more articles by

Michael Waters

  • NOV 25, 2020

    How Roblox paves the way for a new era of branded gaming

    Roblox is still in its infancy as a marketing tool, but over the last two years, the number of brands and retailers on Roblox has grown dramatically. Compared to other gaming systems, it is incredibly easy to discover new games on Roblox, which makes the platform well suited to help even small brands build a large, passionate audience. In fact, one agency told Modern Retail that retailers -- including grocers -- are looking into building their own branded games. 

  • NOV 24, 2020

    Retailers are increasingly uncomfortable with employee influencers

    Sherwin-Williams recently fired an employee allegedly over his popular TikTok posts. These types of terminations highlight the awkward relationship between retailers and a rising crop of employee influencers. On one hand, some companies have started encouraging and compensating their low-level workers to post behind-the-scenes snippets to TikTok. Meanwhile, other retailers seem terrified to have employees representing them online -- and might make themselves look worse in the process.

  • NOV 23, 2020

    As big tech goes all in on live-stream shopping, the future may be for small brands

    Based on its success overseas, experts have been predicting for years that live-stream shopping will blow up in the U.S. Until now, even though apps like NTWRK are niche successes, that hasn’t happened. But the entrance of tech giants into live-stream shopping might signal a real breakout moment -- and might prove to be a boon especially to small, niche businesses.

  • NOV 20, 2020

    Why food insurance is taking over holiday marketing

    This upcoming holiday season is an extremely hard one for any marketing department. Emphasizing family togetherness, as companies tend to during the holidays, feels out of touch given the requirements of social distancing. Yet beyond their sheer headline value, these marketing gimmicks are also a way to drive people to sign up for corporate membership programs. Whole Foods customers partaking in the insurance program, for example, must already Amazon Prime members.  

  • NOV 18, 2020

    Why Walmart and Amazon are battling over your garage door

    The obvious reason why Walmart and Amazon are jockeying to expand their in-home delivery systems is to make ordering online a simpler proposition. Both companies see having in-home and in-garage delivery options as bolstering their overall value to consumers -- the less work the consumer has to put in, the more attractive shelling out money for Amazon Prime or Walmart+ seems. But more quietly, in-home delivery programs may also be opening a pathway for both companies to expand their presence in the smart home market.

  • NOV 18, 2020

    As e-commerce skyrockets, Amazon seller acquisition companies are booming

    This year, a growing set of acquisition companies have turned buying up Amazon third-party sellers into an incredibly lucrative business. In exchange for an upfront payment, usually in the high hundreds of thousands or low millions, these companies will buy out successful Amazon third-party sellers and roll their products up into a larger conglomerate. That has made “getting acquired” an increasingly common goal among the most successful Amazon sellers -- and it might signal a broader shift in the culture of selling Amazon, as vast troves of outside capital floods into the sector.

  • NOV 16, 2020

    Why video games are the next retail frontier

    Now, if a player falls in love with a rug they’ve added to their virtual apartment, they can buy a real-life version from Design Home directly. Tthe iOS game is essentially doubling as a furniture store. That’s a significant escalation not just for the budding relationship between retailers and video games -- it also suggests that video games might themselves become the retailers of the future.

  • NOV 13, 2020

    How Amazon’s fulfillment options help expand its control over Shopify and Etsy

    Amazon is slowly offering an option that would let sellers fulfill orders outside of its marketplace in unbranded boxes. In doing so, Amazon is only deepening its influence over the e-commerce world -- so much so that, if sellers opt to use its fulfillment services, Amazon will continue to make money no matter where consumers buy from. In a world where Amazon controls much of e-commerce logistics, even consumers who want to avoid shopping at Amazon might still end up benefiting from the corporation’s massive reach.

  • NOV 12, 2020

    How Amazon is trying to safeguard the next wave of panic buying

    Things likely won't be as crazy as they were last April for Amazon. But if panic buying does happen again, Amazon seems more prepared to handle it -- and to neutralize a subsequent rush of price gouging. Experts say the company has tweaked its algorithms to deal with new challenges. But even more hurdles lie ahead, and sellers are worried their businesses may be impacted.

  • NOV 11, 2020

    Retailers are pushing their employees to become TikTok influencers

    For years, companies have invested in recruiting employee influencers who can put a face to the brand and offer a (favorable) behind-the-scenes glimpse into their companies. Companies believe that their employees can carry their message much further than a faceless brand account. But while the employee advocacy marketing tactic has existed for a few years, it is increasingly moving into TikTok -- in large part because TikTok is so good at creating a sense of intimacy with viewers.

  • NOV 11, 2020

    How Amazon Explore is trying to mix experiences with commerce

    On the surface, Amazon Explore looks almost identical to Airbnb’s Online Experiences platform, even down to the layout. Users toggle through a series of live-streamed sessions -- like cooking classes, ghost tours and fashion tutorials -- broken out by continent. But instead of an attempt to disrupt the hospitality industry, for Amazon, Explore seems to be an experiment with another, more intimate model of selling goods. It's all part of Amazon's move toward live-streaming commerce and more organic product discovery.

  • NOV 10, 2020

    ‘They saw an opportunity with the pandemic’: How social media platforms gave multi-level marketing a coronavirus surge

    The major publicly held companies -- like Tupperware, Nu Skin and Primerica -- have posted sales increases. And 63% of companies reported to the Direct Selling Association, the industry’s main trade group, that they’ve seen a “positive impact” on their US revenue since the start of the pandemic. It turns out that the same algorithms that can amplify political social media posts are also great for spreading a multi-level marketing pitch.

  • NOV 06, 2020

    How local e-commerce platforms are trying to challenge Amazon’s dominance

    A growing network of e-commerce platforms like Shop Where I Live and Bookshop.org have popped up to provide a close-to-home alternative to Amazon. Their vision is of an online shopping world that isn’t dominated by two or three giant companies, but instead is decentralized across hundreds of different, localized websites. Already in a number of cities worldwide, these websites focus on getting small businesses online and creating more equitable business models. But do they present a viable alternative to Amazon's growing dominance?

  • NOV 05, 2020

    Why Amazon is turning to small brands to grow its subscription box program

    At the time of its debut, Amazon seemed late to the subscription box trend. After first gaining momentum with the rise of Birchbox in 2010, some experts thought the bubble was bursting. But subscription boxes have witnessed a bit of a renaissance during the pandemic -- and while the surge is led by the industry’s biggest names, more quietly, small retail stores like Speach’s are turning to Amazon to roll out their own subscription-box businesses. They see the boxes as a vital driver of growth in a time when brick-and-mortar retailers are still struggling to make ends meet.

  • NOV 05, 2020

    How Amazon’s vast logistics network may become a liability trap

    While Section 230 might not be keeping Bezos up at night the way it is Mark Zuckerberg, the law does still have significant implications for Amazon’s future business -- especially when products bought on the site turn out to be dangerous. A small number of court cases are revealing an awkward contradiction for the company: One of Amazon’s greatest strengths as an e-commerce platform -- its vast logistics network -- might also be making it look a lot like the true seller of a third-party item, opening it up to new types liabilities.

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