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.

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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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Jeff Bezos Unveils Blue Origin’s Lunar Lander; Announces Launch Of Next-Gen Rocket In 2021

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos confirmed that his space company, Blue Origin, will launch its next-generation rocket, New Glenn, for the first time in 2021, and also hinted that his company might be capable of helping NASA put humans on the Moon within the Trump administration’s stated five-year time frame.

“We can help meet that time line,” he said. “But only because we started three years ago. It’s time to go back to the Moon—this time to stay.”

Leading up to this dramatic announcement on Thursday at the Washington Convention Center, Bezos couched his vision for his space company in the context of the problems of the world as he sees them. Within the next couple of hundred years, Earth will run out of resources necessary for people to live comfortably, Bezos predicted. Which is why, he says, humanity needs to move into space.

To that end, Bezos revealed Blue Origin’s next-generation rocket, New Glenn, which will begin operations in 2021. New Glenn would be a “heavy lift” rocket, competitive with SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, as well as United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV and in-development Vulcan rocket. According to Bezos, New Glenn will reduce costs by having a first stage that can be reused 25 times and use liquid natural gas as a propellant. Though he did not reveal any pricing information about the rocket, he did mention that the fuel costs per launch would be less than $1 million.

And one of the things that rocket may launch? One of the answers came immediately as Bezos—to great fanfare—showed off a large mock-up of the company’s proposed Blue Moon lunar lander. According to Bezos, the lander will use liquid hydrogen as fuel—just as the company’s New Shepard rocket does today. It will be capable of landing autonomously and be equipped with cameras, lidar and other sensors to map terrain. It will also be configurable in order to handle a variety of missions such as carrying a rover—or humans—to the surface.

Again, there wasn’t any information provided about how much it will cost for a company to buy a mission on the Blue Moon. However, Bezos did reveal that Blue Origin already has customers.

“We already have a bunch of customers for Blue Moon, some of whom are in the audience,” he said. “They’re going to be deploying science missions to the Moon as well.”

Bezos couched these product announcements in the context of his vision for the future, which for him means humanity migrating out to O’Neill habitats–gigantic, miles-long space stations envisioned by physicist Gerard O’Neill in the 1970s, are where humans will live and work comfortably, and conduct heavy industry, Bezos said.  This will leave Earth “zoned for residential and light industry,” he said.

Building grandiose habitats—or even more relatively modest goals like any kind of permanent settlement in space or on the Moon—is not the job of this generation, but the next, according to Bezos. He sees his goal as building the infrastructure necessary for it to happen. “It’s this generation’s job to build that road to space so future generations can release their creativity,” he said.

The company also released a promo video for its lander, which you can view below.

Read more: Jeff Bezos And Elon Musk Want To Go To The Moon—They Just Disagree On How To Get There

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I’m an Associate Editor covering science and cutting edge tech.

Source: Jeff Bezos Unveils Blue Origin’s Lunar Lander; Announces Launch Of Next-Gen Rocket In 2021

Amazon Employees Ask Bezos To Stop Selling Facial Recognition To Cops – Thomas Fox-Brewster

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Amazon employees have written a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos in which they ask the company to stop selling its facial recognition tool to American law enforcement.

The tech giant’s sales to U.S. cops were revealed by an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) investigation earlier this month, as it emerged Amazon Web Services’ Rekognition tool was shipped to police in Florida and Oregon. The cost of the tool was also revealed to be remarkably low, as evidenced by a Forbes test of the product, in which a facial recognition project was set up for free across the publication’s Jersey City and London offices.

In a letter posted to an internal forum, first revealed by The Hill and published in full by Gizmodo, some employees expressed the same concerns as the ACLU about the power of Amazon’s Recognition being abused by American officers. The letter also called on Amazon to cease providing computing infrastructure to Palantir, the Peter Thiel-backed surveillance company, over concerns about the company’s work with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department that’s been caught up in the furor over the forced separation of children from their parents at the border.

“Our company should not be in the surveillance business; we should not be in the policing business; we should not be in the business of supporting those who monitor and oppress marginalized populations,” the letter, signed off by “Amazonians,” read.

“We refuse to build the platform that powers ICE, and we refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights.

“As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used.”

 Employee activism is alive

It comes after a recent spate of protests across workforces in Silicon Valley about tech giants’ work with the U.S. government. As uncovered by Gizmodo’s Kate Conger, Google employees were up in arms about the company’s work with the Pentagon on an artificial-intelligence-powered drone footage analysis initiative known as Maven. Google subsequently decided to stop working on the project.

Microsoft staff this week called on the company to cease working with ICE. While CEO Satya Nadella slammed the practice of separating children and parents, he said the company was not providing any tech aiding in ICE’s work on separating families.

Palantir, which The Intercept last year revealed provides a $20 million Investigative Case Management service for ICE, has not responded to Forbes’ request for comment on its work for the immigration department. Recent contracts show Palantir received $250,000 from ICE this month and $12.2 million in May 2017, among many other orders.

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