• Amazon launched Alexa for Hospitality at a number of hotels in the Marriott family and has invited other hotel chains to integrate with its echo speakers as well. The service will place Echo speakers in each room, allowing visitors to ask questions about the hotel, book spa appointments and order food and beverages to their room, customized to and regulated by each hotel with a dashboard. If hotels wish, Alexa can also adjust lights, thermostats and TVs—in time, the service will allow guests to temporarily merge a hotel room Alexa with their personal accounts. Overall, the initiative seeks to optimize hotels as liveable brands—guests can listen to music and radio set up by the hotel itself, and bring new technological conveniences to their home away from home.
  • As Amazon delves further into the realm of beauty, it is striving to win over two major Brazilian cosmetics companies—Grupo Boticario and Natura Cosmeticos SA—that it hopes will sell on its South American logistics platform. Natura is a juggernaut in the beauty industry that continues to grow its empire—it bought The Body Shop from L’Oréal in 2017 and fully acquired the Australian company Aesop that same year. The courting of these two Brazilian companies comes after Amazon announced its Indie Beauty Shop and launched a new cosmetics interface on its site.
  • Amazon’s Treasure Trucks are selling food and home goods to consumers across the U.S. and the UK. The trucks debuted two years ago and have been used in the past to market the Whole Foods acquisition—they can park for free at Whole Foods, and Amazon also rents out spaces in front of malls, offices and banks. In the spirit of ice cream trucks, the concept helps extend Amazon’s presence offline with experience-based retail, with an element of surprise and delight. But they also work to bolster online customer relationships. To shop the trucks, consumers need to download the Amazon app; they then receive a morning text with that day’s deal.
  • Following Amazon’s example, Microsoft is now developing the technology for cashierless stores for a possible partnership with Walmart. More Amazon Go stores are set to open in Chicago and San Francisco. Walmart launched its own “Scan & Go” technology in all of its Sam’s Club stores in 2017, which it expanded to Walmart stores in early 2018, only to retreat in May after low participation. Now Walmart plans to open a high-tech version of Sam’s Club in Dallas that will feature its updated cashier-free retail, which operates in partnership with the Chinese messaging and payment app WeChat.
  • Roku plans to launch a channel subscription service that emulates Amazon Prime. Up until now, owners of Roku streaming players have had to download a separate to sign up and stream a new channel, say HBO Now. To facilitate the process, Roku will allow users to subscribe to channels through the Roku Channel, eliminating the need to download a new app or log in to a separate account to stream content. It is also preparing to launch Roku Pay to streamline the process even further. Amazon allows Prime members to access channels much in the same way, both online and on its Fire TVs. As Amazon has found—and as Roku and other companies like Apple seek to mimic—making it easier to stream content means a higher number of subscriptions and revenue growth.
  • After Amazon threatened to enter the prescription drugs market, CVS has expanded its pharmaceutical and retail delivery service at almost all of its locations. One- or two-day delivery costs $4.99; same-day delivery is $8.99 and is now available in Boston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., in addition to New York City, where the service launched in 2017. The move isn’t only an answer to Amazon, but also works to raise CVS’ sales as more consumers head online.