Watch Where You Walk
Prime Cut: West Coast tech companies are known for encouraging canines on campus, but few are as devoted to dogs as Amazon. By the e-tailer’s reckoning, some 6,000 pooches accompany their owners to Amazon headquarters on any given day, where they can enjoy a dedicated doggie deck replete with fake fire hydrant, and reception desks are stocked with dog treats.
TWICE Take: The tradition began with Rufus, a Welsh corgi who dates back to the early days of the business. Rufus’ paw was used to launch some of Amazon’s first web pages, and a building was later named in his memory. “Having dogs in our workplace is an amazing treat,” said Amazon woof pack manager Lara Hirschfield. “They make employees smile, and we’re proud this is such a uniquely Amazonian tradition. It’s truly ingrained in our company culture.”
See the full story at The Amazon Blog.
Why A Supreme Court Decision Favoring Online Sales Tax Would Be Good For Amazon
Prime Cut: The Supreme Court may finally put an end to the e-commerce sales tax debate once and for all. The justices will begin hearing arguments today stemming from a South Dakota case in which the state sued Newegg, Overstock and Wayfair for failing to collect sales tax, after passing a law that required e-tailers doing more than $100,000 in revenue, or more than 200 transactions a year, to do so.
TWICE Take: But the state courts struck down the law, citing Supreme Court decisions in 1967 and 1992 (the Quill catalog case) that only required direct sellers to collect sales tax if they maintain a physical presence (i.e., storefronts or distribution centers) in a state. Trump denouncements to the contrary, Amazon, in anticipation of an eventual Internet sales tax and in pursuit of enhanced fulfillment capabilities, has blanketed the country with warehouses and already charges sales tax in all 45 states that collect them — meaning that a pro-tax ruling would end any advantage by smaller, would-be e-commerce competitors.
See the full story at the National Retail Federation.
By Any Other Name
Prime Cut: Tech enthusiasts are no doubt familiar with Amazon’s roster of private-label CE brands, including Fire, Echo, Kindle and Dash. What they may not know (nor did we), is that the e-tailer maintains more than 70 house brands, for products ranging from diapers and jewelry to furniture and food under such badges as Happy Belly, Ugly Fair Isle and Wickedly Prime.
TWICE Take: Most of the private-labeling came lately, with at least 60 of the brands introduced in 2017 alone. According to an Amazon spokesperson, “We take the same approach with private label as we do with anything here at Amazon: We start with the customer and work backwards, aiming to bring them products we think they will love.” Not to mention the pricing freedom that comes with MAP-free ownership.
See the full story at Recode.
Even Amazon Has Its Limitations
Prime Cut: Maybe Amazon isn’t invincible after all. The company, which earlier this year said it would help mend healthcare, has reportedly dropped plans to supply pharmaceuticals to hospitals after hitting a roadblock or three. The challenges: its need for more advanced logistics to handle temperature-sensitive drugs; its inability to crack established distribution networks; and hospitals’ own stake in the business through their participation in the medical equivalent of buying groups.
TWICE Take: That’s not to say that Amazon has kicked drugs. Insiders say it will revisit the pharma biz once it gains more scale, and speculation continues that the company is developing a direct-to-consumer prescription drug plan. Meanwhile, Amazon is supposedly mapping out other healthcare inroads via Alexa and its secretive Grand Challenge team, also known as “1492.”
See the full story at CNBC.
Prime Cut: As it builds out its fulfillment network and backfills the countryside, Amazon may be spreading itself thin when it comes to last-mile delivery. To help make two- and one-hour deliveries a thing, the company has taken to hiring lay drivers under its Uber-like Amazon Flex program, and is even developing its own Shipping With Amazon delivery service (SWA).
TWICE Take: But tread carefully, Amazon. We’ve already shared the tale of one driver who heeded nature’s call alongside a customer’s driveway, and now comes footage from Oakland, Calif., of another, who attempted an airmail delivery by repeatedly tossing a package up toward a terrace. Depending on the contents, the incident could have been a real pain in the glass.
See the full story at CNET.
Amazon Quote Of The Week
“Excuse me.”“Yeah?”“Really???”“Yeah.” — Exchange between a concerned onlooker and Amazon’s NBA wannabe deliveryman