‘In the dark’: Non-essential third-party Amazon sellers try to navigate a new reality

Two weeks into the age of coronavirus and Amazon third party sellers still feel in the dark. Those considered non-essential are trying to figure out ways to stay afloat while Amazon de-prioritizes their products. Some are trying to get their products re-categorized, others investing in new fulfillment resources. Risks abound for all the options.

Top Stories Mar 30

‘We can’t assume normal will happen’: First-time founder Steph Hon on staying flexible amid crisis

People don’t think of co-working spaces as operations for physical products, but all our fulfillment is done out of our office, where we have expensive equipment for custom label printing. Our teammate from California was feeling uncomfortable being in New York and went back home, and I wanted to support him on that. The timing also coincided with our other teammate leaving to have surgery, so now it’s just me, our full time head of engineering and a few part time workers. 

Coronavirus fallout: Tracking the layoffs, furloughs and cuts at retail startups

As many states are continuing to order non-essential retail stores to stay closed, and shoppers tighten their wallets, startup founders are having to take a look at what costs they can cut to ensure their can keep their business running through the coronavirus outbreak. Many startups are cutting their digital advertising spend. Others are trying to renegotiate leases. Many founders are taking extreme pay cuts themselves, and asking their executive teams to as well. And, ultimately many of them are also having to layoff or furlough staff, or asking them to take unpaid leave as well. Modern Retail will be tracking the job and salary cuts announced by startups, by date of when they were first reported, in order to get a better sense of how the coronavirus outbreak will impact the burgeoning direct-to-consumer industry.

Explainer: What are nano-fulfillment centers?

Unlike multi-million square foot warehouses, micro centers are typically located in much-smaller spaces within cities, averaging about 10,000 square feet. Examples include platforms like Fabric, which builds automated micro-fulfillment centers for retail clients, with a focus on grocery chains.

Other news to know

  • Everlane is the latest digitally native retailer to make sweeping layoffs. According to a tweet, “nearly every member” of the newly-announced union was cut.
  • Instacart shoppers are planning to go on strike on Monday, reported Vice. The workers are asking the company for hazard pay, safety gear and a better paid sick leave policy.
  • Meanwhile, grocery is trying to keep up with the changes. CNBC reported that both Walmart and Kroger have hired over 20,000 new employees over the last few weeks, and they have plans to hire more.
Latest Stories
The future of toy stores isn’t in selling you toys

The future of toy stores isn’t in selling you toys

Toy stores haven't fared well over the last century. But a new crop of retailer are trying to rethink the entire category — and make it less of a toy store and more of an experience. Will it work?

Mall Rats: Gen-Z shoppers are rerouting the future of physical retail

As “retail apocalypse” rumors continue to fly, teenagers are reviving shopping centers’ foot traffic. Among the draws are a social experience, immediate gratification, a personal branding opportunity and a much-needed break from their mobile phones.  

Subscription brands are fighting fatigue and churn with these four tactics

Subscription brands are fighting fatigue and churn with these four tactics

Subscription churn rates vary by industry, but research indicates an industry average of just above 5 percent, with consumer goods and box-of-the-month subscription businesses running a bit higher. 

Grocery private brands stand to gain in a post-coronavirus world

Grocery private brands stand to gain in a post-coronavirus world

People are panic shopping now, but once the dust settles there may be a big change in the products people buy. For one, grocery private brands will likely see a surge. This is because consumers will likely seek out value over name brands — but also that the perception behind private branding has changed considerably over the last few years.


'Virtual fitness will be here to stay': With millions stuck at home, Tonal is capitalizing

With physical fitness facilities deemed non-essential and workout equipment selling out fast, virtual fitness startups are having a moment. Strength-training system Tonal, which launched in 2018 and retails for $2,995, is seeing a surge in sales this month. The wall-mounted weight simulation product is getting a second look from customers searching for exercise activities in confined spaces.

Could the coronavirus outbreak lead to a wave of unionization in retail?

Could the coronavirus outbreak lead to a wave of unionization in retail?

The coronavirus outbreak has lead workers from all kinds of industries to push for greater protections from their employers, and retail is no exception. This begs the question of how, once the coronavirus outbreak slows, which temporary changes to a retailer's paid sick leave policy or pay increases will stick. One potential outcome: that more retail workers will seek to unionize.

The coronavirus is upending the direct-to-consumer calculus

As brands struggle to stay afloat in light of the coronavirus's spread, what the DTC industry will look like is a big question mark. Big brands will likely adopt DTC-like tendencies, and small startups will probably die. The one thing that's for sure is that earlier doomsday predictions have rapidly accelerated.

Cora is using charity and health education to drive subscriptions

Cora is using charity and health education to drive subscriptions

Feminine care brand Cora has donated more than one million pads to India and Kenya, and has also begun providing health education to adolescent girls. The efforts have solidified the company’s values-driven brand identity — and boosted its subscription e-commerce business.

Apparel brands are marketing their products as work from home essentials

As shoppers in the U.S. and Europe are spending more time in their homes thanks to shelter in place orders, apparel brands are seizing the opportunity by offering sales on items like loungewear and leggings, and marketing their products as essentials for people working at home.  Everlane is hosting a sale this week where shoppers can get a discount if they buy two pairs of leggings or two sweatshirts. Universal Standard is having a mix and match sale where if customers buy three products from a selection of tank tops, t-shirts, and sweaters, they get 30% off. It's an easier lift for some companies than others.

Amazon Strategies
Apr 20–Apr 24, 2020

A series of presentations, workshops and talks to help you navigate and survive our current crisis and the acceleration of e-commerce that has come with it.

Register Now