Jun 3, 2017

Amazon goes beyond internet

Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Amazon opened two drive-up grocery stores in Seattle and a bookstore in New York City last week, adding to a growing brick-and-mortar venture. The online retailer now has nine stores total — seven bookstores (with plans to open six more) and two grocery stores.

Why it matters: Amazon had $136b in sales last year — 43% of all online shopping. But there's a lot more money to be made in the offline retail industry. In 2016, e-commerce only made up $1.9 trillion of the $22 trillion in total retail sales, according to eMarketer, so the upside of expanding into the offline market is massive. And Amazon's experimentation in offline stores (using cameras to track customers to automatically charge for purchases and using mountains of data to track customer preferences and sales) could further disrupt retail employment — which has already been falling for four straight months.

How it works: AmazonFresh, the company's e-grocery department, is available to AmazonPrime members (who pay a $99 annual fee for two-day shipping). For a grocery subscription, they pay an added $14.99-a-month fee, for which they can order and pick up their groceries at a drive-up neighborhood store within 15 minutes. Customer data (name and license plate number) are stored so that subsequent pickups are available more quickly, Amazon says.

Amazon's physical bookstores, the newest of them in the heart of Manhattan, feature sections like "Highly rated children's books, 4.8 stars & Above" and "Most-Wished for Books on Amazon.com." The strategy is data-centric, offering products that the company already knows sell well online — and now, the company hopes, in person.

"Data is becoming the new crude oil — a valuable resource," Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for BankRate.com, tells Axios. Amazon is incorporating data it gathers online into the offline world, with the objective of broadening its already-commanding place in global retail. No matter if you're buying food or books, whether you are doing it online or in a traditional store, founder Jeff Bezos is going to try to get you immersed in the Amazon Way.

Bottom line: Unlike other stores, Amazon might not employ a lot of people in its physical shops. (The company has tested a cashier-less store called AmazonGo.) Asked about store employees, Nell Rona, an Amazon spokesperson, said the number "varies depending on the day and the time."

Go deeper

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Protesters on Tuesday evening by the metal fence recently erected outside the White House. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday night across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse for mostly after curfews were in force in cities including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and Portland — where police used pepper spray and flash bangs on a group throwing projectiles at them during an "unlawful assembly," per KATU. Portland police said this group was separate to the thousands of demonstrators who protested peacefully elsewhere in the city.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.