• Amazon has curtailed promotions for its private labels, which it was previously heavily featuring on competing product pages and in search results. The impetus for the move is unclear, but it may help lower the mounting criticism about the ecommerce platform’s exploitative focus on its owned brands over other vendors.
  • Amazon is planning to create a satellite grid that provides broadband internet connection to those who lack access around the world. Deemed “Project Kuiper,” the initiative is reminiscent of Facebook’s Free Basics, which launched in 2013 but has failed to realize its utopian vision by hindering the expansion of domestic IT infrastructure in developing countries.
  • Amazon grew its number of exclusive brands more than twofold in 2018 to 434, according to the Amazon-focused analytical firm, TJI Research. This number is also about twice the number of its private-label brands and points to a shifting focus in the company’s merchandising strategy for the first time. While both exclusive and private-label brands offer options to shoppers that they cannot find anywhere else, exclusives outsource the manufacturing for Amazon, which comes at a lower cost to the company (and means less work). It’s also a way for interested vendors to strengthen their relationship with Amazon.
  • Goodwill and Price.com created a Chrome browser extension that will inform shoppers when a product on Amazon or Walmart’s Jet.com is also for resale at Goodwill. The add-on can automatically direct consumers to Goodwill’s site where they can complete their purchase. Though the secondhand market is booming, online resale retailers grapple with losing out on the physicality of thrifting. Goodwill’s particular plug-in seems more geared toward customers who either want to save money or purchase sustainably rather than something that will improve the Goodwill brand or shopping experience at the retailer itself.