Amazon’s and Walmart’s latest moves confirm the death of the middle class as we know it

Amazon and Walmart are battling for shoppers at the highest and lowest ends of the income spectrum, leaving the middle class in the dust.

Amazon, whose Prime service claims more than 70% of upper-income households in the US — those earning more than $112,000 a year — is suddenly going after customers on government assistance who earn less than $15,444 a year for a one-person household.

The retailer on Tuesday announced it would slash the cost of its monthly Prime membership nearly in half, to $5.99 a month, for customers who have an electronic benefit transfer card, which is used for government assistance like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps.

“It’s a shot over the bow at Walmart,” said Doug Stephens, a retail-industry consultant. In other words, the strategy is a direct grab for Walmart’s core customers. Nearly $1 out of every $5 in SNAP benefits was spent at Walmart last year, according to Morningstar.

At the same time, Walmart is going after Amazon’s core customers with its $3 billion acquisition earlier this year of Jet.com, which attracts a younger and higher-income group of shoppers than Walmart. The retailer has also recently been snatching up trendy online retailers like ModCloth, Moosejaw, and Shoebuy, and it’s reportedly considering a bid for the high-end menswear brand Bonobos.

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Three supply chain challenges and how to overcome them

The modern supply chain is becoming more complex by the day. Businesses continue to struggle with keeping their supply chain under control but hidden risks still pose a significant threat to the industry. Even with all the new technologies making their way to the industry, businesses must be aware of these hidden risks and understand how to react appropriately.

Businesses of all kinds must keep supply chain visibility, cyber risk and natural disasters in mind at all times. All of these factors or even just one could have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. In this current edition of the ‘Challenges and Solutions’ series, we will take a close look at the most troublesome issues in the supply chain and how businesses can avoid or plan for these risks.

New technology

Advancing technology is making its way into the supply chain, forcing businesses to constantly change systems. New services that provide an “Uber-Like” freight experience require supply chain managers to constantly hone their talents and adapt to these kind of digital disruptions. Not only with the Internet of Things be transforming the supply chain end to end, the way people utilize technology to create new processes will need to be monitored. The challenge is keeping supply chain managers and procurement professionals up-to-date and trained with all these new advancements.

Finding a solution can be challenging at first. It will take some time for a business to discover the right process that works for them. There is no one answer fits all, rather a unique, business specific training program must be developed. Some solutions may include putting together a team in charge of locating the latest supply chain innovations and coming up with a plan to train the rest of the staff. Others could be outsourced training programs funded by the organization whose employees will be taking part. Continuous training will be vital in order to remain effective in this transforming industry.

Read more at Three supply chain challenges and how to overcome them

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