business news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• Statistics analysis firm Statista is out with a study projecting that online grocery shopping in the US - tracked at $14.2 billion in 2017 - are likely to reach $29.7 billion by 2021.

Grocery sales through online platforms, the story points out, “represent a very small part of the overall grocery retail market, but are amongst the fastest growing segment.”

• Amazon yesterday announced that MLB.TV will now be available via Prime Video, “allowing Prime members to subscribe to MLB.TV and stream regular season out-of-market baseball games live and on-demand, all from the Prime Video service.”

The announcement notes that “MLB.TV joins an expanding, top tier selection of live and on-demand sports content available on Prime Video, including NFL Thursday Night Football games, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball tournaments, and the Laver Cup tennis tournament available to Prime members around the world, and English Premier League matches, the US Open, and the men’s ATP World Tour available in the UK.”

it is interesting that Amazon took a swing at this pitch as the same time as it reportedly is negotiating to acquire a minority share in the YES Network, which would team it up with the New York Yankees in the ownership of the regional sports network that features Yankees games. The presumption has been that Amazon probably would like to feature Yankees games on Prime Video; the MLB deal illustrates yet again the degree to which Amazon wants to expand its ecosystem.

• Amazon yesterday announced that it is launching a new line of “quality skin care products” called Belei, which it says offers “solutions for various skin types and feature ingredients with proven effectiveness. The collection has 12 different items, including everything from retinol moisturizer to vitamin C serums, to help customers address common skincare concerns like acne, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, dehydration, dullness and more.”

“Our goal is to help customers spend less time and money searching for the right skincare solutions,” said Kara Trousdale, Amazon’s Head of Beauty for Private Brands, in a prepared statement. “We took a simple, no-nonsense approach when creating Belei, developing products with ingredients that are both proven to deliver results and also offer customers great value for the quality.”

CNBC reports that there seems to be some evidence that Amazon “is aggressively blocking money-losing products from advertising on its site … telling more vendors, or brand owners who sell their goods wholesale, that if Amazon can't sell those products to consumers at a profit, it won't let them pay to promote the items. For example, if a $5 water bottle costs Amazon that amount to store, pack and ship, the maker of the water bottle won't be allowed to advertise it.”

The story notes that this approach “reflects a broader push to squeeze earnings out of a historically low-margin business.”

An Amazon spokesperson tells CNBC that “the company is doing what retailers have done for decades. ‘Like all retailers, Amazon decides which products to market and promote in our stores based on a variety of factors, such as relevancy, availability, profitability and other factors,’ the spokesperson said.”
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