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AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market case study


At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Rory McDonald, Clayton M. Christensen, Robin Yang, Ty Hollingsworth. The AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market (referred as “Grocery Amazonfresh” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Technology & Operations. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Emerging markets, Innovation, Internet, Supply chain.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment




Case Description of AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market Case Study


More than a decade after the high-profile failures of several early online grocers, grocery remains the largest single U.S. retail category and one of the few that has not yet migrated online. Amazon began testing its grocery-delivery service, AmazonFresh, in Seattle, in 2007; five years later, the company has made significant progress. The case traces the evolution of AmazonFresh's business model and describes the operating capabilities necessary to compete with brick-and-mortar supermarkets like Wal-Mart and Safeway and with new digital grocery startups. Now Amazon needs to decide on AmazonFresh's next step. Should the company continue refining its business model in Seattle or expand to another city? What factors should it take into account when planning its next move?


Case Authors : Rory McDonald, Clayton M. Christensen, Robin Yang, Ty Hollingsworth

Topic : Technology & Operations

Related Areas : Emerging markets, Innovation, Internet, Supply chain




Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market Case Study


Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10016377) -10016377 - -
Year 1 3468149 -6548228 3468149 0.9434 3271839
Year 2 3977567 -2570661 7445716 0.89 3540020
Year 3 3941085 1370424 11386801 0.8396 3309011
Year 4 3222043 4592467 14608844 0.7921 2552160
TOTAL 14608844 12673030


The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2656653

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting


What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.




Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting


There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Payback Period
2. Net Present Value
3. Profitability Index
4. Internal Rate of Return

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Grocery Amazonfresh shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.
2. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Grocery Amazonfresh have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.




Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Technology & Operations Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Grocery Amazonfresh often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Grocery Amazonfresh needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10016377) -10016377 - -
Year 1 3468149 -6548228 3468149 0.8696 3015782
Year 2 3977567 -2570661 7445716 0.7561 3007612
Year 3 3941085 1370424 11386801 0.6575 2591327
Year 4 3222043 4592467 14608844 0.5718 1842214
TOTAL 10456935


The Net NPV after 4 years is 440558

(10456935 - 10016377 )






Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%


If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Discounted
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10016377) -10016377 - -
Year 1 3468149 -6548228 3468149 0.8333 2890124
Year 2 3977567 -2570661 7445716 0.6944 2762199
Year 3 3941085 1370424 11386801 0.5787 2280720
Year 4 3222043 4592467 14608844 0.4823 1553840
TOTAL 9486884


The Net NPV after 4 years is -529493

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9486884 - 10016377 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Grocery Amazonfresh to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.



Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Grocery Amazonfresh has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Grocery Amazonfresh can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Grocery Amazonfresh, then the stock price of the Grocery Amazonfresh should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Grocery Amazonfresh should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.




References & Further Readings

Rory McDonald, Clayton M. Christensen, Robin Yang, Ty Hollingsworth (2018), "AmazonFresh: Rekindling the Online Grocery Market Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.