4th Amazon Go Coming to San Francisco

Six weeks after it opened its third Amazon Go store in San Francisco, Amazon says it is planning to open its fourth automated grocery store in the city soon.

This one will be located at Three Embarcadero Center, as reported by the SF Chronicle. Three Embarcadero Center is a commercial skyscraper in San Francisco’s Financial District, and is close to another Amazon Go store at 300 California St. This one is said to also be near the “standard” store format about about 2,125 square feet.

San Francisco recently passed legislation requiring stores accept cash, so we would guess this store will accept cash. “In light of the cashless laws that are taking hold across the country, the company plans to accept cash at all of its Amazon Go stores, starting with its store in Brookfield Place in New York City. It will eventually allow cash at all of its 12 and counting stores, though the timeline is unclear,” the Chronicle notes.

The TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map has been updated.

Amazon Launches Private Label Energy Shots

A month after launching private label energy drinks, Amazon has just also launched private label energy shots like those marketed by 5-Hour Energy and related brands.

The new Solimo Energy Shots sell for $14.99 for a pack of 12 2-oz shots.

Following our findings a few weeks ago that Amazon was launching private label milk, dairy, and coconut water products under its Happy Belly and Solimo brands, we have been observing signals that Amazon is planning to further invest in and expand its private label food and beverage offerings in the form of new job posts focused on these roles.

Amazon has been growing its private label food & beverage offerings under a portfolio of brands, including Happy Belly, Solimo, AmazonFresh, and Wickedly Prime. The selection offered within these brands has significantly increased over the last several months.

Amazon now sells “Our Brand” items under 130+ private label brands and 400+ Amazon Exclusive brands. For more on Amazon’s private label efforts, subscribe to the TJI Amazon Briefing and check out the TJI Amazon Brand Database.

1st Amazon Go Store in New York, #12 Overall, Opens

Three weeks after Amazon opened Amazon Go #11, its third store in San Francisco, Amazon has just opened Amazon Go #12, its first store in New York City.

The newest Amazon Go is located in Brookfield Place, formerly known as the World Financial Center, in the Battery Park City neighborhood. It’s a large complex across from the World Trade Center. Rumors of the store first surfaced back in October.

This Amazon Go location accepts cash, after Amazon faced backlash over discrimination concerns. It’s about 1,300 square feet, so close to the “standard” store format, compared to the 450 square foot version Amazon is testing in one location in Seattle.

Overall, Amazon continues to roll out its Amazon Go food stores primarily in corporate urban centers, focusing on the grab-and-go use case that most capitalizes on the efficiencies afforded by the computer vision technology that enables the Amazon Go experience.

The TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map has been updated with this latest opening.

Amazon Launches Private Label Salsas, Oils, Vinegars, and Mustards

As Amazon continues to expand its private label food and beverage efforts, it has for the first time launched private label salsas, vinegars, and mustards, we are seeing.

Four salsa products have launched under the Solimo brand. They are:

In addition, four oils and vinegar products have launched under Amazon’s Happy Belly brand:

Finally, Amazon has also launched three mustard products under its Happy Belly brand as well:

Following our findings in recent weeks that Amazon was launching private label milk, dairy, energy drinks, and coconut water products under its Happy Belly and Solimo brands, we have been observing signals that Amazon is planning to further invest in and expand its private label food and beverage offerings in the form of new job posts focused on these roles.

Amazon has been growing its private label food & beverage offerings under a portfolio of brands, including Happy Belly, Solimo, AmazonFresh, and Wickedly Prime. The selection offered within these brands has significantly increased over the last several months.

Amazon now sells “Our Brand” items under 130+ private label brands and 400+ Amazon Exclusive brands. For more on Amazon’s private label efforts, subscribe to the TJI Amazon Briefing and check out the TJI Amazon Brand Database.

3rd Amazon Go Store in San Francisco, #11 Overall, Now Open

Amazon has opened Amazon Go #11, its third store in San Francisco. The store is located at 575 Market Street.

That’s an extremely busy thoroughfare and very close to the Montgomery Street BART station. This one is near the “standard” store format of about 1,750 square feet, unlike the 450 square foot version Amazon is testing in one location in Seattle.

Amazon’s first Go in SF opened six months ago and is at 300 California St in the Financial District. The second Amazon Go in SF opened in December at 98 Post St.

Overall, Amazon continues to roll out its Amazon Go food stores primarily in relatively corporate urban centers, focusing on the grab-and-go use case that most capitalizes on the efficiencies afforded by the computer vision technology that enables the Amazon Go experience. There have been rumors of upcoming Go stores opening in airports as well. Amazon has said recently that it will accept cash in the future at its Go stores after outside pressure, but has not specified when it will do so.

The TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map has been updated with this latest opening.

Amazon Launches Private Label Energy Drinks

As Amazon continues to expand its private label food and beverage efforts, it has for the first time launched private label energy drinks like those marketed by Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, and others, we are seeing.

The new drinks are called Solimo Red Energy Drink and Solimo Silver Energy Drink. A pack of 24 16-oz cans is priced at $29.99 in both flavors. “If you like Monster Energy’s Zero Ultra, Sugar Free Energy Drink, we invite you to try Solimo,” the product detail page reads. (That Monster Energy drink is currently the #4 best selling grocery item on Amazon.)

Following our findings a few weeks ago that Amazon was launching private label milk, dairy, and coconut water products under its Happy Belly and Solimo brands, we have been observing signals that Amazon is planning to further invest in and expand its private label food and beverage offerings in the form of new job posts focused on these roles.

Amazon has been growing its private label food & beverage offerings under a portfolio of brands, including Happy Belly, Solimo, AmazonFresh, and Wickedly Prime. The selection offered within these brands has significantly increased over the last several months.

Amazon now sells “Our Brand” items under 130+ private label brands and 400+ Amazon Exclusive brands. For more on Amazon’s private label efforts, subscribe to the TJI Amazon Briefing and check out the TJI Amazon Brand Database.

Amazon Launches Belei, A New Private Label Skincare Brand, in the US

Amazon has just launched a brand new line of moisturizers, cleaners, and skin treatments called Belei, we are seeing. It’s Amazon’s first dedicated private label skincare brand in the US.

Twelve Belei brand products are now live on Amazon.com in the US, including moisturizers, eye cream, cleansing wipes, masks, and spot treatments. Belei’s brand messaging is focused on simplicity and transparent ingredients. No products contain sulfates, parabens, or phthalates, and product detail pages contain full ingredient lists.

The Belei brand items we are seeing include:

  • Belei Bio-Complex Moisturizer for Dry Skin
  • Belei Blemish Control Spot Treatment
  • Belei Charcoal Balancing Mask
  • Belei Dark Spot Solution Serum
  • Belei Ferulic Acid + Vitamins C and E Serum
  • Belei Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum
  • Belei Oil-Free Face Moisturizer
  • Belei Oil-Free Micellar Facial Cleansing Wipes
  • Belei Retinol Refining Moisturizer
  • Belei Triple-Peptide Eye Cream
  • Belei Vitamin C Moisturizer
  • Belei Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Amazon has previously sold beauty and personal care items under its Solimo private label brand, as well as other Amazon Exclusive “Our Brands,” but Belei is the first Amazon US private label brand we have seen dedicated to beauty.

In January, Amazon started selling private label cosmetics in Europe under its Find brand.

The launch of Belei is Amazon’s latest move in its effort to grow its private label portfolio and selection. It’s the 138th private label brand from Amazon that we are tracking. In addition, Amazon has been growing its assortment within many of its private label brand substantially over the last year.

Amazon is promoting Belei products with advertisements in its beauty section and “25% off” coupons.

Brands like Olay, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Clinique, and Neutrogena, and retailers that rely heavily on beauty like Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus will likely be taking note of how Amazon steers the Belei brand.

We’ll continue to track Amazon’s private label efforts here at TJI.

Amazon Ramping Up Hiring for Private Label Food & Beverage Development

Following our findings a few weeks ago that Amazon was launching private label milk, dairy, and coconut water products under its Happy Belly and Solimo brands, we are now seeing signals that Amazon is planning to further invest in and expand its private label food and beverage offerings in the form of new job posts focused on these roles.

Here are the recently posted positions we are seeing:

  • Senior Category Manager, Consumables Private Label – “The Category Manager’s primary responsibilities will include: Evaluating the online and offline assortment for the Food & Beverages categories and determining the right assortment for us to build based on market trends and customer needs analysis…”
  • Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Private Label – “Key responsibilities will include: Build out channel strategies that maximize discoverability and conversion for Food and Beverage Private Brand products…”
  • Sr. Product Manager (Grocery, Household & Personal Goods) – “The US Food and Beverage Private Label team is looking for a customer-obsessed Sr. Product Manager to help drive one of the most exciting categories at Amazon.com. In this role, you will lead the product development efforts for a set of Food and Beverage Private Label products…”
  • Senior Program Manager – Private Brands, Consumables – “They will bring experience and knowledge of food, pet food and food supplements and non food categories to the commercial team and help steer & support private label sourcing and ranging decisions… Drive food, non-food and pet food products specification – including defining category tiering, brand values and definition of requirements… Experience in daily-use, high-repeat purchase product categories such as Grocery, Impulse, Biscuits, Snacks, Nuts, Fruits, Canned Goods, Baby Food, Tea, Coffee and Beverages.”

On a related note, Amazon brand meal kits were spotted in a physical Whole Foods in the wild this week (pictures here).  Generally speaking, we believe Amazon is going to be investing heavily in private label meal kits — as we highlighted in January when we found that Amazon was hiring for leaders to build out a “new perishable food platform.”

Amazon has been growing its private label food & beverage offerings under a portfolio of brands, including Happy Belly, Solimo, AmazonFresh, and Wickedly Prime. In the case of Happy Belly, its assortment has grown from just a couple dozen items last fall to many dozen today.

Amazon now sells “Our Brand” items under 130+ private label brands and 400+ Amazon Exclusive brands. For more on Amazon’s private label efforts, subscribe to the TJI Amazon Briefing and check out the TJI Amazon Brand Database.

Amazon’s New Head of Real Estate Joined from Discount Grocery Chain Save-A-Lot

In what could be another signal that Amazon is planning to develop a new chain of physical grocery stores, we have learned that Amazon recently hired a discount supermarket veteran as its new Head of Real Estate.

Patrick Waldron joined Amazon in September according to his LinkedIn profile, though Amazon has not officially announced his hiring that we have seen. Previously, Waldron was Vice President of Real Estate and Business Development at Save-A-Lot Food Stores, a discount grocery store chain with over 1,300 locations in the United States, primarily east of the Mississippi. Prior to Save-A-Lot, Waldron was Vice President of Real Estate at discount supermarket chain Lidl (US), where he worked for several years, moving to Save-A-Lot shortly after Lidl opened its first US stores. Today, Lidl operates about 65 stores in the US, also mainly in the eastern states (and thousands more in Europe).

Save-A-Lot stores are typically smaller format than major US supermarkets. While Save-A-Lot stores carry national brands, they also carry many of the company’s own private label products across a variety of categories. Save-A-Lot has also grown through a licensing model in which it acts effectively as a wholesaler to its local licensees. In 2016, the company was sold by Supervalu to current private equity owner Onex for $1.37 billion.

In addition to competing with traditional grocery stores, discount grocery chains in the US like Save-A-Lot are also increasingly competing with general merchandise dollar stores like Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar. While these stores typically do not carry fresh food, they are increasingly allocating square footage to frozen food in addition to non-perishables — and are also often located in the same or nearby shopping centers.

“Smaller formats are driving retail success. It’s the perfect storm for retail and private label,” Waldron said in an interview with Chain Store Age last year (while still at Save-A-Lot). “The physical experience has to be convenient, which is why Lidl, Aldi, and Dollar General are doing well.”

Above: A Save-A-Lot store in Amherst, OH. Source: Save-A-Lot (undated), via Google Images.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal’s Esther Fung and Heather Haddon reported that Amazon is planning to open “dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities” that likely won’t compete with Whole Foods and may or may not incorporate the Amazon brand. Amazon’s hiring of Waldron could be seen as evidence that Amazon is interested in developing a new type of grocery store chain.

Those we spoke with in the grocery industry said they are generally expecting Amazon to proceed with a new type of chain distinct from its current physical retail grocery stores.

While Amazon has largely kept prices at Whole Foods in check since its acquisition a year and a half ago, the idea of adding a new brand of stores with more selection and lower prices would enable Amazon to eat into a larger share of the US grocery market, which has overall proven a tough nut to crack for Amazon over time. Whole Foods stores are generally located in higher-income areas, and Whole Foods’ standards prohibit it from carrying items that contain anything on its “Unacceptable Ingredients For Food” list.

Eliminating that restriction would allow a new brand of Amazon-owned grocery stores to carry a wider selection of products and brands. Of course, Amazon would still face the challenges of the traditional grocery market. Nevertheless, more grocery stores would also enable Amazon to expand its Prime Now footprint for fast delivery of fresh items, and expand its network of pickup locations. We would also expect such a chain to carry a high portion of Amazon “Our Brand” items.

Another potential angle here is pharmacy. Whole Foods stores don’t have pharmacies, but many of the larger grocery stores in America do. We believe Amazon is investing substantially in its online/mail-order pharmacy distribution infrastructure, and having a network of local pharmacies would both complement its online pharmacy and offer a network of local mini fulfillment centers for quick delivery.

Regardless, Amazon could potentially apply technology currently deployed in its Amazon Go stores to a new, larger format environment. Compared to traditional grocery stores, such a store could lead to higher customer satisfaction through automated checkout while also potentially delivering higher revenue per square foot for Amazon.

Between its Whole Foods Markets, Go, Books, 4-star, (for now) pop-ups, and more, we are tracking over 600 Amazon physical retail venues today. It is looking increasingly likely that that number will grow in the coming times.

Amazon Launches Private Label Milk & Dairy Products Under Happy Belly Brand

Continuing its expansion into private label beverages, Amazon has just launched its first non-Whole-Foods private label brand milk and dairy products.

The new items we are seeing appear to have just been quietly released under the Happy Belly brand, and are currently available only via AmazonFresh. The four milk items are all lactose free.

The new Happy Belly milk and dairy items are:

  • Happy Belly Lactose Free 1% Low Fat Milk
  • Happy Belly Lactose Free 2% Reduced Fat Milk
  • Happy Belly Lactose Free Whole Milk
  • Happy Belly Lactose Free Fat Free Milk
  • Happy Belly Half & Half
  • Happy Belly Heavy Whipping Cream, 16 Ounces
  • Happy Belly Dairy Whipped Topping, 6.5 Ounces
  • Happy Belly Dairy Whipped Topping, 13 Ounces

In terms of competitive positioning, Amazon says the following on product description pages:

  • “If you like Lactaid, we invite you to try Happy Belly”
  • “If you like Reddi Wip, we invite you to try Happy Belly”
  • “If you like Darigold half & half, we invite you to try Happy Belly”
  • “If you like Darigold whipping cream, we invite you to try Happy Belly”

This is not Amazon’s first private label dairy foray in the US. Back in October, we found that Amazon launched 24 varieties of private label cheese under its Happy Belly brand as well. However, it is the first time we’ve seen Amazon-owned brand milk launch aside from its Whole Foods private brands.

Amazon markets its Happy Belly brand in North America, Europe, and Asia. It has launched a number of beverage products under the brand in Japan in particular, including waters, teas, sports drinks, and “vitamin jellies.” We would not be surprised to see Amazon expand further into those categories in the US this year.

We’ll continue tracking Amazon’s private label efforts in food and beverage around the world here at TJI.