retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Amazon yesterday announced that its Q4 net income was $1.9 billion, up from $749 million during the same period a year ago. Net sales increased 38 percent to $60.5 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $43.7 billion in fourth quarter 2016.

For the full year, net income was $3.0 billion, compared with net income of $2.4 billion in 2016. Net sales increased 31 percent to $177.9 billion, compared with $136.0 billion in 2016.

In 2017, Amazon said, “more than five billion items shipped with Prime worldwide,” and “more new paid members joined Prime in 2017 than any previous year — both worldwide and in the U.S.”

The company said that it “hired nearly 130,000 employees globally in 2017, excluding acquisitions. Additionally, Amazon now employs more than 17,500 veterans and military spouses across the U.S., and plans to hire over 10,000 more by 2021.”

Reuters writes about how “perhaps the surprise star of the past quarter was Amazon’s voice aide Alexa, embedded in the company’s Echo speakers and Fire TV players, as well as some cars and house gadgets.” The company says that “millions of Amazon customers ordered goods by voice with Alexa in the past year.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder/CEO, says that “2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them. We don’t see positive surprises of this magnitude very often — expect us to double down.”
KC's View:
So much for the folks who say that Amazon doesn’t make any money.

Hard to see much stuff here that isn’t good news for Amazon. When I read the reports, all I see is an ecosystem that is expanding and in which all the pieces seem to work really well with each other.

It actually is kind of scary.

And it doesn’t seem to stop. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Amazon “has applied for a patent on technology to deliver items inside your home using a robotic courier. An Amazon patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes an ‘autonomous ground vehicle’ that could ferry orders between a delivery truck and a home's front porch or hallway.”

Forget the last mile. The real action, apparently, is the last three or four feet.