retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is saying that it "will create 30,000 part-time positions in the U.S. over the next year, nearly doubling the total as its customer base and sprawling warehouse network expand. Of the jobs, 25,000 will be warehouse positions and the remaining 5,000 home-based positions answering customer calls, emails and chats in what the online retail giant calls its virtual customer-service department."

The story goes on: "Amazon’s workforce has been growing rapidly in recent years as it builds dozens of warehouses to be closer to customers, which reduces shipping costs and allows the company to deliver more of its own packages. Last year the world-wide workforce grew 48%, to 341,400. Tom Weiland, vice president for world-wide customer service, said a rapidly growing customer base is the reason for more than doubling the size of the U.S. virtual customer-service program."

• The New York Times reports that Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said yesterday that his goal is to sell $1 billion worth of Amazon stock every year to finance his Blue Origin space exploration company.

Bezos yesterday "showed off the reusable rocket booster and the mock-up of the capsule that will take people up for panoramic views back down at earth ... Mr. Bezos, who hopes to build Blue Origin into a commercial and tourist venture, also disclosed that it would cost about $2.5 billion to develop an even bigger rocket, New Glenn, capable of lifting satellites and, eventually, people into orbit."

Saying that he believes that reusable rocket parts are key "to lowering the price of admission to the field," and leading to a “golden age of space exploration.” Bezos said, “If we can make access to space low-cost, then entrepreneurs will be unleashed. You will see creativity, you will see dynamism, you will see the same thing in space that I’ve witnessed on the internet in the last 20 years.”

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon has reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will result in its "refunding as much as $70 million to consumers for in-app purchases made by children."

The FTC said that Amazon "agreed to end appeals related to a federal-court decision last year that found Amazon was liable for in-app purchases children made over the course of about five years without their parents’ authorization due to the lack of sufficient safeguards. The court also ruled last year that Amazon had implemented sufficient safeguards since the case began, rejecting the FTC’s attempt to require more consent from Amazon customers."
KC's View: