TJI Amazon Briefing for November 13, 2018

Good afternoon! As Amazon makes it HQ2 plans official, here are the latest developments on Amazon from around the world.

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Amazon Expands its Solimo Private Label Brand Further into Grocery, Personal Care

Over the course of this year, Solimo has grown to become one of Amazon’s broadest private label brands. The Solimo brand now covers range of household goods, from toilet paper to dog food. It’s also a brand Amazon has been taking to its markets around the world.

In the US, Amazon is continuing to expand its Solimo brand in grocery and personal care categories.

For example, in the grocery category, Amazon has just launched Solimo spaghetti pasta and pancake syrup, adding to its lineup of Solimo grocery staples. In addition, it’s launched adult nutritional drink mix powder (a la Ensure).

At the same time, Amazon has launched new Solimo plant protein powder blends in the nutritional supplement category.

Meanwhile, in the personal care category, Amazon has launched Solimo therapeutic dandruff shampoo (a la Selsun Blue) in addition to mint dental flossers and exfoliating body wash.

Amazon now sells over 350 items under its Solimo brand in the US.

Amazon Looking for Researchers to Apply Machine Learning to Meteorological Data

Amazon is looking for a Research Scientist with “Knowledge of meteorological modeling and familiarity with application of statistics in meteorology” to improve its logistics operations.

Per Amazon’s job listing, the company is looking for PhD’s who can apply ML to weather modeling:

We are looking for motivated scientists with strong statistical modeling and machine learning skills who are comfortable owning their own data and working from concept through to execution. You will be responsible for combining meteorological information, including large scale numerical forecasts, with our internal fulfillment data to provide information on weather-related impacts applicable to our business. You will work closely with engineers, business stakeholders, research colleagues, and IT groups in incorporating the essential trade-offs within the models and take an active role in effectively communicating the recommendations to senior management.

Amazon operates and coordinates a large and growing system of logistics and fulfillment operations, including air, maritime, and ground.

Just yesterday, Amazon unveiled the final 767 it is leasing from Atlas Air. It has leased 40 total, 20 from Atlas and 20 from Air Transport Services Group.

Amazon is rumored to be looking for more aircraft to lease as well.

Alexa Skill Developers Preparing for Christmas Traffic Rush

Christmas Day, the busiest day of the year for Alexa Skill developers, is exactly 6 weeks away. How are developers preparing?

Since far more developers will be submitting skills this year compared to last, it’s a good idea for developers to allow more time for the certification process. While Alexa certification delays are not as long as many iOS developers reported at times over the years, it’s still a good idea to allow two weeks or more.

Developer Chas Sweeting shows what Alexa traffic patterns look like around Christmas. Last year, he saw usage double from December 22 to December 24, followed by another double from December 24 to December 25. Many Alexa-enabled devices are unboxed around Christmas.

The Alexa team has released a number of new and enhanced APIs in recent weeks, including Skill ConnectionsDoorbell Chime Announcements and 2-Way Communication, the Reminders API, and the Music Skill API.

Amazon Makes it Official: New HQs Coming to New York City and Northern Virginia

After much speculation and a national process with local and state politicians from dozens of cities, Amazon has officially decided to split “HQ2” between New York City and Northern Virginia. Amazon says it plans to create 25,000 new positions in each New York and Arlington. In addition, Amazon said it will put a new “Center for Excellence” for its Operations business in Nashville, Tennessee, creating 5,000 new positions there.

In choosing New York, Amazon is locating in America’s media, advertising, and finance epicenter. In choosing Washington, Amazon is locating in America’s government, politics, and defense epicenter. Advertising and national security represent two of the larger growth opportunities for Amazon over the coming decade or two.

Amazon chose not to locate in a variety of other cities it seriously engaged with and received data from, including many mid-size cities in which Amazon could wield a more dominant influence as the “biggest company in town.” Amazon is receiving significant economic incentives from the areas it chose, but in our view, this decision was more about Amazon wanting to be closer to areas of strategic priority and their related talent markets in the coming year than it was about tax breaks.

Amazon has over 610,000 employees worldwide and 250,000 in North America. It has thousands of positions open in its global headquarters in Seattle. Amazon’s agreement with New York City can be found here; its agreements with Arlington, Virginia can be found here and here; its agreements with Nashville, Tennessee can be found here and here.

Amazon’s “HQ2” in New York City is in the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens

Amazon’s “HQ2” in Northern Virginia is in National Landing in Arlington

Amazon’s “Operations Center of Excellence” is north of the Gulch in downtown Nashville

Amazon Launches Alkove, A New Private Label Furniture Brand for Europe

Just two weeks after Amazon launched its third private label furniture brand in the US — Ravenna Home — Amazon has quietly launched its first private label furniture brand in Europe, we have found.

Amazon’s newest furniture line is called Alkove. Thus far, Amazon has launched six modern Italian leather sofas under the brand ranging in price from £892.40 for the Alkove Ruby 2-Seater Sofa to £1,463.22 for the Alkove Montgomery 3-Seater Sofa. None have reviews yet. Several more are available for pre-order only at this time.

Alkove marks Amazon’s first private label furniture foray in Europe. Amazon has been selling two Amazon Exclusive furniture brands, Furniture 247 and INFINIKIT, for a while. Amazon has also been selling home goods under the Rivet and Stone & Beam brands in Europe for the past couple months, but Amazon has yet to launch furniture under those brands in Europe yet that we have seen.

Globally, furniture has been one of Amazon’s fastest growing private label categories this year. In addition to the launch of Ravenna Home, Amazon’s two largest private label furniture brands in the US, Rivet and Stone & Beam, have seen significant SKU growth this year, adding dozens of new items each week.

Amazon now sells almost 800 items under the Stone & Beam brand and almost 700 more under the Rivet brand. Both brands have more than tripled their SKU volume since the beginning of the year by our count.

In mid-August, Amazon’s new exclusive home decor brand “Now House by Jonathan Adler” launched as well.

In addition to its growing European private label efforts, Amazon is doing more physical retail experiments in Europe as well. Later this week, Amazon will open holiday pop-ups across several European capital cities, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, London, and Amsterdam. Amazon Fashion ran its first pop-up in London a few weeks ago as well.

Continue to follow TJI as we track Amazon’s growing private label efforts.

Amazon Launches Lifelong Complete, A New Private Label Pet Food Brand for Europe

In addition to launching a new private label furniture brand in Europe, Amazon has also just quietly launched its first private label pet food brand for Europe as well. The new brand is called Lifelong Complete.

Amazon has launched six cat food products and two dog food products thus far under the Lifelong Complete brand. Each has launched with a number of Vine reviews.

In addition, Solimo pet food has launched in the UK as well in several flavors.

Amazon has been investing in expanding its private label and exclusive brand pet product lineup in the US in recent months. Solimo private label pet food just launched in the US in September. Amazon launched its Wag brand of private label dog food in the US earlier this year.

The US pet food market alone was estimated to be about $29 billion in 2017, according to the American Pet Products Association. PetSmart acquired Chewy.com this past April for $3.35 billion in the largest e-commerce acquisition ever. Amazon likely sees both a need and an opportunity here to build preference for its private label and exclusive brands and drive long term loyalty.

Pet food also represents an opportunity for Amazon to grow its advertising revenues. Amazon’s Pet Supplies hub page now features a mix of Amazon private label, Amazon exclusive, and third party brands. Brands paying for sponsored listings with the Pet Supplies hub include IAMS, Purina ONE, Rachel Ray, Natural Balance, and many more. On a general search like dog food on Amazon’s US store, current top brand advertisers include HIll’s Science Diet, Purina Pro Plan, Purina ONE SmartBlend, and Rachel Ray Nutrish.

In addition to its growing European private label efforts, Amazon is doing more physical retail experiments in Europe as well. Later this week, Amazon will open holiday pop-ups across several European capital cities, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, London, and Amsterdam. Amazon Fashion ran its first pop-up in London a few weeks ago as well.

Continue to follow TJI as we track Amazon’s growing private label efforts.

25 Amazon Exclusive Brands Added to TJI Amazon Brand Database

We’ve added the following 25 Amazon Exclusive brands to the TJI Amazon Brand Database:

  1. A Breed Above: Happy Camper – pet allergy products
  2. aDesign – cosmetics products
  3. Alike – lotions, oils, and rubs
  4. Body Basics – shave gels
  5. Colored By Nature – cosmetics products
  6. Decorum – hair care products
  7. Engine 2 – packaged food
  8. Farm Sweet – fruit strips
  9. Gift Hunter – decorative items
  10. Golden Source Proteins – nutritional supplements
  11. Home Victory – laundry products
  12. Kolanka – electronics accessories
  13. Living Elements – dietary supplements
  14. Mad Monkey – coffee
  15. Measurable Difference – cosmetics products
  16. Mill Select – cereals
  17. Natrica – dietary supplements
  18. Natvites – vitamins
  19. NOW Foods – nutritional supplements and oils
  20. Pingo – hot cocoa
  21. Portzon – sporting goods
  22. Refine – personal care products
  23. Rice Kasu Beauty – soaps and cleansers
  24. Whisker Doodle – pet care products
  25. Worktex Safety – safety vests

For more information, see theTJI Amazon Brand Database or Subscribe.

Amazon Shipping added to TJI Amazon Product Database

We’ve added Amazon Shipping to the TJI Amazon Product Database.

  • Amazon Shipping – handles shipments from third-party merchants to Amazon warehouses (invite-only program in the Los Angeles area only currently)

Eugene Kim of CNBC has a story today on the program and highlights that Amazon is offering lower prices than FedEx or UPS for certain shipments from seller warehouses to Amazon fulfillment centers.