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• The Seattle Times reports that Amazon is opening a new Amazon 4-Star store “at the foot of Amazon’s newest corporate office tower on Westlake Avenue” in its headquarters city, featuring some 2,000 SKUs that all “average at least four out of five stars from those who have purchased them, or have been selected because they are new or trending on Amazon’s website.”

The story says that “under each item is a digital price tag that updates as Amazon algorithms adjust pricing — usually by pennies — as many as five times a day … The tags also show a lower price for Prime members, highlighting a benefit of Amazon’s $119-a-year shipping and digital-media service.”

The Times writes that “the Seattle store will not accept cash at first, though Amazon is transitioning to include that payment method at all its locations.”

Amazon has been operating 4-Star stores in New York City, Northern California, and Colorado, with another planned for Dallas. The interesting thing about the format is that the selection can vary with geography - top rated items in New York City may be different in Seattle, and Amazon can use its deep well of data to customize these stores. Which strikes me as an enormous competitive advantage.

• Ahold Delhaize-owned Food Lion has announced that it plans to expand its click-and-collect service to additional stores that it operates in North Carolina and Virginia, with expectations that it will eventually be chain-wide.

CNBC reports that Amazon “is launching a new donations program, called FBA Donations, for third-party sellers that store their inventory in Amazon’s warehouses in the U.S. and U.K. … The donation program will become the default option for all sellers when they choose to dispose of their unsold or unwanted products stored in Amazon warehouses across those two countries … The donations will be distributed to a network of U.S. nonprofits through a group called Good360 and UK charities such as Newlife and Barnardo’s.”

The story notes that Amazon had been criticized for “routinely destroying unsold and unwanted inventory, with one French TV documentary estimating Amazon to have destroyed over 3 million products in France last year.”

• Earlier this week, it was Walmart that was being attacked for selling online t-shirts that seemed to promote gun violence.

Now, Amazon is being attacked for some of the t-shirts it is selling … except that in this case, the t-shirts have slogans on them that “support anti-government protesters in Hong Kong,” and that attacks are coming from the Chinese social media community.

Amazon closed down its Chinese business earlier this year, but products still can be shipped there from outside the country.
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