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Amazon’s Rivals Borrow from Its Playbook

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Dec. 4 2020, Updated 10:42 a.m. ET

Operating stores with fewer workers

Amazon’s (AMZN) lead in e-commerce also means it has become an example for its competitors. Amazon rivals have borrowed from its playbook to bolster their campaigns and counter Amazon’s moves. Reuters reported on June 13 that Microsoft (MSFT) was building technology that would allow traditional retailers such as Walmart (WMT) to operate cashierless stores to rival the Amazon Go store.

Amazon Go technology allows shoppers to enter an Amazon Go store, select the items they want to buy, and leave. Shoppers’ Amazon accounts are automatically billed as they leave the store, and they can skip standing in the checkout line. Highly automated stores like Amazon Go can also help retailers operate physical stores with fewer workers, cutting their operating expenses.

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Flipkart Plus challenges Amazon Prime

Last month, Alibaba (BABA) invested in a startup that develops facial recognition technology that can be used to power unnamed stores. This report fueled speculation that the Chinese e-commerce giant could be on track to open its version of the Amazon Go stores. JD.com (JD), a domestic rival of Alibaba, already runs nearly two dozen unnamed stores across China, Bloomberg reported.

In India, Flipkart has developed its version of the Amazon Prime program called Flipkart Plus. Like Amazon Prime, Flipkart Plus offers subscribers benefits such as free delivery of goods they purchase from Flipkart’s online retail platform. Walmart is in the process of buying a majority stake in Flipkart.

eBay Plus enters Australia

eBay (EBAY) also has its version of Amazon Prime called eBay Plus, which recently launched in Australia. Amazon disclosed in April that its Prime program had attracted over 100 million members globally. 

Prime members pay $119 per year. Amazon’s subscription services revenues, including Prime membership fees, rose 57.% year-over-year to $3.4 billion.

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