• Amazon now has over 70 active private-label brands on its platform. The majority of these brands emerged in 2017, though the company began testing its private-label products in 2009. These brands and their products—from home goods to lingerie—are formulated with the help of Amazon’s massive body of customer data and could be a powerful competitor to the company’s own vendors, winning shoppers over with lower prices and directing more profits to Amazon. This number is only expected to grow, and has already surpassed Walmart’s approximately 53 private-label brand offerings.
  • The growth of Amazon and other retailers is shining a light on the shortage of warehouses fit to meet contemporary ecommerce needs in the U.S. Though demand continues to grow, many U.S. warehouses lack the high ceilings, even floors and square footage companies like Amazon require. In the last decade, more than 1 billion square feet of warehouse space has been built in the U.S., but this only fulfills 11% of total warehouse inventory—Amazon is confronting its growing warehouse needs by building more of its own fulfillment centers, which aim to use machine learning and automation to create more efficient packaging and to trim down the number and size of boxes being sent to customers.
  • Amazon is looking to use Alexa to compete with Venmo, the peer-to-peer payment app owned by PayPal Holdings Inc. It’s just one type of payment that Alexa could help with—Amazon also envisions installing Alexa in cars to allow drivers to pay for gas by voice. The company continues to incubate other finance-based projects—building a checking account product with big banks and creating an in-store payment method that allows shoppers to scan QR codes with their Amazon accounts.
  • Walmart continues to compete with Amazon, price matching on 53% of products, adding more pickup kiosks to its stores, and expressing interest in the startup PillPack to expand its pharmaceutical offerings. Prices on Amazon’s best sellers remain 7% lower in aggregate than those of Walmart, but the latter plans to install pickup locations in more than 700 of its stores by the end of 2018. And, as Amazon looks toward healthcare, Walmart hasn’t skipped a beat—as it continues talks with Humana, a health insurance company, it might be on track to acquire the company.
  • Amazon’s R&D expenses amounted to $23 billion in 2017, surpassing those of all other U.S. companies, both in and out of the tech world. The cost was 41% higher than Amazon’s 2016 R&D budget and went to projects including AWS, Alexa and Amazon Go.