Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) Lifted to Buy at DA Davidson

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) (TSE:SHOP) was upgraded by research analysts at DA Davidson from a “neutral” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued to investors on Friday, December 21st, MarketBeat Ratings reports. The firm currently has a $150.00 price objective on the software maker’s stock. DA Davidson’s price objective would indicate a potential upside of 0.38% from the company’s current price. DA Davidson also issued estimates for Shopify’s Q4 2019 earnings at $0.06 EPS.

SHOP has been the topic of a number of other research reports. Wells Fargo & Co began coverage on Shopify in a research note on Tuesday, December 18th. They set an “outperform” rating and a $175.00 price objective on the stock. Jefferies Financial Group initiated coverage on Shopify in a report on Monday, October 1st. They issued a “hold” rating and a $175.00 price objective for the company. Macquarie set a $185.00 price objective on Shopify and gave the company a “buy” rating in a report on Friday, October 26th. Zacks Investment Research reissued a “buy” rating and issued a $145.00 price objective on shares of Shopify in a report on Thursday, November 15th. Finally, Royal Bank of Canada boosted their price objective on Shopify from $157.00 to $159.00 and gave the company a “sector perform” rating in a report on Saturday, October 27th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have given a hold rating, twelve have assigned a buy rating and two have issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Shopify presently has an average rating of “Buy” and a consensus price target of $166.41.

Shopify stock traded up $1.16 during midday trading on Friday, reaching $149.43. The stock had a trading volume of 685,277 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,171,590. Shopify has a twelve month low of $111.09 and a twelve month high of $176.60. The stock has a market capitalization of $14.87 billion, a P/E ratio of -355.79 and a beta of 1.42. The company has a current ratio of 11.82, a quick ratio of 11.82 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.01.

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) (TSE:SHOP) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, October 25th. The software maker reported $0.04 earnings per share for the quarter, beating the Zacks’ consensus estimate of ($0.30) by $0.34. The firm had revenue of $270.06 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $257.17 million. Shopify had a negative return on equity of 4.26% and a negative net margin of 6.93%. As a group, sell-side analysts predict that Shopify will post -0.63 EPS for the current year.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of SHOP. Comerica Bank boosted its position in shares of Shopify by 61.5% during the second quarter. Comerica Bank now owns 7,671 shares of the software maker’s stock worth $1,296,000 after buying an additional 2,921 shares during the period. First Trust Advisors LP boosted its position in shares of Shopify by 20.0% during the second quarter. First Trust Advisors LP now owns 3,592 shares of the software maker’s stock worth $524,000 after buying an additional 599 shares during the period. Sei Investments Co. boosted its position in shares of Shopify by 7,740.7% during the second quarter. Sei Investments Co. now owns 7,135 shares of the software maker’s stock worth $1,041,000 after buying an additional 7,044 shares during the period. First Allied Advisory Services Inc. acquired a new position in shares of Shopify during the second quarter worth approximately $228,000. Finally, US Bancorp DE boosted its position in shares of Shopify by 327.3% during the second quarter. US Bancorp DE now owns 11,854 shares of the software maker’s stock worth $1,730,000 after buying an additional 9,080 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 62.19% of the company’s stock.

Shopify Company Profile

Shopify Inc provides a cloud-based multi-channel commerce platform for small and medium-sized businesses in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and internationally. Its platform provides merchants with a single view of business and customers in various sales channels, including Web and mobile storefronts, physical retail locations, social media storefronts, and marketplaces; and enables to manage products and inventory, process orders and payments, ship orders, build customer relationships, leverage analytics and reporting, and access financing.

Why Shopify Stock Gained 37% in 2018

What happened

Shares of Shopify  climbed 37.1% last year, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as the company continued to ride the e-commerce wave. The company is seeing rapid adoption of its platform by small business owners, which fueled another year of impressive growth.

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So what

Through the first three quarters of 2018, revenue grew 62% over the same period in 2017. The only negative is that Shopify still hasn’t reported a profit. However, the company is so small relative to its addressable market opportunity that the current priority for management is to reinvest in new features, as well as sales and marketing, to grow the business.

Shopify is pursuing an enormous opportunity to expand into international markets, where they are making great progress. During the third-quarter conference call, COO Harley Finkelstein said: 

While it’s still early, momentum is building in our priority international regions. Our mix of international merchants relative to total new merchant adds reached its highest level this year. Additionally, our international merchants continue to expand their contribution to total [gross merchandise volume] on our platform.

Now what

While revenue from subscription solutions decelerated from 61% year-over-year growth in the first quarter to 46% in the third quarter, merchant solutions growth held steady at 68% in each of the last two quarters. The faster growth of merchant solutions — the majority of Shopify’s revenue — is encouraging because it means business owners are adopting the ancillary services that Shopify offers, and thereby tightening their relationship with the company. 

As for full-year guidance, management expects revenue in the range of $1.045 billion to $1.055 billion, representing between 55% and 57% year-over-year growth. They also guided for adjusted operating profit to be between $8 million and $10 million, compared to $6 million in 2017.

Elastic Path Announces the Launch of Commerce Cloud

Elastic Path, the enterprise API-first commerce solutions, today announced the launch of commerce cloud.

“Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is for innovators and dreamers who want to push the boundaries of commerce,” said Harry Chemko, CEO of Elastic Path. “This new offering builds on Elastic Path’s legacy of supercharging the world’s premier brands to deliver unified commerce experiences across brands, lines of business, geographies, and channels. Commerce Cloud adds another level of flexibility to our battle-tested, proven Elastic Path Commerce platform — now with a SaaS option.”

Elastic Path Commerce Cloud empowers innovators and disruptors through unmatched flexibility for online and offline commerce, be it products or services:

  • Support for multiple business models: Commerce Cloud delivers B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and B2B2B capabilities on a single platform.
  • Support for multiple touchpoints: This tool can handle today’s commerce use cases such as website and progressive web apps as well as the emerging customer touchpoints, e.g. voice technology and IoT devices — and it’s ready for the next buying channel that has not yet been invented.
  • Seamless migration capability: Commerce Cloud lets companies switch from legacy commerce platforms over time by leveraging an API-first architecture. Start with a shopping cart model and migrate as needed with no need to rip out and replace.   
  • Business-friendly deployment: Commerce Cloud offers brands the opportunity to switch to an on-premise deployment without losing any functionality or customizations. It also allows them to switch between models as business needs change over time. Commerce Cloud can also be managed internally by an enterprise’s IT team or by an Elastic Path partner depending on the brand’s preference.
  • Unified selling engine: Commerce Cloud enables a single view of the customer and how they interact with the brand across touchpoints.  It provides the omnichannel shopping cart brands have sought for years and empowers them to understand and delight the customer at every point in the buying journey.

“Elastic Path Commerce Cloud powers the business needs of today and tomorrow. For the most part, our customers are innovators who are buying tools that will power their strategy in the next three to five years and beyond. Commerce Cloud allows you to keep up and exceed customers’ expectations,” said Senior Vice President of Products Peter Lukomskyj.

In addition to traditional use cases, Commerce Cloud allows brands to power buying experiences through IoT, Facebook chatbots, Alexa skills, and other opportunities beyond traditional touchpoints. Building on the success of the classic Elastic Path offering, Commerce Cloud delivers hosting, maintenance, system and database administration, and compliance — allowing brands to focus on taking care of their customers and growing their businesses while driving innovation and growth for their business.

Commerce Cloud is already in use by established brands, including long-term Elastic Path customers who are leveraging the brand’s innovative commerce platform while also gaining the scalability, reliability and cost effectiveness of the cloud. Elastic Path announces Commerce Cloud during the first day of the National Retail Federation Big Show & Expo in New York City. Attendees can visit Booth #1817 in Hall 1A for a demo of Commerce Cloud and more information

India’s online sellers to appeal against competition commission’s Flipkart ruling

A group representing online sellers in India will appeal against the Competition Commision of India’s (CCI’s) ruling in favour of Walmart-owned Flipkart , the group’s lawyer Chanakya Basa said in a release on Saturday.

All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA), which represents more than 3,500 online sellers, had complained that Flipkart was using its dominant position to favour select sellers. The CCI had rejected this argument in November.

The CCI had said Flipkart as well as Amazon did not break regulations through their selection of merchants and brands.

The AIOVA will appeal to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal on Monday against the CCI decision, Basa told Reuters.

“We firmly believe we have filed adequate information to prove the existence of a prima-facie case which the hon’ble Commission has failed to take into account. Hence, we are filing this appeal,” Basa said in a statement.

The AIOVA has also brought a similar case against Amazon, alleging it favours merchants that it partly owns, such as Cloudtail and Appario.

India has a burgeoning e-commerce market, with almost 500 million Indians using the internet in 2018. The market is tipped to grow to $200 billion in a decade, according to Morgan Stanley.

The Alibaba effect: Chinese e-tailer tightens grip over 600m lives

SHANGHAI — China’s e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding is quietly building a whole economic sphere based on the smartphone payments and services it provides.

From online shopping, grocery stores and finance to health care, the online giant is moving into more and more services that affect many aspects of life through smartphones. In exchange for the conveniences on offer, however, users are giving up their personal information in unprecedented ways.

Moreover, some of that data — which includes purchase history, personal interests and biometric authentication — can be accessed by the government, and is increasingly becoming a source of friction with the U.S.

At a Kentucky Fried Chicken in the eastern city of Hangzhou, a student leaned toward a cash register to pay for her meal. Using facial recognition technology, the unmanned device processed the payment and displayed a “payment complete” message.

The company also assigns credit scores to users under a system called Sesame Credit, in which the score rises if, for example, the user owns a car or has good credit on a credit card. The higher the score, the more preferential treatment accorded to the user. The scores are also said to be used by employers for background checks and by families looking for marriage prospects.

Alibaba, which developed the register, holds data for biometric authentication, such as facial recognition data. The company holds data on some 600 million people, including purchase history, educational background, assets, records of hospital visits and drug prescriptions. It is also a world leader in technologies like artificial intelligence.

Despite the dystopian implications of such a system, Chinese in growing numbers are relying on Alibaba’s services for their convenience. An example is Hema supermarket, which delivers fresh fish and fruit within 30 minutes of an order from a smartphone if the customer is located within 3 km of an outlet. A real estate agent in Sichuan Province said condominiums can rise 10% in value just for being located within that range.

The sum of payments made through smartphones in China is estimated to have reached 160 trillion yuan ($23.4 trillion) in 2018, up by half in just one year. Some shops are now refusing payment by cash, inconveniencing some consumers. The government has instructed 600 such retailers, including Hema, to accept cash.

Alibaba is growing faster than U.S. tech giants did during their rise. The recent stock plunge has pushed down its market capitalization by 30% from its peak, but the market cap topped the $500 billion mark for the first time only three and a half years after its listing. It took Amazon.com 20 years to do the same.

European and U.S. authorities are strengthening their vigilance on misuse of data, among other steps, as criticism grows against the “Amazon effect,” in which the stock prices of companies get hammered on fears that Amazon.com is about to enter yet another sector.

Alibaba is also having a huge impact on the Chinese economy, putting many retailers out of business, but the two companies mark a stark contrast in their relations with their home governments.

Alibaba founder and Chairman Jack Ma Yun was lauded by Chinese authorities as a “digital economy innovator” at a Dec. 18 ceremony marking the 40th anniversary of the country’s economic reforms. It was a sign of Beijing’s heavy influence on Alibaba.

Chinese authorities take a keen interest in the vast trove of personal information held by Alibaba. In June 2018, the People’s Bank of China launched Nets Union Clearing Corp., a clearing platform for online payment services, in collaboration with Alibaba and other tech companies.

A PBOC official said the platform helps the central bank monitor money flows in real time.

Alibaba is also tasked with monitoring cities in cooperation with the security forces. In Hangzhou alone, it analyzes images from more than 4,500 security cameras for the police.

Despite concerns from the international community, Chinese companies have no option but to follow the Communist Party’s instructions. In 2017, China enacted a National Intelligence Law that requires companies and individuals to provide personal information to the authorities, prompting the World Trade Organization to set up international rules, including bans on data censorship by states.

The more data Alibaba collects, the more concerned the international community, including the U.S., will become.

How Alibaba is championing the application of blockchain technology in China and beyond

When it comes to blockchain technology—blockchain patents in particular—one company stands out from every other. Alibaba [BABA] is leading the pack in blockchain patent and they are proud of it. “We are the most patented company in the world of blockchain technology,” Jing Xiandong, CEO of Alibaba ’s financial arm Ant Financial said.

Alibaba’s Numerous Blockchain Patents to show

Of the 406 patent applications related to blockchain in 2017, Alibaba had 43, second only to People’s Bank of China (PBOC) who filed 68. Alibaba’s blockchain patents covered areas of invention, design, and utility. It goes a long way to show the efforts the multifaceted internet giants are making in the area of blockchain innovation. One of the more interesting landmarks of Alibaba’s blockchain efforts is The Ant Financial blockchain 2.0 released by Alibaba’s financial arm. The platform has evolved from the initial blockchain 1.0 to become an open platform for self-operation and decentralization.

Blockchain patents aren’t the only proof of Alibaba’s strong showing in Blockchain related endeavors. The e-commerce giant seems to know a lot about more blockchain than many others giving priority to this emerging technology. To date, Alibaba has scored huge points for its blockchain partnerships, blockchain innovations, and adoption.

Blockchain Technology for Transparent Supply Chain

Companies and organizations globally are exploring the possibility of using blockchain supply chain. One sure benefit is that it brings transparency to the supply chain. Blockchain can help, for anything from, tackling counterfeiting, recording transaction details or fighting poor labor conditions along the supply chain.

Alibaba would not be left behind in this movement. The Chinese giant will rather pioneer efforts in the blockchain space than lose out on early gains of blockchain adoption. So far, it has adopted blockchain to fight food fraud, secure medical data and track cross-border shipments.

Alibaba e-commerce subsidiaries Lynx and T-Mall adopt blockchain technology.

Alibaba, through its subsidiary Lynx International, integrated blockchain technology to track information in its cross-border logistics services. With the successful application of blockchain, Lynx can all keep an immutable record of shipment information such as production, transportation, customs, inspection and any third party verification.

“Although the concept of blockchain has only recently started to emerge, it has a very wide range of applications” Tang Ren -The technical Director, Lynxx

For a shipping and logistics arm like Lynx, security and transparency cannot be overemphasized. It’s really no surprise Alibaba looked no further than blockchain.

More recently, another of Alibaba’s subsidiaries, T-Mall in partnership with Cainiao adopted blockchain technology for its cross-border supply chain. Similar to the Lynx project, blockchain is being used to track information about shipments from over 50 countries.

Alibaba uses blockchain technology to Fight Counterfeit Food

In 2016, IBM announced a collaboration with key food producers and distributors including Dole, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever, and Walmart to reduce contamination in the global food supply chain.

Alibaba was early to the party. The e-commerce giants already had an agreement with Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) to tackle China’s food security challenges. The “Food Trust Framework” that originated from this partnership will use blockchain to track products from producer to consumer.

Alibaba Partners Chinese Government on Healthcare

In an effort to improve healthcare in China starting from Changzhou where the company operates from, Alibaba once again drew upon the benefits of blockchain technology. The company in partnership with the Chinese government hopes to create a “trusted environment for transactions”.

Blockchain will be used to share patients’ medical records with doctors in a very efficient manner.

Alibaba defines Blockchain Strategy in “BASIC” paper

BASIC, which stands for “Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Security, Internet of Things and Cloud Computing” serves as Alibaba’s strategy towards emerging technologies including blockchain. The guide was released at a Computing Conference in October 2017.

For Alibaba, Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrency are a No-No

Despite Alibaba’s enviable strides in blockchain technology, the group seems to have a well written and rehearsed script that gives no room for cryptocurrencies. This goes way up to—or come right down from—the billionaire founder, Jack Ma who has little interest cryptos.

Lynx’s Jing echoed his boss’ sentiment when he noted that the cryptocurrency sector was full of rampant speculation a lot similar to the period of the Internet bubble of the 1990s. He revealed that his company “[had] drawn a clear line with ICOs.”

Mr. Ma has been very pessimistic about bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. While his competitors like JD and Tencent were open about the idea of accepting cryptos, Alibaba’s founder has little to say in favor of bitcoin. He shared an honest concern about the prospects of cryptocurrencies. I said honestly, I know very little about it, and I’m totally confused. Even if it works, the whole international rules on trade and financing are going to be completely changed.”

Of course, we wouldn’t believe Jack Ma is as ignorant about bitcoin like he claims, it’s easy to see that’s he’s probably being realistic given China’s tough stance on cryptocurrencies. The Asian nation has in place regulations against cryptocurrency activities within its borders.

“We should be cautious about bitcoin. Its underlying technology, however, is really powerful. I pay more attention to a cashless society and the blockchain technology. And I am not shameful that I don’t know about bitcoin.” Jack Ma.

An Alibaba Crypto mining platform that wasn’t

Against the run of play, news broke last Octobers that Alibaba was setting up virtual cryptocurrency mining nodes. Coming days after China sent cryptocurrency operator packing, crypto faithful took the news as a source of hope. But soon after the news broke, Alibaba dashed the hopes through a statement issued on Weibo (a microblogging platform) stating that the P2P nodes are for the company’s content distribution network (CDN) business, not that of crypto mining or of virtual currency.

Finally, an Alibabacoin token and ICO

But it has nothing to do with the Chinese Internet giant except a lawsuit. The developers of the cryptocurrency, ABBC Foundation are currently having an ICO crowdsale for the token that bears a strikingly similar name to Alibaba.

As expected, promoters of the Alibabacoin ICO have been swarmed with questions about its connection with the e-commerce giants. They responded with a press statement stating that the project is not related to Alibaba in any way.

Alibaba’s legal team, however, thinks differently. They accused Alibabacoin Foundation and 4 other defendants of knowingly deceiving the public using its (Alibaba’s) trademark in public materials.

From Whole Foods to IMDb: Here are 5 companies owned by Jeff Bezos apart from Amazon

When people think about Jeff Bezos, the first thing that comes to their mind is Amazon. Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. With a fortune of about $137 billion, Bezos is currently the richest person in the world. However, he recently announced that he is getting divorced and if the divorce leads to equal split of assets, Bezos wealth will go down by $69 and he won’t be the richest man anymore.

Not a lot of people know that Amazon is not Jeff Bezos’ only company. The American entrepreneur also founded aerospace company Blue Origin in 2000 whose test flight successfully reached space in 2015. That is not the extent of his business, not even close! Take a look at 5 companies owned by Jeff Bezos apart from Amazon.

1. IMDB: Yes, one of the world’s most popular source for movie, TV and celebrity content, Internet Movie Database commonly known as IMDb, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon. The website offers a database with over 250 million data items which include more than 4 million movies, TV and entertainment programmes. Amazon acquired IMDb for $0.06 billion in the year 1998.

2. Whole Foods: Whole Foods was definitely one of Amazon’s boldest acquisitions to date. Amazon acquired Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion in 2016. Whole Foods stores still operate under that name as a separate unit of the company. After Amazon acquired the company there were a lot of changes like price cuts, Prime Exclusive deals, free two-hour delivery on Whole Foods goods in some locations etc.

3. Goodreads: Not a lot of people know that Amazon started as just an online bookstore. It looks like Bezos did not leave his love for books behind because Amazon acquired Goodreads which is one of the world’s largest website for readers and book recommendations in March 2013 for $0.15 billion. The website apparently has over 65 million members.

4. Alexa: Alexa is just not just a virtual assistant developed by Amazon. Alexa is a web information company owned by Amazon. It offers website information and analytics. The company was founded in the year 1996 and was acquired by Amazon in 1999 for $0.25 billion.

5. Washington Post: Jeff Bezos acquired one of the world’s most trusted publishers Washington Post in 2018 for $250 million. Nash Holdings LLC which is a private company owned by Bezos, bought the 140-year-old newspaper. Bezos has been described as a “hands-off owner,” meaning that he just holds teleconference calls with executive the editor Martin Baron every two weeks.

Apart from the companies mentioned above, Bezos also acquired Ring, Pillpack, Twitch, Kiva Systems, Souq, Quidsi, Elemental Tech, Annapurna Labs, Audible, Woot and Accept. Bezos is involved with tech, apparel, robotics, web & analytics, books, movies, online streaming, photography, publishing, space and more.

Amazon Aims to Add Alexa to Your Car

Amazon recently made two significant moves toward grabbing a piece of the growing connected-car market. The first was a new partnership with Telenav, a leading connected-car and location-based services company, that will bring the Alexa voice assistant to in-car navigation systems.

The addition of Alexa will allow drivers to interact with nearly all aspects of those systems by voice, including asking for directions and checking traffic. And if they own an Echo speaker, it will interact with their car. For instance, if a car owner makes a restaurant reservation through Alexa while at home, directions to the restaurant will be automatically sent to their vehicle.

Based on these deals, Amazon is clearly getting more serious about staking out a claim in connected vehicles. That’s a smart move considering its tech rivals Apple and Alphabet‘s Waymo are already making progress in this space.

Making inroads in the connected-car market

Amazon didn’t say how it intends to make money from integrating Alexa  into vehicles, but one potential benefit could derive from collecting data from destination searches, reservations, routes, and other Alexa inquiries, and then using that information to fine tune the company’s advertising.

Amazon is now the third-largest digital ad company in the U.S., behind Google and Facebook. Tapping into Alexa data from vehicles could help Amazon better understand its users and, in turn, help the company sell ads that are more relevant to them.

Even if Amazon doesn’t end up using the connected-car data in that way, the company likely sees its partnerships with Telenav and HERE as giving it a foot in the door of a burgeoning market. The global connected car market was worth just $63 billion in 2017, but it’s expected to more than triple to $225 billion by 2025, according to Allied Market Research.

Elsewhere in the connected-car market, Apple is now rumored to be focused on developing its own autonomous driving system, which may debut between 2023 and 2025. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s Waymo has already launched a driverless commercial ride-hailing service, and wants to license its autonomous-vehicle technology to automakers.

Amazon can’t compete with Apple and Google in the autonomous vehicle space, but it can make a place for itself in connected cars with the most popular digital voice assistant. The market is still in its early stages, so investors will need to be patient as they wait to see how Amazon’s strategy pans out. But getting Alexa into as many vehicles as possible is a great first step.

In addition, Amazon said it’s working with HERE Technologies, which makes navigation systems for vehicles, to bring Alexa into that company’s tech. HERE users, too, will be able to use voice commands through Alexa to control the navigation system, or ask it questions like, “Where is the nearest grocery store on my way home?” and have the system plan out a route.

Could You Go a Day Using Only Amazon Products?

To fully understand the breadth of the reach Amazon.com  has into our lives, realize that you can go through your entire day and use virtually nothing but Amazon products and services.

Few companies have ever had such broad contact with our daily lives or the ability to meet so many of our needs. There’s a reason Amazon is called the “everything store,” and it underscores why this behemoth is able to generate over $200 billion in annual sales and some $9 billion in yearly profits. Maybe it’s not all-encompassing, like the Buy and Large Corporation from the movie Wall-E, but it’s not so far away, either.

Amazon all day, every day

Through its list of over 70 private-label brands, Amazon is there for you in every aspect of your home and life.

You can wake up in the morning in an AmazonBasics bed covered in Pinzon sheets, then reach over to your Rivet nightstand and check your phone that’s plugged into the wall with an Amazon cable — hey, are you still using your Amazon Fire phone after all these years?

You pad your way to the bathroom to shower with Mountain Falls body wash, wash your hair with Solimo shampoo, then towel off with a Basics towel. In your medicine cabinet are a variety of Basic Care products including antacids, ointments, allergy meds, and smoking cessation gum.

The list of clothes you can wear with an Amazon label is nearly endless, and it comprises the largest proportion of Amazon brands, covering women, men, and kids, and ranging from casual to office wear. Listing all of them would take too long, but they include Goodthreads, Wild Meadow, Social Graces, Crafted Collar, Buttoned Down, and Rugged Mile Denim. And don’t forget Mama Bear diapers for the baby.

Go grab lunch at an Amazon Go store, and later that night stream movies on Amazon Prime. And, yes, you can still sit back and relax while reading a book you bought on Amazon.

Amazon the omniscient

There is virtually no space personal enough that we haven’t allowed Amazon into, and though it may occasionally cough up a hair ball like the Fire phone, it remains a massively successful business that can only continue to grow because of the vast amount of data it is collecting on us and our habits.

Between 2012 and 2017, product sales grew at a compound rate of 14.3% annually. In 2017, sales surged 25.3%, and through the first nine months of 2018, they grew almost 26%. Amazon sales are accelerating as it grows bigger, not tailing off to become some stodgy retailer.

Amazon knows the products we’re buying, the movies we’re watching, the music we’re listening to, and the books we’re reading. It can use the data collected to tailor that information into a transformational shopping experience or offer even more goods and services based on our preferences.

The kitchen is, of course, stocked with food from Whole Foods Market, but Amazon also sells Mama Bear baby food, snacks from Happy Belly and Wickedly Prime, and your first coffee of the day is from Solimo. You can even heat it up in an Alexa-enabled Amazon microwave where you can order more popcorn with the touch of a built-in Dash button. And if you run out of other covered items and are in a participating location, you can log on to Amazon Fresh to buy more and have them delivered.

Around the home, you’ll find Alexa-enabled clocks, Stone & Beam furniture and lighting, and the full gamut of electronic and accessories, including the ubiquitous Echo devices. Soon to come is a variety of audio equipment such as the Echo Link and Link Amp, which provide multiroom sound capabilities.

The steel and railroad monopolies of the late 19th century were feared because of their control over the economy. But as the digital world has evolved to shape how we work, live, and play, the old monopolies have nothing on Amazon.com, which accounts for 50% of all internet sales today.

Amazon.com hasn’t yet reached the point where it can sell us something to satisfy our every desire, but if you ask Alexa, she might be able to tell you where to get it.

RDB, Alibaba seek to increase Rwanda’s exports to China

Rwanda Development Board (RDB) yesterday met a 16-member delegation from Alibaba as they seek to bolster trade between Rwanda and China.

RDB said in a statement that the visit by Alibaba is a follow up to the Electronic World Trade Platformme (eWTP) agreement that was signed by President Paul Kagame and Alibaba Group’s Executive Chairman, Jack Ma in October last year.

The delegation has been in the country for the past week, meeting different government and private sector officials, RDB said.

“The discussions cantered on supporting Rwandan entrepreneurs to export more agro-products to China such as beef, crayfish, avocados, chili pepper, french beans, tree tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables” the statement reads in part.

This, the statement said, would be done by streamlining the intergovernmental policies and regulations, being part of the agricultural supply chain process, providing the necessary infrastructure to boost agro-processing, lowering the cost of air-freight transport and providing more trainings to Rwandan entrepreneurs to enable them trade more product volumes on the platform

 Claire Akamanzi, the CEO of RDB, said: “China presents a huge market for us, with its big population and their increasing spending power.”

There are unique and big opportunities we are exploring and implore Rwandan SMEs to package their products in a way that suits the Chinese market and sell as much as possible through the Alibaba platform, she added.

Alibaba Group Vice President, Hou Yi, who led the delegation, said that:  “We found that many of Rwanda’s agricultural products are of high quality, hence why we want to increase their volumes and (improve their) standards, invest in agro-processing industries and the supply chain.”

Hou added that: “We also want to raise more crayfish here because Rwanda has many fresh water lakes and a favourable climate. The crayfish market is a US$20 billion one in China and Chinese consume between 1 and 1.2 tonnes of crayfish every four months. Therefore, as soon as we have the right policies and regulations in place and infrastructure and affordable air-freight, we can start exporting more Rwandan products.”

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