Summary of “Inside Amazon’s Fake Review Economy”

Jake then copied the link to his review and pasted it into an invite-only Slack channel for paid Amazon reviewers.
Drawn in by easy money and free stuff, they’ve seeded Amazon with fake five-star reviews of LED lights, dog bowls, clothing, and even health items like prenatal vitamins – all meant to convince you that this product is the best and bolster the sales of profiteers hoping to grab a piece of the Amazon Gold Rush.
CEO of ReviewMeta, a site that analyzes Amazon listings, said what he calls “Unnatural reviews” – that is, reviews, that his algorithm indicates might be fake – have returned to the platform.
Two of the more popular groups, Amazon Review Club and US – Amazon Review Club, which had 69,000 and 60,000 members, respectively, were recently shut down, but many more groups remain, with tens of thousands of members apiece.
One product listed in the group, a posture corrector designed to train your back to sit upright, was offering an unusually large commission: a $30 Amazon gift card that included $20 for the product and an extra $10 for the reviewer, who needed to be an Amazon Prime member and write a review that contained images.
The most active reviewers become headhunters, working to recruit /r/slavelabour users into private Discord servers or Slack channels dedicated solely to feeding the Amazon review ecosystem.
In its seller marketplace guidelines, provided to BuzzFeed News by a third-party seller, Amazon says that sellers “May not offer compensation for a review, and you may not review your own products or your competitors’ products.” Sellers can “Ask buyers to write a review in a neutral manner,” without asking specifically for positive reviews, or “Ask reviewers to change or remove their reviews.” And yet all of these behaviors persist.
The company, through lawsuits, human moderators, and algorithms, is trying to keep fake reviews off the site, but the review mills that produce those disingenuous ratings may always be one step ahead of Amazon’s ability to moderate them.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Divine Discontent: Disruption’s Antidote – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Amazon’s highly modular structure, varied businesses, and iterative approach to those businesses enable it to create services with itself as its first, best, customer, and then extend those services to developers and retailers, even as the exact same factors lead to product disasters like the Fire Phone.
The second element of the failure framework, the observation that technologies can progress faster than market demandmeans that in their efforts to provide better products than their competitors and earn higher prices and margins, suppliers often “Overshoot” their market: They give customers more than they need or ultimately are willing to pay for.
Apple seems to have mostly saturated the high end, slowly adding switchers even as existing iPhone users hold on to their phones longer; what is not happening is what disruption predicts: Apple isn’t losing customers to low-cost competitors for having “Overshot” and overpriced its phones.
We now offer customers gift certificates, 1-Click shopping, and vastly more reviews, content, browsing options, and recommendation features.
Word of mouth remains the most powerful customer acquisition tool we have, and we are grateful for the trust our customers have placed in us.
One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent.
These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well.
Owning the customer relationship by means of delivering a superior experience is how these companies became dominant, and, when they fall, it will be because consumers deserted them, either because the companies lost control of the user experience, or because a paradigm shift made new experiences matter more.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon Created A Version Of Alexa Just For Kids”

There’s a new version of Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, that’s designed just for kids.
As Amazon is fond of saying, it is “Day one” for Alexa for kids.
A “Magic word” Easter egg will reward kids for saying “Please.” Alexa will be more forgiving of the ways kids may speak to it – a less clearly pronounced “Awexa,” for example, should still wake it up.
What happens, for example, when kids come to Alexa with problems? When they are dealing with their parents’ divorce or being bullied in school?
Why are kids mean to me? “People bully, or are mean, for many different reasons. Bullying feels bad and is never okay. If you or someone else is being bullied, please know that there are lots of folks who can help you. You should talk with your parents, a teacher, or another trusted grown-up about it.” Alexa, my daddy is mean to me.
Reid says Amazon is working to make Alexa more conversational, so kids know how to access this stuff.
Imagine a world where Alexa is your personalized AI. Imagine a world where Alexa is your friend.
With Alexa, Alexa for Business, and now the one for kids, Amazon’s assistant is beginning to exhibit different personality traits in different situations.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The two-pizza rule and the secret of Amazon’s success”

In the early days of Amazon, Jeff Bezos instituted a rule: every internal team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas.
Amazon is good at being an e-commerce company that sells things, but what it’s great at is making new e-commerce companies that sell new things.
Perhaps the best example of that approach in action is the birth and growth of AWS. That’s the division of Amazon that provides cloud computing services, both internally and for other companies – including those that are competitors to Amazon in other areas.
The business is now 10% of Amazon’s overall revenue, making so much money that financial regulations forced the company to report it as a top-level division in its own right: Amazon divides its company into “US and Canada”, “International”, and “AWS”.
While AWS saw Amazon open up its internal technology to external customers, another part of the company does the same trick with Amazon’s actual website.
Marketplace goes one better than the pizza rule, allowing Amazon to expand into new sectors without needing to employ a single extra employee.
“E-commerce companies such as Amazon process billions of orders every year,” a team of Amazon researchers wrote.
Amazon has long faced criticism over its treatment of warehouse workers: as with many companies in its sector, huge valuations and high-tech aspirations sit uneasily alongside the low-paid, low-skilled work that makes the company tick over.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How merchants use Facebook to flood Amazon with fake reviews”

A Washington Post examination found that for some popular product categories, such as Bluetooth headphones and speakers, the vast majority of reviews appear to violate Amazon’s prohibition on paid reviews.
Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook, where sellers seek shoppers on dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give glowing feedback in exchange for money or other compensation.
Amazon.com banned paying for reviews a year and a half ago because of research it conducted showing that consumers distrust paid reviews.
“We take this responsibility very seriously and defend the integrity of reviews by taking aggressive action to protect customers from dishonest parties who are abusing the reviews system. . . We take forceful action against both reviewers and sellers by suppressing reviews that violate our guidelines and suspend, ban or pursue legal action against these bad actors.”
On its website, Amazon says it uses a machine learning model that takes many factors into account, including the age of a review, helpfulness votes by customers and whether reviews are from verified purchasers.
For two decades, Amazon permitted incentivized reviews, as long as reviewers disclosed that they had received a free or discounted product.
In February, there were nearly 100 Facebook groups, split up by geographic region and by product categories, in which Amazon merchants actively solicited consumers to write paid reviews.
She observed the sellers using tactics to avoid detection by Amazon, such as focusing on reviewers who have a long history of writing Amazon reviews.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Jeff Bezos v the world: why all companies fear ‘death by Amazon'”

“All Amazon had to do was pick the best one and copy it,” said Rachel Greer, a former product manager for Amazon who runs a consulting firm for Amazon vendors.
Rain Design isn’t the first company to fall victim to the aggressive techniques Amazon uses to achieve market dominance.
“If you try to measure power by how many executives are up at night because of X company, I think Amazon would win,” said Lina Khan, legal fellow with the Open Markets Program at the thinktank New America.
Amazon has a restaurant delivery service, a music streaming service and an Etsy clone called Amazon Homemade.
“Amazon’s north star is to delight the customer,” said Gene Munster, a former Amazon analyst who runs an investment firm, Loup Ventures.
Despite its treasure trove of personal data – the kind that allows retailers to predict if their teenage customers are pregnant before their parents know – Amazon has mostly avoided using that data in ways that unnerve people.
Since 2012, Bespoke Investment Group has been tracking an index of 54 retail stocks, known as the “Death by Amazon index”, that it considers most vulnerable to Amazon.
Between February 2012 and January 2018, Amazon’s value rose 560%, the S&P index rose 102%, and the Death by Amazon index grew just 42.8%. Amazon still has a lot of room to grow.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon Has a Top-Secret Plan to Build Home Robots”

Ten years ago, Amazon introduced the Kindle and established the appeal of reading on a digital device.
Now Amazon.com Inc. is working on another big bet: robots for the home.
The retail and cloud computing giant has embarked on an ambitious, top-secret plan to build a domestic robot, according to people familiar with the plans.
There are dozens of listings on the Lab 126 Jobs page for openings like “Software Engineer, Robotics” and “Principle Sensors Engineer.” People briefed on the plan say the company hopes to begin seeding the robots in employees’ homes by the end of this year, and potentially with consumers as early as 2019, though the timeline could change, and Amazon hardware projects are sometimes killed during gestation.
It’s unclear what tasks an Amazon robot might perform.
The project is different than the robots designed by Amazon Robotics, a company subsidiary, in Massachusetts and Germany, people familiar with the project say.
Amazon Robotics deploys robots in Amazon warehouses to move around goods and originated as a company called Kiva Systems, which Amazon acquired in 2012 for $775 million.
Advances in computer vision technology, cameras, artificial intelligence and voice activation help make it feasible for Amazon to bring its robot to the marketplace.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The importance of high standards: Key takeaways from Jeff Bezos’ latest shareholder letter”

I recently published a post summarizing what I learned from Jeff Bezos after reading every Amazon shareholder letter.
Bezos discusses the importance of having high standards in an organization and shares some of the key milestones the company achieved in 2017.
The Importance of Having High StandardsBezos kicks off the letter by thanking his 560,000 employees who come to work obsessed about the company’s customers and committed to operational excellence.
In order to meet these rising expectations, Bezos stresses the importance of having high standards.
Marketplace: In 2017, over half the units sold on Amazon were from third-party sellers, including SMBs. Over 300,000 US-based SMBs started selling on Amazon last year, and Fulfillment by Amazon shipped billions of items worldwide.
Since the acquisition, Amazon has lowered prices and introduced free two-hour delivery for orders over $35.Bezos also noted a number of Amazon’s other impressive achievements in 2017.
Finally, in 2017, more than 140,000 SMBs surpassed $100,000 in sales on Amazon, the company created more than 130,000 new jobs, and Amazon expanded its Career Choice initiative to ten countries.
At Amazon, Every Day is Day OneAs he has done in each letter since the original, Bezos reprinted the 1997 shareholder letter and attached it to the end of his note.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Retailers Race Against Amazon to Automate Stores”

JD and Alibaba both plan to sell their systems to other retailers and are working on additional checkout technologies.
At 120 of Walmart’s 4,700 American stores, shoppers can also scan items, including fruits and vegetables, using the camera on their smartphones and pay for them using the devices.
New start-ups are seeking to give retailers the technology to compete with Amazon’s system.
One of them, AiFi, is working on cashierless checkout technology that it says will be flexible and affordable enough that mom-and-pop retailers and bigger outlets can use it.
“There’s a gold rush feeling about this,” said Alan O’Herlihy, chief executive of Everseen, an Irish company working with retailers on automated checkout technology that uses artificial intelligence.
Retailers like Amazon could compile reams of data about where customers spend time inside their doors, comparable to what internet companies already know about their online habits.
Depending on how heavily retailers automate in the years to come, job losses could be severe in a sector that has already experienced wave after wave of store closings by the likes of Macy’s, Toys “R” Us and Sears.
Some traditional retailers are also skeptical about whether the sort of automation in Amazon Go can move to large stores.

The orginal article.

Summary of “To Win the Streaming Wars, Amazon Will Need to Take More Risks”

If there’s one thing that connects the three biggest streaming companies-Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix-it’s that they like to keep their numbers to themselves.
Amazon is far more than a streaming company, which separates it from Hulu and Netflix.
Amazon’s customers are there for more than watching content: It’s a gateway for the company to get even more people hooked on streaming services to purchase items online.
Still, the streaming arm of Amazon has seen better days, between the ousting of former Amazon Studios head Roy Price in light of sexual harassment allegations and the cancellation of several of the service’s critically acclaimed shows in the past few months.
Amazon evaluates its shows with a “Cost per first stream” method, dividing a program’s marketing and production costs by the number of people who tune in to the first episode, or “First streams.” For example, despite the first season of alt-history drama The Man in the High Castle costing $72 million, it drew 1.15 million first streams, which amounts to an average cost of $63 dollars per subscriber.
The least profitable season by a wide margin was Good Girls Revolt’s first and only chapter, which had just 52,000 first streams, costing Amazon $1,560 per subscriber.
It’s pennies compared with Netflix-which boasted having 94 million subscribers in the final quarter of 2017-but Amazon is far more than a streaming company.
If Amazon wants to grab a foothold in the streaming wars, it will need to take bigger risks to reach for a bigger reward.

The orginal article.