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Breaking Down How Amazon Makes Money

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‘Tis the season for shopping.

For many of us, that means buying things online – and if you are like most internet denizens, you’ll be picking up at least one item this holiday season through the the world’s largest e-commerce giant, Amazon.

The company’s sales numbers are growing at a staggering pace. Last year, Amazon had $136 billion in sales, and the company is projected to finish at the $177 billion mark this year.

What are the exact sources of Amazon’s revenue, and how does it all break down?

How Amazon Makes Money

Today’s infographic comes to us from Sellbrite, and it dives into the company’s success, and how Amazon makes money:

Breaking Down How Amazon Makes Money

To the chagrin of many investors, Amazon has traditionally spent a lot to make a little.

In 2016, for example, the company brought in $136 billion in net sales, but it spent $131.8 billion on operating expenses. That gave the company an operating income of $4.2 billion.

However, that high-growth strategy seems to be paying off.

During the same period, e-commerce revenue jumped 25%, AWS revenue increased 55%, and net income skyrocketed 302%. The growth has continued through 2017 and it’s why Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in the world.

A Closer Look

Here’s how Amazon makes money, according to the company’s last annual report for 2016:

Revenue StreamNet Sales (2016)% of Total Revenue
Retail products$91.4B67.2%
Retail 3rd party sellers$23.0B16.9%
Amazon Web Services (AWS)$12.2B9.0%
Subscriptions (Amazon Prime, etc.)$6.4B4.7%
Other (ads, co-branded credit cards)$3.0B2.2%
Total Revenue$136.0B100.0%

Which areas of Amazon’s business are growing the fastest – and where is the company investing in the future?

Here are just a few directions in which the Jeff Bezos Empire is expanding:

Ads
In 2017, the size of Amazon’s advertising business (forecasted at $1.65 billion) has already surpassed those belonging to Twitter ($1.21 billion) and Snapchat ($642 million). Of course, Amazon is still a longshot from impacting the Google and Facebook ad oligopoly, but the two leaders would be wise to take the emerging threat seriously.

Why would Amazon ads work well? The company has a vast database of user info to allow for effective targeting, as well as high margins.

Prime Video
In 2017, Amazon is spending $4.5 billion on creating original content. It has fewer dollars allocated to content than Netflix, but it’s still more than double what HBO spends each year. By the way, Amazon Prime Video is now live in an impressive 200 countries.

International
With 65% of U.S. households having access to Amazon Prime subscriptions, a focus on international sales is the biggest lever that Amazon can pull for future growth. The company is eyeing obvious countries, but less obvious ones as well. In India for example, Amazon’s marketplace is the fastest-growing in the country.

B2B
Amazon is also leveraging its strong logistics platform to provide goods for small businesses, rather than just consumers.

Shipping and Logistics
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is already a booming business that allows small businesses to tap into the scale of Amazon. Investing in shipping also betters the customer experience – a key objective for Amazon. However, it’s still possible that the company could take shipping and logistics a step further: domination in the $200 billion parcel shipping market would be a strategic and attainable prize.

With many other ways for the e-commerce giant to grow, it’ll be interesting to breakdown how Amazon makes money in 2018.

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Bitcoin

How Decentralized Finance Could Make Investing More Accessible

Under the current global financial system, billions of people do not have access to quality assets. Here’s how decentralized finance is changing that.

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Infographic: How Decentralized Finance Could Make Investing More Accessible

Did you know that a majority of the global population doesn’t have access to quality financial assets?

In advanced economies, we are lucky to have simple options to grow and protect our wealth. Banks are all over the place, markets are robust, and we can invest our money into assets like stocks or bonds at the drop of a hat.

In the United States, roughly 52% of people are invested in the stock market – but in a place like India, for example, this portion drops to a paltry 2%. How can we make it possible for people on the “outside” of the financial system to gain access?

Breaking Down Barriers

Today’s infographic comes to us from Abra, and it shows how decentralized finance could make investing a more universal phenomenon, especially for those that don’t have access to the modern financial system.

It lays out four key obstacles that prevent people in developing markets from investing in quality financial assets in the first place:

  1. The Geographic Lottery
    Where you live plays a massive role in determining your ability to build wealth. In advanced Western economies, the average person is much more likely to be invested in financial markets that can help compound wealth.
  2. Financial Literacy and Complexity
    Roughly 3.5 billion adults globally lack an understanding of basic financial concepts, which creates an impenetrable barrier to investing.
  3. Local Market Turmoil
    Even if a person is mentally prepared to invest, local market turmoil (hyperinflation, political crises, closed borders, etc.) can make it difficult to get access to stable assets.
  4. The Cost of Investing in Foreign Markets
    Foreign assets can be pricey. One share of Amazon is $1,800, which is realistically more money than many people around the world can afford.

In other words, there are billions of people globally that can’t take advantage of some of the most effective wealth-building tactics.

This is just one flaw in the current financial system, a paradigm that has created massive amounts of wealth but only for a specific and well-connected group of people.

Enter Decentralized Finance

Could decentralized finance be the alternative to open up access to financial markets?

By combining apps with blockchain technology – specifically through public blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum – decentralized finance makes it possible to get around some of the barriers that are created by more traditional systems.

Here are some of the innovations that are making this possible:

Smart contracts could automate transactions and remove intermediaries, making investing cheaper, faster, and more accessible.

Fractional investing could allow partial or shared ownership of financial assets by using tokenization. This would make expensive stocks like Amazon ($1,800 per share) available to a much wider segment of the population.

Location independent investing is possible through smartphones. This would make it possible for people in remote parts of the developing world to invest, even without access to nearby financial institutions or local markets.

Like the internet with knowledge, decentralized finance could reshape the world by making financial access universal. Who’s ready?

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Economy

How Macro Trends Shape the Market’s Future

From climate change to aging populations, macro trends are changing the future. Here’s how to use them to your advantage.

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It’s hard to say for certain what the future holds.

Without the luxury of a crystal ball, investors must find opportunities by analyzing the market. There’s just one problem: the 24/7 news cycle is enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Where should an investor focus their attention, when almost every new venture is forecast to be the next big thing?

The Powerful Influence of Macro Trends

Today’s infographic comes to us from U.S. Global Investors, and it highlights how analyzing macro trends can serve as a key investment tool.

U.S. Global Macro Trends

Two Main Investment Approaches

When selecting stocks, many investors fall into one of two camps:

1. Top-down Investing

  1. Analyze macroeconomic trends.
  2. Identify specific sectors and regions.
  3. Choose individual stocks based on company fundamentals.

Considering the aging Chinese population, a top-down investor may choose to invest in Chinese healthcare stocks.

2. Bottom-up Investing

  1. Complete in-depth company analyses.
  2. Select a stock that is outperforming others in its sector.

A bottom-up investor could analyze Home Depot and choose to invest if it had strong performance relative to Lowe’s.

These approaches can be used separately, or even combined together. Zooming out allows investors to identify the big picture opportunities. Then, a bottom-up approach can find the companies that best capitalize on each trend.

What is a Macro Trend?

A macro trend is a long-term directional shift that affects a large population, often on a global scale. For example, climate change is affecting industries in both positive and negative ways. While “green” industries have seen increased support, ski resorts are projected to have 50% shorter winter seasons by 2050.

There are a couple of main ways to identify macro trends:

  1. Government policy
    Government policies are a precursor to change, shaping macro trends and creating opportunities. For instance, Obama’s Recovery Act fueled growth in renewable energy with a $90 billion investment.
  2. Economic cycles
    The cyclical nature of the economy means that investors can also use history to identify macro trends. Consider fiscal and monetary policy, which is implemented in response to economic data:

    • Expanding economy
      The central bank raises rates and the government reduces fiscal stimulus. As a result, inflation is moderated.
      • Contracting economy
        The central bank lowers rates and the government increases fiscal stimulus. As a result, growth is stimulated.

Discovering Long-Term Value

Macro trends are a key tool for discovering long-term market opportunities. They are beneficial because they are:

  • Unbiased and data-driven
  • Not swayed by daily headlines
  • Tend to avoid riskier, niche industries
  • Can be diversified by sectors and regions

There are currently many macro trends at play. For example, Trump’s sweeping tax reform and deregulation boosted the U.S. economy, lifting GDP growth to a 13-year high of over 3% in 2018 Q3.

However, not everyone’s a winner. America’s reduced taxes have made Canada less competitive. It’s estimated that 4.9% of Canada’s GDP is at risk due to ripple effects from U.S. tax reform. What’s more, regulators worry that the bank deregulations might put the financial system at risk.

The proposals under consideration… weaken the buffers that are core to the resilience of our system.

— Lael Brainard, Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve

So, how do investors distill this wealth of information into a future of wealth?

Spotting the Next Wave

In today’s hyper-connected world, it’s easy to get lost in data overload. Thinking big picture allows investors to focus on trends that:

  • Have a long-term outlook
  • Affect a large population
  • Create a clearer vision of the future

Then, an investor can target the most promising regions and sectors. When used effectively, this approach enables investors to ride the next big wave that will shape markets.

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