The biggest news in the Amazon world recently was the announcement of the rate hike for Prime membership, something that an estimated 64 percent of households in the US have. It is going up from $99 to $119 a year. Amazon keeps rolling out new benefits but unlimited free shipping is the favorite. Will consumers keep paying or cancel as more and more sites roll out free shipping for, well, FREE? Is Amazon getting cocky or are they strategically trying to keep their higher dollar spenders in a group and eliminate the deadweight? Keep in mind two adults in the same household can still share an account.
Amazon claims that the states with the most third party sellers are the most entrepreneurial. While I don’t agree with their claim, it is interesting to see the top 10. Topping the list are Utah, California and New York with Colorado, New Jersey and Washington not far behind. Rounding them out are Florida, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon. Delaware is most likely on the list due to their business friendly registration practices that lead many businesses to incorporate there even if they are not located there. It is telling that Amazon is trying to link entrepreneurship with selling on it’s platform even though these are at best distantly related. The practice of focusing on the seller rather than the platform is encouraging to those wanting to build a brand or some market traction. Amazon does care about us after all!
Amazon had a big first quarter. Sales were up 43% over sales in 2017. More and more consumers are shopping on Amazon for their day to day wants and needs. They also announced a multi year partnership with Best Buy to bring the next generation of Fire TV edition smart TVs to consumers in the US and Canada, they acquired Ring, the home security company. They continue to grow!
Amazon is going after the parents and kids market more aggressively. They have launched several subscription boxes for families, including a STEM activity one and a book one. They are apparently allowed to bundle books even though we aren’t! They are tying in audio with a kids Echo Dot and a new audio subscription service called Free Time. It has parental controls, explicit song blocking, and even educational Q & A. Kids can now whine to Alexa that they are bored and it will jump to entertain them with knock knock jokes, stories, or favorite song. At least they earn rewards for saying please!
Audio and Alexa is booming for adult consumers too. We can now make donations to charities directly on Alexa using Amazon Pay, we can set up our own personal Alex apps called Skills in Blueprint for personal use such as jokes, stories, games and more.
Amazon is launching a new holiday too! Get ready for, Eat What You Want day on May 11th. Customers can receive $10 off their FIRST Amazon Restaurants order in Austin, Columbus, Houston, San Diego, Seattle, and Portland.
And finally, if home, office and vacant building delivery are not enough for you, you can now have packages delivered to the trunk of your car. Perfect for those clandestine work purchases and for millennial digital nomads to receive their man bun accessories.
Walmart is working to attract entrepreneurs with US made products to their marketplace at their 5th annual Open Call event on June 13th in Bentonville, AK. Lucky winners could get deals that range from being carried in a handful of stores to supplying thousands of locations both in stores and online. This event is both a pitch fest and a networking opportunity. Just make sure that your idea is unique or patented, because otherwise it might become PL copy fest 2018. Attendees can apply at walmart-jump.com.
Yet another holiday continues to be a shopping bonanza. Mothers Day spending is expected to exceed 23 billion dollars this year according to a National Retail Federation survey. Product shopping will be split between jewelry, clothing, gardening tools, housewares, and electronics. Individuals aged 35-44 are the biggest spenders, averaging over $230 per family. Gift cards, spa services, and meals are also popular. For sellers with lovey merchandise leftover from Valentine’s day, that isn’t too red, it can another chance to sell sweet gifts.