Over the years, Venmo has slowly attempted to eke out a space in the hospitality and retail space. But until now, the payment platform's technology hasn't been equipped to handle large merchant transactions. In the coming months, parent company PayPal will be rolling out backend products to support businesses in accepting Venmo as form of payment.
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?
This week, during Alibaba's Singles Day, livestreaming is expected to play a huge role in China's biggest shopping event. But in the U.S., livestream shopping has yet to become mainstream. According to Coresight Research, livestream shopping generated an estimated $63 billion in sales in China in 2019, compared to less than $1 billion in the U.S. While Amazon, YouTube Instagram have all sought to replicate Alibaba's livestream success, none have come close to making livestream shopping a mainstream activity in the U.S.
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.
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.
Amazon unsurprisingly posted record third quarter earnings. Sales exceeded expectations, as did profit. Still there were a few things of note. Amazon didn't highlight its third-party sellers as much as past years, for example. It did, however, nod to its growing suite of new revenue engines. Here's a look at the e-commerce giant's most recent earnings.
Lawyers and other experts who specialize in seller suspensions say that a recent wave of suspensions was among Amazon’s biggest. Craig Gedey, whose firm Thompson and Holt advises suspended sellers, told Modern Retail, “It’s the busiest weekend we’ve had all year.” But the mass suspensions represent a familiar pattern for Amazon -- whenever the company tweaks its algorithm, often without warning, sellers find their livelihoods on ice overnight.
Amazon would really like a peek at your Target receipts, all in the name of refining its ad business. The goal is improved micro-targeting -- if Amazon can figure out what people are not buying on Amazon, for instance, it can serve them ads for Amazon products that they might not think to buy online. What's more, Amazon is collecting all this data in order to learn what kinds of purchases it has yet to monopolize.
More than ever, Amazon sellers are having to trust their guts when it comes to producing inventory and completing Amazon orders during the holiday season. From capitalizing on fourth quarter traffic, to making up for the pandemic-related fulfillment blockage, this year poses a whole new set of challenges for the e-commerce giants' merchants.
Livestream shopping has taken off abroad, but Amazon has struggled to replicate that success on its own platform. So the company is trying a new way to promote its Amazon Live platform: Recruit micro-influencers. The program is still small, but participants say that it has the potential to bring a more social-media-like experience to buying on Amazon.
Resale platforms are attracting users, but the it's still unclear what their path to profitability will look like. Between competing with retailers' own secondhand sales ventures and subsidizing sellers' shipping costs, fine tuning their margins could prove difficult.
Etsy may be cracking down on QAnon merchandise, but Amazon still features an "Amazon's Choice" Q-emblazoned hat. The online pro-Trump conspiracy theory movement QAnon is considered a domestic terrorist threat by the FBI -- but QAnon merch is easily accessible across top e-commerce marketplaces in the U.S. It's a problem platforms like Etsy and eBay face, with no clear solution in sight.
Instagram's race to become a dominant e-commerce force is well under way, thanks to the introduction of shoppable Reels. This could mean that live selling craze, which has long been a go-to strategy for China's top influencers, could finally go mainstream among U.S. consumers.
Prime Day is a big sales day for Amazon. While the company doesn't disclose exact revenue figures, the e-commerce giant said that Prime Day sales last year were higher than the last Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. But Amazon's goal on Prime Day isn't just to get people to buy more physical product. It's also to encourage more people to buy Amazon Prime memberships, and to get the companies that sell on Amazon to spend more on advertising. And that's evidenced by the way that the company encourages Amazon agencies to prepare for Prime Day, by getting their clients to spend more on advertising.
A number of companies are fighting Apple over a tax it takes for apps that charge for digital events. It's a long brewing battle, and Apple recently gave a few a reprieve. But the issue doesn't target just a few big companies, but also smaller ones that are trying to diversify their offerings into digital services.
With in-person sales largely out of the picture this holiday season, brands must adapt to deliver the frictionless experiences that online consumers expect and demand.
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