Amazon Shopping Updates – Spotlight #398

1. Good Monday Morning

It’s Sept. 27th. Facebook executive Antigone Davis is due to appear before a Senate Commerce subcommittee on Thursday following the recent Facebook Files debacle we wrote about last week. She is Facebook’s Head of Safety and will undoubtedly be the target of senators attempting to dunk on the social media company. The Wall Street Journal’s five part expose included revelations that the company knew it was credibly linked to teen suicide ideation, allowing public figures to flout rules, and active use of the platform by drug cartels and other criminals.

A new AP report this weekend about Neo-Nazis in Europe thriving and selling merchandise on Facebook will also undoubtedly draw questions. And Facebook’s own Oversight Board says it is also looking into the recent disclosures.

Today’s Spotlight is 1,271 words — about a 4 1/2 minute read.

2. News To Know Now

Quoted:”We have always thought that the Mafia is violent, that it does beatdowns and homicides … We had never seen the Mafia focusing on these cybercrimes. Clearly they are undergoing a transformation to the digital era.” — Beatriz Gomez Hermosilla, head of the Cybercrime Unit of Spain’s Policia Nacional to Vice.

a) Restaurant tech company Toast went public last week and now has a $33 billion valuation — more than 4 times greater than last year. In addition to its point-of-sale software for restaurants, Toast also competes with DoorDash and Grubhub in online ordering.

b) More startup billionaires: Bloomberg reports that 34-year-old Melanie Perkins is now worth $5.9 billion, making her the richest self-made female billionaire under 40. Perkins and her 35-year-old husband Cliff Oberecht founded web-based graphic company Canva.

c) Twitter has opened its Tips services for all account holders. Anyone can now easily add links to Patreon, GoFundMe, Venmo, and similar services. 

3. Search Engine News — Sorting Out Duplicate Content Issues

The concept of duplicate content on multiple websites arose again this week. As is often the case, Google’s statements are precise and nuanced. The business press often doesn’t use that level of nuance nor do readers often know or care. Breaking it down:

1. There is no duplicate content penalty.

Google’s statement appears correct. A website that publishes identical content won’t be penalized, but it also will almost certainly not be displayed for identical content. You’ve probably seen this statement:

In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to …”

That’s where the identical copy goes to hide.

2. What about manufacturer product descriptions?

That’s the question that started Google’s latest comments on this issue. Search exec John Mueller says it’s fine. Google checks to see if “the whole page” is the same. That’s truly identical copying. He elaborated that the descriptions used to form snippets are an important part of that process because Google doesn’t want to display the same snippets in multiple parts of the same page.

3. How do you avoid a page with manufacturer specs and descriptions ending up in omitted results?

We’ve run into this with clients, and you won’t like that the answer is adding original content to that page. That’s one reason why user reviews are often found as part of product descriptions. One strategy we’ve practiced: high margin items protected at all costs with very original, well-written content and appropriate links to related and add-on products.

4. Spotlight Explainer — Amazon Shopping Evolution

We’ve seen a lot of news about the latest Amazon shopping and retail initiatives as we reach 60 days before Black Friday (sorry). Here is what we’re tracking:

Department Stores: The Wall Street Journal followed its August scoop about Amazon opening department stores with a report last week that fleshes out the concept. Look for shoppers to use automation including QR code scanning and fitting rooms with touch screens. Also on tap: Amazon’s private label clothing brands sold side-by-side with third party clothing. The first locations are slated for San Francisco and Columbus, Ohio.

Grocery Delivery: The company finally got its arms around the five retail brands it once marketed for groceries. Now its making Whole Foods a little more expensive for its Amazon Prime members. Grocery delivery from Whole Foods will now cost $9.95 each time — a rate that the company tested in Chicago and Boston. Amazon Fresh delivery remains fee-free as do Whole Foods pickup orders.

Warehouse Conditions: Long an Achilles heel of the company, California stepped in with new legislation to protect workers in large warehouses. A new law that takes effect in January forbids companies from imposing quotas that prevent workers from using a bathroom or what Amazon calls “time off task”. Workers who believe the productivity rate is unsafe can request details including three months of their personal metrics.

Amazon Prime Growth: eMarketer projects that 63% of U.S. households now have Prime — up from 35% just five years ago. That’s important because Prime members spend more than twice what non-Prime members spend each year at Amazon shopping.

5. Did That Really Happen? — VP Posed at Same Monument As McCain 

Vice President Kamala Harris has been castigated online for weeks following her trip to Vietnam. While in Hanoi, she appeared at a monument that former Senator John McCain and other Republican senators had also visited. The vice president spoke at length about McCain and his heroism after placing flowers there.

Despite memes to the contrary, the visit was not a mistake and not anti-American. Snopes has all the data, including then Sen. McCain’s words and pictures from his visit to the same monument nine years ago.

6. Following Up — Apple Keeps Fortnite Ban Intact

You may remember that Apple banned hit game Fortnite from its app store after software maker Epic allowed users to pay fees directly. Apple executives went public last week in saying that Fortnite would not be allowed back in the store “until the district court’s judgment becomes final and non-appealable.”

7. Protip — Microsoft World Without Passwords

PC and Xbox users will undoubtedly be interested in a world without passwords for Microsoft Office or Windows. This Wired how-to shows you the different ways that you can transition to using phone codes and security keys to replace your Microsoft password.

Screening Room — Argia B’s Mumbo Sauce

Epicurious writes about mumbo sauce: “the bright-red, spicy, sweet sauce is as essential as napkins and to-go boxes at many of D.C.’s carry-out Chinese and soul food restaurants.” This DC local commercial is a treat. And yes, 60 days to Black Friday means 59 until that other holiday.

9. Science Fiction World — Ticketless Entry

Those nifty palm scanners you’ve seen when we write about Amazon Fresh and Whole Food stores will now be used at Colorado’s famous concert venue Red Rocks. It’s the first major installation for this Amazon technology outside the company and will allow registered concertgoers entry without a physical ticket.

10. Coffee Break — Mount Everest 3D

See real images of the different paths to conquer Everest and follow treks with live tracking. I’ve been watching guide Jon Gupta climb Manaslu for a couple of days. As I hit the send key on this issue, he’s at 7,505 meters, 600 meters from his goal.

Check out Everest 3D here.

11. Sign of the Times

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