retail news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "DoorDash Inc., Grubhub Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc.’s Uber Eats division are suing New York City over its law permanently capping the amount of commissions the apps can charge restaurants to use their services, the latest move in a growing clash between the platforms and local regulators.

"The three largest food-delivery companies filed the suit in federal court in New York late Thursday, contending that the fee cap is harmful and constitutes government overreach. The limit on fees has cost the companies hundreds of millions of dollars combined through July, they said in the suit.

"A permanent cap will likely require them to rewrite contracts with restaurants, reduce marketing in the city and raise fees for consumers, the companies said in the complaint.

The companies are seeking an injunction that would prevent New York from enforcing the fee-cap ordinance adopted last month, unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial."


•  CNBC reports that Amazon yesterday said it would begin selling its own branded television sets.

According to the story, "There will be two versions — the high-end Amazon Fire TV Omni Series and the more affordable Amazon Fire TV 4-Series — each available in different sizes. They go on sale in October at prices ranging from $369.99 to $1,099.99."

There are two goals:  "to better integrate its Fire TV software with Alexa voice controls," as well as to give Amazon "the power to set its own prices, which means it could undercut competitors the way it does with its Fire tablets, which sell for a fraction of the price of Apple’s iPads."

CNBC notes that "until now, Amazon has sold streaming sticks that plug into TVs, and has worked with other manufacturers, like Toshiba and Insignia in the U.S., to build TV sets with its own Amazon Fire interface, which offers voice control and easy access to Amazon Prime video and other streaming services.

"Competitors like Roku and Google have followed a similar path with plug-in sticks and third-party manufacturers.

"But Amazon is the first of those to launch its own TV."


•  Amazon yesterday announced that it plans to "expand the education and skills training benefits it offers to its U.S. employees with a total investment of $1.2 billion by 2025. Through its popular Career Choice program, the company will fund full college tuition, as well as high school diplomas, GEDs, and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency certifications for its front-line employees - including those who have been at the company for just three months. Amazon is also adding three new education programs to provide employees with the opportunity to learn skills within data center maintenance and technology, IT, and user experience and research design."