A.: Yes. Amazon recently began experimenting with making some purchases eligible only Prime members. For instance, popular video games such as FIFA 16 can only be purchased from Amazon if you're a Prime subscriber. Similarly, earlier this year when Amazon restocked its Nintendo Switch inventory, the console was only available for Prime members. This may be a sign of things to come where Amazon becomes more like Costco or Walmart, requiring membership before you can shop.
Deborah Weinswig, CEO and Founder of Coresight Research, weighs in, noting, “Consumers with Prime memberships are meaningfully more likely to buy nontraditional categories on Amazon. Prime members are naturally a self-selecting group of Amazon shoppers, because only regular customers would opt for a membership. But we think that once consumers become members, they see the value of buying types of products on the site that they may not traditionally associate with Amazon, such as groceries and clothing. That’s why Prime memberships are so important.”
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On the surface, the move into the private label business (in which goods are sold under the retailer’s name rather than that of an outside vendor) appears to be a deft move by Amazon. Analysts predict that nearly half of all online shopping in the United States will be conducted on Amazon’s platform in the next couple of years. That creates a massive opportunity for Amazon to more than double revenue from its in-house brands to $25 billion in the next four years, according to analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. That’s the equivalent of all of Macy’s revenue last year.
And as far as American consumers go, Amazon's heft has not hurt the brand, which remains one of the most trusted. The NPR/Marist survey found a staggering 67 percent of American online shoppers say they have "quite a lot" or "a great deal" of trust in Amazon to protect their privacy and personal information, even though the majority of them had little to no such confidence in online retailers in general.
In April, Bezos announced that Prime membership had exceeded 100 million paid members worldwide. Bezos unveiled the figure in his annual shareholder letter — published since 1997 and widely considered a must-read among executives and business leaders around the globe — and noted that in 2017, Prime gained more new members than in any previous year. By comparison, Netflix at the time had 125 million subscribers.
And while Amazon’s brands have quickly gained market share on its platform in some areas, in other segments, such as apparel, they account for less than 1 percent of the inventory sold. And when broadened out to include brick-and-mortar stores, its online share of the battery market equals less than 5 percent. Until Amazon’s share of the total market starts to reach closer to 40 percent or more, it is difficult to argue there is an attempted-monopolization case, say legal experts.
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On top of 4-star, Amazon has expanded its retail presence beyond its Whole Foods purchase. Amazon opened its first bookstore in 2015 and now boasts over 15 Amazon Books locations throughout the U.S., with plans to open more. Furthermore, the e-commerce power runs four cashierless convenience store-style, Amazon-Go locations along with pop-up stores.
Amazon product lines include several media (books, DVDs, music CDs, videotapes, and software), apparel, baby products, consumer electronics, beauty products, gourmet food, groceries, health and personal-care items, industrial & scientific supplies, kitchen items, jewelry and watches, lawn and garden items, musical instruments, sporting goods, tools, automotive items and toys & games.