OPERATIONS

Amazon’s new credit card makes a play for small businesses

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon wants to help small businesses manage their spending — and not just on its own site.

Amazon and American Express on Tuesday introduced the Amazon Business American Express Card — the online giant’s first credit card for the small business segment. The co-branded credit card has no annual fee, offers greater visibility into each transaction, and provides an enhanced checkout experience on Amazon Business and Amazon.

There are also benefits for Prime and Business Prime members, including 5% back or 90-day payment terms on U.S. purchases made at Amazon Business, Amazon Web Services, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods Market. All other customers are entitled to 3% back or 60-day payment terms for purchases made across Amazon retail brands.

All cardholders are eligible for 2% back on purchases at U.S. restaurants and gas stations, and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and 1% back on other eligible purchases. They can also access line-item details on purchases made on Amazon Business in the U.S., including cost per item and quantity, a service that offers more visibility into and traceability of business purchases.

“At Amazon, small businesses are integral to our DNA and we continue to innovate on their behalf,” said Samant Nagpal, global head of Amazon Business Payment Products.

“We’re thrilled to launch the Amazon Business American Express Card, which puts the collective strength of Amazon Business and American Express into the hands of U.S. small businesses,” said Nagpal. “The card empowers small businesses to make flexible choices, streamline everyday buying decisions, and have increased visibility into their business purchases.”

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REI goes for four in a row

BY Marianne Wilson

REI wants its customers and employees to get outdoors on Black Friday.

For the fourth year in a row on Black Friday, REI will close all 153 stores, process no online payments and pay more than 12,000 employees to spend time with friends and family outdoors as part of its #OptOutside program. This year, REI is also pledging $1 million in support for the launch of a new center of academic excellence at the University of Washington that will study the link between human health and time spent outdoors.

“Day in, day out, we’re looking down instead of up, looking at our phones instead of the world around us,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “We’re asking people this year to reevaluate that picture of themselves. To see technology as the starting point to a journey outside, not the destination. And to go explore the world with someone they love – on Black Friday and every day.”

REI is an active investor in the growing body of research establishing the link between health and nature. REI has already invested more than $1 million into efforts by the UW, Sierra Club, UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital’s Center for Nature and Health, and the Oregon Public Health Institute to understand how time outside impacts anxiety levels, ability to focus, childhood development, happiness and other health factors.

“The best researchers in the world are proving the case that getting outside is critical to our mental and our physical well-being,” said Stritzke. “It’s time to rethink time outdoors as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.”

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Patagonia breaks new ground with its very public stand

BY Marianne Wilson

Patagonia has made its first-ever political endorsements.

Hundreds of retail companies quietly support political candidates and parties through political action committees. But Patagonia has come out publicly to endorse two Democratic candidates: Jacky Rosen, who is running for Senate in Nevada, and Senator Jon Tester who is running for re-election in Montana.

“It may be the first time that a for-profit corporation has come out with an endorsement on their website for political candidates,” said Peter Quist, the research director at the National Institute on Money in Politics, in a report by Montana Public Radio.

The outdoor clothing and gear s brand is featuring both endorsements on its website and social media, and in customer e-mails. In a statement on its website, Patagonia said its endorsements were not borne out of a desire to get into partisan politics. Instead, it referenced its longstanding support of environmental causes and the urgent need to see “wild places” protected for future generations.

“The company is endorsing candidates for the first time this year because of the urgent and unprecedented threats to our public lands and waters,” Patagonia stated. “Nevada and Montana are two states where Patagonia has significant company history and a long record of conservation accomplishments, and where the stakes are too high to stay silent.”

In its announcement, the company noted that hundreds of corporations back political candidates, but “the difference with our activism is that we put our logo on it.”

While Patagonia has never endorsed a specific candidate before, it has long been an active supporter of civic engagement. On Election Day 2016, it closed all its retail stores and distribution centers and gave employees a paid day off to vote. It is doing the same this year, on Nov. 6.

“And this time, we’re actively encouraging other companies to join us,” Patgonia CEO Rose Marcario said in a blog post in June. “Because no American should have to choose between a paycheck and fulfilling his or her duty as a citizen.”

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