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8 December 2016


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Thanks to James and others for the tip.

Microsoft takes aim at Amazon’s Echo, Google Home

5 December 2016

From Seeking Alpha:

Sources say the recently-rumored Microsoft HomeHub is a Windows 10 feature designed to make the PC the center of your home, bringing the smart home to Windows.

The feature will allow Cortana to be summoned on any Windows 10 PC lock screen.

. . . .

According to Microsoft enthusiasts, the software-only feature could trump Amazon’s Echo and Google Home due to the obvious convenience of screen access.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha

Amazon’s Kindle now lets you read e-books in Indian languages

3 December 2016

From Digital Journal:

Amazon has finally added support for several Indian languages to its Kindle e-reader. For the first time, books written in languages including Hindi, Tamil and Marathi are available to purchase from the Kindle store. “Thousands” are available at launch.

. . . .

Amazon has not previously offered content in local Indian languages, restricting the reach of the Kindle in the country. However, the company is increasingly focusing on growing its sales in India as the nation emerges into the digital age. Amazon expects India to surpass the U.S. market for Kindle sales within the next few years, The Times of India reported today. As such, it’s investing more resources into expanding the content available there.

Link to the rest at Digital Journal

Amazon captured 31% of online spending over Cyber Weekend

2 December 2016

From CNBC:

Target, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s each set some sort of online record over the five-day shopping extravaganza that ended with Cyber Monday, but blockbuster digital growth for many bricks-and-mortar retailers wasn’t enough to close the gap with Amazon.

According to new data by Slice Intelligence, which scanned more than 1 million online shopping receipts from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, Amazon accounted for 30.9 percent of sales. It was followed by Best Buy at 7.4 percent, Target at 4.4 percent, and Wal-Mart at 4.1 percent.

. . . .

Broadly speaking, the larger bricks-and-mortar chains are the ones that are more effectively competing with Amazon, Adobe’s Mickey Mericle told CNBC earlier this week. Over the five-day shopping stretch, those bigger chains grew their online sales at roughly 2½ times the rate of smaller players, Mericle said.

Link to the rest at CNBC

Amazon Said to Plan Premium Alexa Speaker With Large Screen

30 November 2016

From Bloomberg Technology:

Amazon.com Inc. is developing a premium Echo-like speaker with a screen, a sign the world’s largest online retailer is trying to capitalize on the surprise success of its voice-controlled home gadgets and fend off competition from Google and Apple Inc.

The new device will have a touchscreen measuring about seven inches, a major departure from Amazon’s existing cylindrical home devices that are controlled and respond mostly through the company’s voice-based Alexa digital assistant, according to two people familiar with the matter. This will make it easier to access content such as weather forecasts, calendar appointments, and news, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a product that has yet to be announced.

. . . .

High-grade speakers will make the gadget sound much better than current Echo devices, this person also said. Amazon’s new device is scheduled to be announced as soon as the first quarter of 2017, this person added. Amazon, based in Seattle, Washington, declined to comment.

Link to the rest at Bloomberg Technology

Amazon has already announced that voice-controlled devices – Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote and Echo, all featuring Alexa were, along with Fire tablets, the best-selling products from any manufacturer across all of Amazon on Thanksgiving weekend/Cyber Monday – so doing more in that area would seem to be a no-brainer.

Around Casa PG, Alexa is definitely better-informed on most subjects than PG is.

 

Best-Ever Holiday Shopping Weekend for Amazon Devices

30 November 2016

From Amazon:

Amazon today announced its best-ever holiday shopping weekend for devices—including a record-breaking Cyber Monday with Amazon device sales up more than 2x over last year and millions of devices sold.

Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, Fire tablet, and Amazon Echo were not only the best-selling Amazon devices, but they were the best-selling products from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon.

  • Millions of the all-new Echo Dot sold since launch—sales of Amazon Echo family of devices up over 7x over last year’s Cyber Monday.
  • Millions of Alexa devices were purchased this holiday shopping weekend.
  • Fire Tablets sales were up 2x compared to last Cyber Monday.
  • Fire Kids Edition has its best holiday shopping weekend ever—continues to be the #1 kids tablet in the U.S., across all retailers.
  • Amazon Fire TV sales were up more than 2.5x year-over-year on Cyber Monday. Fire TV continues to be the #1 streaming media player in the U.S., across all retailers.
  • The Kindle e-reader business continues to grow—customers bought hundreds of thousands of Kindle e-readers this holiday weekend.

. . . .

  • The top 3 most popular Kindle cookbooks downloaded during Thanksgiving week include: “Essential Spices and Herbs,” “The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook,” and “Me, Myself and Pie.”

Link to the rest at Business Wire

As you do your holiday shopping, clicking on TPV Amazon affiliate links, either in the posts or at the top of the right column to start shopping on Amazon will generate a small affiliate fee for PG.

Amazon Plans To Escalate War On Fakes In 2017

29 November 2016

From Consumerist:

Rampant counterfeiting among Amazon Marketplace sellers is holding the retailer back. There are companies that simply won’t agree to sell their merchandise on the site, given the the company’s known issues with counterfeits, and the concern that genuine and knock-off merchandise could be co-mingled in Amazon warehouses. The online retail giant is now preparing a very public war on counterfeit merchandise.

Bloomberg Technology reports that Amazon plans to escalate its efforts in 2017, but kicked things off this year with new policies requiring some sellers to pay up to a $1,500 fee for each major brand that they sell. The company’s logic is that small-time counterfeiters who plan to quit the site after receiving a few complaints won’t want to register and pay a fee, but legitimate sellers that plan to stick around will be happy to.

One recent stand against counterfeits on the site came not from Amazon, but from Apple. The tech company was concerned about consumer safety as well as its trademarks: counterfeit products, the company noted, are “not subjected to industry-standard consumer safety testing and are poorly constructed.” Apple sued the makers of almost 100 products masquerading as its own on Amazon.

Link to the rest at Consumerist and thanks to Dave for the tip.

How Amazon Gets Its Holiday Hires Up to Speed in Two Days

29 November 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Amazon.com Inc. wants its warehouse employees to get to work—fast.

To prepare for the flood of holiday orders already under way, the retail giant has been using technology ranging from touch screens to robots to shrink the time it takes to train new hires to as little as two days, compared with up to six weeks for a conventional warehouse job.

The shorter training period saves Amazon money, and could give the company room to offer higher wages as it seeks to expand its workforce about 40% by adding 120,000 temporary workers at its U.S. warehouses for the peak sales season that runs roughly from November through December.
Complicating that task is the tight labor market, which is forcing Amazon to slug it out with rivals like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and package-delivery companies like United Parcel Service Inc. as they all try to staff up for the holidays.

. . . .

Rapid turnover, along with low unemployment and recent pay gains for the nation’s lowest-wage workers, have forced Amazon to get nimbler to attract seasonal help, in part by making training fast, easy and flexible for its recruits, who typically make more than minimum wage. At Amazon and other warehouse operators, these types of workers can stay on from six weeks to three months into the New Year to drive forklifts, pick orders or deliver boxes.

. . . .

Though worker training is a year-round challenge for Amazon, one of its priorities for the fourth quarter is, “what is the technology that can set an employee up as efficiently and as safely as possible?” said John Olsen,Amazon’s vice president of human resources, world-wide operations. Amazon says its holiday sales this season could increase as much as 27% from last year to a high-end range of $45.5 billion.

This year alone, Amazon has built 26 new warehouses, bringing its world-wide total to 149. Wal-Mart, meanwhile, has added 10 new e-commerce hubs over roughly two years to its dozens of smaller e-commerce and store warehouses, along with 80 stores that ship directly to consumers. Other traditional retailers and smaller e-commerce companies might have just three or four U.S. warehouses targeting major population centers

. . . .

Amazon’s newest facilities incorporate the most automation, using screens, robots, scanners and other technology to quickly get workers up to speed, according to Mr. Olsen. Amazon trainees get hands-on training as early as their first day on the job, which he said has proven to be a huge advantage in getting them up to speed. On the warehouse floor, they learn how to pack up shipments, coached by a screen that tells them which box size to use and automatically spits out a piece of tape to fit it.

In conventional warehouses, by contrast, new employees typically spend their first days in classroom training, say supply-chain experts.

The difference may give Amazon an edge. “Employee turnover becomes a little less of a problem when the learning curve is short,” said Brian Devine, senior vice president at logistics staffing firm ProLogistix.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Amazon is taking big steps to reduce crummy reviews

27 November 2016

From Digital Trends:

In the middle of its busy season — Cyber Monday is just hours away — Amazon has been busy on internal fronts as well. After dumping incentivized reviews, the retail giant is going to start capping the number of product reviews any customer can submit in a given week. According to The Digital Reader, an email went out to Amazon’s more enthusiastic reviewers telling them of this change.

Basically, you can review any product at any time if you bought it from Amazon. However, if it’s a non-Amazon Verified Purchase, there’s a limit. In GeekWire, an Amazon rep confirmed the changes.

“Customers can now only submit a limited number of non-Amazon Verified Purchase reviews a week. The limit is five and the count is calculated from Sunday at 12:00 a.m. UTC through Saturday 11:59 p.m. UTC. Customers’ ability to submit Amazon Verified Purchase reviews will not be impacted. This policy also does not apply to Vine reviews or reviews on digital and physical books, music, and video.”

 

Link to the rest at Digital Trends and thanks to Nirmala for the tip.

Amazon Explores Possible Premium Sports Package With Prime Membership

23 November 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

Amazon.com Inc. is exploring an ambitious push to infiltrate the last bastion of traditional pay-television: live sports.

In recent months, the e-commerce giant has been in talks with heavy hitters like the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League for the rights to carry live games, according to people familiar with the matter. It also has talked with soccer, lacrosse and surfing leagues, the people said.

With at least some leagues, including the NBA, Amazon has floated the idea of creating an exclusive premium sports package available with its Amazon Prime program, though the details are unclear, the people said. Such a package could attract new members to the $99-a-year Prime program, as well as to a “skinny bundle” of live online channels that Amazon is pursuing.

. . . .

If Amazon is successful in breaking into the premium-sports market, it could pose a significant threat to traditional pay TV. While streaming services offer a wide array of TV shows and movies, it is hard to find live sports outside of traditional broadcast and cable outlets. That’s why pay-TV executives have long referred to sports as the “glue” that keeps millions of customers paying for relatively pricey bundles of cable channels.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

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