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.

7 Amazon Exclusive “Our Brands” Added to TJI Amazon Brand Database

We’ve added 7 Amazon Exclusive “Our Brands” to the TJI Amazon Brand Database. The new brands we’re seeing are across electronics, sporting goods, first aid supplies, and more.

The new brands are:

  1. Bakibo (UK) – wireless electronics
  2. Clydek (UK) – electronics accessories
  3. CZON Sports (UK) – sporting goods
  4. FitPro (US/UK) – orthopedic braces
  5. SGIbedding (UK) – bedding
  6. Xihama (UK) – electronics accessories
  7. Xpress First Aid (UK) – first aid supplies

To track Amazon’s ongoing private label and exclusive brand efforts, Subscribe to the TJI Amazon Briefing.

Amazon Planning to Launch Scarce, Influencer-Driven “The Drop” Collections

It’s been a couple of weeks since we noticed Amazon launching new items under its The Drop private label brand. Now, Amazon is formally introducing the brand, featuring limited edition lines designed by popular influencers from around the world.

Taking a cue from fashion retailers and brands like Supreme employing influencer + scarcity tactics, each The Drop collection is only live for 30 hours. Customers can now sign up to received SMS notifications when new collections go live.

And unlike most of its regular private label brands, Amazon is putting some marketing effort behind The Drop. It has created a branded Instagram account @amazonthedrop and plans to promote new launches there too.

“Kicking off ‘The Drop’ are Paola Alberdi (1M Instagram followers), Sierra Furtado (1.7M Instagram followers), Emi Suzuki (1M Instagram followers), Leonie Hanne (1.9M Instagram followers) and Patricia Bright (1M Instagram followers),” per Fashionista. There will also be a line of always-available items to pair with these time-sensitive deals, called “Staples by The Drop.”

No date has been announced for the launch. However, Amazon is offering a way for customers to nominate insta-celebs, for suppliers to request to participate, and for those with more than 1 million Instagram followers can apply to join the program. From the FAQ:

What is The Drop?

The Drop brings you of-the-moment collections designed by your favorite influencers from around the world. Once a collection drops you have 30 hours to shop — or less because fabrics are limited. Each piece is then made-on-demand, just for you. The limited-edition collections pair perfectly with Staples by The Drop, so you can shop each head-to-toe look.

Can I nominate an influencer?

We love suggestions. Let us know who you’d like to see design the next collection here.

I’m an influencer. How can I work with The Drop?

Great. Tell us more about yourself here.

I’m interested in working with The Drop as a supplier or manufacturer. Who can I talk to?

Exciting! Let’s get to know each other better. Answer a few questions here.

It’s an interesting move by Amazon to experiment with a new model that is gaining traction in other venues. This type of strategy could also help Amazon become more relevant to the fashion community. We’ll continue tracking The Drop to see how it goes.

Amazon Launches Flight Booking Service in India

As it continues to expand the e-commerce capabilities of Amazon Pay in India and expand on its “super-app” strategy in the country, Amazon has launched flight booking service in the India market.

Amazon has partnered with Indian online travel agent Cleartrip on the integration. Now, Amazon India users can book flights within Amazon.in just like on any other travel site. Amazon is offering an INR 1500 rebate to first time customers as a promotional launch offer.

Image Credit: Twitter user and travel industry consultant Robert Cole.

In our view there are a few different layers that make this move interesting.

1. Amazon’s travel offerings

Five years ago, Amazon launched and then 12 months later closed a direct hotel bookings service called Amazon Destinations. While Amazon didn’t comment much on the decisions at the time, it became apparent that Amazon found the operational aspects of building direct booking relationships with tens of thousands of lodging suppliers too costly and complex. Since then, Amazon has been generally quiet on the travel offering front.

Image Credit: Houstonia (2015)

This time around, Amazon is choosing to simply integrate a third party meta-search service, rather than build its own. This experiment is thus dramatically simpler than Amazon Destinations for a couple of reasons. One, because Amazon is not building meta-search in house (yet). And two, because the number of suppliers is much smaller – there are only hundreds of airlines in the world whereas there are millions of hotels. But even at this level of integration, Amazon serves as the payments intermediary and gets to potentially cross promote other products and services against customer travel data.

Big picture, we would not be surprised to see Amazon roll out similar functionality in other markets around the world. We also would not be surprised to see Amazon either build similar types of meta-search functionality in-house eventually. (Amazon could even theoretically acquire an existing competitor like Expedia or TripAdvisor that could provide a supply of hotel relationships.)

2. Super-apps

Amazon India is part of a broader trend, particularly in larger markets in Asia, in which e-commerce apps are effectively becoming a “portal” aggregating suppliers across verticals. Led by apps like WeChat in China, these apps have such strong user engagement that they are able to persuade other companies to build proprietary “mini-apps” within their “super-app,” thus giving the super-apps significant leverage as a distributor.

Google is increasingly doing this through Google Maps (restaurant reservations, event bookings, etc.), Facebook has been attempting to do this in various forms for several years with mixed results, and Amazon is doing it through Amazon Pay (utility bills, phone balances, and now flights). The super apps that are successful tend to focus on simplifying the logistics of daily life (like meals, transportation, and payments).

WeChat Image Credit: Connie Chan of A16Z

While super-apps are not as prevalent in the west as they are in Asia, it’s an important product trend, particularly as a few big internet companies (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) continue to seek to maximize engagement as growth in their primary businesses slow.

3. Advertising

The last point we’d make here about travel is its synergy with Amazon’s advertising business.

Amazon continues to grow its advertising business primarily though purchase-funnel ads on its site but also through display units that it runs across its networks and properties. By simply integrating travel meta-search, Amazon could theoretically sell more travel ads by pointing more travel related traffic to these new services and tools.

Travel advertisers are looking for alternatives to Google and Facebook, and currently Amazon doesn’t offer comparable opportunities in the way of travel ad inventory.

6 Amazon Exclusive “Our Brands” Added to TJI Amazon Brand Database

We’ve added 6 Amazon Exclusive “Our Brands” to the TJI Amazon Brand Database. The new brands we’re seeing are across industrial supplies, prepper kits, shoes, and more.

The new brands are:

  1. 23.4 Degree – fabric softeners
  2. Danne Mora – denim jackets
  3. Engrepo – massagers
  4. Kincrea – industrial tools
  5. Prep Basics – disaster preparedness kits
  6. Urbane Shoes Co. – men’s leather shoes

To track Amazon’s ongoing private label and exclusive brand efforts, Subscribe to the TJI Amazon Briefing.

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.