What You Need to Know About Amazon News This Past Week

As Amazon makes national headlines nearly every day, the Directional Cue Learning Center stays abreast of the changes. We prepare Sellers to excel in response to Amazon’s many innovations and marketplace moves. Keep reading to know how the Amazon headlines apply to the business world this week.  

Summing It All Up

This week, Amazon announces new ways to help Sellers with advertising. Also, Facebook competes with Amazon by creating a new electronic item, and another Amazon Go store opens. Finally, Amazon disciplines employees investigated for misconduct and continues to gain market share in the digital ad space.

Read below for the details.

This Week for Everyone

Second Amazon Go Store Winds Up in Chicago

The second Amazon Go store debuted in the Windy City in less than a month. A third Amazon Go Store will also soon open in Chicago, according to reports. So far, Seattle, Chicago, and NYC are the only cities with actual or planned Amazon Go stores. However, supposedly, Amazon plans to open 3000 Amazon Go stores by 2021. That means, in the future, every major city (including some overseas) will likely host at least one Amazon Go store.  

The United Kingdom Queues up to Get an Amazon Go Store

International boundaries won’t stop UK customers from getting more Amazon. Reports abound that Amazon is scoping the UK for an Amazon Go store and has even filed trademark paperwork. No opening date has been floated.

Facebook Released a Competitive Smart Speaker

According to CNBC, Facebook is staking its claim in the 6.7 billion dollar Amazon-led smart speaker market. Facebook just announced pre-orders for its new speakers called Portal and Portal+.

 “Portal, which features a 10-inch screen, is available for $199 while the Portal+, which has a long, 15.6-inch screen, is priced at $34.”

The Alexa-enabled smart speaker makes video calls through Facebook messenger and has unique features like automatic framing and unique backgrounds (augmented-reality features).

Facebook minimizes some privacy concerns by including privacy features like camera lens covers and on/off buttons for the camera and microphones.

This Week in Business

Some Companies Move Ad Budgets from Google to Amazon

Ad revenue is Amazon’s fastest-growing category, but Amazon has yet to threaten the number one and two spots of Google and Facebook in the digital ad space. Still, its market share rise cannot be ignored. It’s been reported that some brands are moving up to 60% of their search ad budgets from Google over to Amazon. Note: about half of product searches begin on Amazon. In turn, the ad spend migration is primarily seen in the consumer packaged goods category, one which Amazon dominates. Other lucrative areas, such as travel and automotive, have yet to see such a bump. Perhaps it is due to their (current) lack of presence on the Amazon platform.

Amazon Fires Employees for Leaking Customer Emails

Following an investigation into employee misconduct, Amazon fired employees identified as releasing customer information to third-party sellers. The sellers have been removed from the platform, and the affected customers have been notified.

The U.S. Post Office Proposes an Increase to its Amazon Shipping Fees

Following political pressure – and if approved by regulators – the USPS will increase the amount it charges Amazon on January 27, 2019. Amazon uses the USPS for parcel select services (also used by UPS and FedEX), and the increase will be between 9-12 percent, depending on package weight. At this moment, it is unknown whether Amazon will pass the fees to its customers and Sellers, but Sellers should be prepared to factor in such an increase at the beginning of the year.

At the moment, Amazon depends on USPS, and an increase may affect Amazon’s bottom line in the short run. However, as Amazon shores up its own delivery fleet, it could soon leave USPS behind.

Amazon Pulls the Plug on a Sexist Machine Learning Recruitment System

Finally, an artificial intelligence tool Amazon developed and built in 2014 to assist with its recruitment process has been shelved for showing a preference towards male resumes. In 2015, Amazon noticed that the automated recruitment program showed gender bias against female applicants in software development and other technical areas where more men work. As a result, the recruitment system likely learned the bias from screening Amazon’s male-dominated resume pool over a ten-year span.

This unfortunate situation offers a cautionary tale for other large companies hoping to rely on artificial intelligence to speed up the recruitment process.  

This Week for Sellers

Amazon Offers Sellers Help in Advertising with a Service Provider Network and Marketplace Appstore

Now, Amazon has announced advertising assistance for Amazon Sellers with two options. On one hand, Sellers may use third-party service providers to help in advertising optimization. These service providers offer expertise to help increase sales through ad products on Amazon. So far, there are 37 providers with fees ranging from $25/month to $3,000 month.

On the other hand, Sellers have the option to use apps created by third-party developers to help automate and manage Amazon advertising. The apps are available through the Appstore.

That’s it for Amazon News This Week. Thank you for reading, and thank you in advance for visiting Directional Cue every day for the latest in Amazon business news!

Maureen Lomo is a published international novelist in addition to a skilled copywriter. Before her career in writing, she enjoyed a worldwide human resources career overseas, and she credits her time abroad for broadening her perspective and enhancing her writing talent. She contributes topical and engaging Amazon content in Directional Cue's news series, "This Week in Amazon."