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  1. #1
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    The Amazon effect convulses a febrile Wall Street

    Amazon assault -- you ignore Amazon at your peril.

    Adam Samson and Mamta Badkar
    July 28, 2017

    In recent weeks Jeff Bezos has come close to wielding an influence over stock markets typically associated with presidents or central bank chiefs.

    Just as Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen can ignite market ructions with a barely perceptible change in a sentence, or US President Donald Trump via a solitary tweet, the Amazon chief executive can spark convulsions with the merest hint that the $500bn company he founded in the mid-1990s has another industry in its crosshairs.

    The reaction in recent months on Wall Street to threats from Amazon has been fierce, punishing the next perceived corporate victims of the online retailer by stripping them of billions of dollars in market value. The wild gyrations reflect the febrile mood among investors as they grapple with the challenge — as well as the potential for profits — from the explosive growth of ecommerce.

    “As Amazon expands its scope people tend to shoot first and analyse second,” says Peter Langerman of Franklin Templeton Investments, adding that given Amazon’s potential threat is “so large investors are skittish”.

    It is something Mr Langerman knows first hand: the $15.8bn Franklin Mutual Shares fund he manages holds an almost $200m stake in Kroger, the US supermarket chain that was hit by what he referred to as an “Amazon assault”.





    On June 16, a day after Kroger’s shares took an almost 19 per cent spill thanks to a reduction in its profit outlook for 2017, Amazon delivered another blow. It disclosed an agreement to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods for $13.7bn. With a single manoeuvre, Amazon thrust itself deep into the almost $1tn US grocery industry.

    Having already watched Amazon, started by Mr Bezos in Seattle as an online bookseller, decimate parts of the retail sector, traders’ response to its food foray was violent. Kroger sank 9.2 per cent. Others were hit that day: Walmart fell 4.7 per cent, wholesale club Costco declined 7.2 per cent and discounter Target sank 5.1 per cent.

    When it comes to the collision of grocers and Amazon, many believe investors have reason to fret.

    Josh Cummings, an analyst at Janus Henderson, reckons the grocery business, “which is about frequency and loyalty” will be Amazon’s focus over the next five years as it tries to “boost the value” of its Prime programme, which offers free two-day shipping among other benefits and has been a key to luring consumers into the Amazon fold.





    By early July, electronics retailer Best Buy was the target after a news report highlighted Amazon’s decision to begin offering consultations on “smart home solutions” in parts of the US. It sounded eerily similar to Best Buy’s Geek Squad, which offers computer repair and electronic installation services. The market shuddered, sending Best Buy’s shares down 6 per cent.

    Not everyone panicked. Timothy Pettee, who manages the $13.7bn AIG Focused Dividend Strategy fund that holds almost $600m in Best Buy stock, was unperturbed. Best Buy has already done much to adapt to the Amazon effect, he says, cutting the number of products, competing more aggressively on price and reducing costs.

    “We’re very happy with our Best Buy position,” he says. “Am I quaking in my boots? No.”

    Investors’ mindset towards Amazon is that “whatever they get into must be good”, adds Mr Pettee.

    It is one that can also produce near hysterical reactions.





    Take last week when Amazon revealed a pact to begin selling consumer appliances from Sears Kenmore. The move sent shockwaves through the shares of big rivals, including Home Depot, America’s biggest home improvement retailer that has long been seen as a bright spot amid the retail gloom. At one point in the trading session, Home Depot, rival DIY retailer Lowe’s and Best Buy, which also markets appliances, lost $13bn in market value.

    A procession of analysts came to Home Depot’s defence.

    Peter Benedict of Robert W. Baird pointed out, for example, that Home Depot’s decline in market value was greater than the annual revenue it generated from selling appliances. In other words, that part of Home Depot was instantly written off as worthless.





    An executive at a large hedge fund that owns stakes in the industry echoed the view that investors are now pricing in the chances of “almost certain success” for Amazon’s ventures. The scale of the stock price reactions was sometimes “wild”, he said, in proportion to what the realistic effect on long-term profits might be.

    Underscoring that point, Amazon’s latest quarterly earnings released on Thursday offered a reminder that Mr Bezos was not omnipotent. The company warned it may record an operating loss of as much $400m in the current quarter as it intensifies investment.

    Yet investors still appear willing to allow Mr Bezos, whose own fortune has reached $90bn thanks to the 40 per cent surge in Amazon’s shares this year, to upend the retail industry without delivering consistent profits.

    Even if the effect is sometimes overstated, “you ignore Amazon at your peril”, says Mr Langerman.

    https://www.ft.com/content/18cb65ea-...6-c6bd07df1a3c

  2. #2
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    Best Buy rallies after results, outlook top estimates

    Adam Samson
    2017-08-29


    No Amazon effect here.

    Best Buy on Tuesday reported quarterly results that beat Wall Street expectations, alongside a rosy outlook, amid strong demand for technology products and “healthy” consumer confidence.

    The Minneapolis-based electronics retailer said its revenues jumped to $8.94bn in the fiscal second quarter ended on July 29, from $8.53bn in the same period last year. Net profits rose to $209m from $198m, with adjusted earnings that exclude certain items clocking-in at 69 cents a share.

    Best Buy’s results handily beat Wall Street expectations of adjusted EPS of 63 cents on sales of $8.66bn. The shares jumped 5.3 per cent in pre-market trading in New York, which would add to a year-to-date rise of 46.4 per cent.

    The upbeat results were “driven by stronger consumer demand for technology products and by the strong execution of our strategy,” said chief executive Hubert Joly. “Against a backdrop of continued healthy consumer confidence, we believe broad-based product innovation is resonating with consumers and driving higher spend.”

    Best Buy also raised its outlook for full-year sales growth to about 4 per cent from 2.5 per cent.

    The retailer has restructured its business, for example by reducing the number and cost of the products available in its stores, to bolster its defenses against Amazon, the e-commerce giant. That has helped the stock outperform this year against other Amazon rivals, such as US department store chains that have seen their sales fall heavily.

    In a sign of the progress at Best Buy, domestic online revenues soared 31.2 per cent on a comparable basis in the fiscal second quarter to $1.1bn on higher traffic and “conversion” of clicks into sales, Best Buy said.

    “Best Buy’s second quarter performance was impressive on multiple fronts,” said Moody’s retail analyst Charlie O’Shea, pointing to the strong e-commerce performance among other factors.

    https://www.ft.com/content/e44b90ba-...d-1774afd2cdb5

  3. #3
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    What is Amazon, really?


    Em 20 anos, a empresa jamais pagou dividendos.


    Dave Gershgorn, Alison Griswold, Mike Murphy, Michael J. Coren, Sarah Kessler
    August 20, 2017

    In the beginning, Amazon.com sold books.

    Today Amazon is a titan of e-commerce, logistics, payments, hardware, data storage, and media. It dabbles in plenty more industries. It’s the go-to site for online shoppers and merchants alike, a modern necessity that independent sellers love to hate. Prime, Amazon’s signature $99-a-year membership program, has an estimated 85 million subscribers in the US, equivalent to about two-thirds of American households. To even call it an e-commerce company feels completely inadequate.

    Behind every Amazon business decision is the “flywheel” philosophy. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos borrowed the term from business consultant Jim Collins back in the early days of Amazon. It describes a cycle in which a company cuts prices to attract customers, which increases sales and attracts more customers, which allows the company to benefit from economies of scale (bundling together logistics and other routine costs), until, ultimately, the company can cut prices again, spinning the flywheel anew.

    The flywheel is the best encapsulation of Amazon’s dual ambitions: to be customer-obsessed, and to conquer the modern commercial world. Those ambitions were clear early on. Bezos named his company after the world’s biggest river. He also considered and purchased the web address for “relentless.com.” Type it into your browser now—it redirects to Amazon. (In another tab, please.)

    Bezos put customers first at the expense and sometimes to the dismay of his shareholders. Amazon went public in May 1997, bled money for the next six years, and barely eked out a profit for the decade after. To Bezos, those losses and other quarterly numbers mattered less than keeping prices low and customer service exceptional, so that the flywheel could keep on turning. Amazingly, Bezos eventually convinced Wall Street to mostly disregard his company’s lackluster quarterly earnings, too.

    Amazon did $136 billion in sales in 2016. This year, sales on Prime Day, Amazon’s company-branded version of Black Friday, surpassed Amazon’s sales on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Amazon declared it the “biggest global shopping event in Amazon history.” The stock has done phenomenally well by any standard, and even more so considering the company still barely turns a profit.




    Amazon is a logistics company

    The secret to Amazon’s massive success in e-commerce is its endlessly complex logistics empire. Amazon promises two-day free shipping for all Prime customers and free two-hour “Prime Now” delivery in certain cities on more than 25,000 qualified items. It takes more than UPS and FedEx to make that happen.

    At last count, Amazon’s delivery infrastructure included more than 180 warehouses, 28 sorting centers, 59 local package delivery stations, and 65 hubs for its two-hour Prime Now deliveries. Investment bank Piper Jaffray estimates that 44% of the US population lives within 20 miles of an Amazon warehouse or delivery station. Amazon’s proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods could add another 431 distribution nodes in bougie neighborhoods to that network.

    In 2013, the company reportedly started a shipping project called Dragon Boat, which would slowly take over all shipping and logistics direct from manufacturers in China and India to its customers across the United States. In addition to its delivery hubs, Amazon owns a fleet of more than 4,000 trucks and has reportedly leased more than 20 airplanes to ferry its customers’ packages across the country and between fulfillment centers. The company has mastered its growing shipping empire through analyzing the data from every package it’s ever shipped—the delivery of each package is algorithmically optimized for speed and efficiency of resources. In 2015, Amazon spent $11.5 billion on shipping, nearly double what it did the year before.

    Of Amazon’s 382,000 employees, Amazon says more than 90,000 work in the company’s US fulfillment centers. Testimonies from workers inside the centers paint a picture of a ruthless workplace driven by the demand for productivity above all else. Workers describe a point system, where every small infraction like tardiness or checking back in late from breaks are catalogued and count against them. Bathroom breaks were discouraged because they interfered with productivity. Employees are ranked and less-performing workers are let go.

    The white collar jobs are similarly demanding—in 2015, the New York Times reported:

    At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.)”

    The need for efficiency has also brought a keen interest in robotics: Amazon purchased Kiva Systems, a company that makes robots for warehouses, in 2012 for $775 million. The robots—flat, motorized squares at move in a grid—retrieve shelves from which humans pick items that people have ordered. Amazon has deployed about 100,000 of them in 25 fulfillment centers worldwide.

    Warehouses that use robots still need human workers. Amazon in 2017 committed to hiring an additional 120,000 part- and full-time workers in the US. But Amazon has also invested in automation efforts, such as robots that can pick items off of shelves and delivery drones, that could reduce the amount of human work that goes into its shipping processes.

    Amazon Prime is the heart of Amazon

    Amazon Prime was introduced at a hectic time for the company: it was 2005, Amazon stocks were tumbling upon each quarterly earnings report, and investors were starting to get restless waiting for the online shopping revolution.

    But Bezos told the world (through the New York Times) to wait it out, saying the customer-oriented plan he was putting in motion “won’t pay off for years.”

    “If we take care of customers, the stock will take care of itself in the long term,” Mr. Bezos said.

    More than 10 years later Amazon Prime is a billion-dollar business for the company, offering the original perk of two-day shipping, but having massively expanded to music streaming, a Netflix-like video service, free photo storage, free e-books, access to special portions of the e-commerce website, and discounts on other services within Bezos’ orbit like the Washington Post.

    “Our goal with Amazon Prime, make no mistake, is to make sure that if you are not a Prime member, you are being irresponsible,” Bezos told shareholders in May.

    The plan is working: 63% of US Amazon users subscribe to Prime, and estimated to reach more than half of American households by the end of the year.



    Prime doesn’t just lift $99 off of regular Amazon users each year—it’s proven to be a powerful customer loyalty program. The average Prime user spends $1,300 each year on the site, with 78% of Prime users still citing free 2-day shipping as the main reason for coughing up the fee.

    That money adds up for Amazon. Last quarter, the company reported more than $1.4 billion in revenue from its subscription services alone. The money mainly comes from Prime subscriptions, but also includes standalone audiobook, music, video, e-book, and comic services that Amazon operates. But more importantly, it shows a commitment from customers that they plan to come back to Amazon. A lot.

    (continua)

  4. #4
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    Amazon is a cloud-services company

    Amazon’s $14.6 billion cloud business, known as Amazon Web Services, now serves millions of customers and has been growing at more than 50% almost every year since launching in 2006 .

    Yet the story of Amazon’s ascent as a major piece of the internet’s backbone is shrouded in myth. It was not built on “spare” computing capacity amid the e-commerce company’s explosive growth. Rather it was the deliberate effort of engineers Benjamin Black, Chris Pinkham and their team of developers who recognized the potential for standardized, virtual infrastructure that anyone could use. It evolved out of an internal effort starting in the 1990s to scale up and standardized tools for developers, and customers, to use Amazon’s e-commerce platform. But the teams required a set of common infrastructure instead of rebuilding expensive things like database and storage capacity every time. This thinking evolved into lean, high-performing web services that ran Amazon’s products and services, and eventually would do the same thing for customers.

    After the engineers explored the idea with Bezos in 2003, he later approved the service as a business unit in its own right. “Right off the bat we just thought it would be an interesting thing to do,” Black wrote in a blog post about AWS’ origins. As part of Amazon’s customer-first mindset, Black writes, the team drafted a mock press release, FAQ, and then detailed technical specifications of what would become the foundation for AWS. “It took a while to get to a point of realizing that this is actually transformative,” Black wrote. “It was not obvious at the beginning.”

    It soon became so. The service first reached customers by 2005, and was officially launched in the summer of 2006. Tom Szkutak, Amazon’s CFO at the time, said the business was “exposing the guts of Amazon,” using the knowledge gained from 11 years of building Amazon.com. Today AWS is on a tear. It’s the world’s dominant cloud computing provider, and the nearest competitors aren’t even within shouting distance: Amazon’s servers deliver 34% of the world’s public cloud services, reports Synergy Research Group, while Microsoft, IBM and Google provide 24% combined. That may not last forever. Although Amazon maintains a big lead, as cloud services become commodified, its domination and profits may dwindle. For now, however, cloud services are raking in cash and financing a huge portion of the company’s expansion and profits.



    Amazon’s cloud business is now more than just file storage. The company rents out use of its servers and software for others to use, including AI like image and voice recognition. If a startup wanted to build an app that recognized vegetables through your phone’s camera, they could pay to use Amazon’s servers to process its users’ data, rather than building its own.

    Not only does this make Amazon attractive to startups that might want to spend money on engineers or sales positions, rather than server racks, but it also means Amazon now has virtually unlimited computational power to develop and launch its own AI products and services.

    For instance, Amazon can host its virtual voice assistant, Alexa, handling the deluge of incoming requests. Amazon doesn’t release too many numbers about the number of requests the service gets per day, or even how many devices are Alexa-enabled, but analysts have estimated that the voice assistant dominates with a 70% market share of voice-controlled speakers. And if you ask Alexa to play a song—that music is hosted on Amazon’s servers as well.

    Amazon is a hardware company—that doesn’t really care about hardware

    In 2007, Amazon launched one of its first forays into consumer technology: the Kindle e-reader. Based on revolutionary e-paper technology, the device provided a far better approximation of reading a book than any screen before it has. Amazon has sold millions of Kindle readers, and over the years, has expanded its brand to include Kindle Fire tablets and smartphones.

    Although Amazon’s phone was a massive flop, the hardware division that produced it, Lab126, sort of stumbled into what has become a surprise hardware success story for Amazon. The lab had been working on an augmented-reality product that used voice activation to control it. As Bloomberg reported, that product never saw the light of day, but the voice technology was ported into the Echo, a speaker that can control internet-of-things devices, order you an Uber, or play your favorite songs on Spotify, all enacted by, Alexa, a built-in voice assistant.

    The Echo has likely sold millions of units, and has spurred a whole range of new voice-controlled devices, including a smaller Echo Dot, the Echo Look, with built-in cameras that can be used for selfies and fashion advice, and the Echo Show, which features a small touchscreen display. With the Echo, it effectively created the smart-speaker market that it now dominates, alongside the Google Home, and likely inspired Apple to produce the forthcoming HomePod, a similar, albeit triply expensive, speaker.

    Alexa can now be found across an array of Amazon hardware and software, including Amazon’s main mobile app, the Fire Stick streaming device, and its low-cost Fire tablets. It’s even started selling co-branded televisions with Chinese manufacturer Element that were a big seller at Amazon’s recent Prime Day sales event.

    An often-overlooked piece of hardware that Amazon has started to roll out is the Dash button. It’s a device about the size of a thumb with some adhesive that sticks to nearly any surface. On the front of the device there’s a circular button, the logo of a brand, and that’s it. Press the button, and you’ve ordered the designated item from that brand on Amazon. One-touch ordering, no logging in required.

    Alexa, the Dash button, Fire tablets, Fire —they all accomplish the same goal, which is always keeping Amazon.com and its affiliated services just a tap or two away. It’s totally consumer focused, a must for Amazon, but with the larger motivation of keeping that consumer more likely to shop on Amazon than anywhere else.

    Amazon is a moonshot factory

    What’s a modern tech company without a few cash-burning moonshots? Operating in an industry where even the illusion of innovation is applauded—and any whiff of an innovation drought is cause for alarm—Amazon lets its imagination run wild with ideas of drastically reinventing industries. What if there was a supermarket, but with no cashiers? What if your packages dropped from the sky?

    Amazon can be credited with killing the physical bookstore, but could it reinvent the brick-and-mortar storefront for groceries? The company is currently running a beta test of Amazon Go, a store that uses cameras and sensors throughout the store to automatically track what a customer has picked out, and automatically charges them as they leave. It’s possible due to the drastic improvement in AI-driven object recognition, which allows Amazon software to autonomously detect and track a shopper throughout the store using multiple cameras. However, reports suggest the beta store has trouble keeping track of multiple people in the store. They’ll want to sort that one out.

    Amazon is also working on reducing the friction between ordering a product and having it show up on your doorstep. It’s bought robotics companies to help automate its workflow and runs competitions aiming to make robots better at sorting items for shipping. It’s also developing autonomous drones to fly smaller items to Prime customers in under 30 minutes. US regulations prohibit autonomous drones flying beyond the line of sight of a human pilot, so Amazon has been doing the bulk of its testing in the UK, and in December, delivered its first order to an actual customer in the Cambridgeshire countryside. The company hasn’t given a hard date on when it might start rolling out this service more broadly—there are air-traffic management issues to be worked out at national levels—but it has patents and plans for all sorts of self-piloting vehicles delivering you goods in the future, including self-driving trucks, hives of drones, and some sort of dirigible that can ship out packages on demand.

    Even if Amazon’s moonshots never come to fruition, it’s great optics for the company. A reimagined grocery store makes you think of Amazon’s dedication to getting food to you faster (maybe you’ll be inspired to try Amazon Fresh, the company’s grocery delivery service), and if Bezos is willing to invent new kinds of drones to get you a package faster, imagine how much they want you to get that toothpaste you ordered to be delivered through the standard mail.

    (continua)

  5. #5
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    Is Amazon a monopoly?

    When Amazon entered the ebook market in the late 2000s, Bezos priced bestsellers at $9.99, a significant discount to what new hardcover books typically sold for. The tactic drove customers away from traditional publishers and helped Amazon gain a controlling share of online book sales. When the US government later scrutinized Amazon as part of a price-fixing case against Apple and the “big six” book publishers, it characterized Amazon’s behavior as “loss-leading” rather than “predatory,” noting that Amazon’s overall ebook business was profitable.

    It happened similarly with diapers. In 2009, Amazon sought to acquire Quidsi, a fast-growing e-commerce startup whose brands included Diapers.com, Soap.com, and BeautyBar.com. After Quidsi rebuffed Amazon, Bezos’s company cut prices for diapers and other baby products by up to 30%. A year later Amazon debuted Amazon Mom, a service with a year of free two-day delivery, as well as additional “subscribe and save” discounting on diapers. Quidsi theorized that Amazon would lose $100 million on the efforts but it didn’t matter; Amazon’s target on Quidsi spooked the startup’s investors and ate into Diapers.com’s growth.

    In November 2010, Quidsi sold to Amazon for $540 million. The Federal Trade Commission determined the deal was not anticompetitive. In 2011, Amazon stopped taking new members to Amazon Mom. In 2012, it aggressively reduced discounts on baby products.

    In a January 2017 note for the Yale Law Journal, technology and antitrust researcher Lina Khan argued that Amazon’s customer-first policies have allowed it to escape antitrust scrutiny, even as it consolidates control over ever-more industries. Antitrust is a complex matter that requires establishing the market in question and with Amazon, which in theory competes against all retail and more, that is never a simple question.

    One of Amazon’s key weapons in defeating competitors is its ultra-low prices. In recent decades, regulators have shied away from declaring this sort of pricing anticompetitive, assuming instead that the market is a natural check that prevents companies from dropping prices to unsustainable levels. But if Amazon has made one thing clear over its 20-year career, it’s that it doesn’t fear losses or subscribe to the usual market logic.

    https://qz.com/1051814/what-is-amazon-really/

  6. #6
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    A peek into the future of retailing as technology reinvents how the world shops



    Andrew Kwan
    29 August, 2017

    The history of how Alibaba and Amazon have come to dominate retail through e-commerce has been told countless times. What about the future?

    Needless to say, Alibaba and Amazon have not been complacent sitting on their laurels. Together with other innovative companies in China and America, Alibaba and Amazon are aiming to reinvent the retail experience again for consumers over the next decade.

    Here are 5 current trends that provide glimpses into how technology will shape our buying habits in the future.

    Trend one: Omnichannel.

    Online and offline retail will be more integrated and seamless. When Amazon acquired Whole Foods in June 2017, the e-commerce giant gained more than a stronghold in groceries and fresh foods. Combining the strengths of online with offline retailing, Amazon is now in position to potentially offer O2O services such as buying online and picking up in store, or buying in store with delivery to home.

    The Whole Foods acquisition parallels Alibaba’s move in January to privatise InTime, a Chinese operator of shopping malls and department stores, for US$2.6 billion. Both Alibaba and Amazon recognise that an offline retail network can be highly synergistic with their already massive online marketplaces.

    “The proliferation of partnerships and acquisitions by online players of offline players (and vice versa) signals an evolving mindset from product centricity to consumer centricity,” said Robert Hah, Managing Director of Accenture Strategy Greater China. “Along the consumer’s journey, there are a myriad of touch points where offline and online channels come together to enhance the overall experience. While Gen Z’s are certainly the most digitally savvy of all consumer groups, they still have a strong preference to visit physical stores. To them, the store is an extension of a brand and they expect the store to supplement their digital experiences.”

    Trend two: Live streaming.

    Since early 2016, Alibaba has incorporated live streaming features into both its Taobao and Tmall platforms, to empower influencers to tell stories about lifestyles, brands and products to potential shoppers via live video. In the US, more and more businesses are using Facebook Live, Instagram and YouTube Live to drum up e-commerce demand as well.

    “By integrating e-commerce with the addition of a ‘shop’ button in the broadcast room, live streaming platforms have enabled anybody with an audience to become a salesperson and to earn referral income whenever his or her fans complete a purchase,” says Kenneth King, co-founder of Tian Tian, a video-based social mobile app acquired by Yixia Technology, operator of Yizhibo, one of China’s largest live streaming platforms.

    “While this can theoretically be applied to all e-commerce verticals, we have seen promising data from cosmetics, fashion and home appliances - items that the influencer can demonstrate how to use in front of the viewers. Live demonstration and live interaction, along with trust and loyalty towards the influencers, are the reasons why this works.”

    Trend three: Virtual reality.

    Around last year’s Singles Day – Alibaba’s annual shopping bonanza in November – Alibaba showed how virtual reality can be used in shopping, allowing customers to place their smartphones into VR cardboard headsets for immersion in a virtual Macy’s store, where they could interact with products and make instant purchases. Alibaba calls this “Buy+”, and more than 8 million Chinese users have gotten a taste of this VR e-commerce experience since the debut of Buy+. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

    Amazon is also working actively on VR, recruiting talent to join its team. Having amassed businesses from e-commerce to content, one could imagine Amazon potentially using VR to power a range of future applications: shopping, consuming movies and TV shows as if a user is on set, or simulating a front row experience for concerts. With its ownership of Twitch and a recent deal to stream Thursday night NFL games, both sports and gaming could be in play too.

    Trend four: From “pretail” to retail and back.

    As consumers catch on to new technology platforms that brands and retailers must adapt, it’s immensely important to choose the right retail channel that matches a brand’s target customers, goals and growth stage.

    A good example of doing this right is Nanoleaf, a smart lighting company that scaled up with different retail channels as the company grew. In 2013, the company began by launching on the American “pretail” platform Kickstarter, where start-ups can crowd fund from early adopters and pre-sell products, even before they are designed or manufactured.

    Nanoleaf found more than 5,000 Kickstarter backers and went on to receive investments from Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, among others. Its lighting panels are now on sale at Apple stores, essentially the Major League of retailing.

    “It’s not just start-ups that can leverage small-scale pretail as a stepping stone towards large-scale retail,” said Christian Yan, Nanoleaf’s co-founder and chief operating officer. “Big brands can go from retail back to pretail too. They can use Kickstarter and Indiegogo to launch new products to early adopters, generate buzz and get product feedback from customers.”

    Trend five: The sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity

    If the e-commerce potentials of omnichannel, live streaming, VR and “pretail” don’t surprise you, consider the recent tie-up between e-commerce and China’s latest phenomenon – the sharing of mobile phone chargers.

    Since April 2017, three of the Chinese market leaders in charger sharing – Laidian, Jiedian, and Xiaodian – have received a total of US$128 million in investments, according to Crunchbase. Jumei, a New York-listed Chinese cosmetics e-commerce company, bought a controlling stake in Jiedian for US$43.5 million. While the acquisition was mostly seen as Jumei seeking new growth areas, potential synergies to its e-commerce business should not be overlooked. China’s online customer acquisition costs have increased dramatically over the last few years, and businesses are looking for cheaper, more creative ways to acquire customers.

    Imagine e-commerce players providing complimentary smartphone charging services, distributed throughout cities, to customers whenever they shop via smartphones. Already, Alibaba’s affiliate Ant Financial is collaborating with Laidian to let some Alipay users rent Laidian chargers without paying a deposit.

    Things will only get more creative in e-commerce. So, buckle your seat belt and enjoy the ride, as technology charges ahead to shape the future of how we buy.

    http://www.scmp.com/tech/enterprises...ow-world-shops

  7. #7
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    Lower Property Taxes are Silver Lining for Landlords in Weak Retail Market

    Retail sales and occupancy rates are falling in many parts of the country, partly due to oversupply of stores and competition with online retail.

    Esther Fung
    Aug. 29, 2017

    In April, the Indiana Supreme Court handed Kohl’s Corp. a victory when it agreed not to review a lowered property assessment that was awarded to one of Kohl’s stores because of the growing vacancy and dropping values of other shopping centers in its area.

    The decision, which translated into a $219,000 refund for Kohl’s, was a sign of the drain to tax revenues resulting from the worsening retail real estate landscape for Howard County, the taxing jurisdiction, as well as other local governments throughout the country.

    Retail sales and occupancy rates are falling in many parts of the country, partly due to oversupply of stores and competition with online retail. That has meant lower property values, lower tax collections and—in some cases—less to pay teachers and firefighters.

    But property owners and retailers say lower tax bills, which are a large part of operating costs, will help to keep them in business. “This is one of the ways to lower operating costs and the new owner would then be able to negotiate better deals with tenants and keep them in the mall,” said Thomas Dobrowski, executive managing director of capital markets at real-estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank.

    National statistics aren’t available on reduced tax assessments and refunds for retail landlords. But the sector clearly is suffering reduced property values as landlords face more pressure these days from department stores and other tenants downsizing or filing for bankruptcy protection. Property-services firm Cushman & Wakefield estimates that the number of store closures this year to reach at least 8,000. That would be up from more than 4,000 in 2016.

    More retail landlords are defaulting on loans than owners of other property types. In the first seven months of 2017, the loan balances of these defaulted mortgages increased roughly 20% to $1.34 billion, according to data from Trepp Inc.

    Buyers of struggling malls that pay low prices often quickly pursue a reassessment of the property based to lower the tax bill. Assessors say more store owners and mall landlords are lodging appeals for a lower assessed valuation for their shopping centers and malls.

    “There’s a cottage group of people who do nothing but appeal tax assessments. They’re tax agents, and their job is to look for loopholes to get property taxes lower,” said Tim Wilmath, chief appraiser at the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office. “I’ve heard lots of reasons why taxes have to be lower due to e-commerce.”

    Property-tax bills are some shopping center owners’ biggest expense, outpacing salaries and rents. “There’s a lot of activity in the appeals space. There’s a lot of value in doing that,” said Tim Trifilo, a partner in the tax practice of CohnReznick LLP, an accounting, tax and advisory firm.

    Some landlords appealing their assessments point to the declining amount of sales taxes being generated by their stores. Others cite market conditions in the region, such as sales prices of vacated stores.

    Frank Lima, who heads real-estate services firm Hilco Global’s tax advisory practice, recently included a value analysis of vacated stores of appliance seller Hhgregg Inc. to lower the assessed value of another retailer’s property. “We look at market rents, what an empty box would sell for,” said Mr. Lima.

    Some battles over tax assessment focus on what is known as the “dark store” method of analyzing value. According to this method, even if a shopping center has solid tenancy and cash flow, its value is affected by low vacancy and store closings in the surrounding area.

    In the Kohl’s case, the retailer challenged the Howard County Assessor’s valuation for 2010 to 2012. Kohl’s appraiser looked at sales of what the appraiser said were comparable retail property in the Midwest, including former Wal-Mart and Kmart stores.

    These properties were sold for prices ranging from $5.13 to $63.65 a square foot. Howard County Assessor Mindy Heady hired another appraiser who opined that only one property that sold at $63.65 a square foot was comparable. The others were in markets with smaller demographics. One was located in a “dead” mall, according to documents from the Indiana Board of Tax Review.

    “We as assessors think that they [landlords and retailers] are misusing it. That’s why we’re battling it,” said Ms. Heady, referring to the “dark store” methodology some taxpayers are using to lower their property valuations.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/lower-p...ket-1504004403

  8. #8
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
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    18,573
    Citação Postado originalmente por 5ms Ver Post

    Andrew Kwan
    29 August, 2017

    The history of how Alibaba and Amazon have come to dominate retail through e-commerce has been told countless times. What about the future?


    Second quarter of 2017

    Total retail USA: US$ 1 trilhão e 300 bilhões

    Online retail sales USA: US$ 110 bilhões (9%)

    Amazon: US$ 22 bilhões (1,8%)


    Online retail sales currently account for one tenth of total retail and approximately 5% of annual e-commerce revenue in the United States.

    Some online retailers are based on brick-and-mortar stores, whereas others are purely online retailing corporations.

    The largest B2C e-commerce merchandise category is clothing and clothing accessories, including footwear.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/...in-the-the-us/
    Última edição por 5ms; 29-08-2017 às 19:06.

  9. #9
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    18,573

    Whole Paycheck

    Whole Foods overall prices still high after selective cuts

    Lisa Baertlein
    August 29, 2017

    Whole Foods shoppers may be premature in cheering Amazon.com’s steep price cuts on staples like bananas, avocados and beef, according to one analysis released on Tuesday that suggested the premium grocery chain has not yet shed its “Whole Paycheck” reputation for lofty prices.

    “Amazon appears to be taking a page out of the old Wal-Mart playbook on the price action front – that is, announcing a plethora of price actions that on the surface look deep, but in reality only reveal modest reductions,” Gordon Haskett Research Advisors analyst Charles Grom wrote in a client note.

    “We will continue to monitor the situation going forward, but our initial checks suggest that Amazon’s bark may be greater than its bite,” Grom wrote.

    Whole Foods stores around the country on Monday cut prices on selected items by as much as 43 percent. The move, on the day Amazon closed its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, was broadly cheered by shoppers.

    But Grom said an analysis of prices on more than 100 products at a Whole Foods in Princeton, New Jersey, showed an average price decline of only 1.2 percent between Aug. 21 and Aug. 28th, dates that fell before and after the merger. Prices on about 78 percent of items were unchanged from the previous week, Grom said.

    The price adjustments varied by category. Dairy and yogurt were down the most with a 5.6 percent decline, while dry grocery and baking items prices posted the biggest gain of 4.9 percent.

    Among individual items, the price on a 16-ounce tub of Talenti Gelato fell to $3.49 from $5.79, or almost 40 percent, while the price on a 6-ounce box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese more than doubled, going from $1 to $2.19.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-am...-idUSKCN1B92MJ

  10. #10
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    18,573

    Target Plans Move from AWS Cloud

    Nicole Henderson
    August 30, 2017


    Will Amazon Web Services (AWS) start to bleed retail clients as merchants begin to pull out of their cloud investments with the company?

    With Amazon closing on its deal with Whole Foods this week, major retailers are taking a hard look at existing cloud investments and whether it makes sense to support Amazon as its lower prices could hurt them. Some retailers – especially those with a grocery business – are being more proactive than others with plans to bite back.

    Target is the latest major retailer to start shopping for an AWS alternative, according to a report by CNBC this week that cites sources familiar with the matter. Target will not comment specifically on the rumors, but told CNBC that it plans to continue to use multiple cloud providers.

    Sources say that Microsoft Azure is among the top cloud providers that want to grab Target from AWS. The deal would be a major win for Azure, as Target plans to aggressively move its e-commerce, mobile development and operations from AWS throughout the rest of the year and into 2018.

    Earlier this month Target merged its Target app and Cartwheel savings program into one app. Target said that there are more changes to come, including mobile payment for REDcard holders, which could signal more computing demand.

    In 2016, Target made two key hires to its technology team, including Tom Kadlec as senior vice president of infrastructure and operations, and Joel Crabb as vice president of architecture. Kadlec joined Target from U.K. grocer Tesco where he spent nearly 17 years.

    Target is not the only retailer who plans to assert its buying power with AWS. In June it was reported that Walmart told partners that their services should not run on AWS, and should consider Microsoft Azure instead.

    In a two-part pitch to retailers last month, Microsoft said that Azure provides flexibility, scale, and security along with a ready-to-use IoT Suite that can help retailers monitor in-store traffic patterns and shelf stock levels.

    According to a survey by IHL Group this year, brick-and-mortar retailers plan to spend 34 percent of their software budgets on the cloud in 2017, up from 26 percent in 2016.

    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/a...rom-aws-cloud/

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