Chipping away at Amazon’s dominance [Crew Review]

On multiple fronts

 

Amazon’s Drone Delivery Dream Crashes

Remember Amazon Prime Air? Neither do we, but it is the spearhead of Amazon’s global drone delivery efforts—or at least it was

Source: Amazon

Wired recently reported on the inward collapse of the team behind Amazon’s drone delivery project that would have had little unmanned aircraft flying out of FBA warehouses and delivering orders within minutes.

The report says over 100 employees at Prime Air have lost their jobs, and it cited overwork and a constant reshuffling of personnel among the reasons for the project’s downfall, a downfall that Amazon conveniently omitted in its Q2 earnings update.

So it seems that Amazon’s drones won’t ever get off the ground. Can’t say we’re not disappointed, as the prospect of being able to swat an Amazon drone out of the sky is tempting.

Jokr Takes Things Seriously

Quick-delivery grocery platform Jokr recently raised $170 million in a Series A funding round that could make it a serious competitor to Amazon down the road.

Its elevator pitch is “Best sellers & top local brands delivered instantly.” But Ralf Wenzel, the ecommerce pioneer behind it, goes on to say that Jokr could be a faster, personalized, and more local-friendly Amazon.

Source: Jokr

Whether Jokr can really trade blows with Amazon on the quick-delivery front, only time will tell. But getting this kind of funding just four months after launching could put it on Bezos’s—rather, Jassy’s radar (Still gotta get used to that). 

More competitors throwing their hats in is a welcome development for brands, particularly those who just want out of Amazon at this point. 

Another Week, Another Policy Drop

Amazon will now be automating return request authorizations for seller-fulfilled orders, enabling buyers to receive immediate authorization for requests falling within its return policy.

In typical Amazon fashion, the update seems to be incomplete—heck, Amazon did not even bother to finish its own sentences (image below).



The announcement does say that sellers will still be able to communicate with buyers and remain in full control of shipping methods and fees. 

So the big question is, how will this affect Refund At First Scan (RFS)? That is, will Amazon refund customers outright before sellers even receive the returned boxes? Mind you, those boxes could well be empty, although some customers are kind enough to fill them with rocks. 

Shipping Crisis (Again)

Ships stuck in the Suez Canal, a global container shortage, and now, devastating floods. 2021’s list of shipping crises seems to grow as we go into the holiday season.

Recent floods in Western Europe and China are holding up raw materials and products staged for peak shopping seasons like Black Friday and Christmas. 

With this new bottleneck in the supply chain industry, sellers can expect shipping delays and even rising prices for certain goods. It certainly doesn’t help that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day every year in the US. 

By the way, be sure to grab your free copy of our book, Import From China Like A Pro, if you haven’t already.

Google Cloud for Retailers

Google rolled out a new search tool, Google Cloud Retail Search, which helps sellers recapture sales from search abandonment—when potential customers search for a product and leave before clicking through the results. 

The tech giant says this feature is built on its understanding of user intent and context, providing online sellers with Google-quality search on their own websites. It promises more relevant search results and promotions. 

If Retail Search does as advertised, it could be a good way for retailers to compete with Amazon when it comes to product discovery and customer experience. Goes without saying, anything that gives us leverage against Amazon is a win at this point. 

The Everything Store Wants to Serve…Everyone?

Imagine ordering something from Etsy only for an Amazon box to show up on your doorstep. 

Source: Amazon

This has become quite commonplace, according to the Financial Times, which reported that Amazon’s deliveries have expanded to cater more to its biggest competitors, such as Etsy and Walmart. 

This is made possible by Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF), a little-known subdivision of FBA, the fees for which dropped significantly last year. 

MCF lets sellers use Amazon’s streamlined logistics network to fulfill orders that were not made on Amazon. Of course, this raises questions on Amazon gaining valuable insights as to consumer behavior outside of its own marketplace.

A bigger question might be why Amazon is serving competitors when it can’t even sort out restocking limits for its own third-party sellers. 

Bigger still is the question of how far Amazon’s reach actually extends in the entire ecommerce ecosystem, especially with the ongoing government crackdown on anti-trust practices.

New Course. Early Access.

We’ve developed an Amazon FBA For Beginners course to help you get your online business off the ground without making fatal rookie mistakes—because we made them already. 

We’re opening the course for pre-registration at a discounted price.

Join the waitlist here.

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