Alexa Launching in 80 Different Countries; Festive Expansion for Christmas Edge

RetailTechNews’ weekly Amazon Watch brings you some of the company’s biggest moves from the past seven days, analysing how the giant is revolutionising the retail space. In this week’s edition: Alexa launching in 80 different countries; Festive expansion for Christmas edge; and Dominance of festive period.

Alexa launching in 80 different countries

Amazon is launching three of its Echo devices with Alexa in 80 additional countries – a major international expansion for the company’s smart speakers and voice-based assistant.

The rollout applies to the Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Plus. Other Echo devices, such as the touch-screen Echo Show, are not included as part of the international expansion.

Echo devices were previously only available in the US, UK, Germany, India, Japan, and Canada. Amazon earlier announced plans to bring Echo and Alexa to Australia and New Zealand next year.

In addition, Amazon says its Music Unlimited subscription streaming service is available in 28 additional countries, including many of those where the Echo is now expanding, as well.

The expansion is an effort to extend Amazon’s early lead in the smart home speaker and home assistant market. Google Home is currently available in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and France. Apple’s HomePod is yet to fully roll out, so Amazon is cashing in on tardiness from its competitors.

Festive expansion for Christmas edge

Amazon has announced that Amazon Prime same-day delivery and free one-day shipping will be rolled out across 8,000 cities in the US over the Christmas period. Additionally, Amazon has promised last-minute shoppers that certain orders placed just before Christmas can be delivered on the same day.

While it is worth remembering that Amazon doesn’t control the logistics side of operations (meaning that gifts could still be delivered late), this is an impressive promise. The aim here is clearly to divert sales to their own platform for the Christmas rush, which will see last-minute shoppers looking for gifts which can still arrive before the 25th of December.

This will be bad news for online competition to Amazon. Even with discounts for those who are leaving their shopping to the minutes, most companies do not have the scale to ensure last-minute delivery, like Amazon, meaning the retail giant will be the obvious choice. However, given that there is still a risk goods won’t arrive on time, brick-and-mortar retailers will still have an advantage over Amazon, as buying here remains the only way to guarantee you will have gifts in time for Christmas.

Dominance of festive period

Amazon are the winners of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Thanksgiving week. The behemoth racked up over a quarter of all sales for each key seasonal period, as shown in the graph below.

This is bad news for retailers that are traditionally brick-and-mortar, such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target. The fact that only Best Buy on Black Friday managed to secure even a quarter of the sales that Amazon did, not only shows that shoppers have made Amazon their go-to on these key days, but also that there isn’t a big desire to seek out holiday deals in-store.

The results also show that, if Amazon’s biggest competition is to make ground on it, they should shift their focus to Cyber Monday. This day saw sales exceed Black Friday by USD$1.5bn (£1.12bn), and rake in almost half of all the sales seen in Thanksgiving week.