business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From Engadget:

"Instacart has teamed up with Best Buy to offer same-day delivery. The option is available for almost every Best Buy store across the US via the Instacart app .. As part of the partnership, Instacart has rolled out a feature called Certified Delivery. That will allow you and shoppers to track orders with high-value products, and to confirm delivery and receipt of them. Instacart will enable the feature for other retailers in the coming months."

•  In the UK, The Sun reports that Aldi "is rolling out its Deliveroo home delivery service to 129 stores in total by the end of the year.  The speedy delivery sees customers order groceries online for same-day delivery - and it could arrive within 30 minutes."

While Aldi does not do its own deliveries in the UK, it is rolling out a click-and-collect service that is expected to be in some 200 of its stores by the end of the year, the story says.

•  Amazon this morning announced that it is introducing a number of ways to make the end-of-year holiday shopping easier and "spoiler free" for shoppers. Among them are Amazon Map Tracking, which "lets customers view the progress of their delivery on a map in real-time when the driver is close" … Amazon Share Tracking, which "gives customers the option to send tracking information to friends or family, so they know when to expect their package and bring their delivery indoors" … and Amazon Photo-On-Delivery, which "provides visual delivery confirmation, showing customers that their package was delivered and where it was placed by the driver."

The Amazon press release, which also touts Amazon Hubs and Lockers as options for people trying to keep their holiday shopping choices a secret, also makes the point that the entire network is "powered by incredible employees coming together to deliver magical experiences for customers."

Some of this stuff isn't new, but may be seen by consumers as having new relevance at a time when a lot more people are at home all day than ever before.

I also think there is a broader message here - which is that it isn't enough to just have lots of last mile options, but also to own it as much as possible.  Which clearly is what Amazon is trying to do.  If Amazon takes responsibility for the entire experience and it is able to deliver on the vast majority of its promises - which I think it does - then it also gets the credit and becomes the preferred option for most consumers.  Which is the end game.

•  The Wall Street Journal spends a day in the life of Deborah Liljegren, who "joined in April as it raced to add warehouse workers to keep up with soaring demand from homebound shoppers."  Now, the story says, she "is a stower at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Kenosha, Wis., where she helps organize items that go into packages. She took the position after being laid off from her accounting job at an advertising firm in March, a shift that has taken her from performing clerical duties in an office to working a fast-paced, physically demanding position inside the one-million-square-foot Amazon facility."

Her day is exhausting.  In fact, just reading about it is exhausting, and you can do so here.  

•  From CNBC:

"Amazon’s glasses that let you talk to Alexa are now available for anyone to purchase.

"The new Echo Frames cost $249.99 and will ship Dec. 10. Amazon launched the Frames at its annual hardware event last year as part of its lineup of 'Day 1' products, but they were only available to consumers on an invitation-only basis.

"Amazon introduced improvements to the second-generation Echo Frames based on feedback from invite-only users.

Among the updates are up to 40% longer battery life, an auto off feature to maximize battery life when the glasses aren’t in use, an upgraded 'VIP Filter,' which now not only lets users prioritize notifications from certain apps and contacts, but also calendar alerts and group messages, as well as an 'Auto Volume' feature that automatically adjusts the device’s volume based on the noise level of a user’s surrounding environment … The lenses are clear but Amazon said customers can get prescription lenses put in at a LensCrafters store."

•  The Economic Times reports that "Jeff Bezos gave $684 million of Inc. stock to non-profits, days after posting on Instagram that he’d chosen 16 organizations to be the first recipients of money from the Bezos Earth Fund," which is described as "a $10 billion endeavor to combat climate change."

According to the story, "The world’s richest man donated 220,825 shares of the e-commerce juggernaut, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Amazon founder has given away stock worth $856 million this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which estimates his fortune at $183.6 billion."