• Amazon is growing Whole Foods’ footprint in order to expose more grocery shoppers to the store and two-hour delivery via Prime Now. As it expands, some new Whole Foods locations will account for delivery and pickup logistics with a larger square footage (about 45,000 square feet), which Amazon wants integrated at all 475 U.S. locations. To compete, other grocery stores from Aldi to Thrive Market are diversifying their product offering—the latter is also attempting focusing on transparency to counterpose the “big business” of Amazon. Kroger also announced a partnership with Microsoft to open two tech-driven grocery stores in Washington and Ohio, following in the footsteps of Walmart.
  • Amazon is launching a pilot program that will send targeted free samples to customers, applying purchasing data and logistics to find new conversion methods aside from its current moneymaker: display ads. The company can draw from its 100 million-plus Prime members, many of whom have purchased from the brand for years. Still, the ploy raises privacy concerns, particularly given the recent New York Times investigation that revealed Facebook has been sharing personal user data to Amazon and other companies, many of which have sent customer information back to the social media platform.
  • Amazon is getting sporty in its talks with the New York Yankees and Sinclair Broadcast Group to bid on YES, the baseball team’s regional sports network, owned by 21st Century Fox. Amazon signed a two-year contract with the NFL to stream games via Prime and Twitch, its interactive live streaming service, in April 2018—the league also helped create The Rookie’s Guide to the NFL, which launched in early January 2019 as an Alexa “skill.”
  • Amazon announced that it will lower some third-party seller fees in order to grow its brand and product selection. Amazon charges vendors a referral fee for each sale they make, as well as for listing products. The reduction in these minimums will help brands sell more, keeping the ecommerce retailer competitive against contemporaries like Walmart and eBay. It may also help assuage criticism from sellers, many of whom have become more verbal about Amazon’s unfriendly vendor policies.
  • Amazon will debut Key for Garage, which allows customers to grant permission to delivery men to leave their packages inside their garage. Like Amazon’s other delivery hacks, the new function will be available for Prime purchases and can be controlled and monitored via the Amazon Key app. This will protect deliveries from inclement weather and robberies, but it requires installing door opener technology and cameras (which are conveniently available for purchase on Amazon). The company also launched Key for Business, which gives delivery men a smart key fob to open commercial and residential buildings.
  • Williams-Sonoma, owner of West Elm, sued Amazon for its private-label furniture line Rivet, citing copyright infringement on three chairs that it claims amounted to $8 million losses. Williams-Sonoma’s action is likely only a taste of what is to come as Amazon expands its now approximately 120 private labels in categories with higher price points—even furniture, which was thought to be protected as an offline shopping category, isn’t safe.