Apr 29, 2019

Amazon sets eyes on its next target

Erica Pandey, author of @Work

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

Amazon appears to be lowballing rivals in a classic squeeze to take over yet another industry: freight.

Why it matters: With its track record of upending nearly every business it enters, Amazon has the potential to decimate UPS and FedEx as it moves into shipping. Its tactic is a modern example of putting competition through a Rockefeller-style "good sweating."

"Amazon is turning areas of the business that were historically costs into new revenue streams," says Gartner L2 analyst Griffin Carlborg. Shipping could be a massive source of profit for the tech giant — U.S. companies spent $1.5 trillion on moving goods in 2017, reports WSJ.

  • Amazon's online trucking platform is already undercutting the big players' average shipping rates by up to 33%, reports FreightWaves.
  • The behemoth can also scoop up customers with its top trust rating. Raymond Neal, an independent bookstore owner who sells on Amazon, tells me, "People pay more for the same book if it's 'Fulfilled by Amazon,' or Prime."
  • Logistics incumbents should worry, Carlborg says. "[Amazon is] breaking into new industries by offering services that are too good to be true or prices that are too good to be true, and figuring out opportunities to monetize it later."

Analysts say it’s a familiar strategy. Amazon has tried to grab customers from sellers on its site by debuting cheaper, private label products right alongside the existing selection.

The company denies the lowballing: "We work with many line-haul service providers in our transportation network and have long utilized them to carry loads for Amazon. This service, intended to better utilize our freight network, has been around in various forms for quite some time. The analysis suggesting dramatic undercutting of pricing is false."

The big picture: As we noted when Amazon announced 1-day shipping, one way the company can slash delivery times for Prime is by building its own logistics network — chipping away at its reliance on the big shippers.

Axios emailed UPS and FedEx. The companies did not immediately return requests for comment.

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Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

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Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

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Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.