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Entries in Amazon (29)

Saturday
Jan052013

Macy's, Sears, Amazon, Max Studio Fined for 'Bamboozling' Customers

Bloomberg News Photo by Diane Bondareff(NEW YORK) -- Four national retailers have agreed to pay $1.26 million in penalties for falsely labeling clothing and textiles as made of bamboo, when they were actually made of rayon, a synthetic material.

The Federal Trade Commission announced this week that Amazon.com, Leon Max, Inc., Macy's, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. ignored warning letters the commission sent to companies in early 2010.

Accordingly, the four companies agreed to pay penalties totaling $1.26 million to settle charges that they violated the Textile Products Identification Act and the FTC's "Textile Rules" by mislabeling and advertising products as made of bamboo.

The FTC warned that unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber, often called "mechanically processed bamboo," it can't be called bamboo.

In a guideline issued to companies, the FTC refers to the mislabeling practice as "bamboozling" customers.

Sears, which is the parent company of Kmart, agreed to pay $450,000. Amazon is paying $455,000 while Macy's will pay $250,000, and Leon Max, which produces Max Studio clothing, is paying $80,000.

The FTC said the varying penalties reflect how long the companies continued to sell mislabeled textiles after receiving the warning letter and the number of products sold.

"We cooperated with the FTC in reaching this settlement in lieu of pursuing further litigation," said Sears Holdings Corp. spokesman Howard Riefs in a statement. "We continue to take these regulations seriously."

A spokesman for Macy's declined to comment. Amazon and Max Studio did not return requests for comment.

The FTC said the companies will be required to ensure the labels and ads for bamboo textiles they sell "accurately indicate their fiber content."

For example, the FTC said Macy's allegedly used the terms "bamboo" and "bamboo fiber" on textile labels.

So-called bamboo textiles are often marketed as environmentally friendly, but the process for manufacturing rayon, even when it is made from bamboo, "is far from a 'green' one," the FTC said.

Rayon is sometimes made using "environmentally toxic chemicals in a process that emits hazardous pollutants into the air," the FTC said.

"While different plants, including bamboo, can be used as a source material to create rayon, there's no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product," the FTC said in a guide for marketers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan012013

Stocks to Watch in 2013

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's that time of year, when we all want to know what stocks we should be buying in the coming year, or thinking about buying, or steering very, very clear of. So here are seven of the biggest stocks worth keeping your eyes on.

1. Google: Not surprisingly, the top stock pick on almost every analyst's list is—you guessed it—Google. "It's a great company," Paul Larson, chief equity strategist at Morningstar, in Chicago, IL, told ABC News. "Not only do they have the best search algorithm, but they also benefit from a network effect with their ad platform. The more users on the platform, consumer and business, the better the platform becomes. They also have a rapid growth in other businesses, such as You Tube. It's just a fantastic business."

2. Kraft: Never mind that it split from its global snack business earlier this year; it still has large competitive advantages. Its portfolio includes: Kraft, Oscar Mayer, and Maxwell House, each of which generate more than $1 billion in annual sales. That doesn't include another 20-odd brands that produce more than $100 million in sales each year, and "substantial economies of scale in the North American market, with more than $19 billion in annual sales," Morningstar senior analyst Erin Lash said. "We think the market is overlooking the substantial cash flows that Kraft's grocery business generates--which we forecast at 10% of sales on average--and income investors likely will find Kraft appetizing as the firm's top priority for cash is to fund a highly competitive dividend."

3. Amazon: The Seattle, Washington-based corporation has been operating at a competitive advantage for a while. Makes sense: The company has a very strong brand name; it's one of the first places people go when they want to shop online. Plus, "They have a cost advantage from their robust distribution in that they can get time to customers cheaper than their competitors can," said Larson.

4. Yahoo: With a new CEO at the helm and a recent acquisition, all eyes have been looking to Yahoo to see what it does. "It's a dark horse that has been beaten up, but we see a lot of potential in it," said Larson.

5. Apple: With the demise of Steve Jobs, it's safe to say that Apple doesn't have the same panache it once did. But that doesn't mean it's not one of the most successful companies out there. "We think Apple continues to represent one of the best investments in technology," said Rob Cihra, tech analyst at Evercore Partners, in New York. "Apple is effectively creating its own growth by creating unique and beautiful products that consumers really want to buy, staying ahead of mostly me-too competition. They're the ones pioneering every new direction, and while there's a lot of competition, the competition seems to be following Apple's lead while Apple is consistently out front."

6. Facebook: Despite its troubles after its initial public offering, "Facebook is a fantastic business," said Larson. "They have very high profit margins, very high returns on capital. They have a billion users worldwide and half are using it on a daily basis." And, he adds, the platform has a network effect: That is, you use it because your friends do, and they use it because that's where you are.

7. IBM: At 101 years old, IBM has long been in a leadership position. And over the last ten to fifteen years the company has done an "excellent job of transforming themselves from a hardware company into really high value software and services company, to the point that it's the only game in town for a lot of what it does," said Cihra. "They are typically the best at what they do."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec052012

Amazon Looks to Make Kindle Fire HD Top Kids' Tablet

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- Many have heard about the ongoing tablet war -- the one where Google, Microsoft and every other major tech company are going after Apple's long-ruling iPad.  But there's another battle being fought for the best kids' tablet.

According to Nielsen, kids between the age of 6 and 12 have one major gift request this holiday season: the iPad.  Topping children's wish lists are not only Apple's iPad but its iPad Mini and iPod Touch.  

Other companies are trying their hardest to get a piece of the kid tablet market.

On Wednesday, Amazon announced an additional feature for its already kid-friendly Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.  While it already offers a FreeTime feature, which provides a special child environment and gives parents control over usage, it is adding FreeTime Unlimited, a service that provides an all-you-can-eat plan for children's books, movies, apps and games.

Those who already have Amazon Prime, a service that includes savings and free shipping on many items for a yearly charge, will be able to get FreeTime Unlimited for $2.99 a month per child or $6.99 a month per family.  Those who are not Prime members will have to pay $4.99 per month per child or $9.99 per family.

For those prices, buyers will get unlimited access to most of Amazon's kids' books and many of its TV shows.  Popular kids' apps are also free.

"If you are a parent this lets you sign up for services, get all the content, and trust that it has been curated," Peter Larson, Vice President of Amazon Kindle, told ABC News in an interview.  Amazon has also removed the ads in games and apps for FreeTime Unlimited users.

Amazon is hoping that all that will strengthen its offerings in comparison to its competitors.  Amazon offers the Kindle Fire for $159, the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD for $199, and the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire for $299.

"If you think about it, an all-new Kindle Fire for $159 is a full-fledged tablet for parents, and with FreeTime it magically turns into a tablet that is just for your kids," Larson said.  "You can buy a tablet for the whole family."

Larson pointed out that with the iPad you can't create separate user accounts for children.  He said the design of the Fire, with its Gorilla Glass and rubberized back, make it "almost unbreakable."

In addition to the iPad, Nook HD from Barnes & Noble, and the Kindle Fire HD, toy companies like LeapFrog and Toys 'R' Us have put out their own tablets specially for kids.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov272012

Amazon Leads Online Sales Boom on Cyber Monday

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Cyber Monday online sales were up 28 percent compared with a year ago, according to IBM Benchmark.  And much of this was fueled by one company: Amazon.

The retail powerhouse is -- by far -- the biggest online player.

“Amazon’s sales this year are going to be about $60 billion,” says Barney Jopson, who covers the retail industry for the Financial Times.

The second-largest online retailer is Walmart, which “reckons next year it’s going to sell about $9 billion of stuff,” Jopson said.

But while consumers enjoy Amazon’s low prices and reliable deliveries, a potential downside during the holidays could be a decline in customer service and advice from knowledgeable sales people.

As Jopson explains, “Amazon is all about having the broadest possible selection and then the way they think about it is consumers can do their own research online.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov262012

From Click to Delivery: Inside Amazon's Cyber Monday Strategy

Digital Vision / Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The inner world of Amazon looks like a bustle of conveyor belts and bargains on Cyber Monday.

Amazon has 80 giant fulfillment centers strategically sprinkled around the globe that are ready to fulfill every order from click to delivery. The process follows miles of conveyer belts inside a massive 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse that is like the unseen shopping mall that never closes.

Josh Teeter is a former military intelligence officer and now the general manager of Amazon's Phoenix warehouse. The facility stocks everything from soccer balls to table cloths and one of the biggest tasks is making sure they always have enough of the right products.

"That's kind of the magic of Amazon and the selection. Making sure you have all that and it's here at the right time," Teeter said. "So we're the kind of customer facing side of that there's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure we have the right product."

You won't find any robots inside Amazon's fulfillment centers. Orders pop up on a scanner, get plucked from a shelf by hand and are then dropped into a barcoded yellow bin.

Amazon added a small army of extra workers in its fulfillment centers just to handle the holidays and all those electronics, tie-die fashion kits and heated pet bowls that absolutely must get out the door and fast.

"It gets very busy at this time, and folks work hard for sure but again, we bring in help we're hiring 50,000 seasonal employees to help meet that demand and we're excited," Corporate Vice President Craig Berman said.

Amazon has faced serious complaints that workers are pushed to the limit in tough conditions and encouraged not to report on the job injuries. But Berman was quick to point out that their employees actually make far better wages than their brick-and-mortar shopping mall counterparts.

"We are a company of constant improvement so these jobs are very, very safe jobs, and our wages, they're very well-paying jobs," Berman said.

In 2010, Cyber Monday racked up 13 million individual Amazon items sold in 24 hours. Last year the number grew to 17 million. This year, the company says, will turn out to be the biggest yet.

One of Amazon's secrets is barcodes. Everything inside their warehouses has a bar code to find it, to ship it, to track it.

But how can they have everything from medieval chainmail to clock oil and binocular magnifying glasses on hand at all times? Only part of the answer is huge inventory. The other part comes from small business owners like Dan O'Donnell whose tiny jewelry supply store, which sells that clock oil, has exploded by selling through Amazon. This small businesses' stuff show's up on Amazon's website and Amazon gets a cut of the action.

But despite the huge inventory and third party sellers, Amazon still can't guarantee the lowest prices, so be sure to shop around for the best deals.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

A Tough Week for the Internet as Major Sites Experience Outages

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Last week it was YouTube for a few minutes, but this week it was more than just the streaming video service that wasn't available to Internet users.

Earlier this week, Amazon's Web Services went down causing sites that rely on Amazon's servers to go down too. Popular sites like Reddit, Pinterest, and Foursquare all experienced outages as a result. The outage lasted for a few hours on Tuesday, and naturally many took to Twitter to complain about the fact that people couldn't get to their services. Twitter itself experienced its fair share of outages.

On Friday a separate outage occurred. Google's App Engine, which powers other sites, along with Dropbox and Tumblr experienced outages. The outage lasted close to two hours for many of the services.

"At approximately 7:30 am Pacific time this morning, Google began experiencing slow performance and dropped connections from one of the components of App Engine. The symptoms that service users would experience include slow response and an inability to connect to services," Google wrote on its site.

Similarly Tumblr tweeted about the outage: "Tumblr is experiencing network problems following an issue with one of our uplink providers. We will return to full service shortly." Two hours later, Tumblr tweeted that the errors had been fixed and it was back online.

"It used to be back in the day, four or five years ago, systems weren't dependent on each other. But now even standard websites -- the things people go to all the time -- are made up of 50 or 100 services that are serving ads and tracking information," Brian Gracely, a Cloud computing expert and editor of CloudCast.net, explained to ABC News. "If one of the big services or an Amazon or Google goes down it can affect hundreds of other services."

Tuesday and Friday's outages don't appear to be related, but according to the Internet Traffic Report, traffic across the web in North America declined Friday. The Next Web points out that the same report shows that there was a loss in packet data, which measures reliability of Internet connections.

These issues do not appear to be weather related either. However, many Internet providers will be preparing as Hurricane Sandy makes its way to the East Coast.

"These companies, like Google and Amazon, run the equivalent of what used to be 20th century factories. They are really large and occasionally they have an outage because they have a power failure or weather issues," Gracely said. "It happens periodically, and it used to happen more than we knew, but nowadays we are so connected we know about it more," told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct162012

Amazon to Hire More than 50K Workers for Holiday Shopping Season

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- In preparation for the holiday shopping season, Amazon.com is ramping up its workforce at its fulfillment centers across the U.S.

“In addition to the thousands of people we’ve hired for full-time jobs this year, we’re proud to be adding more than 50,000 seasonal jobs this holiday,” Dave Clark, vice president, Global Customer Fulfillment, said in a statement Tuesday.  “We’re hiring at our sites across the U.S. for talented individuals to help us deliver a great experience for our customers this holiday season."

Clark says many of these temporary workers may stay with Amazon past the holidays.

"Temporary associates play a critical role in meeting increased customer demand during the holiday season, and we expect thousands of temporary associates will stay on in full-time positions,” he said.

The Seattle-based online retailer says it has more than 20,000 employees across its 40 U.S. fulfillment centers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct122012

Report: Best Buy to Match Prices of Online Competitors

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Another big retailer is said to be playing hardball with Amazon.

The Wall Street Journal reports Best Buy is planning to match the price of its online competitors during the holiday shopping season and offer free home delivery on items that are sold out in stores.

Walmart has already stopped selling Amazon's Kindle e-reader and rolled out plans for a same-day delivery service for online shoppers in some big metropolitan markets. 

The Journal says Best Buy is attempting to fight back against "showrooming" -- which occurs when consumers walk into stores and then shop online for a cheaper price.

"Best Buy is still working out the details of its Internet price matching program, which might exclude some items," the newspaper says.

Toys 'R Us has been taking a different strategy: expanding its large range of exclusive products and adding more pop-up stores for the holidays.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct102012

Walmart, Amazon Roll Out Same-Day Delivery for Online Orders

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just in time for the holiday shopping season, two retailing giants are gearing up for same-day package delivery for goods purchased online.

Walmart to Go is being test marketed in several cities across the country.  The service was first rolled out in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.’s Virginia suburbs.  Now, it’s set to expand to Minneapolis and then to parts of northern California.

Walmart’s move comes weeks after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said his company is aiming for same-day delivery in major metropolitan regions.  The moves are part of a growing rivalry between Walmart, the biggest brick and mortar retailer, and Amazon, the number one online firm.

Walmart to Go will cost $10 per shipment regardless of the size of the order, and has to be ordered before noon for delivery from a local store on the same day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD: $15 to Lose Pre-Loaded Ads

Amazon(NEW YORK) -- Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD starts at $199, but it will cost $214 if you don’t want ads on your screen.

Last week when Amazon unveiled the new tablets it didn’t mention that the company would be getting a bit more aggressive in marketing Amazon.com books, movies, and deals to tablet users.

Amazon told ABC News last week that the all Kindle Fires would come with its “Special Offers,” which, like the offers on the current Kindle e-readers, show full-screen ads when the device is powered off or in sleep mode. Amazon said there was no way to disable them on the Kindle Fire HD tablets. On the tablets, the offers or the ads appear on the lock screen and include ads for movies or books you might want to buy through Amazon’s store.

However, Amazon changed its tune over the weekend and now says it will offer users a $15 option to disable the ads. “We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out.  We’re happy to offer customers the choice,” an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to ABC News.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said last week that Amazon is able to make its hardware so affordable because it wants to make its money after you get it out of the box. “We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,” he said. Through advertising, Amazon hopes you’ll be alerted to even more content and then in turn you’ll buy that movie or album right on the device.

The new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, which has a dual-core processor, improved MIMO Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers, will start shipping Sept. 14. The 8.9-inch version, which has a higher resolution screen, will ship later in November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio