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Amazon’s new credit card targets small business

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon has a new deal for small business customers.

By entering a multi-year partnership with American Express, Amazon is introducing a new co-branded Amazon credit card for small businesses in the United States. This is the online giant’s first credit card for the small business segment.

The card will enable smaller companies to buy goods and services across Amazon. The partnership also includes an enhanced data solution that gives these companies greater insight into their purchasing activity, as well as a continued global card acceptance relationship.

“We selected American Express as our partner for the upcoming small business credit card because of our shared commitment to helping small businesses grow,” said Max Bardon, VP at Amazon.

Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) are becoming increasingly important to Amazon. In 2017, more than 300,000 U.S.-based SMBs joined the Amazon Marketplace — a network comprised of companies that operate in every state in the U.S., and more than 130 countries around the world. More than 140,000 of these small and medium-sized companies surpassed $100,000 in sales on Amazon in 2017, according to the online giant.

The program augments services that American Express features through Amazon Business, Amazon’s B2B e-commerce marketplace and purchasing solution. This integration provides businesses with line-item detail on their Amazon transactions, enabling more efficient monitoring, control, and reconciliation of Amazon Business purchase transactions made with American Express Corporate Cards or Corporate Purchasing Cards in the U.S. It also allows customers to run more advanced analytics.

Amazon’s newest partnership with American Express comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to throw out a government lawsuit that accused American Express of deterring competition by prohibiting merchants from steering customers to cards with lower fees. In the 5-to-4 ruling, the court said that the credit card company’s rules regarding its services for merchants do not violate federal antitrust law.

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Starbucks adds more benefits for transgender employees

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks Corp. has extended the benefits it offers transgender associates.

The coffee giant’s health insurance plans have offered coverage for gender reassignment surgery since 2012. On Monday, the retailer said it now also offering coverage for a host of procedures for transgender partners that were previously considered cosmetic, and therefore not covered, such as breast reduction or augmentation surgery, facial feminization, and more.

“The approach was driven not just by the company’s desire to provide truly inclusive coverage, and by powerful conversations with transgender partners about how those benefits would allow them to truly be who they are,” said Ron Crawford, VP of benefits at Starbucks. “I view this as a diagnosis with a treatment path.”

To develop the new benefits, Crawford and Alyssa Brock, Starbucks’ benefits director, reached out last year to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). Starbucks was the first company in the world to ask WPATH to help translate their recommended standards of care into a medical benefits policy, said Jamison Green, the immediate past president of WPATH, who worked with the company on the benefits package.

“Starbucks was not afraid to ask all the right questions and demand that people get the best possible care,” said Green. “We produced a list of the most crucial benefits and those that are deemed problematic to insurance companies, such as facial feminization and electrolysis.”

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Amazon to open first Alabama DC

BY Marianne Wilson

Amazon continues to expand its vast fulfillment network.

The online giant announced plans for its first Alabama fulfillment center, in the city Bessemer, which will create 1,500 full-time jobs. The company currently operates a sortation center in Mobile, Alabama.

With its fulfillment center, Amazon is making the largest single private investment in the city of Bessemer’s 131-year history. The planned 855,000-sq.-ft. center will utilize advanced robotics technology from Amazon Robotics to “help employees complete jobs in a more efficient manner,” the company center.

Employees at the fulfillment center will pick, pack and ship small items to customers such as books, household items and toys.

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