4th Amazon Go in Chicago, #10 Overall, Opens in Chicago

Amazon has opened Amazon Go #10, its fourth store in Chicago. The store is located at 111 E Upper Wacker Dr at the Illinois Center.

Chicago’s first Amazon Go, at 113 S Franklin St, opened in September, followed by the second at 144 S Clark St in October and the third at 500 W Madison St in November.

Chicago is one of the cities Amazon has targeted for its initial rollout of Amazon Go, along with Seattle, New York, and San Francisco.

Big picture, Amazon continues to open its automated Amazon Go food stores primarily in 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 today’s opening date for Amazon Go #10. Other Amazon is also testing its Amazon 4-star format in select markets. We are tracking over 640 Amazon physical retail venues overall.

Amazon Launches 5-Blade “MotionSphere” Razor, Many More Health & Personal Care Products Under Its Solimo Private Label Brand

Continuing its expansion into private label health and personal care products, Amazon has launched several new items under its Solimo brand in recent days and weeks.

Of note is a new Solimo 5-Blade MotionSphere Razor for Men, which sells with two cartridges for $7.49. It launched with several Vine reviews. Of course, Amazon is selling replacement blades as well, at 8 for $15.99. Those price points are generally lower than high-end 5-blade razors from Gillete, Schick, Bic, and others.

In addition, Amazon has launched a barrage of new Solimo private label health and personal care products, including:

These will compete with similar products from national brand owners including Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Neutrogena, Olay, Dove, Nivea, Chattem, & more.

Solimo is one of Amazon’s fastest growing private label brands, both in the US and around the world. It has added dozens of products over the last couple of months across a variety of product categories.

Amazon now sells “Our Brand” items under 135 private label brands and over 330 Amazon Exclusive brands. For more on Amazon’s private label efforts, subscribe to TJI Briefing and check out the TJI Amazon Brand Database.

Amazon Launches Wag Brand Private Label Cat Food

Amazon continues to expand its private label pet food assortment. It has just launched Wag wet cat food in a variety of flavors. This is the first time Amazon has launched private label cat foods that we have seen.

The launch is the latest in a string of private label pet product launches from Amazon over the last year. After launching its Wag brand of private label dog food earlier last year, Amazon then launched Solimo brand dog food in September. Amazon has positioned its Solimo dog food at a lower price point, despite positioning it as “premium.”

A number of Amazon Exclusive “Our Brand” pet products brands have also launched in recent months, including Direct Protect Plus (pet shampoo), Dogg Cookie (pet treats), Kruz Pet (pet accessories), Olaganics (pet food supplements), Pet Craft Supply Co. (pet toys and apparel), Simply Perfection (premium pet food), Sterling (pet accessories), and Zoeez Naturals (pet food supplements).

In November, Amazon also launched Lifelong Complete, a new private label pet brand it is marketing in Europe. We haven’t seen Amazon market the Lifelong Complete brand in the US or Asia yet.

The US pet food market was estimated to be about $29 billion in 2017, according to the American Pet Products Association. PetSmart acquired Chewy.com last year for $3.35 billion in the largest e-commerce acquisition ever. Amazon likely sees 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 Hill’s Science Diet, IAMS, Purina ONE, Fancy Feast, Rachel Ray, and others.

Amazon Building New Perishable Meal Platform for “Time-Starved Customers”

Speculation has been growing about Amazon’s recent grocery efforts. On the one hand, Amazon has built out its first few Amazon Go automated food stores in urban centers and is likely to roll the concept out much more broadly. On the other hand, Amazon has been leveraging its Whole Foods Markets real estate as mini Prime Now food distribution centers, and could build out more Whole Foods stores to be able to broaden its geographic reach and shorten delivery times in more cities and suburban areas.

But what will Amazon’s product strategy be?

An important part of what Amazon is currently thinking appears to be ready-made meals. According to a recent Amazon job posting (which has been taken down), Amazon is planning to build a “new perishable food platform” to deliver “world class meal solutions for time-starved customers.” The listing reads:

Are you interested in changing how customers solve the “what’s for dinner?” dilemma? If yes, Amazon is looking for somebody with your enthusiasm and skills to build and lead the team that delivers world class meal solutions for time-starved customers. We are looking for an entrepreneurial, analytical, operationally-minded category leader to deliver a new perishable food platform. This role will require the ability to set a vision and drive the end-to-end strategy that will fuel the growth and long term profitability of this critical assortment. The right person for this role will have deep experience developing and commercializing a portfolio of perishable packaged foods, communicating effectively to stakeholders and closely with the cross-functional teams as well as owning the P&L.

Ready-made meals is an interesting strategy because it leverages two major competitive advantages Amazon has been investing in heavily: 1) its Prime Now network of last mile delivery solutions, and 2) its growing network of Amazon Go and Whole Foods food distribution centers, er, grocery stores. Ready meals are a logical application to run on top of this infrastructure.

By focusing on ready meals, Amazon is apparently choosing a different strategy than the “mail-order ingredients you prepare yourself” meal kit companies like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated, and many more. Instead, Amazon is focusing on the “time-starved” segment of the population. We think that makes sense. (Note, however, that Amazon does offer its own selection of non-perishable meal kits, but they appear to be sparsely reviewed. There is also a single perishable meal from Tyson available via AmazonFresh in our spot check.) Amazon does also offer perishable foods at Whole Foods and Amazon Go currently.

By ramping up its ready meal efforts, Amazon will also be competing more broadly with restaurants that offer takeout or delivery, and the logistics networks like Uber Eats that are virtualizing them. (Amazon is also building its own food delivery service, Amazon Restaurants, that is available in about 20 cities.) Just as Amazon has built out its own portfolio of private label brands across multiple retail categories, including non-perishable food, we could see Amazon creating its own “restaurant-like” private label brands for different types of ready meals (pizza, Thai, etc).

Given the investments Amazon has made in grocery and logistics thus far, we expect perishable meals and related new food products to be an area that Amazon is prepared to invest in and grind it out over a period of time.

New Small-Format Amazon Go, Store #8, Opens Inside Amazon Offices in Seattle

Amazon opened its 8th Amazon Go store in the world this morning inside one of its offices in Seattle. Unlike other Amazon Go stores that have launched to date, which are on the order of 2,000 square feet, this new Amazon Go store is only 450 square feet.

Amazon Go Vice President Gianna Puerini gave CNN a tour of the new space, which unlike other Amazon Go stores is only open to employees and their guests. It is located on the 6th floor of the Macy’s building at 300 Pine St, we believe.

Puerini says the concept behind the compact format stores is that they can go into spaces like lobbies of office buildings and hospitals as well as communal office space. You can bring it in in pieces and assemble it on-site, she told Reuters. This experimental store is adjacent to an employee cafe. It uses the same technology as other Amazon Go stores, and stocks grab-and-go items like Whole Foods brand fruit, yogurt, and snacks.

Rumors have been circulating lately that Amazon is looking at putting Amazon Go stores in airports as well. That would be a new twist on the urban locations Amazon has developed so far in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco. Airport locations would be a good way for Amazon to spread awareness of the Go concept to a national audience more quickly.

Amazon is also rumored to be looking at space in the West End of London for its first Amazon Go in the UK.

We’ve updated our TJI Amazon Physical Retail Map to reflect the new Amazon Go store launching today.

10 Amazon Exclusive Food & Grocery Brands Launch in the US

As we get closer to the holidays, we are seeing new Amazon Exclusive brands continue to launch.

This week we saw 6 new apparel brands launch. We’re also seeing 10 new Amazon Exclusive brands in the food and grocery category. They are:

     

  • Cinque Terre Pasta – pasta
  • Kalista – olive oil
  • Le French Pantry – seasonings
  • Mix-A-Licious – candy
  • Nature’s Instincts – dietary supplements
  • Powers & Powers – seasonings
  • Roast Ridge Coffee Roasters – coffee
  • Simply Sweet – cookies
  • Super Organics – coffee and tea
  • Zesty Bee – honey

This brings the total number of Amazon private label and exclusive food and grocery brands to over 35.

To track Amazon’s ongoing private brand efforts, subscribe to TJI Briefing, our Amazon briefing service.

Equal Launches Sugarly Sweet, An Amazon Exclusive Artificial Sweetener Brand

Merisant, the maker of Equal artificial sweeteners, has quietly launched Sugarly Sweet, a new Amazon Exclusive sweetener brand, we have found.

Sugarly Sweet is the first Amazon Exclusive sweetener brand we have seen. It joins a growing number of other Amazon Exclusive “Our Brands” in the food and beverage grocery category.

So far, Sugarly Sweet has launched sweetener packet products with Aspartame, Stevia, Saccharan, and Sucralose. It has also launched granulated sweetener products with Stevia and Sucralose.

Like the owners of many other new Amazon Exclusive brands, Sugarly Sweet brand products just launched on Amazon with dozens of Vine reviews. Also like the owners of many other new Amazon Exclusive brands, Merisant has made no official announcements about the launch that we have seen.

Merisant was formerly a division of Monsanto and was acquired by investors in 2000. It is currently a privately held subsidiary of MacAndrews and Forbes, a large holding company owned by billionaire Ron Perelman.

We are now tracking over 30 Amazon private label and exclusive food brands in our TJI Amazon Brand Database.

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 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.

Colavita Launches Santa Ninfa, An Amazon Exclusive Pasta, Oil, & Vinegar Brand

As Amazon continues to ramp up its private label and exclusive brand efforts, it is partnering with companies new and old to expand its offerings. In this case, Colavita, founded in Italy in 1938, has launched a new line of pastas, oils, and vinegars under the Amazon Exclusive brand Santa Ninfa.

It’s the first Amazon Exclusive pasta brand we’ve seen. Currently, Amazon also offers private label pastas under its Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value brand.

Colavita also sells pastas under the Colavita brand on Amazon.

Barilla currently dominates organic search results for pasta on Amazon.com, along with De Cecco, Giusto Sapore, Garofalo, and many others. As Amazon continues to grow its grocery selection, we’d expect to see more brands in the future.