How Amazon Is Infiltrating The Physical World

The e-commerce giant is now fully entrenched in the tangible realm. Here’s where.

How Amazon Is Infiltrating The Physical World
At the Amazon Go store, set to open to the public in Seattle this year, customers will be able to simply walk off with merchandise. (Their accounts will be billed automatically.)

Tech Hardware

Kindle. Popular for a decade and currently in its eighth generation, the e-reader continues to have few rivals (mainly Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Kobo).

Fire OS devices. The company’s Fire TV set-top boxes and Fire sticks (cheaper, pared-down versions of the boxes) made up 22% of the streaming-media device market in 2015, beating out Apple TV. The $50 Fire tablet has become a popular competitor to the much pricier iPad.

Dash button. These small, internet-connected tabs that users can push to instantly reorder products are finally catching on: Amazon now carries Dash buttons for more than 200 brands.

Echo. The Alexa-embedded smart speaker, which can respond to certain voice commands and integrate with other devices, has given Amazon a healthy head start in the connected-home category (to Google’s chagrin) with an estimated 5 million–plus units sold since late 2014.

Consumer Goods

Household items. AmazonBasics comprises more than 800 products,
ranging from USB cables to bath towels; under various other brand names, the company also sells baby wipes (Amazon Elements), laundry detergent (Presto!), and organic, fair-trade coffee and nuts (Happy Belly).

Apparel. Amazon rolled out eight proprietary clothing lines in 2016, including Buttoned Down, a menswear brand available only to Prime members. The company is reportedly preparing to launch its own line of women’s lingerie as well, with bras priced as low as $10 apiece.

Logistics

Airplanes. The company has leased 40 planes for its exclusive use and reportedly plans to have them all in operation by the end of 2018. Last August, it unveiled a Boeing 767-300 bearing the Amazon Prime logo.

Trucks. Amazon-branded semis have been cruising highways since late 2015, when the company purchased a fleet to transport inventory. (The company is also looking seaward: Its China subsidiary received a license to ship ocean freight last year.)

Drones. A bag of popcorn and a Fire TV became Amazon’s first official drone deliveries, to a farmhouse in En­gland in December. The company plans to test its Prime Air service further and, eventually, deliver packages to customers anywhere in less than 30 minutes.

Robots. Thanks to its acquisition of Kiva Systems in 2012, Amazon controls some 30,000 robots around the globe, which it fully incorporated last year to maximize warehouse and retail efficiency.

Retail

Bookstores. Five new brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstores are set to open in the U.S. this year, bringing the total to eight.

Grocery stores. “No lines, no checkout” is how the company describes the forthcoming Amazon Go, a smartphone-integrated retail experiment, currently open to beta users in Seattle (and to the public in early 2017). The company looks to be building larger grocery concepts as well.

This article is part of our coverage of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2017.

About the author

Kim Lightbody is an editorial assistant at Fast Company, where she does all sorts of editorial-related things for both print and web.

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