• Amazon’s Delivery Service Partners program, which invests in small delivery businesses, is courting Amazon employees. Since launching in June 2018, the program has sprouted 200 small businesses, which the company is now putting into overdrive as it strives to ramp up its infamous two-day delivery to just a single day. In order to do so, it’s now offering current employees $10,000 in funding and three months pay to establish their own delivery firms. This move could strengthen loyalty among its staff, which would come to Amazon’s advantage, considering that in order to fulfill orders, Amazon currently uses third-party logistics startups that also help competitors like Walmart and Best Buy. (Delivery competition is increasingly heated—Walmart also now offers one-day delivery with zero shipping fee for orders over $35.)
  • Amazon’s quest to expedite delivery also proves that it needs more drivers than packers. In fact, Amazon is currently pondering whether to add new packing technology to its warehouses, which could cut approximately 1,300 positions across 55 U.S. fulfillment centers. The CartonWrap machines scan products on a conveyor belt and package them in customized boxes—about 600-700 packages per hour, or four to five times greater than a human.
  • Prime Video secured its second distribution deal with a U.S. pay-TV provider—Cox’s Contour TV Service joins Comcast’s Xfinity X1, which launched Prime Video in fall 2018. Cox subscribers must also have a Prime membership to use the service, and they can use it to purchase most Prime Video channel subscriptions through the partnership. A Prime Video representative pointed out that the partnership will promote Amazon Originals on a greater scale, but it’s also just another way for Amazon to infiltrate consumers’ daily lives, no matter where they are or what services and tech they are using. Additionally, it provides services like Cox a way to stay relevant as more viewers ditch cable for on-demand (it currently has 4 million video subscribers, but lost 115,000 in 2018).
  • According to its Q1 2019 financial report, Amazon’s ad revenue is slowing. In 2018, ad revenue rose 73% YOY in Q1, 64% in Q2, 51% in Q3, 38% in Q4, and then 36% YOY in Q1 2019. The decline in growth is likely attributed to ad buyers, who are learning more about how they can tap into the biggest gains from the platform over time, which inevitably means becoming more selective as they learn to navigate Amazon in a more cost-effective manner.
  • Amazon launched Alexa Guard, a free service available on all Echo devices to act as a security system. According to the company, users who say “Alexa, I’m leaving,” will automatically set their Echo devices on security mode and receive an alert for any noises, including smoke alarms that Alexa “hears.” In other Alexa news, Google decided to terminate its Works with Nest program in order to integrate all smart home devices with Google Assistant in a forthcoming program called Google Nest. But in doing so, it created a temporary void for Amazon to take advantage and strengthen its dominance of the smart home market.
  • After expanding its partnership with Kohl’s in the U.S., Amazon will allow UK customers to make returns at hundreds of Next retail stores. The company will mimic this service in Italy at the bookstore chain Giunti, as well as Fermopoint and SisalPay store as it expands its European footprint.