Amazon products, including Amazon Pay.
As competition ramps up on e-commerce marketplaces, brands that have wholesale channels are trying to figure out how to walk the delicate tightrope of growing their presences online -- without forfeiting control of how their products are sold and who gets to sell them. While Amazon offers some services to help sellers control who gets to sell their products, a small group of lawyers are popping up to fill in the gaps.
Nearly half of brands now rely on Amazon DSP today, up from around one third in 2019, according to one study. That market share will likely only grow amid the demise of the third-party cookie.
Amazon is far from the only retailer to encourage its employees to talk about their jobs online. Amazon’s might be the most extreme example, but tapping workers to leverage their social followings has slowly become a mainstream strategy in the retail world -- and cases like Amazon’s may only be the beginning.
At Digiday Media’s “Amazon U: Amazon Beyond Search” event, industry insiders shared current best practices, case studies and tips on how to make Amazon work for your brand in 2021. This was the first of three events focusing on different parts of the Amazon ecosystem.
Financial advances are not a new phenomenon in the e-commerce world. But now they are zeroing in on Amazon sellers. The rise of these e-commerce fintech programs is happening against the backdrop of big investors pouring money into e-commerce businesses -- and the two trends are deeply intertwined. For sellers, these fintech firms are creating a pathway to scale a business fast, right as private equity companies and larger rollups are actively looking to acquire e-commerce businesses.
Until now, Amazon Music has remained distinct from the company’s larger e-commerce business, but the recent addition of merch suggests that these two sides of the platform may become more tightly integrated down the line. It also shows the way in which Amazon, as its empire expands, is tying consumer products more tightly to its ecosystem.
For years, big money investors have been leery of Amazon businesses, concerned that even successful products lack any real brand value outside of the context of Amazon. But the arrival of private equity deals suggests that financial types increasingly see Amazon businesses as sustainable, long-term investments, given that private equity investors tend only to pour money into established businesses.
Amazon is doing away with its Early Reviewer Program, and is instead pushing third-party sellers to its existing reviewer programs, like Vine, as well as its newly introduced “Request a Review” button. The shuttering of the Early Reviewer Program is a further refining of Amazon’s review ecosystem. While it is not a significant loss to sellers, it shows the progress that Amazon has made in regulating how reviews are solicited through the platform.
Amazon is making a minor change to the customer data it shares with sellers. But Amazon’s move is just an extension of a growing, if not uncommon, source of tension between marketplaces and their sellers: third-party sellers account for around half of sales on a site like Amazon, but while they might be selling their products, they don’t actually gain customers.
Amazon’s attachment to U.K.-based food delivery service Deliveroo remains an intriguing footnote for both companies. While Amazon has done little to tie itself or its services to Deliveroo beyond its initial investment, Amazon’s backing suggests that the food delivery market -- a sector that Amazon has dabbled in previously, through a series of failed programs like Amazon Restaurants -- remains a strong interest for the company.
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.
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