Prime Day deadlines, unprofitable ad blocking, the Amazon generation and Alexa office aps

Prime Day deadlines

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This week vendors received an email asking them to participate in Prime Day. Last year Amazon customers purchased more than 100m products worldwide during the event. The window for submitting deals for the event opens on Monday, April 1st until Friday, May 17th. Amazon has not revealed the date for Prime Day yet, but it is likely to be in mid-July.

In the notification, Amazon was asking for the submission of Lightning Deals. These are offers that are available for a short period of time (approx 24hrs) on the site and appear on the 'Today's Deals' page. These deals must have a per unit funding equivalent to at least a 20% discount and have a product with a rating of 3 stars or higher, with at least 5 reviews, on the date of submission. Amazon charges a fee of £50 for each Lightning Deal submitted and there is no guarantee that a deal will be excepted. To get accepted, vendors must submit high-selling products with good discounts.

Prime Day is an extremely popular selling period for vendors, so we advise that you get prepared early to ensure you don't miss out.


Unprofitable ad blocking

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Amazon has tightened its rules on who can sell products on its website. In recent months, Amazon has contacted brand owners, saying that if Amazon can't sell those products to consumers at a profit, it won't let them pay to promote items. For example, if a £5 water bottle costs Amazon that amount to store, pick, pack and ship, the maker of the water bottle won't be able to pay to advertise it. Third party merchants, who account for over half the products sold, are not affected by these new rules.

The frustration for vendors is that they are asked to 'lower their product cost' for the item, but not told what the threshold is for profitability. Amazon tells advertisers to go to the "Edit Item Costs" page and follow instructions on how to submit a lower cost for reinstatement. From there, the vendor is told to update its costs with its own Excel file, without any further guidance on the amount of a reduction required to get the ads back up. The process becomes a guessing game, where Amazon never reveals its hand. This a major concern for these businesses, as advertising is the single best way to drive visibility on site.

The Amazon advertising restrictions are part of a series of recent moves by Amazon to prove to Wall Street that it can be a profitable e-commerce business. The change poses a challenge for Amazon because its ad business is very lucrative and growing rapidly.


The Amazon generation

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According to recent research by CouponFollow, only 3% of Millennials don't use Amazon and 65% are making more than half of their purchases on the platform. 

With Amazon, millennials face a moral dilemma. On the one hand, as proponents of earnest social consciousness and wariness to capitalism, they are uncomfortable with Amazon's role in the world and their threat to small and local merchants. On the other hand, as the digital generation, they are hooked on the convenience, choice and fair pricing that Amazon delivers faultlessly. A subconscious tug of war is at play where efficiency is pulling in one direction, ethics and political ideology in the other. Current indicators suggest that Amazon is managing to bridge the divide.

Alexa office apps

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Amazon is allowing companies to create office-specific Alexa apps. The feature allows companies to use one of Alexa’s Blueprints to create their own voice app for the office that won’t be accessible to anyone outside of the company. Amazon initially launched Blueprints in April 2018 as a way for individual users to develop their own voice-controlled apps to use with the device. The pre-written apps don’t require any coding experience to use, and allow Alexa users to do things like setting up their weekly schedule, leave information for a babysitter, or create fun family quizzes.

Alexa for Business Blueprints are available exclusively for Alexa for Business customers. Anyone in an office can create a skill, and then IT administrators can review that skill and enable it for the company’s users and managed Alexa-enabled devices. Some suggestions for how to use the feature include allowing employees to ask questions like “Alexa, ask Office Helper, what are the Bank Holiday days this year?” or “how do I fill in my expense sheet?” You could also load your office Alexa with information about the guest WiFi password or when open enrollment starts. Businesses are free to use any of the existing Blueprint templates for their organization. Amazon has also added a new Business tab to the Blueprints page with a few Business-specific options. Specifically, it has a Business Q&A template for businesses to load with workplace-specific questions, as well as an Onboard Guide to provide new team members with a guide to your organization.

One question on our mind is how employees will access Alexa. Perhaps Echo devices will start to appear in break out areas or office kitchens, creating new 'water cooler' moments. Or perhaps, it's enabled as a voice assistant on all office mobile phones. Either way, we can see how Alexa could become a part of everyday life for office workers.