Inside Amazon - January 16th, 2017

Inside Amazon (Jan 16th, 2017)

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Amazon has filed for permission from the FCC to run tests on "experimental wireless communications technology." The tests may point to an expansion of Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service. Neil Woodward, the ex astronaut who acts as senior manager for Amazon's drone delivery service, is listed on the documents as the primary contact. The tests will begin at Amazon headquarters in Seattle, then will move on to the company's Kennewick, Washington customer service facility. The test locations will be fitted, at least temporarily, with a set of low-based, fixed-base transmitters that could potentially talk to a fleet of mobile units. Documentation on the filing was released to the public this week. If permission is granted, the tests are scheduled for early 2018. (Some have also speculated that the test request implies that Amazon is working on an Alexa Smartphone.) – DIGITAL TRENDS

Forbes looks at the state of online groceries, and theorizes how Amazon could renovate the process of ordering fresh food from home. Current online groceries tend to struggle financially, as many consumers are turned off by both higher costs and not being able to inspect their perishables before committing to buy. And even Amazon seems to be aware of the lack of interest by consumers, as its recent announcement of brick-and-mortar Amazon Go locations attests. But writer Richard Kestenbaum feels that the tech giant could innovate its way to success in online produce shopping the way they have in some other sectors. – FORBES

Amazon will not be as heavily hit as other retailers by President-elect Trump's proposed 20% tax hike on imported goods. Because Amazon is an online retailer that shifts import costs onto the site's sellers, it is those sellers who are responsible for sourcing goods that they will ship to Amazon fulfillment centers. The Wall Street Journal notes, however, that Amazon will see some increased tax pressure because of its status as a retailer with a high percentage of imported goods and low product margins. – INVESTOPEDIA

An Amazon employee has been fired for including an anti-Semitic note inside a package ordered by a Jewish woman in North London. The unidentified woman, in her 30s, had ordered a toy for her niece. The worker in question, who allegedly identified the woman as Jewish by her surname, slipped the note reading "Greetings from Uncle Adolf" into the Amazon packaging but not the product itself. – DAILY MAIL

Amazon's recent announcement of the creation of 100,000 new US jobs may signify increased ambitions for physical stores. While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said the new hires will benefit "cloud technology, machine learning, and advanced logistics," KeyBank analyst Ed Yruma thinks that still leaves "a significant and unexplained" number of potential new hires unaccounted for. Yruma figures the services Bezos has mentioned do not call for more than 50 or 60 thousand jobs, and thinks the balance of new jobs "could be explained by an accelerated rollout of physical stores." – CNBC

Amazon's Spheres, the three glass-domed ecosystems that the company is building for its urban campus in Seattle, are part of the larger trend of tech companies expressing their culture and personality through HQ designs. Amazon's employees will be able to "break free from their cubicles" in the interior of the central dome, which will host a "paradisiacal" climate similar to Costa Rica's Central Valley. John Schoettler, Amazon's real estate director, says the Spheres should at least look "fairly complete" from the outside by spring, though the structures won't be in use until 2018. – TOLEDO BLADE

According to several real estate sources, Amazon is looking to lease between 100,000 and 200,000 square feet of downtown office space in Boston. The sources say Amazon hopes to have its location locked down sometime before the end of the first quarter, with an eye on opening the offices by the end of 2017. Brendan Carroll, head of Boston's Encompass Real Estate Strategy, says the Downtown Boston area has "tremendous street cred" in the tech world, but that Amazon moving in would be "a really big thing." – BOSTON GLOBE

What are your most pressing insider questions about Amazon and how it all works? Ever considered being an Amazon seller but weren’t sure what to do next? Our resident expert, William Tjernlund, is answering YOUR questions! Just hit Reply and let us know what you want him to discuss!

William Tjernlund is an experienced Amazon seller and consultant. To learn more about him, check out this interview.
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