• Amazon acquired Eero, a company that creates WiFi routers that consumers will be able to use to connect all Amazon smart home devices. Eero is far from the first company the retailer has purchased to fuel its smart devices—it bought chipmaker Annapurna Labs in 2015, and wireless smart cameras and doorbells companies Blink and Ring in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Despite the success of AWS, Amazon Advertising and Prime, Amazon continues to highlight Alexa in its quarterly earnings calls. Nearly 25% of all U.S. households own an Amazon Echo, substantiating the Eero purchase, which will give Amazon more ownership of its smart devices supply chain, as well as allow the retailer to collect more information about how customers are using its home devices.
  • Coachella attendees will have the option to shop and deliver items to Amazon Lockers at the festival. Existing for two weekends only, the lockers are an extreme, short-term manifestation of on-the-go retail—and an opportunity to illuminate consumers’ dependence on Amazon, no matter where they are.
  • As Amazon vendors increasingly vocalize complaints about the platform’s policies, the newly minted retail company Verishop aims to compete with Amazon by returning “joy” to online shopping—and cultivating better relationships with merchants. The company, co-founded by former Snap executive Imran Khan, seeks to provide the conveniences of ecommerce while giving vendors a place to sell that improves brand equity (rather than hurts it) and is less prone to issues Amazon is facing such as counterfeit products. A handful of brands are already on board, including beauty retailer Ursa Major and bedding brand Primary Goods.
  • Amazon’s Brand and Manufacturer Accelerator Programs are working to attract companies to its platform in exchange for various services. Amazon helps startups in the Brand Accelerator Program with supply chain dynamics and marketing if they agree to sell long-term on the platform. However, there are stipulations—for example, brands must rake in $1 million during their first month on the platform and pour at least 5% of Amazon-earned revenue into the Amazon’s Paid Ads program. Through its Manufacturer Accelerator Program, Amazon is aiming to attract production-focused companies to manufacture new and exclusive products for the retailer in exchange for marketing and promotion.
  • Amazon launched Amazon Live, a live streamed online channel hosted by Amazon employees and/or vendor representatives who discuss deals on various products à la QVC. Videos can be streamed using an app called Amazon Live Creator that tracks performance, and viewers can watch online while simultaneously scrolling through products to view and purchase them (older live streamed recordings are also viewable online). While Amazon attempted live streaming in the past—notably with fashion- and beauty-focused Style Code Live—the current offering has no product category limitations. QVC is upping its game as well—the company now lets viewers purchase products on its mobile streaming app.