Amazon has long honed the business of being the middleman — getting brands to sell on its site, letting shoppers pay for and receive those items fast and efficiently. But 2017 was the year Amazon started taking steps to create its own brands. If done at the right price point, Amazon will be in a strong position next year to prove it not only can help other retailers grow, it can be a retailer itself. Amazon already has its AmazonBasics line of essentials like batteries and chargers. These items are largely commoditized, said Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali. It’s easy for Amazon to keep growing there: By bumping those products up in search results and pricing them right — which will be easy to do since Amazon owns the data — this line is poised to keep growing. But the more interesting prospect is for private-label items that aren’t Amazon-branded. There are at least 19 brands Amazon owns and doesn’t operate under the Amazon brand name — from lingerie brand Arabella to furniture brand Strathwood. In October, Amazon rolled out private-label sportswear brands, including Goodsport (which competes with Champion), Rebel Canyon and Peak Velocity. Amazon may boasts fantastic brand recognition, but Amazon-branded panties are still a hard sell. Read more at Digiday.