Amazon Expanding its Eono Essentials Private Label Brand in Europe

Both around the world and in the US, Amazon’s broadest and most category-agnostic private label brand has always been AmazonBasics. With thousands of items across dozens of categories, it’s become the most “generic” Amazon private label brand out there.

However, over recent months, we’ve seen Amazon expanding a second general private label brand in the UK and Europe: Eono Essentials.

Amazon registered the EU trademark for Eono on June 14, 2018. Around that time we were seeing about 10 items listed under the brand. Now, just 3 months later, we’re seeing over 80.

For instance, there’s the Eono Essentials Junior Waterproof Jacket, the Eono Essentials Universal Projector Ceiling Mount Bracket, the Eono Essentials 12 Pieces Paint Brushes Set with Palette, and the Eono Essentials Lightweight 21″ ABS Hard Shell Travel Trolley Carry On Hand Cabin Luggage Suitcase, just to name a few.

On some Eono items, Amazon says, “Eono Essentials is an Amazon brand licensed to third party manufacturers.”

Does Amazon plan to expand the Eono brand more broadly and create a second category-agnostic private label brand that perhaps has more emotional appeal than AmazonBasics?

As always, follow TJI for the latest on all of Amazon’s private label efforts.

Amazon Raises Minimum Wage for all US Employees to $15/Hour, UK as Well

In a move that will affect over 350,000 employees, Amazon announced today that it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all US employees, effective November 1. The new rate applies to full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees.

Amazon says the change “will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday.” It will also apply to Whole Foods employees.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

Amazon also said it would also, “Begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage.”

“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, SVP of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs and former press secretary for President Obama.

Amazon said in its most recent annual report that its median employee compensation was $28,446 in 2017. Walmart announced in January that it was raising its minimum wage for US employees to $11 per hour.

Amazon also said it will phase out Restricted Stock Unit (RSU) compensation for hourly fulfillment and customer service employees. “They prefer the predictability and immediacy of cash to RSUs,” Amazon says. “The net effect of this change and the new higher cash compensation is significantly more total compensation for employees, without any vesting requirements, and with more predictability.”

Amazon has come under increased criticism for its pay disparity this year. Last month, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced legislation called the Stop BEZOS Act that would tax corporations commensurate to the amount of government benefits low-wage employees receive in government benefits. Today, Sanders commended Amazon on their move.

“What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world. I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos’ lead,” Sanders tweeted.

President Trump has also criticized Amazon on a number of fronts this year. In March, he accused Amazon of “putting many thousands of retailers out of business” and of receiving unfair tax treatment. In July 2017, he called Amazon a “monopoly.” However, Trump’s Amazon criticisms have not included commentary on the company’s hourly wages.

Amazon also announced today that it is increasing minimum wages paid to its UK employees. Starting November 1, minimum wages will increase to £10.50 ($13.59) per hour for all employees in the London area and £9.50/hour for staff in all other parts of the country.

Amazon has over 17,000 employees in Britain and plans to hire more than 20,000 seasonal employees for the holiday.

Amazon said the impact of the higher compensation on its financial reports will be reflected in its quarterly guidance.

Amazon Hiring for 67 Alexa Automotive Engineering and Design Roles

Yesterday’s Echo product announcements were primarily focused on the home, but Alexa Auto made it into the lineup as well. While Amazon didn’t spend a large portion of its press event talking about its automotive plans, it is currently hiring for dozens of engineering design roles as part of its Alexa Automotive efforts.

Amazon is working with a variety of car manufacturers on Alexa integrations and announced the Auto SDK back in August.

Currently, Amazon.jobs shows 67 Alexa Automotive jobs currently open. The vast majority are engineering and design roles. Senior architect, software development, language specialist, VUI design, and QA roles are largely based out of the Santa Clara office, while other research scientist and marketing roles are generally based in Seattle.

Automotive acoustics engineer and product management roles are based in Sunnyvale, and partner manager and design technologist roles are based out of Munich and Tokyo. Several engineering roles are also based in Toronto and Gdansk.

EU Announces It Is Researching Amazon’s Relationship with Its Merchants

One growing narrative of an area of potentially increased regulatory oversight for Amazon is that of how it relates to merchants. In particular, what insights it gleans from how customers interact with merchants on its platform, how it applies those insights to its own strategy (private label and otherwise), and how it does or does not share back data with merchants.

Along those lines, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who was recently responsible for imposing a USD $5 billion fine on Google for Android violations, yesterday announced that she is researching Amazon’s practices in these areas. Per Quartz:

On Wednesday (Sept. 19), Vestager announced that she had started sending questionnaires to merchants who sell on Amazon, a first step toward ascertaining how the company uses the data it collects from those merchants. Specifically, she will be trying to find out if Amazon uses data from its third-party sellers to give itself an unfair advantage when competing against them in selling its own products.

“These are very early days and we haven’t formally opened a case,” Vestager said. “We are trying to make sure that we get the full picture… because this is also what a lot of people are talking about right now.” Amazon’s dual role as the world’s biggest online platform for third-party sellers and a retailer itself merits examination, according to the antitrust chief.

Vestager and the EU have the authority to levy substantial fines (up to 10% of revenue) on companies that they deem in violation of anti-trust behavior. In the case of Amazon, that would mean a substantial amount. We’ll keep tracking the EU’s investigation here on TJI.

Image credit: EU