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This Week In Amazon: C’mon Take The Money And Run

Also in This Week in Amazon: Trump v. Amazon, Round 3

Kohl’d Call

Prime Cut: If traffic is any gauge of retail success, then Kohl’s 19-month-long multichannel partnership with Amazon is hitting it out of the ballpark.

TWICE Take: The two seemingly disparate businesses came together last year to test “Amazon Returns at Kohl’s” — a pilot program available at dozens of Los Angeles and Chicago locations that allows customers to do just that (and even provides reserved parking). Now, a study of five of the Chicago stores shows an increase in traffic of 8.5 percent, including a double-digit dose of new and long-time-no-see customers.

While there’s no hard data on whether the higher traffic translated into greater sales, visitors do tend to stay after dropping off their Amazon returns, leaving the ball squarely in Kohl’s court.

See the full story at The Motley Fool.

Please Mr. Postman

Prime Cut: President Trump makes no bones about his animus toward Amazon, The Washington Post and the guy who owns them both, Jeff Bezos. His tirades have erroneously accused Amazon of not paying its taxes and placing an inordinate burden on the U.S. Postal Service — something the Postmaster General herself has attempted to clarify.

TWICE Take: According to a report in, you guessed it, The Washington Post, Postmaster General Megan Brennan has repeatedly told the president that Amazon’s business is beneficial, and provided him with a set of slides showing that many other companies also use the Postal Service for deliveries. But Trump still pressed her to double the USPS’s shipping rates, and has signed an executive order that opens the door to higher charges.

See the full story at The Washington Post.

C’Mon Take The Money And Run

Prime Cut: Amazon offers its hourly warehouse workers up to $5,000 to pack their bags and leave. What’s up with that?

TWICE Take: The policy is essentially a loyalty test that Amazon adopted from Zappos, the online shoe store it acquired in 2009. Employees can receive $2,000 for quitting after one year on the job, and are offered an extra $1,000 for each additional year they work, up to five grand.

But few take the deal, which was designed “to encourage folks to take a moment and think about what they really want,” CEO Jeff Bezos explained in a 2014 shareholder letter.

See the full story at CNBC.

Priming The Pump

Prime Cut: Amazon Prime customers were indignant when the company announced a 20-percent hike in the cost of a year’s membership, with 45 percent in a Yahoo Finance survey vowing to drop the program.

TWICE Take: But analysts at JPMorgan think Prime members ought to think twice before cutting the cord. Adding up all the perks of Prime, including Cloud storage; one-, two- and same-day deliveries; access to oodles of content; and, most recently, discounts at Whole Foods, they pegged the value of a year’s membership at $784, up 12 percent from last year.

That’s still six-and-a-half times greater than Amazon’s new $119 annual fee, making Prime “the best deal in shopping,” the analysts concluded.

See the full story at Business Insider.

Tower Of Babel

Prime Cut: Echo owners are most familiar with the calm, even-toned voice of Alexa, which, unlike Siri’s, is derived not from an actress but from speech synthesis software. However, few are likely aware that Amazon offers skill developers nearly 50 voices for its virtual assistant, in 24 languages.

TWICE Take: The options, comprised of Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) tags, are made available through AWS’s two-year-old text-to-speech service Polly. More nuanced than the eight different male and female voices currently offered for Google Assistant, Alexa’s choices include sighs, expletive beeps, onomatopoeia’s like “Boom!” and the ability to speak in a whisper. No word, though, on when we can change Alexa to Alex.

See the full story at VentureBeat.

Amazon Quote Of The Week

“Prime delivers such massive scale and features that we believe it would be very difficult for any company to replicate and compete against.” — JPMorgan analysis of Amazon Prime