- Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos and Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen continue to meet together about forging some kind of deal—perhaps to bring Dish’s planned 5G network focused on supporting the internet of things to Amazon Prime members, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal picked up widely by other outlets. Rumors of discussions between the two titans first surfaced in May, but, while a deal was expected to be announced then, according to the trade journal Satellite Business News, nothing so far has materialized.
- Meanwhile, Amazon has added to its wine collection, under the label “Next” from the family-run King Estate Winery. Unlike Trader Joe’s famous “two-buck Chuck” wines, the Next wines from King Vintners sell at about $20 to $40 dollars per bottle.
- Finally, this fall Amazon is opening its latest campus pickup location at DePaul University in Chicago, the second in that city, reports the Chicago Tribune. The service can be used by the neighborhood’s non-collegiate Amazon Prime members and won’t include a store, according to the report. It will also be used to grow Prime, which now boasts 85 million U.S. members, according to a report by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners emailed to Retail Dive.
It doesn't look like its massive deal to acquire Whole Foods is doing much to distract Amazon from ongoing tests, dry runs and plans in a myriad of other areas to grow Amazon Prime, which now numbers 85 million U.S. members as of the second quarter ending June 30. It's a 35% increase in just one year.
It’s smart to forge ties with college students, who could end up as lifelong Prime members after experiencing the perks and convenience of a Prime membership. It's also smart for Amazon to cultivate and grow these members, who spend more annually with Amazon — about $1,300 per year, compared to about $700 per year for non-members, according to CIRP. By opening the pickup station to urban residents in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood near DePaul, the e-commerce giant will also be adding another strand to its vast distribution and fulfillment web.
The wine deal — a three-pack is noted as an "Amazon exclusive," but, unlike many of its private-label goods, is for sale to non-Prime members — is a bit more curious. Amazon isn’t calling it a private label, but the Next wines are “the first wine ever developed from conception to release with Amazon Wine,” according to a press release last month from King Vintners.
"When people lived in the same village, the wines and cuisine developed together," Ed King III who, with his father founded King Estate in 1991, said in a statement. "Today that direct link is at risk of being lost. We're launching NEXT on Amazon to re-establish the connection between winemaker and wine lover in today's 'digital village.’"
It’s difficult, however, to square the experience of connecting with a local vintner, swirling a wine in the glass and talking about that vintage’s harvest with the one-click wine buying opportunities at Amazon, which provides very little information at all about Next wines, much less any sense of emotion.
Finally, while the Dish rumors persist, it’s not clear what will come of ongoing discussions between Bezos and Ergen. Certainly, considering Amazon’s drone ambitions and its burgeoning line of devices, including the rumored re-entry of the Fire phone, (which suffered ignominious failure and was swiftly discontinued after its 2014 launch), a tie-up with Dish’s new network could be a propellant. Stay tuned.