Inside Amazon - March 4th, 2020

Inside Amazon (Mar 4th, 2020)

Amazon employees tests for Coronavirus / Shop Safe to impact online sellers / Stock up on Purell

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As of 3:53PM EST. Market open.

For days now, I've listened to Amazon warehouse employees in and near Seattle wonder if or when the coronavirus that had reached their city would make it into any of the Amazon facilities there.

1. Last night, Amazon confirmed the first instance of coronavirus among its employees who work at the South Lake Union building in Seattle. Amazon confirmed the employee who works in the "Amazon Brazil" office went home on Tuesday, Feb. 25 feeling sick. The employee has not entered Amazon offices since. The South Lake Union building is approximately 11 miles from the Amazon headquarters building. The company says it notified the employees who were in close contact with the patient, who is now in quarantine. -- THE WASHINGTON TIMES

2. Amazon is restocked with Purell and other hand sanitizers after a run on the product in response to coronavirus fears. On Monday, many sources were reporting that Purell listings were marked "Currently unavailable" and "We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." Hand sanitizing products such as Purell were available from third-party sellers for as much as $119 for two eight-ounce bottles. Purell manufacturer Gojo released a statement saying "We have added shifts and have team members working overtime – in accordance with our plans for situations like this." A spokesperson for the company said they have seen similar surges in demand for their product in the past. Amazon has issued warnings to sellers to avoid such price gouging and has removed products that violate its policies. -- BUSINESS INSIDER

3. Blue Origin, the space company co-founded by Jeff Bezos, announced that the next uncrewed test flight of the New Shepard spacecraft could happen as early as this month. CEO Bob Smith said the company is on track to test three or more flights before people will be allowed to fly onboard. Blue Origin released video clips today of half of the carbon composite nose cone for its New Glenn project. New Glenn's BE-4 engine should begin production in Alabama later this year as well. -- GEEKWIRE

4. Mercado Libre, an e-commerce giant in Latin America, announced today that it will invest $420 million in Mexico this year to compete with Amazon. Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mercado Libre says the investment will be three-pronged. It will expand its product supply, logistics network and increase consumer awareness of its brand. The company has a presence in more than a dozen countries, with its largest markets in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. Mercado Libre competes in Mexico with Walmart and Amazon for online sales. -- FREIGHT WAVES

5. Today, Target Corp. told Market Watch that it is fulfilling same-day orders through its network of stores as well, and will be adding popular grocery items and adult beverages to its program. Yesterday's Inside Amazon announced Amazon's plan to build mini fulfillment centers to assure same-day delivery to customers in several cities. The company is competing through its Drive Up and Order Pickup programs, which are 90 percent less expensive for the company than shipping goods from a warehouse. -- MARKET WATCH

6. The Shop Safe Act  - which targets fake products listed for sale online with merchants including Amazon - was introduced by leaders of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday. The bipartisan bill, which is an amendment to the Trademark Act of 1946, would hold the online marketplaces responsible for things like trademark infringement if they don't police third parties who sell on their sites. The act includes the prohibition of counterfeit goods that may pose a health or safety risk such as baby formula, electronic device chargers,  and car seats. In response to the proposal, Amazon's Dharmesh Mehta put together a report that summarizes the company's actions against counterfeit goods. -- AXIOS

7. Both Fox Business in the U.S. and the Daily Mail in the U.K. ran stories today to point out that Jeff Bezos and his fiancee Lauren Sanchez had dined out last night, having a "lavish Italian dinner at a celebrity New York hotspot." Paparazzi snapped photos of the two as they left Carbone restaurant in the West Village of New York. Both news outlets seemed to think it was odd that the couple would enjoy a night out amid the news of coronavirus spreading to one of its Seattle employees, along with Bezos' recent loss of as the stock market declined and his purchase of an expensive home. Hey, a guy's gotta eat! - Kathleen

8. Jeff Bezos is the only one among the five richest people in the U.S. who hasn't signed a commitment to The Giving Pledge, a fund started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage "the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back." He's been criticized that despite his net worth of $117 billion, he has not donated enough of his wealth to charitable causes. Bezos has started a relief effort, donating $690,000 to help the Australian wildfires and pledged $10 billion to his new Bezos Earth Fund. -- INSIDE PHILANTHROPY

9. Amazon will feature a curated online assortment of luxury fashion items from Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) around the observance of Women's History Month. Fashion items will be available on Amazon's #InCharge site, along with with the DVF founder's favorite books by female authors, and a variety of other items from women-owned businesses including Cora, OBIA Naturals, and PiperWai. -- CHAIN STORE AGE

10. If you took advantage of the recent Amazon Echo sales, carve out a little time to make sure you've got four key Alexa skills enabled to help Echo do what Echo does bet - help simplify your life. Step-by-step instructions are here.

  • Link your music streaming service to the Echo and control your playlist with your voice if you have smart home devices.
  • Enable your robot vacuum and smart thermostat if you have them.
  • The Find My Phone skill is one of my favorites (since my phone apparently has legs and likes to hide). 
  • Set up any of Alexa's workout skills that include the 5-minute plank, 7-minute workout, and the daily stretch.

Written and curated by Kathleen Walder, writer and humorist who began her journalism career using  a typewriter.  She co-hosts KatSoup, a weekly program on Ohio’s Radio Reading Service for the visually impaired and print disabled. Her blog, Date-a-palooza, takes a jaundiced look at the world of online dating. Follow her on Twitter @KatWalder.

Edited by Beth Duckett, staff writer at Inside.

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