‘Amazon Primed’ is a short recap of the larger stories that dominated the headlines this week surrounding everyone’s favourite cardboard abuser, Amazon. If you want the full, deep look at what Amazon is doing every week, subscribe to ‘What Did Amazon Do This Week ‘ newsletter (called ‘Obsessive…in the very best way.”).
Proving utility wins over ethics yet again, Amazon’s reputation is steady (down to #2 from #1), which, as Axios points out could be because of the company people perceive Amazon is:
…because customers hold a different set of expectations for what is essentially a store, compared to a platform like Facebook or Google where people mingle, share and argue.
A fair assessment but this does show a lack of consumer awareness or willingness to acknowledge the cons (as well as the pros) of the behemoth. Amazon, in some respects, looks like it can do no wrong, especially in the UK with new figures showing that 15 million Brits (roughly 1:5) are Amazon Prime subscribers and 84% of the population used at least one of Amazon’s services in 2018. Tamebay asked Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail, Mintel why this is important:
While most consumers already shop with Amazon, the retailer continues to gain market share by increasing the number of Prime members. That’s because Prime members buy significantly more, and across a broader number of categories, than non-members. This is why Amazon continues to add to the list of Prime-exclusive services, with Premier League matches coming in the second half of this year. Regardless of the reasons people join Prime – there is a net benefit for the retail side of the business.
Two broad issues for Amazon this week if the moves take off namely regulation and taxes. France took a stand against large tax companies avoiding paying tax with a sweeping 3% across the board, while not the first to do so (in October 2018 the UK announced plans to push a 2% tax in 2020, Spain and Italy also have similar plans), it is the first implemented. The tax applies to any company that generate worldwide revenues of at least 750 million euros ($847 million) on digital services with at least 25 million euros ($28 million) within France itself. Expect more lobbying from Amazon in and around the EU. The company spent a record amount last year on changing the right people’s minds on issues – $14.2m according to a beautiful piece from Bloomberg. Who you ask? Not just politicians…:
Lately, Bezos has been busy courting Washington’s elite. In September he roused an audience at the Economic Club of Washington with jokes and commentary about Trump and the role of the Post in a democracy. In late January he attended an 8 a.m. breakfast at the invitation of Don Graham, the former Washington Post owner, to hear billionaire investor Warren Buffett and former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan talk about markets and the economy.
The day before, he’d entertained guests at the exclusive Alfalfa Club dinner, an invitation-only, black-tie soiree for politicians, diplomats, and corporate executives. Buffett and Greenspan were both there. Bezos closed out the evening with a skit in which he rolled a cart onstage carrying Amazon packages, one of which, he announced, contained the “superheroes of the Bible” pajamas that Vice President Mike Pence had ordered. Another was a DVD of “How to Survive the Coming Global Depression” for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Then he said, “Oh, wait. This one’s for me. It’s a bill of sale saying apparently I now own the National Enquirer.”
Philidelphia stood up to Amazon this week by banning cashless stores (aka Amazon Go), showing that it is possible to make a small but significant change to slow big business. If this practice inspires others, Amazon could have a problem as it looks to push cashless stores around the US and the world. Quick and practical, the legislation could be a carrot or a stick depending on how people choose to wield it. Again, expect Amazon to lobby more in this area to avoid a trend forming. Ars Technica has more, including a good argument for keeping cash stores;
Supporters of the new law, however, say that not accepting cash hurts poorer residents who may not be able to afford or qualify for a credit card or who want to avoid fees that come with changing cash into a prepaid debit card. Additionally, privacy advocates say that being forced to use a digital form of payment to buy things is a de facto requirement to share records of their purchases with third-party companies.