• As it starts delivering on its announcement to open 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021, Amazon is opening its first cashierless location in London and courting airports to open the storefront as a concession. The latter would bring Amazon’s “just walk out” technology to a high-density spot favoring streamlined, on-the-go retail.
  • Amazon announced that it will charge vendors using Fulfillment by Amazon penalty fees if their packages fall short of the company’s safety standards, likely initiated by recent hazards in its warehouses. The fee will be applied to overweight and oversized packaging; electrical, sharp and spilled products hazards; and unacceptable pallet condition. The company also began slapping third-party sellers with fees for storing products for too long at its warehouses earlier this year, incentivizing spatial and inventory efficiency.
  • Amazon fired a number of employees who allegedly leaked internal data to independent sellers. The ecommerce platform has seen an uptick in abuse of its Vendor Central system, which allows vendors to edit product listings, but has empowered some sellers to edit the pages of competitors. Many are involved in other activities meant to outsmart Amazon’s algorithm—writing a deluge of negative or positive reviews or clicking the same link a large number of times in order to raise a product’s listing in search results. In order to crackdown, Amazon has deleted thousands of what it believes to be scam reviews and restricted suspected sellers’ access to data.
  • Indie brands are outpacing mainstream brands on Amazon in terms of relative sales volume. In a study by L2 on Amazon Europe, indie brands were more likely to populate Amazon’s Best Sellers list, which underperforming brands of any size can use to adjust their own product offerings and improve performance.
  • Alexa needs your help. Amazon has launched Alexa Answers, which crowdsources answers to questions its smart speaker has yet to learn from some of the company’s customers. The tactic is reminiscent of the way Amazon shoppers can provide further feedback and answer questions about a product from interested customers.