EP078 - Amazon News
Join your hosts Jason "Retailgeek" Goldberg, SVP Commerce & Content at Razorfish, and Scot Wingo, Founder and Executive Chairman of Channel Advisor as they discuss the latest news and trends in the world of e-commerce and digital shopper marketing.
In Episode 78, we catch up on a lot of the new Amazon news including:
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Episode 79 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded on Thursday April 6, 2017.
New beta feature - Amazon Automated Transcription of the show:
Jason: [0:25] Welcome to the Jason and Scot show this is episode 78 being recorded on Thursday April 6th 2017 I'm your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I'm here with your Scot Wingo.
Scot: [0:40] Hey Jason and hey Jason Scot show listeners Jason was looking at our logs out on iTunes and we've been so busy interviewing retail luminaries that we you and I have a report on since early March so I have a ton to catch people up on.
Jason: [0:56] That I told you I'm super excited and I'm equally excited to be talking to you with my full voice.
Scot: [1:05] Yeah yeah it's good to have normal Jason back and put froggy Jason kind of into the, into the catalog there on time hopefully listeners went to put off by it I hear that Mr lister's listen to a set 2X anyway so you were still at Chipmunks on I'm sure it's fine.
[1:22] Just kick off you I have been quite the world traveler I haven't done anything since shop talks up and kind of boring but tells about you any interesting World travels through portal.
Jason: [1:33] I have been on the road quite a bit since shop talk mostly customer visits but I did get to do an event I like to do every year in New York City. Did may not be super for me or do a lot of our listeners so it's called the path to purchase Institute and they put on this annual show called The Shopper marketing Summit and it has stork Lee is not been a very digital Summit it's a long time event, targeted at Shopper marketers that focus on on marketing inside of brick-and-mortar retailers in what was in.
Scot: [2:06] Circulars or like a circular makers work.
Jason: [2:10] Other. There's a little bit of that it yeah but it's a it's a lot more like product displays like temporary point-of-purchase materials like promotions and in-store promotions products samples. I'm all all the sort of the traditional tools are retail or would use to promote products and more so Brands than retail or so the show is really focused on. Like what it what is the best tactics for Mondelez are Procter & Gamble to use to help their their product get disproportionate attention on the Shelf.
[2:49] Yes I would I just found interesting is you know that, how much digital had permeated the conversation there so they were first they asked me to speak so we actually did, I was on my co-workers from this we did for our workshop on digital disruption and talking about all the ways that the. The we filled the whole discipline a shopper marketing has been fun and I disrupted by by digital and then you don't evolve impact of purchase, but they were a lot of other another you like speakers from Kimberly-Clark talking about digital merchandising and then frankly a lot more presentations that you would have extradition Alee expected to see at Academy show your now starting to see if some of these traditional shows in their ways to go though. If you like the sessions that were most popular with the audience where we would probably be pretty rudimentary touch are average listener but it is interesting that these traditional disciplines are now you know really starting to focus on our space.
Scot: [3:52] Digital is eating World As We predicted.
Jason: [3:55] It is indeed in while I was there are our friends at Amazon open the new book store 2 blocks from my house.
[4:21] As I said Amazon open their Chicago bookstore and I presume because Jeff is such a loyal listener that he carefully selected a location only a few blocks from my house.
Scot: [4:32] Tell Sam to you've been just to refresh listeners in case they shame on them missed the episode when last you were travelling Amazon book stores you went to the Seattle and right.
Jason: [4:43] Yeah yeah we've been in Seattle want a couple times now but I was there.
Scot: [4:47] The New York.
Jason: [4:48] Recently didn't I don't think the New York one is open yet.
Scot: [4:52] I think that one Telus about Chicago and I'll do some research.
Jason: [5:00] Yes I have been the two personally I've been in the Seattle won in the San Diego one which are very similar and they have evolved over the times I visited them until then, looking at Chicago Chicago is a little different than the last two in a couple of regards the most notable difference is that it has a coffee shop at. So he has an expresso bar they're serving Stumptown Coffee which is a favorite. Coffee brewer from my old Hometown to Portland Oregon.
[5:31] Omen none of the other Amazon site been to have a cafe or any food I'm so so you know. That was certainly an interesting evolution.
[5:43] Also had a few new categories in it so one of the things that I hadn't seen before is there was a popular kitchen accessories Gondola in the store.
[5:57] And that is a little interesting like traditionally another merchandise books in the store physical books and. Quick refresher for pubs that will talk to you before then listen to some the other shows it's not.
[6:11] Designed a traditional bookstore would be design right see a couple thousand square feet you want to get as many books as you can into that that's 2000 square feet so normally most of the books are. Merchandise down their spine and only a few promotional books are merchandise facing you this Amazon store has very few books in it because all the books on merchandise facing you so that it's a much more attractive presentation the print. Paper price tags next to every book in that price tag. Orwell fact tag has the reviews from Amazon on its what has the star rating in in a couple select customer reviews reviews play an important part in merchandise in the store and no actually have gondolas. For merchandising books by rating like these are all books that are rated over 4.8 stars who are the top rated books for the city of Chicago things like that that you know it's a real clever social merchandising, pricing is really weird any stores they charge list price if you're not an Amazon Prime member. I'm in if you are an Amazon Prime member you get the online price, but because as we all know the online price changes so often they don't print the online price in the store so you literally have to use the Amazon app on your phone to scan the fact tags, to see what the current prices of the book you're going to buy or use one of the scanners that they have built into the store.
Scot: [7:34] Cool so you were right I was wrong I think this is a Jason and Scot first the that have not opened the first location in your cat's Columbus Circle and its opening in the spring so I think they have like. William another month here and then the second one they announce is going to be across from Empire State Building so they announced to open none in New York but opening one soon. So Columbus Circle will be first and empire state will be second tell me more about the the kitchen section of the store.
Jason: [8:04] Yep so as I was saying like you know you have that kind of book presentation and then the book of all the Amazon stores is really that Amazon branded. Electronics rights of the stores really about Kindle and Echo and you know I would call it a consumer electronics store dressed as a bookstore. And so on certain they're happy to sell books in that store but it really feels like the job of the stores to educate customers about the the candles and The Echoes In The Fire tablets.
[8:34] And so the center of the store is around that they have their sort of equivalent of a Genius Bar where you can get Live help they do you know scheduled live demos and tutorials a lot of those kinds of things and so you know traditionally. Those are the two kinds of things that are in the store that Electronics including accessories and third-party products that work in the. In the Amazon Alexa echo system in the inbox inside this Chicago store with the first story I have seen that had other, hard Goods in addition to Amazon products and the books and so they would have had a gondola that's like best selling kitchen appliances on Amazon and it's showing things like. Immersion blender smoothie machines KitchenAid mixers think things like that and so they would really like. The bed you know 10 of the best selling products in another category and put them in the front of the store.
Scot: [9:31] Did you see I'm a some tweets that and I visited the Amazon store and December of 62, been a while Minnesota and the baby with the tweets of Sean a lot more of the Amazon basic showing up in the store did you see evidence of some of the private label stuff kind of creeping.
Jason: [9:50] Yes in categories that are related to electronics right so that they get a lot of the Amazon basic bike cables and batteries are our merchandise but they're really merchandise as accessories for. The fire tablets and things like that. There's not a display that's like I sorted based on being Amazon basics for sample there just interspersed on the on the displays where they would be most appropriate.
Scot: [10:16] Yeah we're going to talk about a little bit later but they've got enough private label and apparel I wonder in those New York stories if we can't magically see a little infection section open up and be kind of nurse in to see how that progresses.
Jason: [10:27] Yeah it it's only well-liked into Italy the stores they design so far are lacking some amenities you'd normally expect in a Apparel Store like dressing rooms and things like that but like. Could easily be retrofitted or or more to your point like the next door could easily Adam.
Scot: [10:43] Anything else from from the roof.
Jason: [10:46] Nope I think given all the other exciting stuff we have to talk about that it should probably cover it on the Jason trip reports for this week.
Scot: [10:55] Cooper Center in the Amazon new section I wanted to go back to shop talk and that was kind of late March. They had Amazon had two speakers at shoptalk this year which is interesting bit been notoriously shy about going to conferences but, they were pretty bold today had Stephanie Landry in this was her second year at shot talk and she talked about prime now I didn't really get much knew from that other than that continues the area where they are aggressively expanding, I'm in one of the things I like two references you know they sent really once they decided to put. Pedal to the metal on Prime now they opened up in 4245 markets in the span of two two and a half years so a lot of people, talk about these experiments are doing in the coffin so it's just an experiment but I always caution people that, Amazon decides this out of the experiment they can scale it really quickly so it was good reminder, program and what they can do and you're one of the guy thats decided to build a consumer-oriented business one of the most interesting quotes from that was it when someone looks good. Question from the audience about, the profitability of it and she said well it Amazon know we really focus on the customer first and then we can we saw for profit II, and that in the cooler that was the interesting part and she said, it's much harder to sell the customer problem then a customer experience problem kind of meeting you this whatever they're building isn't lighting customers versus a profit problem.
[12:31] That's really kind of an interesting talks about putting the customer first but Amazon really really does it and, the donut since day one when they could afford to now they obviously have the luxury of being able to do that but you know they really don't care about the probability this thing they want to really don't know that customer experience and then they'll kind of get there on the profit side and that's how it started when Prime launch never thought they were crazy and it could never, make any money and I.
[12:58] When I heard from Amazon and sit there is a lot of controversy as a launch that the basis was really into it and a lot of people could you do the math on Prime you can kind of say. Our best people aren't going to pay for shipping and are worse people are going to get free shipping and there's no way this economic make sense but I think they didn't those people didn't count on was. It was such a delightful program for customers their volume when up connects and then it going to match Pace herself so it was kind of interesting it was, but I like that one comment. The second speaker was the first to stop talking it's Peter Pharisee and Peter for a while and he works for Sebastian gunningham and runs the marketplace part of, Amazon and the surprise from me is when I've seen him speak at our conferences and and I think it's been an internet retailer wants it's usually about the other sellers on the marketplace. Did this talk at shoptalk was 100% about brands, talking it essentially the whole thing was targeted to Brands how they're an important constituent Amazon and then he talked about, for reasons why they should saw on the platform they're all pretty obvious no shipping we have the scale we're friendly DeBrands these kinds of things it was a real surprise because I've never seen Amazon talk that way about Brandon Sac to know if. If one of the questions I get a lot is what does Amazon have any chinks in their armor that kind of thing. And the relationship with brands has been strained and you know some some Brands I talked about it in my panel where you know a lot of Brands we talk to you.
[14:31] Go with the nuclear option I call it where they essentially say look we're going to yank our stuff Nike is kind of most famous or they've decided not to work with Amazon and a 1st or 3rd party relationship and they prohibit people from selling any authorized resellers from Sun their stuff on Amazon, so so I think Amazon realizes that's a challenge and they kind of had a softer messaged for Brands than I've ever heard.
[14:52] Did you a catch either this.
Jason: [14:55] Yeah I got both of them and I would totally agree with you on the Amazon Prime now you know both how fast they were able to scale that and 18 months getting to them when they have to us but also you know the shocking thing is, it was like a hundred and eleven days from the first meeting where they discussed doing one hour delivery opening that first. 1 hour delivery concept ride in so that that level of agility is super impressive and terrifying. And I just like to quote someone was asking when she describes Amazon Prime now the think the picture of when has in their mind is that's the service you use to deliver the cold medicine when you're sick because you physically can't go out of the house, and you need to quickly, and she was pointing out that those kind of emergencies are are part of the service but that the overwhelming majority of the service is not for those things that need to be delivered in an hour but rather for things that consumers just wanted an hour and so it's it's less about. You know it only gets used as a necessity and more than it's a delightful customer experience that people appreciate I also. So that you know that sort of reminded me of another Super recent Jeff Bezos Square where he was talking about how they had lots of great Innovations over the years that they loved inventions that Amazon loved. Consumers didn't really care about and he is talking about the fact that like I can assure you that no no invention that consumers don't adopt has ever been disruptive in so just sort of.
[16:27] Focusing on the fact that like the hardest part of this whole equation is is figuring out an experience that that's magic to Consumers and that they want to do.
Scot: [16:36] Yeah you just reminded me to that I think some breaking news Stephanie put out there is that occasionally if possible on Echo orders they will if it's in pruritus that and Delight customers by delivering it in an hour, did you did you catch that Amazon.
Jason: [16:54] I think you're exactly right I think she said that like if if you order from from Echo and it's available in Prime now they'll deliver in an hour that sort of surprise and Delight you.
Scot: [17:06] Cool and then another thing that's been really interesting is so so since October unrelated but what happens is that kind of screwed into the corner of Wall Street and kind of, you know that check their channels and they update their models and, right towards the end of March and early April everyone started doing that and several analysts came out and said you know we we actually think Amazon underpriced here and a, the time Amazon was out about a hundred $800 the stock price and some analysts came out and, for that I follow are there kind of called what's the axe on Wall Street which is kind of the leading analysts they really but that price Target up to over $1,000 so one went to, 1025 and even kind of sad you know we think. The Amazon probably will be the first trillion-dollar market cap stock so then a couple other in-laws followed suit and then the stock took off and as of this recording it's about $900 so that's. Pretty big run from 800 to 900 what is that, yeah I'm about 15% and yeah when you're dealing with a company decides a Amazon that that is a material change so Amazon is worth about twice the market cap of. Not now market cap for one thing and revenues are different you know Walmart has more Revenue than Amazon all these kinds of things we're just talking about the what Wall Street thinks the two companies are valued at, I'm in if you do those notes so that's a good headline right now to lead our company thousand 25 on the stock in the stock reacts but.
[18:43] I make a habit of reading these things and it is pretty nice thing you know they talk about different colors that that Amazon has now the one that it's been pretty crazy about is the cloud computing Amazon web services. That it continues grow faster than people have thought and be more profitable the prime business with Amazon is having to disclose more about prime than they ever have and in their annual report, they gave some new disclosures that essentially let people back into that there's between you can get a range it's not exactly have to kind of make some assumptions, between 50 and 70 million Prime users so it's kind of putting it about 65 million Prime users show, that's bigger than some people thought it's smaller than others but it puts a real number there with people are pretty excited about and then the other thing that the new disclosures did is a. Put some boundaries on the ad business I just kind of two parts to the Amazon advertising business there's.
[19:39] ICBC peace and that's broken out in their financials one way and then there's a banner key switch is broken out another way up and it's a pretty material business it's it's you know it.
[19:50] Any projected growth forward it'll be the number three as business behind Facebook and Google next year so it's already bigger than Twitter. For example show. People get pretty excited by that now scale wise it's in the single-digit billions and Facebook and Google or in the very high double-digit billions so it's going to take a long time to catch them and I don't know if it ever will be I think. It was pretty excited by that because it's also extremely high margin business along with AWS season.
[20:23] In kind of another color. Is it that's interesting is and yeah we talked about it here on the Jason Scot show first is this kind of Alexa and when Wall Street talks with Alexa their kind of wrapping a lot in their there.
[20:36] Not only talking about the personal assistant but all the things behind it the semantic engine the machine learning the all all the natural language processing in those kinds of things, and what about analyst Mark mahaney he's kind of said that. 10 billion dollar business in when you report it is not just the sales of Alexa devices but all the ancillary things around the same time Amazon also announced Alexa for the iPhone which is.
[21:03] To boxing I want to talk about I'm just talk is. You know that Wall Street is also waking up to the fact that at the same time where these analysts upgraded Amazon they downgraded Google which I thought was interesting and I specifically in the Google Beyond grade called out and said, we believe the Goodwills on a crash course with Amazon and decided the study of United Site a lot that shows that products arches really switch from Googled Amazon but they also talked about that business and they did make a pretty compelling argument that a, you know in a world where Amazon news whatever the buying that ad. Business could be more valuable than Google for Google has some search intent but Amazon has a product intense that was kind of interesting take and you and I have talked about early on. Is it go to this voice is just your voice, so we're going to call it kind of world Amazon monetizes by selling stuff and Google they announce recently too then. Montage by ads and there now putting ads into you know some of the different things you do on the Google home assistant which is pretty cheesy to be honest with you show.
[22:07] Really interesting. Example of of Amazon having someone's back against the wall in a funny way and no Google trying desperately like let's forget the customer experience through some ads right in here when you ask. Does the home assistance for the weather kind of thing it's this really really terrible so I thought show, I know we have some Wall Street folks listening but I thought it was really interesting to hear a lot of what we talked about really summarize really well as it's kind of you know the pillars behind this this upgrade, and then when you we look at that the result of that Amazon is now worth a Walmart at Target a Costco BestBuy and CBS all together so that's another kind of interesting thing the other result of that. Is that Jeff Bezos rocketed up the Forbes 500 list two number two jumped over Warren Buffett and a second only to Bill Gates so. To put that in perspective and haven't seen when do this this is a Jason Scot exclusive show, Bill G is at 84 billion and Bezos is now at 76 billion as of recording this so I did the math and if they Amazon stock gets over a thousand, assuming that there's no big change and let me a Bill Gates is doing then he will be the richest person so there you go.
Jason: [23:29] That is crazy I asked you for the Jason Scot show and I'm I believe that those two guys live like a mile apart so that's a pretty affluent square mile in Seattle.
Scot: [23:41] Yeah yeah on if they like check each other's mail in their gun and stuff.
Jason: [23:46] If they are I would hope that people that do that.
Scot: [23:48] Yeah you never know hey Bill could you check my did you watch the dog one at a time.
Jason: [23:56] Exactly I think Jeff would have a robotic dog. There's a bunch of other Amazon stuff going on as well as one that. Got a lot of attention in my world is there some leaked invites the Amazon has invited a bunch of the, the brands and protect the consumer packaged Goods Brands to West Summit at Amazon where Amazon wants to talk to them about getting more serious and selling direct and give them some advice about what they need to do to, successfully sell Direct.
Scot: [24:38] What's what's the buzzer you heard any some scoop on that whole thing.
Jason: [24:42] Yeah well so the. The sort of clickbait headlines then because you know Amazon wants to partner with Procter & Gamble to bypass the Walmart and Kroger and all those those things and well. I think that's certainly true, I actually think that Amazon is is less worried about like stealing those customers from Amazon or from from the traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and Amazon some more interested in, setting those those Brands up to be more successful on Amazon in the digital era so I think this this is a lot more about. Kid convincing and controlling these companies to change their product configurations to be more e-commerce friendly so, think about the bundling sizes think about how they package their products you know in a lot of other product categories Amazon very successfully was able to get manufacturers to change how they package their goods to make them more, consumer-friendly on Amazon so they had this whole frustration free packaging program for example and, consumer consumer packaged goods are predominately designed to Market to customers on a store shelf and so their package really isn't very friendly too. A shipping in that Amazon cardboard box and I think Amazon interested in convincing them to fix that.
Scot: [26:11] Yeah yeah yeah and then no Jason Del Rey who's been on the show had some interesting kind of reaction from the brands that felt like. Another too caught up in this Amazon vs Walmart war and everyone wants lower prices so that's certainly not a not a pleasant place to be what would you advise to brands that are kind of. I'm sure you guys get a lot question about this one how do you tell folks to avoid that.
Jason: [26:36] Yeah well I mean to twofold I got I do think of you a brand that that's in that space that you you do want to be on Amazon at this point right. Like more than half the growth in that category over the next three years is coming from digital and Amazon is today more than 50%, of that that digital pie so pretty expensive mistake to, not be where all that customer demand is on the Amazon platform obviously we did we did show a couple weeks ago with Melissa talking about the a lot of the fundamentals of being a. On the Amazon platform and Jason does article really sort of. Emphasize one of the points from that show right and that's that there's this this really real negative cycle at the moment where.
[27:30] You sell products on Amazon and so you don't party yourself to dream with Amazon is that that you'll give Amazon the best pricing and you won't sell it less than them and they have all these algorithms that watch your price and react to them, so so did when you give a different bundle to Costco and Costco selling a case of Campbell's Soup and the price per ounce in that case is very low. Amazon sees that and drip drop the price on quantity one of that that can of soup to that super low price and then they're selling a super low and then Walmart emergence kick in, and start beating you up for selling the product much lower on Amazon then you're offering the quantity one price to Walmart, so that the challenge at the moment is. Is that you when you think about these products of you really think about reconfiguring the products for. E-commerce you probably want to think about more than packaging like you you probably want to create. Different skews that are different enough that they don't trigger that that's where the pricing cycle.
[28:42] And so that potentially even means like you know different formulations are different flavors or or you don't.
[28:50] Different sized squares of Swiffer on Amazon than the squares at Swiffer that you buy. In Walmart so that those aren't the same skew and they don't they don't get caught in that pricing cycle.
Scot: [29:03] Any definitely wanna make sure your Warehouse bundle isn't comfortable feeling so good that stuff.
Jason: [29:09] Exactly and I do it in the long run that's just not sustainable like that you know the both Amazon and Walmart or someone. Benefiting from that at the moment and then warm in the margins just aren't there for the manufacturers to get squeezed between those two guys and so you know either. The manufacturers will have to find some other way to survive by selling direct without those guys and those guys are both launch private labels and you know I think we're seeing the Collision Course between these product manufacturers in these in these products resellers.
Scot: [29:43] Another Hot Topic kind of in this vein is Amazon truly ramping up private label as we talked about at the top of the show so suppose folks are familiar with Amazon basic switches things like HDMI cables and whatnot, another Washington lest I follow has done a lot of research and it's fascinating start some usually the trademark, the bowels of the trademark database and Amazon this is hard because Amazon uses a lot of shell corporations.
[30:13] Misdirection let's just very legal misdirection to try to hide what they're doing so these folks kind of trying to get down and they know that. This agent to really works and Amazon and there's ways they can get back into it then they searched on Amazon and they kind of, figure out that if these things they find our exclusive on Amazon to prime or or there's a certain you can kind of tell how the age of the pages are written the. It's actually private label so they've identified a good kind of.
[30:42] 15 to 20 private labels that a lot of people don't know about one we talked about on the show is Amazon elements um and you know. We we talked about that but the area where there's the most growth is in apparel so there's things like. All of moon is a woman's Bohemian inspired casual clothing it was hurting both of these are prime exclusive which means that if you're not on Prime you you see them but you can't buy them and there's a lot of worry, and the way the way I seen it now is. So Amazon has you have the name brand so let's see all pick on one I don't know a good Bohemian brand but let's say dress shoes show. Men's dress shoes so they'll have. Cole Haan or someone like that and that'll be the name brand and let's say that's like $125 then we'll be a Chinese kind of just no no straight from the manufacturer and it will have a brand but it's brand you ever heard of, I'm in it is clearly in a clearly a Chinese brand so it'll be Brand X and it'll be. $30 Lynnwood Amazon will do as that's a big Golf Mill kind of split the middle so somewhere in that 60 to $70 is were there and check their private label. And it will it will have a much more kind of now it feels Amazon it feels like it's backed up by Amazon Prime exclusive, doesn't exactly say Amazon all the time so like to have one Franklin and Tremont some kind of sounds like was at Johnson and Murphy so that Franklin and treatment which is men's dress shoes and that that will be in that 60 to $80 great show.
[32:18] And asked me to hell, why how do they decide where to do this and what I've heard from folks is its data driven so they can actually know their database gotten smart enough where it will go identify, and balances between supply and demand so they'll see there's demand in men's dress shoes for an $80 shoe and they will go. Godin work with manufacturers and create what they think is a missing by looking at the data and put it out there so that's really you know.
[32:49] Everyone in cpg in grocery stores does private label but I think the way Amazon is doing it is is pretty unique by for a couple reasons the way the way they're laying it in with the Chinese manufacturers going directly to Prime and those kinds of things.
Jason: [33:03] Yeah and I think what's interesting is even you talk to release a few people and they they have you know they want to talk about Amazon private label strategy and I like to point out no no no no. Private label strategy it's a label strategy.
[33:19] That way you know a lot of the traditional private label it's about like in all the same feature set at an alternate a price point. And you know a lot of these products like their they're targeting alternative price points not necessarily lower by the way in and they're they're optimizing features for that price point so you know these are. These are not just knock-off products of a national brand and Mini cases. And so you know and many of them they're putting marketing behind trying to build the brand and the most notable today of course this is Alexis is a total credible, billionaire brand that that Amazon has built and so. I wouldn't necessarily say there a great brand Building Company yet but they're getting consistently better and they're iterating and so I don't rule out the day that that's some of these apparel brands. You know how are legitimate brands on their own that that stand out and have customers that are interested in buying them.
[34:22] I think I'm pretty interesting one you mentioned.
[34:27] Amazon elements day I just got an email they have launched a vitamin D products so this is entering the nutrition space which is. Another space that I think. Their data has shown then there's an opportunity and right now it's an exclusive invite only products you have to apply to buy it which I did and I just got accepted and one of the novel features. Is it that they have sort of the Amazon Firefly x-ray technology built into their product packaging in so I haven't received the bottle yet but like when you ain't Amazon app. With your camera at these new bottles you get a ton of supplemental information about the product so it sort of. Enhanced virtual packaging for a for these products.
Scot: [35:20] Yeah that's kind of a page out of the on this Playbook right but they. It's hard to put that all in a little vitamin bottles eyemagine that's kind of part of it is bye bye running out of real estate they can and it can be dynamic too I guess if they can.
Jason: [35:35] Yeah and change it all the time and again it goes back to this in the old world where you printed the label on the package and that was your marketing and then that label lived on a Walmart show, that you know there was one approach but in this new world where it's coming in a cardboard box that that packaging plays a different role right like it's it's not the zero the first Moment of Truth for you anymore it's a post ownership experience that's most important on that bottle and so you know it's pretty interesting that Amazon is is obviously the first move there but I think a lot of what they do talk to the cpg companies about in their Summit, is a sort of moving in that direction.
Scot: [36:16] And then the big news since shop talk I'll let you jump into that one.
Jason: [36:22] Yep so we've been talking about this for a little while that that Amazon had another store concept it was under construction and they unveiled it last week. And it is called Amazon Fresh pick up.
[36:35] Inside this is a extension of Amazon Fresh do you build a cart of products in in your app.
[36:44] On Amazon Fresh and instead of having them delivered to your home. They are available at this Amazon fresh pickup location and you drive through what amounts to sort of a drive-through stall.
[36:57] I'm at this location and someone comes out and puts the groceries that you ordered in the trunk of your car so you never have to get out of your car. You don't have to perfectly synchronized being home when the Amazon Fresh guy comes to your house so that you can get the milk and put in the refrigerator you go and pick it up from Amazon when you want. But it is a lot more convenient than having to shop and bag for all your groceries yourself. So we we talked in this show a lot that buy online pickup in-store is probably going to be the dominant model for digital Grocery and you know that that's one area where the traditional grocery stores have a big advantage over Amazon because they have a bunch of stores. Amazon doesn't I think what we're seeing here is Amazon's first generation answer to that problem.
[37:43] I'm delayed open a store and the most notable thing I think we expected all of that we were curious whether you be able to walk in the store and buy anything which at the moment you can. But the big sword of fire across the customer experience is that they are implying a 15-minute guarantee. So 15 minutes after you quick check out on your mobile app your groceries can be ready to put in your trunk and so what that means is. You're just leaving your friend's house from dinner and you realize you need some stuff for breakfast in the morning, you know you can order it and likely swing by that the Amazon Fresh pick up location on your way home or you can remember at the end of soccer practice that you need some stuff. Order it on the soccer field and pick it up on your way home none of the other grocery pick-up have anything like a 15-minute guarantee like most of them don't have a guarantee, some of the best service levels are you have your groceries ready in an hour and much more typical is will have your groceries ready in like 4 or 5 hours and so. You know once again this is kind of like you know the industry shipped everything in one to two weeks and Amazon comes out and says will ship everything in 2 days. You know they're saying will do buy online pickup in-store but we'll do it in 15 minutes.
Scot: [39:00] Yes the grocery I had like 3 questions for you so the first one of watch the video like 50 times the, it seems like it's very shoppable the store do you feel like actually go in and Shop or will it be restricted to just pick up area.
Jason: [39:16] So I expected before they announced it that there would be some limited use cases of going into the storm shopping but might take from the video in the folks I've talked to is than this first generation that's not the intent that the that the inter the store is exclusively for, the merchandisers to do product picking and take the product out to your store, car so there is no get out of your car experience in the store at the moment is my understanding.
Scot: [39:45] Looks like there's this kind of bank it's almost like a Sonic drive-thru where there's like, these Banks of places drive-through rights instead of this linear model that my grocery stores to have you going to parallel model and it looks like there's two 15 Lanes but that's interesting, that makes the scheduling kind of thing make more sense right because you get this window you go up there and that your understanding and.
Jason: [40:13] Yeah are you want to serve customers and parallel Nazi really red so, the more of those pick up Windows like they're not windows but if you know you saw that the more of those Lanes you have the more simultaneous customers you can serve, oh I would suspect that there's not a fixed number of those lines I would suspect that that the number of lanes they offer is going to totally depend on the. The footprint of the site they have for the store and and you know that. Demand density in that in that go I would say that a bunch of the other grocery guys that have gotten serious about grocery pickup, do something similar so you go to the market where Walmart is doing grocery pick-up you will see like a big Bank of drive-thru stalls, that frankly was very similar to the the Amazon model but the big difference at the moment would be that that 15-minute guarantee.
Scot: [41:08] Got it and then so no one else is close to that because my frustration is our local Harris Teeter offers it and, you know what you go through you carefully pick all your groceries and then it says oh I'm sorry this is like Friday and I'm getting my weekend groceries in it'll say we're sorry there's no slots open for the weekend your kids your Tuesday hot.
Jason: [41:29] Yes so you've hit on a super sore subject most of the grocery pick-up have like two flies right like the window is too long so you you didn't. Do a big advance planning thing and you want to pick that up pretty soon after you ordered any Mini cases and so in very few of the grocery stores have a guarantee they have service levels they shoot for right like so. The shoot for that hour but they don't guarantee that our, I mean that's a problem but then the bigger usability problem that you just highlighted it is almost all of them won't tell you what the pickup window is until after you build the list and check out and so you don't find out that they can't meet your needs and till after you've invested a bunch of work with him which really, frustrated customers and makes customers mad.
Scot: [42:16] How does Sohail how does Amazon get around that by just kind of saying I feel like the grocery store must they must want to know how much is in the car to know how much time so Amazon something.
Jason: [42:29] Yeah I mean my assumption and it again it's not. 4 slice of the video implies that they can do it in 15 minutes it does not explicitly say they have a guarantee. And so at the moment it's for employees only somewhere to go store so we haven't actually gonna try it or even yet talk to someone that's been through it all I'll be back out in Seattle in a couple weeks an alternate logo, go stock the site and see what I can work but. If it's a true 15-minute guarantee then you know that puts all the onus on Amazon and it takes all the burden off of the customer right like you don't. You don't need to worry about if you know you're never going to get have to wait longer than 15 minutes so you just you just jump in order the stuff to do it. But we'll have to see to your point like if you can't know your pick up time until after you build your list then that really limits that utility.
Scot: [43:26] Yeah so who do you think the main company is going to step up and kind of this are using people just aren't worried about it cuz he's just an experiment.
Jason: [43:35] No I so I think the two people that are most worried about it have already been countering it before they want to store right like so I think I mean. That Walmart sells the most groceries of anyone in the country and they have.
[43:52] Probably three or four hundred of these pickups tours and you know they do have quite a few that dedicated pickup locations, similar to the store that aren't even Walmart store and you know frankly if I showed you a picture of it and took the branding off you'd be hard-pressed to tell the Walmart pickup store apart from this Amazon Fresh pick up store so so you don't Walmart is certainly doing the play from their side, Kroger has now rolled out pick up in store to 400 stores Kroger's the largest.
[44:23] Actual grocery retailer in the US and for Tampa Bay on your Harris Teeter Teeter is what is one of their brands. I think they were actually the first ones to do pick up I think they did pick up before trigger bottom but the. Both of those companies understand that that's going to this is going to be a huge use case they have to get it right in there both investing a lot of money along with Amazon you don't I think. Before Amazon watches store they wouldn't you know you would have said hey hear the things where Amazon has a huge advantage and and we have some huge advantages to we have 4000 stores are we have 2000 stores we have much bigger parking lots in all all of these sorts of things, you know I think the big the big fear here is. The Amazon recognizes the pickup is a significant opportunity in their opening a couple stores and. You going back to RR Prime now conversation. If these stores work well for Amazon and they they demonstrate customer demand that this is delightful experience for customers and frankly like I've seen a lot of evidence that customers really do like grocery pickup.
[45:33] I think they could scale those store super quick right like I think they could either buy a retail and convert all that the that retail footprint into these pickup stores. Or you I think like they did with Amazon Prime now they could easily open $2,000 things in 12 months of if they decided that the market supported.
Scot: [45:55] Yeah speaking of Amazon go there was some news there what's up what's going on with you.
Jason: [46:00] Yep so you know they watched it last year in 2016 and it was for employees only and just supercoat reminder this is, the convenience store will you grab the items in you you walked out of the store and you don't have to check out or pay or do anything and artificial intelligence in the cameras in the store. Figure out what you took with you and charge you for it so it's just walk out technology hashtag jwalk.
[46:24] So that was supposed to be for employees only last year and was supposed to open to the public early this year and as of now it's still hasn't opened and there is a lot of internal rumors that it's not going to open to the public for a while and the reason is, but they are struggling to support some of the edge cases and one of the biggest cases they're struggling as support, is apparently when they get more than about 20 people in that store the time they lose the capacity to accurately track all those people and their purchases. And so like you have a few people in that store and that the technology seems to work very well and you know again I can neither confirm or deny that I have myself been in the store and tried it and it worked quite well. But it's easy to imagine that that there's not an unlimited capacity to track people and so you know. Scaling could be one of the problem then so you know that the rumor is hey this is super interesting technology but it may be further away from. Being totally commercialized because they need to sell some of these these ads cases in this capability problems.
Scot: [47:30] To get some computer problem or you think that 20 people the chances of being able to date they can't tell them apart if you think it's more.
Jason: [47:38] I think it's both of those things I got like the number of people is just one of the edge cases they talk about other education as wife. I got it takes off his jacket when he's in the store or guy puts on a hat when he's in the store. And you know all of all of those things can be hard like as I pointed out in the fact this is kind of a mock store it's only three gondolas there's no blind spots in the store you're not allowed to use the restroom in the store you know how all these other things. I'm inside you don't from day one I looked at this and said hey this is totally cool technology. But I don't think we're going to see a fleet of these stores competing with 7-Eleven in the near term because it.
[48:16] Even if you nail the experience in this little prototype with the three walls of Prada.
[48:22] You're still a long way from being able to do it in a 7-Eleven and you're much for the way from doing it in a 200,000 square-foot Walmart store. So it's cool technology is you think we might see parts of that technology before we ever see the whole store so one thing is. Does cameras take perfect inventory and every retailer struggles to know what their inventory is every retail loses a ton of money because they have out of, they have soup in the back of the store in the store room but they're out of stuff on the shelf and customers are shopping for soup, and it takes 6 hours for a quick to notice that they're out of soup and they have to go get more and bring it out but with this technology you know exactly what your inventory is so it makes it better for buy online pickup in-store it makes it better for, showing your inventory to people that are pre shopping and don't want to drive to the store until they know you have it in stock and it makes it better for all these out of stocks and all these sort of other use cases so I think was on commercial that piece of the technology before they completely. Commercial ice JJ Watt.
Scot: [49:25] Cool I'm picturing all these Amazon guys watching the security tapes and they're like who is this guy taking off his jacket look at this hat and like to juggling apples and I have a feeling that guy looks a lot like our very own retailgeek.
Jason: [49:39] You you you do you don't even have to pick her if you go to the store in the far corner of the store like this the stores all windows and so you can actually see the back room with all the guys dressed in Orange, they're watching tablets and frankly that's that's exactly what they're doing they're helping, teach the machine the edge cases so it's not like they're the computer can follow you in there and it and they're replacing the computer with humans but what happens is when the machine gets it wrong a human. Audited and tells the computer what's right so the computer can get it right next time in and you you could watch those guys work if you stand in that corner.
Scot: [50:17] Call Lisa friend told you.
Jason: [50:21] You can see that from outside the store so.
Scot: [50:23] Okay good.
Jason: [50:27] Couple other little things I know we were burning on time but Amazon was pretty interesting new influencer program so that they've always had an affiliate program, where you know you can you can blog about stuff or put stuff on your social network and put a link in it and you'll get a commission on the sales on Amazon. And you know if anything they're tightening up that affiliate program and I think you know if you months ago that they will wear their commissions on a lot of stuff but they Now launch this bespoke influencer program which is targeted at. High-volume influencers and it gives them custom vanity urls, I think it rewards than more generously for sales and it's just it's an interesting invite-only program and the reason I say it's interesting is. The news influencers are really becoming the new product marketing vehicle so like in the old world what you generate product for demand for a product is you buy Super Bowl ad are you run a TV ad and you, you reached 30 million people in one shot now the way you generate demand for a product is, you know through these micro influencers in and finding the woman that that talks about the particular makeup style, that suits your product and getting her to blog about your product and put links in it and Amazon appears to really recognize that Trend in is building better tools to support that trend.
Scot: [51:51] Yeah we've we've talked about them and if folks had a chance to listen to the coast program for example we talked about kind of the death of the the merchant King of the merchant Prince and forget all we got, and I.
[52:03] Merchant Prince so this is this is you read about these influencers replacing and it's kind of Amazon saying yeah this is this is a thing.
Jason: [52:13] Yep yep so that's interesting Amazon did the first drone delivery in the US last month so I thought that Mars space conference the Jeff Bezos was that, date they do it hurt some sunscreen and then I thought the first time they got FAA approval to do a commercial delivery in the US I think one that got a bunch of bugs this week is, did they stole the NFL deal from Twitter.
Scot: [52:38] Yeah so the scoop there is last year Twitter bought the streaming rights for the Thursday night games I think there's four or five of these games the kind of itsfunneh, they didn't play out but there's notoriously that the running joke is the Thursday night games and up being like. The worst games out there because it's usually like the worst two teams in the league kind of think so.
Jason: [53:02] I know you're talking about my team is on every Thursday night away.
Scot: [53:05] Yes the Chargers and the I don't know all the Cleveland Browns.
Jason: [53:13] Cleveland Browns we play the LA Chargers play the Cleveland Browns every Thursday.
Scot: [53:17] Will guess what and now it's going to be on Amazon Prime and the Twitter deal never made sense to me and there was there some interesting scuttlebutt that you know to Twitter paid 10 million. And when they pay that a lot of news folks reported that folks are scratching your head, they knew any of the other people that been on this would be like Google with YouTube Amazon bit on that last year imagine with Facebook is now in the running for these things that you have a bit more and there was scratching your head why did Windows, Twitter didn't do much with it and now Amazon has won it this year and they're paying 50 million so 5x with Twitter page, obviously that's a lot of money and you know the people are kind of saying we'll why would they do that. And what's interesting is if you think about Amazon prime number one that Amazon has already announced it's going to be prime exclusive content. They have a lot of data on this so you know they've done another number of programs that driving program his name I can't remember you pray noticed.
[54:19] And you know they've picked it up for these things and it brings in enough subscribers that have more than paid for itself so to do the math of this if you kind of think of, hundred dollars for Prime which is where Prime is right now you really only need about 50,000 new Prime members to come in and justify that $59 price tag, those are big numbers but when you have 65 million Prime people get another 50k actually isn't that.
[54:45] Doesn't seem like that hurdle and I would imagine there's if you're an NFL fan you're sitting on the fence and, this is as you get access to your games and you get free shipping and all the other things that come along with prime so I imagine it'll actually be pretty lucrative for them and and possible so that's kind of a call I guess. The other thing I saw just quickly Amazon is really hurting a lot of customer service folks they announce they're going to hire 30,000 customer service reps, and they're doing a lot of customer service reps working from home, this is interesting we're hiring a customer service rep at my company spiffy actually interview the lady that had done this before, show you what Amazon does this they essentially they train you that give you an online training program on how to be a good front line customer service, person and then they just have some basic requirements for you to do this at home usually its high-speed internet desktop, or laptop that's higher end and then you need to get a mic with a headphone and a mic cept they actually tell you the ones that they recommend, and then, they actually will turn you on you know you you've been kind of run this program you check in and you're getting a customer service calls and then you log out and you get paid on kind of an hourly and ratings and and performance bases 3 inputs I found that fascinating and kind of funny, right after I talk to this lady Amazon announced that they were productize in this so anyone can use this functioning functionality now it's part of AWS.
[56:20] And it's that this call center that lives in the cloud and it's called Amazon connect, and then before that they took another internal to over they have there and videoconferencing Build-Off AWS called Amazon Prime so Amazon is now kind of putting out these things and then release him to AWS which is which is itself.
[56:41] A TBI system it is really kind of small Lego blocks to couldn't do anything with unless your developer and now they're actually kind of releasing these pretty robust applications on top of AWS, another quick one is the announcer opening yet another for Film It Center this was a million square feet in Virginia. And finally they made what's one of their bigger Acquisitions in a while and it's this Marketplace from the Middle East called so I think I'm saying that right Sou. Tube.com that started in the UAE and then, Calibre where it has like lots of countries in the Middle East that a cover so it covers Dubai Abu Dhabi Egypt Saudi Arabia Kuwait and Bahrain, there's it's rumored that this was a $659 acquisition of the company had raised, money at kind of north of a billion so she could have a bit of a Down Round but I think a good outcome for those folks there is some other really big Marketplace that's launching out of Saudi Arabia that has in a billions of dollars of investment, think it's this is kind of Amazon playing a little bit of defense and suit kind of thing on this is a good time to find a safe. Courtney storm I looked can't find the DMV for that but the Middle East is it your 50 million people, lots of opportunity there so so but interesting play on Amazon Amazon news day.
[58:05] They also shut down I'm sure you saw this some Curious we think they should down Quincy.com the whole not just good you.com but the diapers and all the subs, things are weird news about this so they they shut it down because it wasn't profitable and but then several people, Channel each to the press that well we just had Amazon zigzag here at the annual kickoff which I imagine would be like, January I'm saying that you know where this path to profitability and we've had a profit month so a lot of people scratching their heads and so people reading the tea leaves there that this is some kind of a, Bezos messed around with Mark Lori who's over the founder of jet that's not Walmart not really sure I buy that but any thoughts from you on that.
Jason: [58:51] Yeah I know I have the same thought as you I got I just don't think that. Did Jeff Bezos is going to screw around with a bunch of people's Alive's just to play a game and Mark Laurie right and you know there are people that are losing their jobs at Quincy. And I think there has to be a sound or business reason that they're moving away from it and I've heard the same rumors you that they haven't been profitable but that there, Basie profitability in 2017 so that that makes you scratch your head why they closed it and the ones out that occurs to me is. Did the Dave they vacillated back and forth on this idea of having all these separate URLs and. Distributor sort of Distributing there traffic across all those other URLs versus aggregating it all in the. Amazon property and I do think it's possible that in the early days they felt like Amazon wasn't a credible source for some of these these specific product niches and so having a dedicated. URL on a dedicated site made sense in there you know where moms that would want to join the. The diapers.com program that wouldn't want to be Amazon moms and you know that back then there was the SEO advantages to having diapers in the URL and all these sorts of things and I think I think of Donna way I think. I think. The Amazon bran is much bigger and stronger today and I just think Amazon may have decided that makes more sense to aggregate all the Shoppers on the Amazon platform and have him get access to all.
[1:00:24] 400 million products and then it's just it's just not worth continuing to work hard to get quizzy to profitability when the core platform is going so well.
Scot: [1:00:34] Yeah and I'm not sure they Consolidated the back in like some of the other things like they definitely have Zappos but I've never heard that they - Consolidated that I think it was still running out of a warehouse New Jersey and stuff so.
Jason: [1:00:45] No I need all the employees for sure where New Jersey so I don't I don't I'm not certain about the tech. But I think that's true and the other thing I would just went out as I think all the employees that Mark Lord knows the web from Quincy he took from them long ago and they were to check which was also it would New Jersey show.
Scot: [1:01:01] And they're all at Walmart now.
Jason: [1:01:02] Yeah it just doesn't make sense that that that that Jeff is doing that for out of any malice for Mark.
Scot: [1:01:09] Couple that was a heck of a lot Amazon news they've been busy busy little guys up there in Seattle any non Amazon news you want to hit here at the bottom of show.
Jason: [1:01:19] Given time I think just a couple of things there continues to be that this mall again and talk like this, this is shaping up to be a really rough time to be in retail so, there are lots of early indicators that q1 sales for retail just going to be horrible across the board and that's really scary and we're just seeing announcement after announcement about you know retail orders that are. Taking these austerity measures and cutting stores and things like that and so you know, Payless's bankruptcy announcement you you add up all the announced clothes stores and it's over 2,500 stores that already been announced to close this year and we're only in April, last year the major retailers closed 1600 store so where. We're way ahead of last year's store closing and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of that I have a feeling after all the q1 earning reports that we're going to see a lot more negative news before it starts to turn around.
Scot: [1:02:26] Yeah couple quick ones from me on the marketplace at so eBay was also shop talking that they had their see you again and when again I had, the head of advertising on my panel and you don't it's going to see eBay is not out of swinging pretty hard he made some political statements there was really excited about but they in the world e-commerce their big announcement was, and then but no you know I think the shop talk trucks I have done a really good job of getting people to announce things at the show that that's kind of. Makes it extra special worth going to so they announced at the show, two things essentially that you don't number one they have a new program where they're going to guarantee 3 day delivery on about 20 million items on eBay and they had a program called Fast and free, I was kind of like a loose kind of promised United it wasn't like. Primate you stuff in two days I was kind of this thing kinda gets to you usually on three days we think it will.
Jason: [1:03:26] I get to you faster than other stuff.
Scot: [1:03:28] Yes me that you kind of fast this is like, it into a launch and hasn't launched yet but you know at least the verbage from the executives is we're going to guarantee 3 day delivery on 29 items.. So that's good you know it's not 2 days but also you don't have to do it so it's free 3-day show, so that's interesting and then use the rest of his time to really talk a lot about machine learning and you're talking about how. If you were seller and you wanted to sell a widget you could take a picture that widget in the email recognize it and kind of say, hey Jason are you selling this podcast microphone and it looks like a roadie 200 and and no do you want to is that right and you want to spend list it for some pretty interesting things you know they're around morning and he pretty much said. You're not going to do machine learning now you're going to be if actually dead and three years when this is kind of the table Stakes so I agree with that, yeah he talked to some skeptical kind of long-term eBay kind of folks and you know the the Starkey kind of answer to that as well you know you go to eBay and search for something you can't find it why don't they put the machine on that part of the site so, yeah that that it is honeybaked continues to cut under invest in that part of the shopping experience so, they had some of the dishes they haven't really known as best I can tell taken root yet but they are working on it but it does feel like, some of the stuff they're doing is nibbling at the edges if you, if I'm what you're looking for so I'm a huge fan so I thought they came out swinging in an aggressive I just I just worry that they really need to prove that customer experience it Scot several iterations.
[1:05:08] Not only Amazon but you know how many channel in and all the other players out, the last thing is so Amazon is been investing at this is kind of a backdoor more Amazon news I guess, I've been Amazon really know that they don't break out the numbers but, from all the data that's available like from comscore and things it seems like they're really true that market up there Bill, tennis centers of invested billions of dollars there they were to start up there that they were unicorns mean that over a billion dollar valuation Snapdeal and Flipkart, not news lot of rumors that those two guys are considering merging two kind of have a viable alternative Amazon so it's pretty interesting in in in of the only Market that Amazon is lost in his chinaware Alibaba, had a bit of a head start and Amazon couldn't you know it's a good country for Amazon but it's the one area where they're like number two or I could argue number 3 or 4 actually behind, attention JD show.
[1:06:07] Amazon didn't like that and I think they've decided they're going to win an Indian this is a really ended Good indication that they they are. Even though there's some bureaucratic things where they can't do first party there they can only do third-party but they've they've launched FBA so it's a weird country it's it's, spa and third party but no first party but that model seems to be working really well for them and they're forcing some changes there so I thought that was, an interesting International flavors since we now have mercadolibre on this month on the show we can start talking about a lot more of this International stuff.
Jason: [1:06:41] Absolutely it's going to be interesting to watch I think that you anyways, that watching the Latin America and merging the Middle East and four to go to India are you going to be more fun than then watching the US where where, the winners and losers of Rd emergency little bit more.
[1:07:00] I'm in Scot it is not going to shock you but it happened again we have wasted a perfectly good hour of our listeners time so I want to thank everyone for helping to make this show the success that.
Scot: [1:07:14] Getting someone for listening and if you do have a second we would appreciate you liking our Facebook page and leave us an iTunes review if you have something positive to say thanks.