• Amazon now sells subscriptions to BarkBox, the direct-to-consumer dog food, treats and toys brand. The development builds off of BarkBox’s foray onto Amazon where it began selling individual SKUs in 2018. The subscription via Amazon or via BarkBox directly costs the same ($29). Barkbox also wholesales at Target, a partnership that began in 2017.
  • Amazon investors denied a proposal by company shareholders to terminate the sale of Amazon’s Rekognition technology to governments. The facial surveillance tool matches faces in both still and video images to a database with approximately 20 million people, raising questions about ethics and civil rights.
  • Amazon inaugurated a video game for its fulfillment center employees designed to streamline operations and give the semblance of fun on the job. Some employee stations are now outfitted with screens that stream games such as PicksInSpace and CastleCrafter—employees can also receive Amazon-branded merch as game rewards. Though gamification is increasingly common (Uber drivers are given targets that transform work into a game), studies show that the tactic works only up to a certain point before competition decreases productivity. More importantly, it’s unlikely that infusing virtual reality into its fulfillment centers will improve the state of Amazon’s notoriously poor warehouse conditions.
  • Eager to take advantage of the streetwear phenomenon, Amazon debuted a feature called The Drop, which releases limited-edition, “street style” SKUs designed by influencers. Interested consumers can submit their mobile number to receive text alerts about new collections. Items are available for 30 hours tops and delivered in the span of a few weeks—a marked departure from Amazon’s expedited shipping, which is practically synonymous with its brand—while “staple” everyday pieces are sold at any time to create a full look.
  • After deciding to ditch its 87 mall kiosks back in March 2019, Amazon is rebranding shop-in-shops as themed stores called “Presented by Amazon”. Currently numbered at just four, these small storefronts allow the retailer to circulate top brands, creating an Amazon experience for shoppers inside malls or in standalone outdoor kiosks. It also means that the company can keep building an offline retail presence beyond owned retail, building off of its recent decision to expand its returns partnership to all of Kohl’s 1,150 locations.