retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

With the holidays coming, Amazon has launched a new initiative - AmazonSmile, which allows shoppers to dedicate 0.5 percent of eligible purchases to any of almost a million charities that are participating in the program, including the Red Cross and the Nature Conservancy.

According to Fast Company, "Not every item for sale at Amazon is part of the AmazonSmile program, and in particular, Subscribe and Save purchases are excluded. Amazon sales were $61 billion in 2012, so if only 10% of purchases are made through smile.amazon.com, that could drive $3 million in donations to charities."

I think this is terrific … and it will definitely have an impact on where I shop during the holidays and what I buy, since it will allow me to simultaneously show support for causes in which I believe.

The announcement comes during the same week as Amazon finally launched its Matchbook program, allowing people who have bought hardcover and paperback books from Amazon to purchase digital versions for Kindle at reduced prices - 99 cents, $1.99 and $2.99, depending on the book. Not every publisher is participating, but Amazon promises that the list will grow - especially as it is able to demonstrate how ancillary revenue is coming in as a result of the Matchbook program. (I know that there are two books that are on my bookshelf that I've never read that I've already downloaded to my Kindle/iPad … just because it's more likely that I'll read them if I have them in that format. And I can think of dozens more on my shelves for which I'd do the same thing.)

Here's the analysis from Fast Company that I think is germane:

"The decision to squeeze revenue even further with a charitable giveaway reads as the latest move in founder/CEO Jeff Bezos's maverick playbook. With moves like same-day delivery and the Matchbook program, he has proven himself again and again unafraid, even gleeful, to leave money on the table if it will help his company undercut competitors and distinguish itself in inspiring customer loyalty."

Or, there's my metaphor, which has always been that Bezos is playing chess while many of his competitors are playing checkers.
KC's View: