There is a turf war embroiling the interwebs as Amazon sets its sights on world domination. At least that’s what it looks like from where I’m sitting as an observer in the retail space.
It can be hard to keep up with the rapid pace of the behemoth’s movements to expand its portfolio of products and services into everything from real estate to food to messaging apps. But these moves are affecting the values of commerce both online and offline.
In the first weeks of summer alone, Amazon has made a series of plays that Warren Buffett would be proud of. Let’s take a look back:
- On June 16, Amazon claimed a stake in the future of food with the purchase of eco-minded organic grocer Whole Foods. The purchase comes with 431 keystone commercial real estate properties in the U.S., Canada and the UK and provides Amazon with the opportunity to rebrand Whole Foods 365 as its private label.
- On June 20, Amazon targeted fashion retailers and boutique subscription boxes with the launch of its Amazon Prime Wardrobe service, bringing the fitting room into consumers’ living spaces.
- On June 21, Amazon announced its intent to sell Nike shoe products directly to consumers through its e-commerce platform. The deal purports to combat counterfeiting but one thing is certain: It attacks sports retailers’ — like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Foot Locker — share of the market.
- On July 10, Amazon rolled out a new customer assistance program to set up “smart homes” — think of a Nest-installing rival to Best Buy’s well-known Geek Squad.
- On July 17, news came out that Amazon registered a trademark for what appears to be a meal-kit business, taking on boutique food services like Blue Apron and HelloFresh.
- On July 18, Amazon added a new shoppable news feed feature to its mobile app. Spark, a hybrid of Instagram and Pinterest, encourages product discovery and interaction among Amazon Prime users.
Earlier in the summer, there was speculation that Amazon was entering into the messaging and communications market with a bid for corporate-chat app Slack. The latest is Amazon’s reported intent to launch Anytime, a proprietary messaging app that will include messaging, voice and video calls, and photo sharing.
And then there’s the gradual expansion of Amazon’s Home and Business Services, a vendor marketplace where Amazon recently teased the addition of real estate agents as part of its professional services division. Amazon’s competitors in this space include Zillow and Redfin.
Amazon’s rival, Walmart, is ready for battle and is plotting strategic counterattacks of their own. Together with its “thinkubator” called Store No. 8, Walmart recently launched Innov8: V-Commerce, a national virtual commerce competition that challenges developers to revolutionize the consumer experience and how they shop and live.
Meanwhile, Walmart’s online shopping platform Jet.com is working the real estate angle too — partnering with Latch, a real estate startup that will streamline how tenants in non-doorman buildings receive packages ordered online.
It will be fascinating to see how Jeff Bezos knits these offerings together under one brand. I, for one, will be paying close attention to Amazon’s next move.
Anjee continues to be an insatiable enthusiast of all things retail. She’s a student of culture with a pulse on future shoppers and the fleeting trends constantly changing the retail landscape … driving retailers, landlords and developers crazy!