• Amazon built a skincare private label called Belei based on top search terms. After studying consumer activity on its own platform, the retailer found that shoppers are more likely to seek out ingredients rather than brands when it comes to skincare, which it used as a guide for Belei’s development. An affordable brand ($9-$40, depending on the SKU), Belei is Amazon’s foray into the booming skincare market, but it remains to be seen whether the brand will be able to improve the lackluster performance of Amazon’s private labels. The company, which has received criticism for promoting its owned brands on competing product pages, also began advertising products based on astrological sign, pitching Belei specifically to Cancers in the Prime Insider Newsletter.
  • After facing backlash, Amazon Go will begin accepting cash. This is vital as Amazon attempts to grow its Amazon Go footprint from the current ten to 3,000 stores by 2021 and become a mass-market staple. At the same time, Amazon Cash, the company’s reloadable prepaid card that may help Amazon Go adopt cash retail, is failing to catch on, largely because of shopper mistrust.
  • Amazon has turned to large carnival-like tents as temporary last-mile delivery stations in order to compete with FedEx, UPS and USPS. The 9,000-18,000-square-foot tents also give the company the opportunity to experiment with new logistics center locations before breaking ground. Amazon currently operates about 100 permanent delivery stations across the U.S. and is seeking to build out its shipping and logistics business for other retailers.
  • Amazon wants Alexa to record personal health information, which would bolster its relevance in the health industry. Alexa now complies with HIPAA to perform certain healthcare-related activities from scheduling appointments for urgent care to tracking prescription shipments—five companies including the insurance company Cigna now give consumers the option to use Alexa for these tasks as well. Aside from reluctance among consumers to use voice technology for these matters, Amazon has also received flack for collecting anonymized voice recordings from Alexa customers in order to improve the service’s speech recognition.
  • Jeff Bezos’ annual letter to shareholders, outlined the rise in third-party over first-party sales, its $30 billion Amazon Web Services business and employee development as highlights. The latter involves two programs—Career Choice and Career Skills—which pay employees to take classes that help train and develop various skills. Meanwhile, Amazon is seeking to ramp up its seller tools to invest more in third-party sales and allow these sellers to operate more independently.
  • Amazon may launch an ad-supported music streaming service, available only to owners of Alexa-enabled devices. This would provide a new channel to grow the company’s advertising business, while also giving Alexa owners an added perk. Prime members who own an Echo device can already freely access about 2 million songs and shoppers can also purchase Amazon Music Unlimited as a separate subscription, whether or not they are Prime members.