Over the past few years, Amazon has quietly built out a successful business-to-business platform for haircare businesses as well as individual hair stylists and other professionals. Those, potentially, will become the major beneficiary of its latest store: Amazon Salon. The launch of a physical salon seems much less about capturing the revenue from cutting and coloring hair, and much more about building Amazon’s credibility as a supplier of professional beauty products and beauty technology.
Amazon is reportedly thinking of getting into the furniture assembly business. The new service, if Amazon does eventually roll it out, would seem to bring Amazon’s services offerings more in-house. It also seems to be a defensive play against companies like Wayfair and Walmart, which have offered in-home assembly for years, and which have seen their online furniture sales surge over the past year.
Used car e-commerce companies are in high demand. The rise of companies like Vroom, Carvana and Shift shows that, as e-commerce continues to sweep the retail world, it has begun to ensnare even nontraditional online purchases, including big, expensive items like cars.
Ghost kitchen company Zuul is partnering with landlords -- and the model offers an early glimpse of a much larger effort by the ghost kitchen industry to establish itself in institutional food markets. Ghost kitchen companies are signing partnerships with hotel chains, residential buildings and traditional offices in order to supply bulk food orders -- all as a way to both build out a steady customer base and cut the overall cost of deliveries.
In his investor letter, Jeff Bezos confirmed that Amazon Prime now has “more than 200 million subscribers” worldwide. But beyond that top-line figure, a few other numbers in the Bezos letter illustrate exactly where that growth is coming from -- and largely confirm existing speculation about the ascendancy of Amazon’s third-party sellers, its accelerating logistics footprint and the growth of its Alexa system.
In under a year, Amazon has laid the groundwork for a national, physical grocery chain. And that increased expansion comes right as Amazon shuttered one of its longest-running online food businesses, Amazon Pantry, in January. In general, the company appears to have acknowledged that, in order to gain a foothold in the grocery market, it needs physical locations to complement its e-commerce might.
While the Bessemer loss may be a blow, it isn’t slowing down the numerous worker advocacy groups that have cropped up in recent years, including the Target Workers United, Crew for a Trader Joe’s Union and Amazon’s own worker groups, Amazonians United -- and those groups say they will continue to fight on the ground, even if their companies don't officially recognize them.
Brands from Lands' End to Hudson's Bay are launching their own seller marketplaces. This suggests that the third-party model first perfected by Amazon is sweeping retail. As e-commerce competition intensifies, a growing number of retail brands are trying to stay competitive by adding more and more to their selection.
Amazon just bought Perpule, an India-based tech company that helps local mom and pop stores -- called kirana stores -- move their product catalogs online and implement contactless checkout. Amazon’s interest in kirana stores goes much deeper than a desire to just make profits from digitizing small businesses -- instead, Amazon sees small stores as both drivers of fulfillment for the company and as sources of growth for other Amazon products, including Amazon Pay.
Over half a dozen ad platforms -- including Bidstack, Frameplay, AdInMo and InMobi -- offer some version of an in-game ad service, and they are increasingly attracting the attention of major companies. In the past few months, Postmates, Burberry, Axe, Burger King, Asda and 7 Eleven have all run ads within video games like Off the Rails 3D and Gravity Zero -- suggesting that in-game advertising, while still very niche, is becoming a real consideration in retail marketing.
As competition ramps up on e-commerce marketplaces, brands that have wholesale channels are trying to figure out how to walk the delicate tightrope of growing their presences online -- without forfeiting control of how their products are sold and who gets to sell them. While Amazon offers some services to help sellers control who gets to sell their products, a small group of lawyers are popping up to fill in the gaps.
Verizon Media is launching a new marketplace called Yahoo Shops. This is Yahoo's biggest, but not its first, step into the e-commerce landscape. Yet while Yahoo might be helping customers discover products, it isn’t capturing the actual purchases on its own platform. By building a marketplace that contains those purchases in-house, Yahoo can both keep a cut of the commission and refine their ad targeting.
Nearly half of brands now rely on Amazon DSP today, up from around one third in 2019, according to one study. That market share will likely only grow amid the demise of the third-party cookie.
Walmart’s addition of more ad units reflects the increasing priority that the company is placing on selling marketplace ads -- and it underscores the rise of paid search ads across all online marketplaces, which have become essential tools for brand discovery, as well as lucrative sources of extra income for those marketplaces.
Major brick-and-mortar players have begun investing in live-stream shopping -- with Walmart testing out TikTok livestreams and Nordstrom beginning to roll out their own livestream platforms. But the phenomenon is not new in the U.S. -- small businesses have been building sizable livestream audiences for years, especially on Facebook. Yet the reaction from businesses has been mixed -- and some remain leery of selling directly on the platform, opting instead to let third-party apps handle their sales.
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