Amazon Launches New AmazonBasics Brand Carry-On Backpacks and Luggage

Continuing its expansion into the private label backpack and luggage categories, Amazon has launched a new line of slim carry-on backpacks in 8 colors. The backpacks are priced at $65-$75.

Top backpack brands on Amazon currently include Swiss Gear, Mancro, Vaschy, High Sierra, Matein, JanSport, and more.

In addition, Amazon has expanded its line of hardshell luggage. The 2-piece set in blue is priced at $160. The 28-inch piece can be purchased separately for $100 and the 24-inch piece for $80.

Top luggage brands on Amazon currently include Samsonite, American Tourister, Traveler’s Choice, Steve Madden, Rockland, and more.

We expect to see continued activity from Amazon in the private label luggage and travel accessories categories. Stay tuned to TJI for the latest developments.

Amazon Launches 10 Amazon Elements Brand Vitamins and Supplements

Continuing its push into private label vitamins and nutritional supplements, Amazon has launched 10 additional products under the Amazon Elements brand. Prices range from $10 (elderberry complex) to $28 (super omega-3).

The new items are:

Amazon says in the product descriptions that these items are being manufactured by Arizona Nutritional Supplements out of Chandler. ANS is privately held and has raised funding from Endeavor Capital. According to Endeavor, ANS’s “customer base includes multi‐level marketers, specialty retailers, physicians groups and brand marketers selling through retail and online.”

Amazon has launched dozens of house brand vitamins and supplements under its Amazon Elements, Solimo, and Nature’s Wonder private label brands. Amazon and Whole Foods also sell vitamins and supplements under the “365 Everyday Value” house brand.

We expect Amazon to continue to expand its private label efforts in the vitamins and supplements category going forward.

Amazon Also Working On “Big, Audacious Space Project” in Denver

Two days ago, we reported that Amazon is developing new space and satellite services, as evidenced by two recent job listings for positions in Amazon’s Herndon, Virginia offices that have since been taken down.

Today, we are seeing another job posting for a similar position, titled Space and Satellite System Software Development Engineer, this time in Amazon’s Denver offices.

Like the Herndon positions, the Denver position states it is looking for software engineers for “a big, audacious space project!” — and that the team is building “a new AWS service that will have a historic impact.” The listing goes on:

“We are seeking a Software Development Engineer to build and maintain highly available, massively scalable, real time satellite data processing systems! This team will have the opportunity to work on highly visible projects that directly impact both Amazon teams and Amazon customers around the world as we build space processing services and features used by thousands of commercial and government customers each week.”

AWS is hiring for many technical positions with security clearances in Denver, and is also looking to hire veterans with active security clearances from area US Air Force bases. For example, next Thursday, Amazon is hosting a Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora.

The host unit at Buckley is the 460th Space Wing, which is assigned to the Air Force Space Command. The 460th Space Wing provides global surveillance, missile warning, missile defense, intelligence, satellite command and control, satellite communications, and other capabilities.

NORAD is also headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base, home of the 21st Space Wing, just east of Colorado Springs and about 70 miles south of Denver. The 21st Space Wing operates a “complex system of U.S. and foreign-based radars that detect and track ballistic missile launches, launches of new space systems, and provide data on foreign ballistic missile events.” The nearby Cheyenne Mountain Complex is NORAD’s Alternate Command Center.

Additional potential space and satellite customers for AWS solutions in the Denver area include United Launch Alliance, which launches Atlas and Delta rockets and is headquartered in Centennial, and Lockheed Martin, which is building its Orion deep space exploration vehicle (amongst other projects) in Denver. In addition, Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Harris, Ball, Sierra Nevada, and over 100 other aerospace contractors with a direct employment of over 21,000 (per the Metro Denver EDC) are located in the area.

Just three weeks ago, the Colorado Air and Space Port was granted its site operator license from the FAA. The site is located at the former Front Range Airport, a short distance from Denver International Airport and about 30 minutes from downtown. Per the Colorado Space Coalition:

“Colorado Air and Space Port will accommodate vehicles making horizontal takeoffs and landings. The vehicles will take off like traditional airplanes using jet fuel and fly to a special-use airspace where rocket boosters launch the craft into suborbital flight. To land, the craft drops out of suborbital flight and lands like a traditional airplane.”

The Colorado Space Coalition adds that the licensing process is “layered” and that, “A space company will have to apply to be licensed as an operator at the spaceport, and the vehicle that company employs for suborbital flight will also be approved and licensed.” No word yet on when exactly operations might begin.

(On a related note, Boom Supersonic, which is attempting to resuscitate mainstream supersonic passenger flight since British Airways and Air France halted Concorde operations in 2003, is also headquartered in Denver.)

We’ll continue tracking Amazon’s space efforts, so stay tuned to TJI. The full job listing posted by Amazon can be read below:

Above image credit: NASA

Large Restaurant Brands and the Future of Amazon Restaurants

Amazon Restaurants, which is live in 20 cities as of today, is looking to accelerate the growth of its restaurant supplier network by partnering with the largest restaurant brands in America.

“National restaurants play an integral role in the Amazon Restaurant Delivery business strategy,” according to a current job posting for a business development position. The listing goes on: “Amazon Restaurants is seeking an entrepreneurial, results-oriented Technical Business Development person to lead negotiations with the largest 200 restaurant brands such as Applebee’s, P.F., Chang’s, Red Robin and point of sale (POS) brands such as NCR.”

A few locations of national restaurant brands such as Subway, Firehouse Subs, Five Guys, Applebee’s, and Which Wich are already on the Amazon Restaurants platform. However, based on our review of restaurants available in each city currently, the large majority are local brands.

Last summer, Amazon announced the launch of Amazon Pay Places, a service that enables select QSRs running the Clover POS to accept takeout orders via the Amazon app. Amazon says it charges restaurants, “10% of each order that’s processed through the Amazon App. This cost covers marketing and payment processing, including fraud protection. Amazon’s marketing may include a variety of paid social media, email, and in-app marketing.” We do not yet know what the specific pricing model is for Amazon Restaurants partners.

Restaurant food delivery is a highly competitive landscape, with a slew of startups operating in the space including DoorDash, Grubhub, Eat24, Caviar, Postmates, and more – in addition of course to Uber Eats (which Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in May has a $6 billion bookings run rate).

As former Uber growth leader and current Andreessen Horowitz General Partner Andrew Chen articulated recently, the nature of transportation marketplace businesses favors platforms that can keep transportation suppliers continuously in demand throughout the day. While the nature of Amazon’s local transportation demands differ from Uber’s, it does seem generally better equipped to keep more couriers busy more often than the vertical food delivery platforms, and thus to be more economically viable, in the long run.

One potential long-term play for Amazon, given its large volume of both customer relations and inventory of perishable food in its Fresh warehouses and Whole Foods stores, is to enter the virtual restaurant business. A “virtual restaurant” is a restaurant that doesn’t exist for physical customers, but rather appears as a restaurant brand in your food delivery app only. Fulfillment can occur in a space shared with other “virtual restaurants,” perhaps also in a lower-rent location than many traditional retail establishments. Delivery logistics are thus also simplified since the number of food source locations is potentially reduced. (In some cases, restaurant entrepreneurs are creating virtual restaurants inside their physical ones in an effort to grow.)

Another potential option for Amazon long-term is to create “private label” restaurant brands with fulfillment provided by existing third party (physical or virtual) restaurants, somewhat analogous to how it has created private label products in many hardline and softline retail categories. (Given how much Amazon has already aggregated demand, it has more options than most when evaluating how to go about aggregating supply.) We have seen no evidence of Amazon’s intent to pursue either of these strategies yet, but Amazon is at least getting more sophisticated in some aspects of retail food preparation through offerings in its Amazon Go and Whole Foods stores.

For now, Amazon is racing all of its competitors to bring on as many restaurants as it can to the platform, and national restaurant brands are a fast way to gain footprint.

Amazon Launches AmazonBasics Private Label Synthetic Motor Oil

Further expanding into automotive supplies, Amazon has launched its first private label motor oil products.

The new AmazonBasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil variants come in 5W-20, 5W-30, and 0W-20 configurations, each in either 5 quart or a 6-pack of 1 quart quantities. Prices range from $20-$25.

Currently, the top motor oil brands on Amazon by search ranking and review volume include Castrol, ValvolineHavoline, Pennzoil, Mobil 1, Quaker State, Royal Purple, and Briggs & Stratton, with Castrol 03057 GTX MAGNATEC 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil getting the Amazon “Best Seller” ribbon as of today.

In our spot checks, the top advertisers for motor oil queries on Amazon’s US store include Castrol (with both a headline search ad and a sponsored product listing), Shell, and Valvoline.

According to the product label provided, Amazon’s new private label motor oils are supplied by Warren Distribution, which is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Warren’s brand portfolio includes MAG 1, Polar, ACCEL Premium, Craftsman Lubricants, and Gumout, in addition to its private label efforts, according to its website.

The product listing states that its “Date First Available” was July 23, but many Vine reviews have just been posted within the last week. AmazonBasics Synthetic Motor Oil is also now listed second in the “Hot New Releases” section of Amazon’s Motor Oils hub page.

We predict further developments from Amazon on the private label automotive supplies front in the coming months. Stay tuned to TJI for the latest developments.

Amazon Developing New Space and Satellite Services

Over the last several years, AWS has grown to play an increasing role in enterprise and federal government IT infrastructure. Now, Amazon is planning to expand its efforts in space as well.

According to an Amazon job posting, the company is building a “new AWS service that will have a historic impact.”

The listing, titled Space and Satellite System Software Development Engineer, goes on:

AWS, the world leader in providing a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries around the world, needs software development experts who want to be part of a big, audacious space project!

We are seeking a Software Development Engineer to build and maintain highly available, massively scalable, real time satellite data processing systems! This team will have the opportunity to work on highly visible projects that directly impact both Amazon teams and Amazon customers around the world as we build space processing services and features used by thousands of commercial and government customers each week.

In another job posting, Amazon asks, “Are you passionate about building, owning and operating satellite and space systems and ready to make another game-changing technology? If the answer is yes, then Amazon Web Services (AWS) has an exciting opportunity for you.”

That listing, titled Space and Satellite Product Manager – Technical, goes on (emphasis ours):

For this role we need a Product Manager to help us develop services and features that enable our customers to integrate their space systems with Amazon’s massive-scale data center networks. These products will provide high bandwidth and low latency solutions for networking launch vehicles, aggregating satellite systems, inter-connecting space system networks, and enabling management and monitoring of all satellite control network devices and critical data center infrastructure. As a leader within this new business line, you’ll join other thought leaders to work hard, have fun, and make history building new space services.

Both positions are based in Amazon’s Herndon, Virginia offices. (Update: These listings appear to now be removed from the site. See our screenshots of them below.)

Jeff Bezos is reputed to have had a lifelong interest in space and separately owns Blue Origin, but this is the first time we’ve seen Amazon specifically target the space and satellite markets with new products and services.

Earlier this year, Jamie Baker, Health & Science leader at AWS, while on the AWS Public Sector podcast, hinted at the impact that on-demand computing infrastructure can have on satellite applications. And this summer, at the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, DC, Amazon invited members of the government and commercial space industries to discuss topics related to space and cloud infrastructure.

We’ll continue tracking Amazon’s space efforts, so stay tuned. The full job listings posted by Amazon can be read below:


Above image credit: NASA

Amazon Launches 5 AmazonBasics Brand Tool Bag Backpacks

Continuing its expansion into private label commercial/industrial products and travel accessories, Amazon has launched 5 new tool bag backpacks under the AmazonBasics brand in its US store. Prices range from $43-$58 and models vary by the design of pockets, pouches, and loops.

The new items are:

  1. AmazonBasics Tool Bag Backpack – 51-Pocket with Adjustable Pouch Front
  2. AmazonBasics Tool Bag Backpack – 23-Pocket with 3-Pocket Front
  3. AmazonBasics Tool Bag Backpack – 50-Pocket with 2- Pocket Front
  4. AmazonBasics Tool Bag Backpack – 75-Pocket
  5. AmazonBasics Tool Bag Backpack – 22-Pocket with Utility Loops

The backpacks launched with a number of Vine reviews.

Currently, the top-ranked tool bag backpacks on Amazon include models by Dewalt (owned by Black & Decker), Klein Tools, Rugged Tools (a brand of J&B Trading, which sells its packs exclusively on Amazon), Custom Leathercraft, and Milwaukee (a brand owned by Techtronic Industries, which also owns Hoover, Dirt Devil, Ryobi, and others).

CLC and Dewalt are also the current top advertisers of sponsored product listings in our checks as well, with the DEWALT DGL523 Lighted Tool Backpack Bag, 57-Pockets model currently receiving the “Amazon’s Choice” ribbon. We are seeing WORKPRO headline search ads as well.

If Amazon begins to promote these new AmazonBasics models as it does with some other private label products, that could affect the presentation and discoverability of these and other third party brand tool bag backpack models.

Stay tuned to TJI for the latest on Amazon’s private label efforts.

Welcome to TJI

Welcome to TJI Research, a new independent information service that is focused on tracking the business of Amazon for people whose jobs depend on understanding what Amazon is doing and where it’s going. Why?

1. Amazon has become a uniquely large and diverse business that operates in many sectors of the economy. Originally an early internet book retailer, Amazon now plays a growing or leadership role in a wide variety of consumer and commercial industries, including internet retail, physical retail, internet infrastructure, media production and distribution (across television, film, music, books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, gaming, streaming, and more), consumer electronics and integrated software services, home services, building automation and security, global and local logistics networks (including air, maritime, long-haul, and local), payment tools, advertising services, government services, and more.

2. Despite its size, it is still relatively difficult to find information about and understand Amazon. Amazon’s financial reports are not very granular, and its executives’ comments tend to be terse, giving analysts very coarse insights into the business. In addition, given the scale and breadth of its retail services, Amazon publishes relatively little specific data on items, brands, sellers, or categories on its platform, leaving retail analysts largely to their own triangulation and extrapolation devices. AWS is a sweeping, highly sophisticated, and rapidly evolving collection of services powering a significant portion of consumer and enterprise applications in use globally today, and the pace of change is increasing. And given the unusual breadth of Amazon’s operations, journalistic coverage is relatively fragmented and scattershot. Bottom line — from groceries to advertising, from the Alexa ecosystem to the apparel ecosystem — it’s just difficult for interested parties to keep track of and understand everything going on at the company.

3. Amazon has become more socially and politically relevant. Amazon is at the forefront of several technological and economic trends which have long been sources of social anxiety but are now becoming an integral and ingrained part of the systems that billions of people rely on in their daily lives — including automation, robotics, “artificial intelligence,” increased reliance on the “public cloud,” the changing structure of the retail industry, and the tensions of globalization and urbanization. In addition, Amazon is now the second largest private employer in the United States (to Walmart), and is a vendor to a growing number of federal and local government agencies (and their affiliates). Politically, Amazon has become a regular part of the American national conversation given the interest that elected officials are taking in the company. And locally, government officials around the US and world are lobbying the company to place new parts of its ever-expanding physical infrastructure in their cities and regions – not to mention HQ2.

Whether you are an executive or employee of a business in one of Amazon’s spheres, a government official, or an analyst, we hope you will find TJI interesting and relevant.

For professionals who are serious about tracking Amazon, we are proud to also announce our in-depth Amazon briefing service called the TJI Amazon Briefing. To learn more and sign up for the TJI Amazon Briefing, click here.

Justin Smith

Founder, TJI Research

TJI Research is an independent, subscriber-supported service, and is not affiliated with or endorsed by, Inc.