DEVELOPMENT/REDEVELOPMENT

Two million-sq.-ft. project on board for North Carolina

BY CSA STAFF

Columbia, S.C.-based Columbia Development is poised to present plans for a 2 million-sq.-ft. mixed use center in Cary, North Carolina, west of Raleigh.

Plans for the Eastern Cary Gateway Project are to be presented to the town council this week, according to the Triangle Business Journal, and call for Class A office space, multi-family housing, and retail anchored by a 120,000-sq.-ft. Wegmans supermarket.

Columbia’s main business in the Southeast has been power centers and strip malls, but Cary town officials expressed a desire for a large-scale project for a 92-acre tract off of Interstate 40 and the developer delivered.

An upscale bedroom town in North Carolina’s renowned Research Triangle area, Cary and its environs is home to some 170,000 residents with average household incomes above $90,000.

A video rendering (see above) of the Gateway project depicts an upscale town center in which office, retail, and residential are commingled.


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SUPPLY CHAIN

Report: Amazon explores the value of self-driving vehicles

BY CSA STAFF

Always in search of more efficient, cheaper delivery methods, Amazon is exploring a new avenue.

The online giant has created a think tank that is evaluating how driverless vehicles could improve package delivery speeds, according to NewsMax.

The group, which is comprised of 12 members, began brainstorming on the initiative more than a year ago. However, the group is not designing a fleet of driverless vehicles.

Instead, the team is evaluating how to leverage self-driving vehicles throughout the supply chain. Specifically, the group is exploring how unmanned vehicles could improve Amazon's workflow across forklifts, trucks, and drones, according to the report.

In the report, automotive analyst Dave Sullivan told the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the story, that “Amazon has a plan in place to shake up the entire supply chain as we know it today.”

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ECOMMERCE

Study: Amazon Prime doubles in size in two years

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The number of Amazon Prime members are on the rise.

An estimated 60% of Amazon customers are Prime members, a group that is comprised of roughly 80 million members in the United States, according to research from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). The study is based on responses from 500 U.S. shoppers who made a purchase at Amazon.com between January and March.

Prime members spend on average about $1,300 per year, compared to about $700 per year for non-member customers. The current membership figure compares to an estimated 58 million U.S. members at the end of the March 2017 quarter — an increase of 38% in one year, according to the report.

“Looking back, Amazon Prime membership doubled in the U.S. in two years,” said Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP.

“While slower growth is expected as it reaches natural limits, Amazon had a surprisingly strong quarter,” Lowitz said. “Membership grew 8% in the most recent quarter, compared to 7% growth on a smaller base in the year-ago quarter ending in March 2016.”

According to Amazon’s December 2016 financial release, the company reported $6.4 billion in worldwide “retail subscription services.” This includes Amazon Prime fees and various forms of digital media subscription fees.

“While it’s tempting to use the newly released services figure to estimate Amazon Prime members, it does miss a couple of important factors,” said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP.

“First, between 5%-10% of Amazon Prime members don’t pay the standard fee or at all for their membership because they are within the 30-day free trial period, or because they take advantage of Amazon Student or other similar reduced-fee programs,” he said. “Second, Amazon’s accounting for Prime membership fees spreads the fee over a full year, and recognizes only a portion of the $100 fee each month, so partial year members further distort the equation. In this way the $6.4 billion figure does not reflect a year of revenue from each Prime member.”

Based on this criteria, CIRP estimates that 26% of Amazon Prime members have elected to pay monthly for a membership, instead of annually. Since April 2016, Amazon offers Prime members the option of paying $10.99 per month instead of $99 per year.

“The monthly payment plan proved attractive, even thought it costs more than the annual plan,” added Lowitz.

“We think that the monthly membership option appeals to the later Prime adopters, with a smaller, potentially temporary commitment, that ultimately yields a long term commitment,” he said. “With smaller dollar, single month decisions, the new plan winds up helping with retention rates, which already average 85% for a member renewing after their first year.”

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