2018 Amazon Year in Review (and What to Expect in 2019)

Mia Kovacevic / 13 min read

2018 has faded away in the rearview mirror, and 2019 is here, with limitless possibilities in front of us. Before we dive into all that 2019 has to offer, it’s time to take a look back at the year that was in Amazon.

To say that 2018 was a big year for Amazon, and Amazon sellers, is an understatement.

Amazon somehow manages to keep topping itself with its relentless expansion.
In September, the company hit $1 trillion in value for the first time - and the way things are shaping up, $2 trillion won’t be far behind.

We’re going to briefly recap the major events that shaped Amazon’s year, and see what the future holds.

For Amazon sellers, change was in the air - and dollars were in the cash register. We’re going to go over the significant changes that affected sellers this past year.

We’re also going to take a look under the hood at some intriguing facts and figures from 2018, and close it out with some predictions for Amazon and Amazon sellers in 2019.

2018 was a wild ride, so let’s jump into our AmazonBasics Alexa Time Machine™ and see just what happened.

Amazon’s Big Moves in 2018

jeff bezos amazon whole foods

 

Here we’re going to take a look at the macro, global level events that shaped Amazon’s year.

We’ll start with our 5 most significant events, then briefly run-down some other major stories that shaped Amazon in 2018.

#1 HQ2 - The Quest for New Offices

A 14-month long international competition to land the coveted site of Amazon’s second headquarters came to an end in November 2018.

238 bids were given, and cities were competing for the prestigious - and hopefully economically profitable - headquarters to be built in their limits by offering tax incentives and more.

Ultimately, Amazon chose to split HQ2 into two US locations - New York City and Arlington, Virginia.

Approximately $2.5 billion dollars will be invested into each location, with an estimated 25,000 jobs in each. Amazon hopes the split will allow it to attract more high-end talent while also spreading the impact regionally of such a large operation.

#2 Alexa Everywhere

Amazon 2018 year in review Alexa everything

Amazon has been aggressively expanding the reach of its digital assistant/voice control system Alexa during 2018.

Along with smart speakers like the Echo and Echo Dot, Alexa has found its way into apps, home appliances, and smart homes. Amazon now claims that Alexa is available in “tens of millions of devices from Amazon and third-party device manufacturers.”

Major developments in Alexa’s 2018 growth included a partnership with Lennar Homes to increase reach into the smart homes space. Alexa for Hospitality launched, making “Alexa the go-to in-room control for smart devices in hotel rooms owned by Marriott, Westin, St. Regis, Aloft, and Autograph” according to Vox. There’s also now an Echo Dot for kids.

#3 New Markets

Amazon expanded into several new markets in 2018. These include:

* Purchasing popular doorbell-camera company Ring for $1 billion.

* Pharmaceuticals with the purchase of PillPack, and it’s own Basic Care line of OTC products.

* Food Delivery with the purchase of Deliveroo.

* Delivery Logistics through its own service, Shipping With Amazon.

* Visual Search through a partnership with Facebook’s Snap.

* Delivering live Christmas Trees for the first time.

In the never-ending quest to be a seller of everything, Amazon continues to stake out new territory.

#4 Taking Over the Internet

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has emerged as the backbone of the internet, owning more than ⅓ of the world’s cloud storage business. It’s the behind-the-scenes backbone for major businesses such as Netflix, NASA, Spotify, and more.

In 2018, AWS added major new customers like Verizon, Shutterfly, and Major League Baseball, among many others.

It’s not all eCommerce at AWS. AWS provides services on a massive scale for the US government, including the CIA; Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security; and currently is a top contender to land a 10-year, $10 billion contract with the Pentagon.

#5 AmazonBasics Everything

Amazon 2018 Year in Review AmazonBasics

2018 was the year that Amazon’s own private label brand offerings massively expanded. It now seems that there’s a generic Amazon item of, well, everything - and what’s also different than in the past is just how aggressively Amazon is marketing these items.

According to TJI Research, Amazon now has a total of 275+ private label and exclusive brands combined.

Along with AmazonBasics, there are other brands under different names, many which show no outward signs of being owned by Amazon.

For consumers, this means there is now a large variety of generic, reasonably (if not low) priced options to choose from.

For Amazon sellers, this means that there is now more competition directly with Amazon in almost all niches. Amazon has leveraged years of captured sales data in order to push their new brands to the forefront.

While at this time there seems to be little danger to FBA and FBM sellers other than increased competition, the situation requires monitoring, as simple tweaks to the algorithm could easily vault Amazon brands to the top of search at any time.

Other Amazon Big Moves in 2018

 Here’s a few more highlights of Amazon’s big moves in 2018:

* Built increased consumer trust in speedy, reliable, and last-minute holiday delivery by being faster than the competition; and offering Prime in more locales.

*Opened several kinds of physical retail stores, including Amazon Books, an actual bookstore; cashless Go convenience stores; and Amazon 4-star, where only goods rated 4-stars and above are sold.

* Continued to expand its operations centers in the US and globally.

* Continued to expand into film and television production, with the biggest deal being $250 million for the rights to a Lord of the Rings spinoff series.

* Greatly expanded its ad business, going after competitors Google and Facebook by offering ad placement on product search pages.

2018 was a pretty massive year for Amazon globally, and we didn’t even cover it all. As the world’s 2nd most valuable company, Amazon is clearly making strides in every direction towards the #1 position.

Amazon 2018 for Sellers

It was a banner year for selling on Amazon, especially at the holidays.

Cyber Monday 2018 was the biggest selling day in Amazon history. The holiday cheer continued throughout the Christmas season, as Amazon had more items ordered worldwide than ever before.

Amazon Prime Day sales in 2018 were an estimated $4.19 billion, up from $2.41 billion in 2017.

While the final tally is not yet in, all sign point to this being the biggest year of Amazon sales thus far.

For Amazon sellers, there were numerous changes that affected how they did business in 2017. Here are 10 significant changes that occurred.

- Increased competition from Amazon’s own products. As we mentioned before, sellers everywhere are feeling the nip of Amazon’s branded products on their heels. The EU has launched an investigation into Amazon’s use of sales data from sellers in launching their own products. Definitely something to keep an eye on as 2019 proceeds.

- Changes in long term storage fees and policies for FBA. New storage fees go into effect on February 15, 2019. New storage limits will also be in effect, based on the Inventory Performance Index metric. For more information about LTSF changes, see our helpful blog post on storage fee hacks.

- Changes in US referral and FBA fees. Going into effect on February 19, 2019 are these updated fees affecting FBA sellers, found here.

- Changes to Amazon Advertising. Many acronyms died when Amazon decided to rebrand AMG, AMS, & AAP under the new name, Amazon Advertising. In a renaming frenzy, Headline Search Ads are now called Sponsored Brands; Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) is now called Advertising Console; and Amazon Advertising Platform is now called Amazon DSP. Along with the name changes, there were numerous tweaks to functionality in ad campaigns.

- Changes to Account Suspensions. Amazon has started to move away from it’s suspend first, ask questions later approach of the past. Now, warnings that a suspension may be forthcoming will appear on the health dashboard, followed shortly by a email asking for a pre-POA. This allows you to get a Plan of Action to Amazon to review before they decide to suspend your listings or account.

For more details about Amazon Account Suspension reasons and how to prepare your POA, check out this blog post.

- Amazon Accelerator Program. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em is the old saying - and now Amazon Sellers can apply to the Amazon Accelerator Program to become part of Our Brands, a collection of Amazon private brands and a curated selection of brands sold exclusively on Amazon.

- Add To Cart now helps product ranking. This year, an algorithm change means that the more times your product is added to a shopper’s cart, it goes toward increasing your product’s ranking. This is big news for sellers, especially those planning a launch in advance of a holiday or Prime Day.

- Video comes to 3P Seller pages. Beginning in August, brand registered 3P sellers gained the option to Add Video to their product detail pages. This Enhanced Brand Content rollout is boon to sellers, as video improves conversion rate, helps negate negative reviews, and is great to show off the value and usage of a product.

In case you are looking for a professionally crafted product videos for your Amazon listing, we are now providing video as part of our Optimize service and Breakthrough package. 

- Changes in Product Reviews policies. There were a few changes to product review policies in 2018. Among them were the shortening of the feedback removal deadline to 90 days; the elimination of down-voting other seller’s reviews; and clarifying review policy to limit sellers to only 1 review request per order via email. Banned was asking for only positive reviews, sending requests only to buyers that had positive experiences, and asking negative reviews to be sent to the seller personally.

- The Taxman Cometh. The US Supreme Court overturned the nexus law, meaning that sales tax is now collected on all out of state orders. Amazon sellers need to now factor this tax into pricing, inventory, warehousing, purchasing, and shipping costs.

Facts and Figures in 2018

Here’s a few fun facts and figures that give some perspective to Amazon’s 2018.

Top 10 Global Amazon Search Terms for 2018 (from our friends at Ahrefs)
 

 # Keyword    Search Volume
 1. nintendo switch   9,070,000
 2. fidget spinner   6,300,000
 3. ps4   5,760,000
 4. laptop   5,660,000
 5. ssd   4,080,000
 6. kindle   4,070,000
 7. tablet   3,590,000
 8. switch   3,340,000
 9. iphone 7   3,340,000
 10. iphone 6   3,150,000

 

Amazon Best Sellers 2018

The best sellers in 10 popular categories as of 1 January 2019:

 
 Category Product
   
 Toys & Games These Cards Will Get You Drunk
 Electronics All-new Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
 Video Games Nintendo Switch Screen Protector Glass
 Books Becoming by Michelle Obama
 Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry ODODOS High Waist Out Pocket Yoga Pants
 Appliances GE RPWFE Refrigerator Water Filter
 Home & Kitchen SafeRest Premium Hypoallergenic Waterproof Mattress Protector
 Patio, Lawn & Garden  Twinkle Star 300LED Window Curtain String Light
 Pet Supplies Dr. Elsey's Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter
 Tools & Home Improvement GE 6 Outlet Wall Plug Adapter Power Strip

 

Amazon Interesting Finds 2018

You can really get everything on amazon. An up-to-date feed of some of the coolest and funniest products for sale on Amazon, Interesting Finds has some real winners this year.

Here are 5 off-the-wall products we love:

  Item        Price
  SPI Home Octopus Pillar     Candelabra       $135
  Knock Knock WTF Nifty Notes         $5.30
  Wedding Cape Hooded Cloak for   Bride          $80
  Silver One Intl. 500ML Copper   Coated Pineapple in Box      $17
  Women's Black T-Rex Dinosaur   Crew Socks      $7.95 


What to Expect in Amazon 2019

Amazon 2018 Year in Review What to Expect from 201

 

As we begin 2019, here’s a lucky 7 trends and forecasts for the expect in the new year from Amazon. If the past is any indicator, we would also add to expect the unexpected, because Amazon is growing so fast, and from so many directions, that one never knows exactly what they might do next.

1. Continued Sales Trending Upwards - Although 2018’s sales figures have yet to be released, it’s highly likely that the figures will show considerable increase form last year. With continued global expansion and increasing Prime membership numbers, the trend should continue.

2. More Alexa - A domestic robot version of Alexa, called Vesta, may be arriving soon. Alexa will also penetrate the connected car market.

3. International Expansion - Continued expansion into new international markets, particularly India, Indonesia, and Thailand, will create massive opportunities for sellers. Establishing Prime culture in these markets will thwart local competition.

4. Grocery Delivery - More Whole Foods retail expansion (already announced for 2019) combined with Prime Now will revolutionize grocery shopping for many.

5. Web Services - AWS will continue to dominate a larger and larger share of the global cloud services economy.

6. Seller Alert - Continued tweaks to algorithms and metrics, along with new advertising policies and dashboards, will keep sellers on their toes as they compete head-to-head with an increasing number of Amazon’s own brands.

7. Prime Day - Based on the consistent year-to-year sales growth, this will be the biggest Prime Day ever - so be ready!


There you have it - our 2018 Amazon Year in Review. It’s been a wild ride, and we expect more of the same in 2019.

We look forward to sharing all the latest news, actionable tips, and up-to-date info with you this year - and we’ve got a lot of great things happening at Judolaunch that we can’t wait to share!

From all of us at Judolaunch, we wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019 - and your best year of Amazon selling ever.

 

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Picture of Mia Kovacevic

Mia Kovacevic

CEO
As a part of Remote Judo Team, Mia is traveling to a new country every three months, chasing summer and breathtaking sunsets, while sharing insights from different Amazon markets and stories of inspiring entrepreneurs she meets on the way.