Marketing Featured Global

Amazon’s new wave of layoffs affects 18,000 employees

Singapore – Global e-commerce giant Amazon has announced a new wave of layoffs: this time affecting 18,000 employees globally. Majority of the roles impacted will be under the company’s physical store Amazon Store, as well as from their people, experience, and technology (PXT) organisation.

In a public letter posted by Andy Jassy, CEO at Amazon, the new set of layoffs comes after they have worked in the past year to work with their teams and looking at their workforce levels, investments they want to make in the future, and prioritising what matters most to customers and the long-term health of their businesses.

“[We] are deeply aware that these role eliminations are difficult for people, and we don’t take these decisions lightly or underestimate how much they might affect the lives of those who are impacted,” Jassy said.

It should be recalled that Amazon laid off around 10,000 employees in November 2022, impacting corporate and technology roles. Moreover, it also announced that it will be freezing hiring for corporate roles in its retail business.

“We typically wait to communicate about these outcomes until we can speak with the people who are directly impacted. However, because one of our teammates leaked this information externally, we decided it was better to share this news earlier so you can hear the details directly from me,” Jassy added.

Amazon’s newest update are part of a worrying trend of tech layoffs that started in 2022. Large-profile companies like Meta, Oracle, Netflix, Snap, Twitter, as well as regional companies like Carsome, Shopee, and Tencent have announced ‘sizable’ layoffs.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

SG consumer online spend on grocery, personal care items expected to rise this holiday season

Singapore – While Singaporean consumers are likely to be more pragmatic and price-conscious this holiday season in light of current global conditions, online spend on essential and personal care items like groceries and apparel this holiday season will still increase. This was according to the latest survey from Amazon Singapore, in collaboration with YouGov.

According to the survey, three in four Singaporeans make at least one online purchase a month, with pricing and sales discounts (50%) emerging as the top consideration factor among online shoppers looking to purchase items this holiday season, followed by product quality (15%) and trustworthiness of a website (11%).

The survey also found that more than half of online shoppers are likely to be more conservative with their spending this holiday season in light of current global economic conditions, with 57% of shoppers saying they will spend less or wait until there is more stability before making large purchases. This highlights the need for retailers to look at helping to mitigate consumers’ fear of inflation and offer budget-friendly options for customers.

On the other hand, almost three in 10 (27%) are optimistic that there will be no impact on their spending this holiday season. Online shoppers also say that the top categories they plan to spend more on during this period are apparel and accessories (38%), groceries (35%), and health and personal care (31%).

Around 53% also said they are keen to see more items from local brands on e-commerce stores, however 78% said that they will only shop from local brands if there are good deals and promotions. Meanwhile, 66% of online shoppers surveyed said that they will buy from brands that offer the lowest prices.

Lastly, while 68% of shoppers say they plan to purchase items online for themselves during the holiday, the survey found that around 37% of shoppers aged 25-34 years also plan to purchase items for their parents or partner’s parents, while around 48% of shoppers aged 35-54 years plan to purchase items for their children. This indicates that there is an opportunity for retailers with a target audience aged 25 and above to appeal to online shoppers looking to purchase items or gifts for their family and children.

Marketing Featured Global

Amazon joins Big Tech’s layoff spree

Seattle, Washington Amazon has begun laying off employees in its devices group, following reports saying that the company plans to lay off 10,000 employees in corporate and technology roles.

According to TechCrunch, the layoffs would represent 3% of its corporate employees, making it the company’s largest layoffs in its history. The company has already announced plans to freeze hiring for corporate roles in its retail business.

The report follows the recent shutting down of some services, products, warehouses, and even its roving delivery robots of the company, after its disappointing third-quarter earnings report in October, which caused shares to fall more than 13%, bringing their year-to-date stock decline to about 41%.

CNBC also obtained some documents stating, ‘voluntary severance’ was also offered to some employees in some divisions as the company seeks ways to reduce its headcount beyond the massive layoffs already underway. This is said to be the ‘first step’ in realigning Amazon’s businesses, implying that more layoffs may occur in the near future.

The company’s unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment was announced on their website. The company decided to consolidate some teams and programs, resulting in the elimination of some roles.

Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices & services at Amazon said, “It pains me to have to deliver this news as we know we will lose talented Amazonians from the devices and services org as a result. I am incredibly proud of the team we have built and to see even one valued team member leave is never an outcome any of us want.”

Limp added, “We notified impacted employees yesterday, and will continue to work closely with each individual to provide support, including assisting in finding new roles. While I know this news is tough to digest, I do want to emphasise that the devices & services organisation remains an important area of investment for Amazon, and we will continue to invent on behalf of our customers.”

Shares have plummeted and closed down about 2% following the reports of layoffs.

The report comes on the heels of layoffs at other big tech companies. Meta announced the layoff of over 13% of its workforce, or over 11,000 employees, and Twitter laid off roughly half of its workforce.

Marketing Featured ANZ

Initiative’s Rufus announces key senior leadership appointments

Sydney, Australia – Rufus, the dedicated media and communications agency by Initiative for Amazon’s range of services, has announced new senior leadership appointments namely Sarah O’Leary as managing director and Tom Cumberworth as head of partnerships.

O’Leary has a strong media investment background garnered from 15-years in senior management and director roles both agency and marketing-side. 

Previously with Atomic 212 as Head of Client Service and Planning, O’Leary’s strengths lie in her leadership qualities and deep understanding of how media agencies operate within the ANZ landscape.

Meanwhile, with nearly 15-years of global and local experience, Cumberworth was previously group trading director at OMD Sydney where he led the Suncorp Group business, overseeing the investment strategy and decisioning for the entire portfolio across all media. 

Previously he was with Mindshare and MEC in the UK commencing in 2008 as a TV buyer and moving to an account director role working on clients such as Nike, News Corp, 3 Mobile and Kimberly Clark to name a few.

Melissa Fein, CEO at Initiative Australia said after a robust search and selection process she was delighted to welcome both Sarah and Tom to Rufus, who together bring specialist skills to the table and are charged with delivering high performance outcomes for Amazon.

“Sarah has a proven track record of leading senior stakeholder relationships and delivering business growth in today’s complex and fast-moving market. We’re delighted she has accepted the opportunity to lead Rufus at a pivotal time in the agency’s growth and momentum,” she said.

Fein added, “Tom is an outstanding team leader with a raft of global and local experience managing and leading specialist buying teams across all media platforms, inclusive of TV, VOD, OOH, Radio and more. He will play a leading role in Rufus, Amazon and our media partners’ future successes.”

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

Amazon’s annual Prime Day event returns globally this July

Vietnam – Amazon has announced the return of its annual Prime Day event this 12 and 13 of July, offering Prime members various choices of must-have products at big deals and promotions. This year, sellers across the globe, including those from Vietnam, will be able to sell their products to more countries during the event, as the 48-hour deals event kicks off on 12 July at midnight PDT (3 a.m. EDT) and runs through 13 July for Prime members in Australia, Japan, Singapore, and other countries. 

Prime Day has become a critical opportunity for third-party sellers around the world, including Vietnamese selling partners, to grow their businesses and build global brands. 

Since the announcement of Prime Day 2022 return, hundreds of Vietnamese sellers have registered to join the campaign, and this number continues to increase. In particular, Vietnamese sellers from home decor, kitchen dining, gifting and beauty categories have shown their eagerness and good preparation to capture this selling opportunity with various deal submissions.

Through the event, customers will be able to shop for products from top national brands and small and medium-sized businesses across every category. New deals from fashion and electronics to toys and home—will go live throughout Prime Day, offering savings on products across categories, including from ‘Customer’s Most Loved’, ‘Internet Famous’, and a selection of ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ products.

Gijae Seong, head of Amazon Global Selling Vietnam, said, “With the Vietnamese local businesses and household brands our members love and trust, we’re excited to offer our best Prime Day deals yet to even more customers around the world.” 

Seong added, “This year, we’re not only making it simple for members to find the best deals, but also trying to provide our selling partners with more features to benefit and maximise their selling.”

Beyond the expansion of the participating countries, sellers can get more benefits from new features designed to help members make the most of their shopping ahead of time. For example, Prime members can simplify their hunt for deals by subscribing to receive deal alert notifications related to their recent Amazon searches and recently viewed items. 

Besides, starting 21 June, busy Prime members can add products to their Wish List, Cart, or Save for Later, and Alexa can notify them up to 24 hours in advance of an eligible deal going live on those items. Members can then ask Alexa to remind them about the deal when it’s live, or even order it on their behalf.

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Amazon partners with Vietnam’s trade ministry to train local talents in e-commerce

Vietnam – Amazon’s selling program, Amazon Global Selling, in Vietnam has partnered with government organizations in the country, namely the Vietnam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency (iDEA) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) to collaborate on an initiative that would support the development of cross-border e-commerce talents for Vietnam in 5 years.

Called the ‘Cross-border E-commerce: the Breakthrough Era’, the initiative is aimed to improve local businesses’ ability to unlock opportunities with export through e-commerce. 

“With this MoU, IDEA & Amazon Global Selling Vietnam share the same vision and strategy to support local SMEs export through e-commerce. 10,000 Vietnamese businesses are expected to join our “Cross-border E-commerce: the Breakthrough Era” initiative in which small and medium enterprises can arm themselves with knowledge, information, resources, and connections to sustainably expand their business globally,” said Gijae Seong, head of Amazon Global Selling Vietnam.

The 5-year program will conduct both online & offline training boot camps across Vietnam. Vietnamese entrepreneurs and youngsters who join will be trained with more than 20 diversified courses such as business opportunities from cross-border e-commerce, market research, product selection and listing, brand registration and protection, and guidance on how to sell on Amazon. 

iDEA – MOIT will support Amazon Global Selling Vietnam in implementing the plan by distributing the program information to Vietnamese businesses, local authorities and business associations across the country. With this mutual effort, the program set the target of supporting the development of cross-border e-commerce talents for 10000 businesses from 2022 to 2026.

Đặng Hoàng Hải, director-general of Vietnam eCommerce and Digital Economy Agency, commented, “IDEA’s mission is accelerating the development of Vietnam’s e-commerce and digital economy. To achieve this long-term goal, we believe the key is to equip Vietnamese businesses and communities with updated knowledge about policies and skills in e-commerce and digital economy application.”

“Cross-border e-commerce: the Breakthrough Era” initiative from Amazon, acknowledged by MoIT in terms of content, is a tailor-made program with dedicated training agenda, dynamic schemes approach which align with our direction to support enterprises to improve their digital capabilities and participate in digital economy activities. We will work closely with Amazon Global Selling Vietnam to prepare for local businesses to capture the global opportunity through e-commerce in these 5 years,” added Đặng Hoàng Hải. 

In 2022, the program is planned to roll out in Hanoi, HCMC, Danang, and other cities across Vietnam.

Alongside the launch of the program, Amazon has also concurrently released its special report on Vietnam’s e-commerce export opportunity. Through its findings, the report noted that if ‘B2C e-commerce’ were an export category, it could be the fifth-largest export category in Vietnam in five years. 

Platforms Featured Southeast Asia

Amazon SG unveils new end-to-end shipping service, ‘Amazon Easy Ship’

Singapore – Singapore arm of e-commerce giant Amazon has unveiled its new end-to-end shipping service, Amazon Easy Ship, aimed at helping local sellers scale their businesses online.

For a fee, Amazon Easy Ship allows sellers to ensure faster and more predictable delivery experiences for customers along with the up-to-date shipment tracking information, which is optimized for cost and speed with shipping services through Amazon’s enrolled carriers. The sellers will not need to configure fulfillment time manually, freeing up their time to focus on better sourcing, creating, and promoting their products and brands to grow their customer base.

The new shipping service is currently available in Singapore as a pilot and invite-only program, with the full roll-out to all sellers planned for February 2022.

Eric Broussard, Amazon’s vice president of international seller services, believes that they are helping small and local businesses sell online through shipping solutions such as Amazon Easy Ship, where we offer shipping labels from Amazon-negotiated contracts with carriers to Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN) sellers. 

“To date, Amazon has invested over US$18b globally in logistics, fulfillment capabilities, new product launches, services, programs, and tools in support of seller success,” said Broussard.

Amazon said that the launch of the new service comes at a time when the number of Singapore sellers in Amazon’s local and international stores has increased by more than 45% between 2019 and 2021. This is in addition to the 25% increase in sellers exporting their products with Amazon.

More will be shared at the Seller Summit 2022, which will be held virtually today, 14 January, from 9 am to 6:30 pm SGT. The free event will educate sellers in Singapore on key e-commerce topics such as shipping and fulfillment, advertising, brand building, and global expansion. Attendees can also look forward to networking with experts, successful Amazon sellers, and third-party service providers.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Amazon SG launches annual virtual event to help MSMEs ‘start local, go global’

Singapore – Following Amazon’s Seller Boot Camp in 2021, the Singapore arm of the e-commerce giant has launched anew its Seller Summit 2022 with new programs and tools to help sellers in Singapore start selling online locally and expand globally.

The free virtual event, which will be held on 14 January 2022 from 9 am to 6:30 pm SGT, aims to educate Singaporean sellers on key e-commerce topics such as shipping and fulfillment, advertising, brand building, and global expansion plans. Attendees will be able to network with Amazon experts, Amazon sellers, and third-party service providers.

Moreover, the virtual event will also feature the ‘Amazon Small Business Awards 2022’, which aims to recognize brands that have expanded globally, grown tremendously, and impacted their communities. Sellers can also look forward to a revamped website with more accessible education online and one-on-one account management support, among others, to be announced at the event.

Eric Broussard, Amazon’s vice president of international seller services, noted that global selling is a significant opportunity for businesses of all sizes.

He further shared that according to the report ‘Local Sellers, Global Consumers: Capturing Singapore’s e-commerce export opportunity’, the annual value of B2C e-commerce exports in Singapore was estimated at S$1.4b in 2021, and it could reach S$3.5b in 2026 if MSMEs accelerate their pace of using e-commerce to sell overseas.

“As such, through the Singapore Seller Summit, Amazon will further empower sellers to discover innovative solutions, leverage selling, and advertising tools, and better understand growth opportunities locally and overseas to take their business to the next level. Our goal is to enable more businesses to expand and reach customers everywhere through our 20 Amazon stores worldwide,” said Broussard.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

New study finds SG MSMEs expect more sales overseas than at home, other sentiments on export

Singapore – E-commerce has provided businesses accelerated growth due to convenient access to the market for both sellers and buyers. Export is one of them and according to the latest MSME study by Amazon, MSMEs in Singapore anticipate greater sales growth prospects overseas than at home, with 35% of small businesses against 13% respectively. Currently, close to one-quarter (24%) of MSMEs in the country conduct B2C e-commerce, which of more than 90% use it for export.

The study found that Asia Pacific countries – Malaysia, China, Australia, Indonesia, and Thailand – are seen as the top five e-commerce export markets in five years’ time, or by 2026. About 87% of those surveyed locally in Singapore agreed that e-commerce is critical for their ability to export, with top motivations including the ability to reach overseas customers, access to sales and marketing tools that are available on e-commerce marketplaces, and support for logistics and payments provided by these marketplaces.

So what would hinder companies to realize their export strategies? According to the report, key challenges foreseen by Singaporean MSMEs can be narrowed down to three categories – barriers in cost, regulation, and information and capabilities.

High cross-border shipping costs came out as the most common challenge faced by Singapore MSMEs with 81%. The study notes that while Singapore offers a robust range of grants to support local businesses on their e-commerce export journeys, about one-third of small enterprises (32%) surveyed admitted that they will find further support valuable.

Additionally, over three-fourths (78%) of MSMEs surveyed cited a lack of clarity in import regulations as a key barrier to selling overseas via e-commerce, while only 19% believe that current advisory support on importing regulations is sufficient.

Lowered confidence to compete in the global arena also emerged as a sentiment, where 72% of MSMEs in the country believe they lack the ability to fare well versus other sellers globally. Still within technical issues, 71% admitted that they are unsure of foreign consumers’ demands and preferences.

At large, the study found that the annual value of (B2C) e-commerce exports in Singapore is estimated at S$1.4b in 2021 and could reach S$3.5b in 2026 if MSMEs accelerate their pace of using e-commerce to sell overseas. MSMEs are estimated to contribute 45% of Singapore’s B2C value of e-commerce exports in 2021.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Report shows SG consumers ‘loving their own’ with patronage to local biz on a roll

Singapore – Despite the ongoing pandemic, small businesses in Singapore are widely supported locally, thanks to a growing number of Singaporeans rallying their support and patronage to their products, a new report from the Singaporean arm of e-commerce giant Amazon and market research firm YouGov shows.

According to the report data, the Gen X demographic, who are born from 1965 to 1980, are the most supportive among the local demographic, tallying around 48% of respondents saying they at least buy once a week from a local business. This was then followed by millennials (44%) and Gen Z’ers (34%).

While majority of all shoppers polled said they will support organizations that have a charitable component, 63% of Gen Z shoppers said that for the same product, they would rather buy from a seller that gives back to the local community, versus one that does not, compared to 55% of both millennial and Gen X shoppers.

In terms of what type of purchases are being made, clothing and accessories topped the type of purchases being made, with 59% of respondents saying so, 64% of that data are Gen Z shoppers. Other categories include health and personal care (47%) and groceries (46%).

Regarding increased purchases made during the pandemic, pet supplies were the top purchases locally, tallying around 85% response rate from respondents. This is followed by beauty and skincare (82%) and books (78%).

With the introduction of social distancing measures and heightened public health alerts, 2 in 5 Gen X shoppers (39%) said the ability to avoid public spaces and stay safe is a key motivator for online shopping.

While 27%of Gen Z shoppers said the availability of international selection is a crucial online shopping motivator, the highest compared to their Millennial and Gen X counterparts.

Lastly, with the majority of Singaporeans identifying as Bargain Hunters (32%) and 41% saying that lower prices are the top motivator for online shopping, it comes as no surprise that 23% of shoppers rely on product comparison sites when making online shopping decisions.

“Customer obsession has always been at the heart of Amazon’s business globally. By keeping our finger on the pulse of changing consumer trends and behavior, we ensure the user experience is optimized for customers’ shopping preferences,” said Henry Low, country manager at Amazon Singapore.