What You Need to Know About Amazon News This Past Week

From A to Z, the Directional Cue Learning Center keeps its readers up to date on the details behind the Amazon news headlines. We summarize the trending content and then provide Sellers with the strategy to respond to the relevant Amazon updates.  

Find out what’s new with Amazon News This Week by reading below!

Summing It All Up

Amazon’s physical presence grows and grows! Not only is the number of brick-and-mortar stores stated to be in the hundreds, but it’s also reported that a new city will get an Amazon Go Store. Also, Amazon announced its plan to monetize its Alexa smart-speaker technology. Furthermore, Amazon partnerships continue to make headlines. Finally, the Amazon giveaway and reviews practice causes concerns.

This Week for Everyone

Amazon Partners with the Shark Tank

Amazon announced this week in a press release that it is now the official retail partner for Shark Tank. Shark Tank products will be featured on Amazon.com in a Shark Tank store.

“For the first time ever, ‘Shark Tank’ has a store on Amazon.com dedicated to helping our entrepreneurs scale their businesses and highlight top products from the show. We are excited for the Amazon Launchpad Shark Tank Collection to bring products from our entrepreneurs to retail for customers and fans of the series.”

– Barbara Corcoran, Shark Tank

Now, when viewers think Shark Tank, they can also easily buy the coveted Shark Tank products directly from one place – Amazon.

Amazon Partners with Home Interior Designer Jonathan Adler

Amazon has partnered with a well-known interior designer for an iconic collaboration. Now House by Jonathan Adler is the name of the new furniture, home decor, and bedding line. The items are stylish, but with the Amazon prices consumers expect to pay. The Now House Amazon page allows consumers to shop by product category, rooms, or curated looks. For example, the “work from home” curated look might attract location-independent workers to furnish home offices. Most of the pieces ship with Prime and even the larger items like sofas will be delivered for free within a week.

San Francisco Approves an Amazon Go Store

For those on the move, Amazon Go is the perfect solution – no lines, no check-out. And now, San Francisco’s busy financial district will have its own Amazon Go store.

Amazon already has five stores in Seattle and Chicago and one planned in New York City. Now, according to property records, San Francisco will have one, too, in one of California’s busiest commercial districts.

This Week in Business

Sears Files for Bankruptcy

Even a partnership with Amazon couldn’t save Sears from filing voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Sears has started the proceedings and plans to close as many as 150 stores across America.

Sears has struggled for years. The company never recovered from the 2008 financial crisis when it cut its workforce from 302,000 employees to 68,000. Furthermore, in 2013, it closed over 1000 stores and loss almost $6 billion.

The closing of Sears is a visual reminder that the physical retail landscape has changed – forever.

Amazon Owns over 600 Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Bucking the current retail industry trend, Amazon grows its retail presence. In addition to the newly opened Amazon Go and 4-star stores, Amazon owns hundreds of Whole Food Stores (about 480) and a small number of physical shops, such as Allegro Coffee Roasters. Reports state that Amazon runs over 600 brick-and-mortar locations in various forms. According to Retail Dive, specifically, there are: “six Amazon Go stores, two Amazon 4-Star locations, 18 bookstores, 10 Whole Foods 365 stores, seven coffee shops, 25 Treasure Trucks, 67 pop-ups and 14 ‘Smart Home Experience Pop-ups’ (all of them concessions inside Kohl’s stores)”.

Amazon to Better Monetize Alexa

Amazon has found a way to better monetize Alexa. They will now allow third-party app (aka in-skill) developers to profit by allowing the purchase of consumables (additional content within an app, like an upgrade) inside the in-skill app function.

“A consumable is an in-skill product that customers can purchase, use, and then purchase again. In addition to one-time purchases and subscriptions, consumables give developers more ways to deliver premium experiences to customers. With consumables, you can sell products that are relevant in the moment to customers as they experience your skill.”

Metty Fisseha, Amazon

According to Motley Fool, permissible consumables include the sales of: “expansion packs or special powers and equipment within a virtual game; add-on content like one-time purchases of interactive stories; or unlocking features or functionality, such as being able to use multiple accounts.”

With this new arrangement, Amazon will let the developer keep 70% of the sales price, while keeping the remaining 30%.

This Week for Sellers

Amazon’s Giveaway and Reviews Practice Under Scrutiny

There are growing concerns that Amazon’s new review method may be self-beneficial and harmful to third-party merchants.  Amazon has added a new review program with Amazon Vine. It allows free products to be shared with consumers in exchange for an honest review, despite Amazon having eliminated such a practice in the past for merchants. At the moment, independent merchants are excluded from the Vine program, and the review program is only available for Amazon’s private-label products.

This is advantageous for the Amazon private-label products by getting them in front of customers quickly and disadvantageous to third-party Sellers, well, for the same reason, at a time when review management has never been more important. One Amazon private-label product received almost as many reviews in less than 6 months online than the top competition had in its 6 years on the site. Furthermore, its overall rating was 4.5 stars. Some Sellers even report sales declines once Amazon launches similar products.  

Also, to many, the Vine reviews seem disingenuous, as they come from Reviewers incentivized to post only after receiving free products. (Such may be the case for the Vine reviewer who reviewed 40 free products in one day.) It is unclear whether the program will soon be extended to Sellers.

That’s it for Amazon News This Week. See you next time for more Amazon consumer, business and Seller 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."