Amazon Weekly News: August 14, 2017

Once again, a new week brings fresh news in the world of Amazon. That means it's time for my weekly roundup of all the big news related to Amazon and what may affect sellers. If you want to stay current, subscribe to the Bobsled Marketing blog here.

Is Target coming in from behind?

Target is buying fulfillment provider Grand Junction, a technology company that connects retailers and distributors to a network of more than 700 carriers across North America.

This heats up the competition for same-day delivery that Amazon has ignited and moved to dominate. It’s clear that Wal-Mart is hot on Amazon’s tail in terms of investment in its fulfillment network and acquisitions that strengthen its reach (e.g., jet.com, Bonobos, Modcloth, and Moosejaw). This is Target’s second e-commerce investment in 2017, having taken a sizable stake in mattress startup Casper in May.

Target also announced its $7 billion turnaround this year, which includes enhancing its e-commerce strategy and lowering prices to counter pressure from Wal-Mart and Amazon.

Is Target going to be a new contender in the ecommerce battlefield?

 

New tools for brands on Seller Central

An article on PracticalEcommerce outlines three new tools brands selling on Seller Central gained access to about a month ago.

These include a streamlined product setup workflow, the ability to build enhanced brand-specific "Amazon Stores" pages with far more options than what FBA sellers previously had, and a market research tool called Customer Insights.

Last week, we published an article on our blog about Amazon’s Brand Pages, which the new Amazon Stores pages appear to be modeled on--more details to come as we start to gather data pertaining to best practices with these new pages.

 

Is Amazon the new steel mill?

This is an interesting op-ed on the expansion of Amazon and other e-commerce providers into rural areas, establishing fulfillment centers and creating jobs in areas left behind economically since factories and mills closed down decades ago. These areas are cheap for such companies to operate in and are often located near large urban areas with lots of e-commerce customers. The jobs being created are grueling and frequently seasonal, so lack many employment benefits and protections. But as the author points out, with the trend toward automated systems and away from manual labor,  “there is another reason these jobs can’t bring back the prosperity of the past: They may not be around for long.”

Still, many people in such areas see Amazon and other companies coming to town as a welcome reversal of the decades-long trend of jobs leaving.

 

Will Americans pay more for American-made products?

American Apparel is now asking shoppers to choose between more expensive American-made apparel and items made overseas. The American-made items are 17% to 26% more expensive. Previously, the company only made its goods domestically but new owners bought the company this year in bankruptcy proceedings, and are exploring new business strategies.

Screenshot of americanapparel.com

Screenshot of americanapparel.com

It will be an interesting experiment happening in real time to see if consumers who care about domestic manufacturing actually put their money where their mouths are to pay the extra price for American-made clothing. Research has suggested that the majority of Americans say it’s important to support locally made products, but we know that consumers don’t always do what they say they’ll do and that agreeing to an abstract question is different from actually spending more when the time comes to choose. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

 

Christmas 2017 seller guidelines in Amazon Toys and Games

Brands selling in the Toys and Games category face increased restrictions over the holiday period. If you’re a brand selling in this category, you should start preparing now. New sellers, and sellers who don’t meet performance guidelines, will face restrictions. This article provides a good summary of these guidelines (also available in Seller Central).

 

That's it for this week's news! Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get notified of our news roundup each Monday and a new blog post each Thursday. This week, we’re discussing best practices and useful tips for vendor negotiations with Amazon, whether you're doing it for the first time or have many annual renewals under your belt.