• Amazon Go is coming to San Francisco and Chicago, four months after debuting in Seattle. The expansion follows a typical Amazon strategy: opening up shop in its home city, testing out the business model, and then developing elsewhere. Moving outside of Seattle insinuates that the cashierless concept is working well—overall, the company plans to open up to six Amazon Go stores by the end of 2018.
  • Some of Amazon’s boxes will be outfitted with “SmileCodes” this May, which customers can scan with the Amazon mobile app to access inspirational and creative ways to reuse the cardboard. For a company that prides itself in its ability to streamline packaging, shipping and fast delivery, Amazon’s model is built on prioritizing saving time over minimizing waste. The SmileCodes are a small step in an eco-conscious direction that allows the company to keep the customer’s needs in mind, but to really relieve its cardboard—and carbon—footprint, Amazon would most likely have to slow down deliveries. This isn’t a possibility as it would remove the main draw of ordering on Amazon in the first place, especially for its more than 100 million Prime subscribers.
  • Amazon no longer buys the product listing ads that kept its products—things like office supplies and athletic apparel—listed at the top of Google searches and ahead of competitors like Walmart and Google itself. This is just the latest development in the competition between Google and Amazon: Google Voice is encroaching on Alexa’s territory with voice-based searches, partnering with Walmart and Target. At the same time, Amazon is unrolling an ad service that will allow its vendors to follow shoppers as they surf the web, with the goal of leading them back to Amazon to finalize a purchase—a threat to both Google and the online advertising company Criteo.
  • While the Google-Amazon war is brewing, another relationship is heating up. Microsoft and Amazon showcased the first public Cortana-Alexa integration—a program that is still in beta testing with plans to expand. This could help both companies supplement their voice assistants’ capabilities and embed even further in the lives of consumers. TiVo’s new update will also give an customers the option to integrate with Alexa, although using TiVo’s own voice-controlled remote will still allow for a wider range of capabilities.
  • Apple announced that it will sell some video subscriptions through its Apple TV app, rather than through separate apps. The move mirrors Amazon’s video services, which, after selling a Prime subscription that includes Prime Video, lets subscribers tack on additional channel subscriptions like HBO and Showtime. Apple is also competing with Alphabet Inc.’s Netflix and YouTube. The Apple TV changes are meant to boost sales of iPhones and iPads, as well as subscriptions of video content, helping the company remain relevant in the on-demand online streaming space.
  • Sears will provide a full-service tire installation to customers who purchase tires via Amazon. Sears began selling some of its own brands (including Kenmore appliances that are integrated with Alexa) on Amazon in summer 2017 and now offers more than 250 items. The partnership also comes after Best Buy’s deal with Amazon to exclusively sell Amazon Fire TVs.
  • Amazon’s partnership with Kohl’s, which allows Amazon customers to return unwanted purchases at Kohl’s locations is boosting foot traffic at the department store. Since launch, 55.9% of visitors to Kohl’s locations offering the returns service were new Kohl’s customers, in contrast to 42.6% at Kohl’s locations without the service.