Technology: Amazon Web Services Reveals New Blockchain Products

Amazon Web Services is finally expanding its managed IT services portfolio with two new blockchain products.

Last week at the AWS reInvent 2018 event in Las Vegas, CEO Andy Jassy revealed the two blockchain services: Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and Amazon Managed Blockchain. The announcement came only a year after he expressed a lack of interest in the technology.

QLDB is a fully-managed ledger database which tracks transactions in a “transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable” way.

“We had an epiphany,” said Jassy. “We had to build something like this ourselves a few years ago to have a transactional log for every data plane change to make operations and billing easier, so we … built what we call QLDB, an immutable, transparent ledger that we thought we could externalise.

Jassy said QLDB will be “really scalable”, with flexible set of APIs to allow changed and adjustments to the ledger database.

On the other hand, Amazon Managed Blockchain is a service that supports two popular blockchain frameworks, Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. The company said the Managed Blockchain service will enable users to run millions of transactions.

“When we heard people saying ‘blockchain,’ we felt like there was their weird conveluting and conflating what they really wanted,” said Jassy. “And as we spent time working with customers and figuring out the jobs they were really trying to solve, this is what we think people are trying to do with blockchain.”

Technology: Amazon Promotes Own Brands on Competitors’ Listings

Amazon appears to be testing a new feature to promote its own products under the listings of competing brands.

CNBC reported that users could find the link “Similar item from Our Brands” under search results for a variety of products, which connects to the product page of Amazon’s private brands. For example, users looking to buy body wash from Dove could find under the listing a link directing them to a product page of P.O.V., an Amazon-owned personal care brand. Similarly, the link underneath the listings for Bounty paper towels connects to Amazon’s household brand Presto.

Vendors voiced out their complaints on Amazon’s seller forum, raising questions over the fairness of competition on the platform.

“If you’ve got Amazon brands competing against you, it’s just become that much more difficult to be competitive in the marketplace,” said Jeff Cohen, chief marketing officer at Seller Labs, an agency that helps sellers advertise their business on the online marketplace.

Amazon has not announced any new features on the platform, nor has the company responded to media enquiries on the matter.

A report by TJI Research released last week expected Amazon’s private labels to contribute $7.5 billion in sales this year. “Private label is one of the highly under-appreciated trends within Amazon, in our view, which over time should give the company a strong ‘unfair’ competitive advantage,” the report said.

National: Amazon Launches in Australia

US retail giant Amazon has finally launched its Australian operations, threatening local retailers with tougher competition.

Amazon’s Australian marketplace now offers items from 23 categories including electronics, toys, clothing, accessories, beauty and household goods.

“Focusing on customers and the long-term are key principles in Amazon’s approach to retailing,” Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger said in a statement.

“By concentrating on providing a great shopping experience and by constantly innovating on behalf of customers, we hope to earn the trust and the custom of Australian shoppers in the years to come.”

In the lead-up to Christmas holiday season, Amazon is also offering free shipping for orders over $49 and one-day delivery for select cities. The goods will be sent from the company’s fulfillment centre at Dandenong South, Melbourne.

“Over time, we will create thousands of new jobs and invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Australia,” said Braeuniger.

“The result will be an ever-improving customer experience driven by the regular introduction of new products and services that we hope customers will love.”