Today, Amazon released their Q3 earnings report. Amazon’s net sales this quarter grew 37% year-over-year, down from 40% YoY growth in Q2 but still staggering, nonetheless. Other highlights from the earnings report include:
- Operating cash flow for the trailing 12 months increased by ~$20 billion compared to the same period last year, up 56% to $55.3 billion
- Operating income nearly doubled YoY, up from $3.2 billion to $6.2 billion
- Amazon’s net income tripled YoY, up from $2.1 billion to $6.3 billion
- Amazon reports that it has created over 400,000 jobs globally in 2020
- Amazon Sweden launched yesterday, October 28
- Third-party seller services grew 55% YoY
- First-party sales grew 38% YoY
- The “Other” segment, which consists largely of advertising revenue, grew 51% YoY, demonstrating that advertising revenue continues to be one of the fast growing segments
- AWS grew 29% YoY, on par with growth in Q2 (the last two quarters are the slowest growth rate in the last 3 years)
- Subscription services are up 33% YoY
- Shipping costs are up 57% YoY
- Amazon’s logistics and fulfillment square footage is expected to grow 50% YoY in 2020
- Amazon expects net sales to grow between 28% and 38% YoY in Q4
A Record Breaking Quarter
At $6.3 billion, Amazon’s Q3 earnings shattered records, the previous record being $5.2 billion in Q2 this year. To not appear to benefit too greatly from the pandemic, Amazon has pledged another $4 billion to COVID-19 costs for the fourth quarter. It’s also worth noting that on Prime Day, which occurred in October this year, that Amazon did not appear to struggle with fulfillment. Their logistics success on Prime Day is reassuring as sellers head into the holiday season.
Amazon’s earning report covers much more, delving into Amazon’s contributions to communities, job growth, climate change, Amazon products, Prime Video, AWS, and more. As an Amazon seller/agency/software provider (we do a lot), we’re going to focus this coverage on what the report suggests for brands selling on Amazon.
Our biggest hot take: Amazon’s feeling the heat from the antitrust investigation, and is taking time in this earnings report to try to deflect or minimize some of the allegations laid against it.
Amazon Tries to Deflect Antitrust Concerns
On July 29, 2020, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos testified before a congressional antitrust committee. Amazon also supplied written answers to the committee’s questions on September 4. The committee published a 450-page report on October 6 with their findings from a 16-month antitrust investigation into Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple.
For those who listened to Bezos’s testimony or read the aforementioned documents, it’s easy to see that Amazon is making a defense for itself within its Q3 earnings report. We’ve broken down some of the most notable references to the antitrust concerns.
Does Amazon Hinder S&MB Growth?
Amazon has been accused of stymieing the growth of small and medium-sized businesses. In this earnings report, as with previous reports, Amazon points to its efforts to support small and medium-sized businesses, including:
- Amazon Accelerate, a program that teaches business owners best practices for selling on Amazon
- Ignite Digital Festival, an event for delivery service partners offering best practices and updates for logistics
- Stand for Handmade, a program in India that waives selling fees for local, handmade products
- Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants, a program in Australia to provide grants to start-ups and S&MBs
Amazon Takes Majority of Prime Day Sales
During the antitrust hearing, Amazon faced questions about unfair usage of third-party data and unfair competition against third-party sellers by Amazon’s first-party retail segment.
In their earnings report, Amazon makes a point to state that on Prime Day, third-party sales grew 60% YoY, up to $3.5 billion, “growing even more than Amazon’s retail business.”
This note seems to be a defensive move by Amazon, as others have noted that Amazon’s first–party sales hit an estimated $7 billion and accounted for 60% of all Prime Day sales. In year’s past, first-party sales accounted for closer to 40% of all Prime Day sales. Third-party sellers may have grown at a greater rate than Amazon’s retail segment, but Amazon took a far larger slice of the Prime Day pie this year.
Amazon’s Efforts to Protect Brands & Consumers
Amazon also drew attention to Project Zero, announcing that the tool is available in 17 countries around the world. Project Zero allows brands to remove alleged counterfeit sellers from their listings themselves, without going through Amazon’s approval process. The program has been historically difficult to gain access to.
Bezos referenced Project Zero during his testimony when asked about what Amazon is doing to protect brands and consumers from counterfeit products. Mentioning it again in the earnings report helps send the message that Amazon is continuing to expand its anti-counterfeit efforts.