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• The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon "has begun handling shipment of goods by ocean to its U.S. warehouses from Chinese merchants selling on its site—taking on a role it previously left to global freight-transportation companies. The move marks Amazon’s latest step in a multiyear effort to build out its delivery business. The company doesn’t own or operate ships, but is openly acting as a global freight forwarder and third-party logistics provider, categories of companies that book space on ocean vessels and truck goods between ports and warehouses."

The story says that "Amazon has helped ship at least 150 containers of goods from China since October, according to shipping documents collected at ports of entry that were compiled by Ocean Audit, a company specializing in ocean-freight refund recovery for shippers ... Its new steps to press ahead with ocean-shipping operations move Amazon into direct competition for business that previously was handled by companies including United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp."

Amazon, the Journal notes, also "plans to lease 40 cargo jets and bought branded semi trailers. The company has said that it needs to build out its delivery business to ensure the ability to deliver the growing amount of merchandise its customers order."

TechCrunch reports that Amazon has announced "a new subscription program aimed at parents called STEM Club, which delivers educational toys to your home for $19.99 per month. The retailer says it will hand-pick which toys are shipped, and will ensure the items are age-appropriate. And by 'STEM,' of course, Amazon means the toys will be focused on the areas of science, technology, engineering and math."

The toys shipped by Amazon as part of the program will all be either new items or those exclusive to the online retailer.

The idea of STEM toys is a good one, and the subscription well is something that Amazon likes to go back to again and again. But I'm not sure I'd want or need a new toy every month ... but then again, I may not be typical.
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