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Is This The Beginning Of Amazon’s Meltdown?

Dystopia

When Amazon’s executives heard the news, they couldn’t believe it.

Last November, the world’s largest sporting goods company, Nike, announced it was leaving Amazon. It would yank all its products from Amazon.com and sell them exclusively on its online store.

Nike is the biggest retailer to break up with Amazon, but it’s not the first. From mom-and-pop stores to retail giants, more than one million businesses are ditching Amazon and selling online independently.

As I’ll explain in a moment, this is the beginning of the biggest disruption in retail since Amazon’s inception. And there’s one little-known stock driving it “behind the scenes.”

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The good news is this megatrend is still in the very early stages. It’s off the radar of many investors, which gives us a chance to cash in big time. But first, let me clue you in on what’s going on here.

For a Long Time, Retailers Depended on Amazon to Sell Online

As we all know, Amazon is king of online shopping. It runs the world’s biggest online store, which makes up more than half of online sales in the US.

What you may not know is that most of the stuff listed on Amazon.com are not products of Amazon. They come from other retailers known as “third-party sellers.” For a fee, Amazon has granted them permission to put their stuff on its “shelves.”

In 2007, only 26% of products sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers. Today, more than 53% of all Amazon products are from third-party sellers, according to Statista.

For a long time, Amazon has served as the online “storefront” for most retailers. But that’s quietly changing.

One Retailer After Another Is Leaving Amazon

Nike is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a growing pack of retailers breaking ties with Amazon and launching their own online stores.

Take Birkenstock, one of the world’s most iconic footwear brands. In 2017, the company left Amazon altogether. It also issued a strict order to several thousand of its retail partners to pull all Birkenstock products from Amazon.

You also may be familiar with these brands:

  • Vans – one of America’s most iconic urban footwear and apparel companies
  • Ralph Lauren – another iconic American fashion lifestyle brand
  • Rolex… the biggest high-end watch company
  • Louis Vuitton, a French luxury fashion brand
  • Patagonia and North Face – some of the biggest outdoor clothing, footwear, and equipment brands

While you could find their products on Amazon listed by resellers—most of which are generic and dated models or knock-offs—none of these brands sell directly on Amazon.

These are just a few of many retail giants that ditched Amazon. There are a million more small retailers bypassing Amazon and selling stuff online independently.

Image result for amazon big size gif advertisementsAmazon Had the Upper Hand Against Retailers

Until very recently, the idea of a small or medium-size business competing with Amazon online was a joke. Because Amazon has it all.

In a few clicks, you can order stuff from thousands of retailers, and get it delivered to your doorstep the same day. For free! If you are short of cash, Amazon will give you credit. If you are not happy with your order, you take the package to the nearest UPS store and get a refund almost instantly.

To keep all this running smoothly, Amazon plows billions of dollars into its store. It operates more than 150 million square feet of warehouse space. Tens of thousands of its trucks and vans roam across the country. It even owns its own fleet of ocean freighters and cargo aircraft!

Who can match that? For years, going up against Amazon was suicide for a retailer. The only option for 99.99% of retailers was to partner with Amazon to sell their stuff on Amazon’s store.

Anyone Can Be Amazon Right Now

This may surprise you, but today any mom-and-pop store can run an online store as good as Amazon’s. Thanks to a new breed of tech companies, now you can easily farm out every step of the online store process—from shipping to returns and even one-day delivery.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  • You can build an online store with Shopify (SHOP)
  • run guided advertising campaigns with Facebook or Instagram
  • handle payments with Stripe
  • give credit with Affirm
  • store your inventory and fulfill orders with ShipBob
  • Handle returns with Returnly
  • Even provide Amazon’s famous same-day delivery with DarkStore

All of them are charging either a small monthly fee or a little commission off sales. That means anyone with a couple hundred bucks can sell stuff online as effectively as Amazon.

A massive disruption is blowing in right before our very eyes. Just like the internet liberated retailers from brick-and-mortar stores, these companies are freeing them from Amazon’s clutches.

Shopify Is King of This Megatrend

If you’ve been reading me, you know that I recommended Shopify (SHOP) a month ago. Since then, it jumped 30%.

In short, Shopify helps you sell your products online on your own website. Just like Nike, Birkenstock, and other big-name retailers do.

For as little as $29/month, Shopify sets you up with a full-fledged custom online store. It can even hold your inventory in its warehouses and ship your products.

Since Shopify operates “behind the scenes,” you probably haven’t come across it when shopping online. But it’s already the world’s second-largest online shopping company.

It powers over 1,000,000 independent online stores. And get this, one in three Americans buy from a Shopify-powered store—without even realizing it.

Shopify Could Hand You a Double, but Be Careful

Since Shopify went public, it has been growing by leaps and bounds. In 2015, it had just 240,000 merchants, selling $7.7 billion worth of products through Shopify. Since then, it has grown into a million+ merchants grinding out 50+ billion in yearly sales.

As I said back in November, if Shopify keeps up this growth, I see it doubling by 2022. There’s one catch, though.

The stock has soared over 1,000% in just four years, and 30% more since I recommended it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the stock took a breather somewhere down the line. For this reason, I recommend keeping the position in this stock small enough that a double-digit drop wouldn’t hurt you.

Written with the assistance of Dainius Runkevičius.

Get my report “The Great Disruptors: 3 Breakthrough Stocks Set to Double Your Money”. These stocks will hand you 100% gains as they disrupt whole industries. Get your free copy here.

Check out my website.

I’m a professional investor and the chief analyst at RiskHedge, a disruption research firm. My team and I hunt for under-the-radar “disruptive” companies that are changing the world and making investors rich in the process. Get my latest analysis at RiskHedge.com.

Source: Is This The Beginning Of Amazon’s Meltdown?

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Amazon Almost Killed Target. Then, Target Did the Impossible

In 2017, everyone was laughing at Target.

Sales had continued to slide. Stores were in disrepair. And company leaders were struggling to adapt to the changing behavior of consumers–many of whom were shopping more and more with online retailers like Amazon.

As fellow retailers Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and Gap collectively shuttered hundreds of stores because of similar struggles, analysts said Target should do the same.

But Target executives, led by CEO Brian Cornell, had a different idea. The key to revitalizing Target, they said, was to go on the offensive.

So, in March 2017, Target made a huge announcement: It planned to invest over $7 billion in a turnaround strategy that would include:

  • remodeling existing stores (and opening smaller ones in urban areas);
  • introducing new, private label brands; and,
  • enhancing its digital shopping experience.

Wall Street thought the plan was a disaster. On the day of the announcement, Target suffered its largest stock plunge in almost a decade.

But fast-forward to today, and Target is thriving. First-quarter results for 2019 beat analysts’ expectations. The store’s private-label lines are exploding. And as comparable store sales continue to rise, the stock price is trading at an all-time high.

How did Target do it?

A close look at the company’s brilliant turnaround strategy reveals some major lessons for businesses of any size.

Here are some highlights:

Think long term.

When Target announced its turnaround plan, Cornell expected backlash. He knew investors would hate the idea of stuttering profits for the foreseeable future.

But he held fast to his plan. “We’re investing in our business with a long-term view of years and decades, not months and quarters,” Cornell said at the time.

Cornell knew this reset was necessary because so many Target stores had fallen into disrepair over the years. And while the company was making efforts in e-commerce, it simply didn’t have the infrastructure to deliver.

Contrast that with today. Target has remodeled hundreds of stores, and it has built a hundred “mini-stores” in urban areas like New York and on college campuses (with plans to open dozens more of these every year for the foreseeable future). The company also invested heavily in its e-commerce operations to great benefit. (More on this in a minute.)

By focusing on the long-term health of the company instead of short-term financial performance, Cornell took a page out of Jeff Bezos’s playbook–and it clearly worked.

Leverage your strengths.

Target’s e-commerce infrastructure needed a complete revamp. But could the company really compete with Amazon and Walmart, which were years ahead of the curve?

It could–by doing things a little differently.

Target execs knew that as popular as e-commerce has become, the majority of retail shopping still takes place in physical stores–especially when it comes to clothing.

So Target chose to focus on a model that would maximize its strengths. Known as “ship-to-store,” Target’s e-commerce platform turns physical stores into mini warehouses for online customers. That makes it possible for customers to order a product online, and then pick it up in a store on the same day.

Ship-to-store reduces Target’s shipping and handling costs, and takes advantage of already existing space in physical stores. And if a customer decides to do some shopping while already there at Target, the benefit is two-fold.

Fill a gap.

Consumers had once affectionately referred to Target as “Tarzhay,” an ode to products and style that were affordable yet a step above those offered by competitors like Walmart. Over time, though, Target had created too many labels that were clear misses.

“Tarzhay” had lost its cachet.

But nobody had stepped up to fill that gap of stylish, exclusive clothing for lower prices. So, in an effort to rebuild its reputation, Target doubled down on its exclusive brands. The company has launched 20 private-label lines over the past three years, including brands for modern furniture, kids’ clothes, electronics, and home goods.

The investment paid off: Six of Target’s private-labels each do more than a billion dollars in annual sales. These labels, together with other brands sold exclusively at Target,  contribute nearly a third of the company’s overall revenue (and an even greater percentage of profits).

In addition, Target has worked hard to fill gaps left by unsuccessful competitors. For example, when stores like Toys “R” Us and the Sports Authority went bankrupt, Target saw this as opportunity: market share begging to be gobbled up.

Yes, Target has definitely gotten its groove back. It did so by bucking analysts’ advice, and instead returning to basics:

Thinking long-term. Leveraging strengths. Filling gaps.

I guess Target got the last laugh after all.

By: Justin Bariso Author, EQ Applied

Source: Amazon Almost Killed Target. Then, Target Did the Impossible

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Jeff Bezos Sells About $1.8 Billion Worth Of Amazon Shares In Three Days

Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos.

On Wednesday evening, hours after the stock markets had closed, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos filed paperwork with the Securities Exchange Commission which showed he had sold $1.8 billion worth of Amazon shares over the final three days of July. After taxes, he will net about $1.4 billion.

Bezos sold slightly more than 900,000 shares of Amazon between July 29 and July 31, when the e-commerce behometh’s stock price was around $1,900 a share. His net worth is now $115 billion, using Wednesday’s closing share price.

The last time that Bezos sold Amazon shares was in October 2018.

The new filings appear to show that Bezos has given his ex-wife MacKenzie 25% of his Amazon stake, or 19.7 million shares. In April, as the couple announced they were getting divorced, Mackenzie tweeted that Jeff would keep 75% of his Amazon stake. Jeff Bezos will continue to exercise voting control over the 19.7 million shares of Amazon he transferred to his wife, according to an SEC filing in April. Her Amazon shares are worth nearly $36.8 billion, making her the third richest woman in the world.

A spokesman for Amazon has not responded to requests for comment.

Jeff Bezos has sold large chunks of Amazon stock before, but this appears to be the largest sale, measured in dollars. Bezos sold Amazon stock worth $1.7 billion in 2017 in two separate transactions in May and November of that year. It was reported that Bezos planned to sell $1 billion worth of stock every year to fund Blue Origin, his space exploration company.

Bezos has done little in terms of philanthropy so far. In September 2018, he announced the Bezos Day One Fund, a $2 billion pledge for two causes: helping homeless families find shelter and creating Montessori-inspired preschools in the U.S.

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Angel Au-Yeung has been a reporter on staff at Forbes Magazine since 2017. She covers the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and tracks how they use their money and power.

 

Source: Jeff Bezos Sells About $1.8 Billion Worth Of Amazon Shares In Three Days

Walmart And Target Are A Step Ahead Of Amazon

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Traditional brick and mortar retailers Walmart and Target are a step ahead of Amazon in the delivery battleground: while Amazon is offering 1-day delivery Walmart and Target are already moving to same-day.

That’s according to retail equity analyst John Zolidis.

“It may be tempting to think that Amazon investing $800 million to move its Prime offer of 2-day shipping to 1-day delivery will put incremental pressure on large retailers,” he says.  “However, this move is not a surprise.  We spoke with Wal-Mart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon about this in October last year. He told us that same-day delivery, not 1-day delivery, was going to be the real battleground.”

McMillon is right. As was discussed in a previous piece here something has changed in the retailing industry in recent years.

Instead of fading away into the archives of history, brick and mortar retailing has come back to complement and support on-line retailing. Shoppers are placing orders online and are picking up merchandise at neighborhood stores, saving time and avoiding shipping fees.

That’s especially the case for groceries, where speed of delivery is a crucial factor in maintaining freshness.

The merging of online retailing with traditional retailing has provided an advantage to retailers with extensive neighborhood store presence like Walmart and Target. “Both WMT and Target (TGT) are already at a huge advantage over AMZN in this respect — because both retailers already have product stored within a short driving distance of the vast majority of the U.S. population in their respective 1,000’s of stores,” notes Zolidis. “Further, both retailers are offering not just delivery (Target already has same-day delivery via Shipt) but various options for BOPIS (buy online pickup in store).

Amazon, Walmart, and Target Shares YTD

Amazon, Walmart, and Target Shares YTD

Koyfin

Then there are pick up points to enhance convenience. “WMT now has pickup towers in-store and are installing these across the chain, and it has established drive-through pick-up grocery lanes and is continuing to add these at a rapid pace,” adds Zolidis.  “Target is offering similar services and installing dedicated counters for customers to more conveniently grab items on the way home from work or after picking up kids from school. Target will also bring pre-ordered items out to your car in the parking lot.”

The strategy has been paying off. The two retailers have reported a rebound in both online sales and retail sales in recent quarters.

Simply put, Walmart and Target have changed the game in the retailing industry. And they have brought Amazon back into the world of the neighborhood store it once sought to eliminate by acquiring traditional retailers like Whole Foods — and by planning to open more grocery stores around the country to cater to markets not served by Whole Foods, as recently announced.

That’s why Zolidis thinks that investors would be making a mistake selling Walmarts and Target’s shares at this point.

“In our opinion,” he concludes, “it would be a mistake to sell large retailers on this announcement (WMT & TGT) as they have anticipated this for some time and are already rolling-out corresponding services.”

My recent book The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership is published  by AMACOM, and can be found here. 

I’m Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at LIU Post in New York. I also teach at Columbia University.

Source: Walmart And Target Are A Step Ahead Of Amazon

With No Laws To Guide It, Here’s How Orlando Is Using Amazon’s Facial Recognition Technology – Davey Alba

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Walking around downtown Orlando, you might not notice the lightbulb-sized camera affixed to one of the traffic signal poles along the city’s palm tree–studded avenues. But it’s there, scanning all the same. If it sees you, the camera will instantly send a live video feed over to Amazon’s facial “Recognition” system, cross-referencing your face against persons of interest. It’s one of three IRIS cameras in the Orlando area whose video feeds are processed by a system that could someday flag potential criminal matches — for now, all the “persons of interest” are volunteers from the Orlando police — and among a growing number of facial recognition systems nationally………

Read more: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/daveyalba/amazon-facial-recognition-orlando-police-department

 

 

 

 

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