• Amazon now operates approximately 629 brick-and-mortar stores, which includes Amazon Books, Amazon Go, Whole Foods and Treasure Trucks. The Whole Foods acquisition alone added 480 retail locations to the company’s roster in August 2017, but the planned expansion for Amazon Go also points to Amazon’s desire to build a stronger multi-channel strategy. This is particularly important to compete with other mass retailers like Walmart, which operates a whopping 4,761 stores in the U.S., in addition to 597 Sam’s Club locations, and Target, which has 1,839 stores.
  • Amazon erased Instacart branding on the delivery freezer at a Seattle Whole Foods. Amazon and Instacart signed a five-year contract in 2016, but the former’s acquisition of Whole Foods in August 2017 drove many competing grocers to create their own contracts with Instacart, which now works with 300 retail partners from Kroger to Sam’s Club and Aldi. This seems to put the Amazon-Instacart partnership in jeopardy, especially as Amazon expands U.S. grocery delivery from Whole Foods. Meanwhile, Instacart attracted its second round of investment this year, bringing its valuation up to $7.6 billion.
  • Amazon’s Vine program, which charges third-party sellers a fee to send free products to Amazon-selected shopper-reviewers, has received mounting criticism for its alleged promotion of Amazon’s private labels and bias against independent vendors. Though Amazon started Vine to crackdown on the vendors manipulating reviewers with free products, the company is clearly interested in advertising its owned brands, which have flourished into a network more than 120 strong. Vendors are criticizing Amazon for its unpredictable and unfavorable seller policies and Vine may further chip away at Amazon’s seller relationships.