Inside Amazon - March 17th, 2020

Inside Amazon (Mar 17th, 2020)

Amazon warehouses accept limited items / Stock rallying / Spain Italy test positive for COVID-19


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📈 AMAZON MARKET WATCH

AMZN 1,803.96 +116.31 (+6.89%) as of 4:45 pm EDT. Market Open.

1. Amazon announced this morning that it will limit the type of items its warehouses will accept from its third-party sellers during the coronavirus spread. “We are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers,” Amazon said in a statement sent to sellers. Amazon's action affects independent merchants who have their merchandise shipped directly to Amazon warehouses to be stored there before being delivered by Amazon. It does not affect those who list their products on Amazon but store and deliver items on their own. The ban will be in effect until April 5 for the "essential" categories of grocery, baby products, beauty and personal care, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies. According to GeekWire, Amazon aggressively markets its fulfillment services to third-party sellers. They are able to sell under the Amazon Prime label by paying fees to use the company’s warehousing and logistics. These sellers made up 58 percent of Amazon’s physical gross merchandise sales in 2018. One third-party seller posted to an online forum: “Amazon just put tons of businesses out of business. Destroyed thousands of jobs amidst a crisis. Horrible joke. Absolute joke. No warning. Expect major lawsuits coming from sellers who now will go bankrupt.” Employees reacted to the news this afternoon on private chats, with one writing, "Why are we, the Associates the last to know?"  -- WSJ

An interesting opinion piece about this appears in today's Vice. 

2. During yesterday's White House COVID-19 press briefing, a reporter asked about reports that Jeff Bezos had been contacting the White House daily, offering help with the crisis. President Trump's response led at least one tech reporter to question whether Trump had rejected the offer. “Well I’ve heard that’s true,” Trump said when asked if Bezos had reached out: “I don’t know that for a fact. But I know that some of my people have, as I understand it, been dealing with them or with him. And that’s nice. We’ve had tremendous support from a lot of people that can help, and I believe he was one of them.” Amazon confirmed to FOX Business that the Amazon CEO has indeed been in contact with the White House, but did not give any specifics of what was offered. -- TECHCRUNCH

3. Amazon confirmed last night that at least five warehouse workers in Spain and Italy have tested positive for the coronavirus. The company says it will keep the facilities open even though Italy has issued a nationwide lockdown and Spain has declared a state of emergency. These are the first cases of warehouse employees testing positive since the initial two employees in Seattle were diagnosed on March 3. The company says it has increased safety and cleaning practices in its warehouses. -- CNBC

4. Following New Zealand closing its borders to stem the spread of COVID-19, Amazon has shut down its production of its "Lord of the Rings" series being filmed there. The $1 billion project sent 800 production staffers home for at least two weeks. They were told "there are no clear answers to when we will resume," by GSR Productions, the company coordinating the production. No one on the set had tested positive for the coronavirus at the time of the shutdown. The series had originally planned to begin streaming on Amazon Prime sometime in 2021. -- HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

5. A new Cloud Snooper attack breached Amazon's AWS cloud service firewalls, taking control of users' servers. The breach, first reported by Sophos, is thought to be the work of nation-state cybercriminals. "The attack used a Linux rootkit to get remote access and elevated permissions, as well as to deploy malware to communicate with command-and-control servers," writes Charles Davis, vice-president of engineering at FullArmor. The attack is believed to have taken place in late February. Sophos declined to reveal the victim organization. To avoid such attacks on cloud-based infrastructure, companies need more than employ perimeter firewalls, experts say. They should also have security measures that extend across a hybrid cloud environment. - TECH BEACON  

First published in Inside Compliance.

6. A Canadian couple's Amazon account was suspended Friday after they bragged to a local tabloid that they had made $30,000 in a "price-gouging scheme." The pair, who are real estate developers in Vancouver, purchased large quantities of Lysol wipes and liquid cleaners at Costco and then listed them on Amazon at prices as high as four times what they paid. They were caught when a reporter saw them in a Costco parking lot loading their Ford F-150 pickup truck with stacks of products that left the store shelves empty. “Everything we do, we're in the moment," the couple told the reporter. "We're hustlers.” -- WTXF-TV

7. Amazon is participating in Universal Studios' coming to the rescue for Americans who are house-bound during the coronavirus spread. The moviemaker is releasing movies currently in (empty) theaters to on-demand services for rental this week. "The Invisible Man," "The Hunt," and "Emma" will be on Amazon Prime, Comcast, Sky, and Apple, starting Friday. The films will rent for $19.99 per film for a 48-hour period. -- CNN

8. After dropping consistently for the last few days, Amazon stock began making a rebound today, jumping 6.5% by midday. Analysts say the bounce was due to the company's announcement that it would hire an additional 100,000 employees for its warehouses and delivery operations, and all hourly employees would receive a $2 per hour raise. Wedbush analysts say the company is also being called a "safe haven" during the coronavirus outbreak because of its ability to provide goods that may be sold out in local stores. -- CNBC

9. CNET is suggesting making several changes to your Amazon Echo, no matter how long you've owned it. Besides privacy settings, the article gives detailed instructions on how to:

  • Turn on Brief Mode so Alexa will make a sound instead of repeating what you said.
  • Set up your preferred music streaming service changing from the default Amazon Music.
  • Change the wake word so it isn't as easily triggered.
  • Turn on voice purchasing so you don't have to go online to order from Amazon.
  • Set up household profiles if you have more than one person using the Echo.

10. DEALS OF THE DAY

Amazon's Fire HD tablet is on sale today at its Black Friday price of $50. The price is down from $80 for the 16GB model. The 32GB model is also on sale for $70.

Another interesting item is 50ML Rinse-free Antibacterial Hygenic Gel. It's priced at $10.99. It's also listed as a best seller -- in Amazon's Patio, Lawn & Garden section. An astute Reddit user found this one.

Written and curated by Kathleen Walder, a writer and humorist who began her journalism career using a typewriter.  She co-hosts KatSoup, a podcast and 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 @kswalder.

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