While Walmart Marketplace is growing fast, it’s struggling to gain traction with its relatively clunky seller system that has proven to be especially difficult for smaller and inexperienced sellers to navigate. Meanwhile, those familiar with the program say there are a lot of issues that still need to be worked out. “As a seller, you really should be more established, more experienced, have a team to handle Walmart, because it’s not as intuitive as Amazon,” said Pauline Shiu, marketing director at Zentail, which manages listings for third-party sellers.
Airlines are promoting their excess food in part because they have so much of it in storage. But by bringing their food and drinks more closely into people’s lives, they are also building their brands. For the airlines, this might signal a brief lifestyle brand pivot, where the snacks and drinks they keep onboard become part of the larger pitch for why a customer should fly with them.
The company behind Hudson News is investing in Amazon's cashierless technology. The partnerships make a certain amount of sense. On the retailer side, this is one way to lower the barriers to entry as much as possible for customers. For Amazon, airport retail is a complex and expensive sector to enter -- so, the e-commerce giant relying on its technology to get a foothold into the market instead.
As Target and Walmart increasingly build up their e-commerce offerings, Amazon is trying to cling to its positioning in search results. As such, the e-commerce giant tweaked its algorithm to focus more on external search results. When customers type “leopard print bedding” into Google, Amazon wants to ensure that an Amazon product -- not a Walmart product -- comes up first. It's a small but important change, and signals a turning tide.
A new lawsuit alleges that Amazon was fixing the cost of ebooks through anti-competitive contracts with the five major book publishers. It's similar to an earlier one from 2012 involving Apple. These lawsuits offer a preview of what happens when two interrelated industries -- publishing and bookselling -- each become heavily consolidated. Publishing is one of the only high-profile industries to have recurring price-fixing problems, but as Amazon’s market share grows in other sectors, it might not be the last.
Walmart has big plans to enter the fintech space. Although few retail companies offer financial services in the U.S., e-commerce companies in Asia -- including Alibaba, Rakuten, Shopee and others -- have made themselves into hubs not only for goods but also for everyday banking needs. These companies give out loans to customers, take bank deposits and facilitate transactions that are not directly related to e-commerce -- like paying for utility bills -- and they offer one possible path forward for U.S. retailers looking to add a financial services arm.
Increasingly, when consumers stumble across a pair of a pants or a two-sided cereal bowl that catch their eye on Instagram or TikTok, they’ll have to go to a Linktree or a Linkin.bio page to buy it -- and that has turned those startups into a new kind of storefront for the social media era. According to Linktree, e-commerce-related traffic has been consistently doubling month over month.
Amazon recently announced that it was cracking down on QAnon merchandise. Even if the company is truly shifting its approach to how it polices product listings, its ability to cut down on disinformation merchandise will be hamstrung by its own algorithms. As long as Amazon’s product recommendation algorithm takes a purely neutral approach — even to anti-vaccine or white nationalist products — it will continue to give them prominent slots in search results.
TikTok users are cashing in on affiliate marketing. #AmazonFinds TikTok is the successor to affiliate-focused recommendation publications like the New York Times-owned Wirecutter, where media companies earn their incomes by highlighting useful niche products. Except these TikTokers are building their product recommendation empires alone, without the backing of a legacy publication.
Existing pharmacies are attempting to revamp their offerings following a rocky year. Walgreens, for instance, is emphasizing the speed of pickup at its store, while Rite Aid is putting money toward sleep products, essential oils and other new-age health goods. The Covid-19 vaccine will offer a unique chance for these pharmacies to make their pitch to consumers and draw new customers.
Amazon is getting rid of its Prime Pantry service. But, its death may be a signal of Amazon’s success breaking into the grocery industry. Now the company has gained a big enough foothold in the grocery business that it can streamline those early experiments that weren’t pulling their weight. And Pantry might prove to be the first in a series of future cuts.
Last year, a number of major fashion brands -- Lululemon, Adidas, Stella McCartney and Gucci -- announced they were investing “seven-figure sums” to produce clothes and shoes made out of mycelium fabric with a startup called Bolt Threads. Bolt Threads specializes in a mycelium-based leather it calls Mylo -- and as the leather industry continues to slide, driven in part by concerns about sustainability and animal rights, startups are pitching fungi as an environmentally friendly replacement.
Amazon just announced that it would buy 11 of its own cargo planes. The decision solidifies what many in the industry have long speculated: Amazon is starting to play a long game with its shipping network. “The fact that it purchased a plane is a very clear indication that it is there to remain, it’s a long-term commitment,” said one logistics expert.
More people bought holiday items online, and returns volumes are likely to hit record highs. And these items may end up on a liquidation site or at a warehouse, where small businesses, resellers or regular consumers can buy bundles of products at steep discounts. In recent months, many of those liquidators have reported a surge in inventory, right as resale platforms like Poshmark are ballooning in popularity. And to unload products faster, the two industries are partnering up.
Amazon sellers are increasingly being wooed by VCs and acquirers. These new firms tend to use similar tricks for finding and optimizing products -- redesigning product pages, reshooting product photos, adding keywords and so on. Amazon’s third-party marketplace could well become crowded with increasingly indistinct, algorithmic winners, accelerating a trend that has already begun on the platform.
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