During the Holiday season, Amazon abruptly announced that it wouldn't let merchants use FedEx to fulfill Prime orders. Now, the e-commerce giant has made an about face and let the parcel service back in. What's behind these moves is a complicated ecosystem of logistics competition and customer expectations.
Alibaba is making a big push to U.S. retailers. While much of its pitch is focused on entering the large Chinese market, Alibaba is also making one thing crystal clear: It is not Amazon has no plans to become like it. At a recent panel with Allbirds, the e-commerce company talked about this. Christina Fontana, Alibaba's Tmall's head of fashion and luxury, said the company is "building technology platforms and services that allow brands to speak directly to their consumers." She highlighted the data the company shares with companies selling on the platform, as well as the various opportunities to promote products -- be it via live-streaming or during events like Singles Day. Her pitch was clear: China is "the largest retail market in the world," she said, and Alibaba is an obvious way to access that population. It currently exceeds 755 million active users.
Google is phasing out support for third-party cookies within two years, a move that has major implications for how some retailers advertise -- and may also be a boon for retail media operations at major companies like Target and Walmart. Third-party cookies are pieces of code that track what a user or their device does across different websites, and help retailers figure out when to serve an ad to various groups of users. They're most commonly used for ad retargeting and behavioral advertising. As such, as Google prepares to phase out support for third-party cookies, it could limit the number of ways retailers can target and advertise to users across the web.
After years of having its lunch eaten by Amazon, eBay is trying to fend off new competition from a new crop of secondhand marketplaces. Startups from StockX to theRealReal to ThredUp have been able to grow quickly by focusing on specific verticals like luxury handbags or sneakers in which there's historically been a lot of demand for resale, as well as by promising to authenticate goods before shipping them to buyers as a way to win over customers who have been skeptical of buying secondhand goods over the internet. Now, eBay is trying to take a page or two from their playbook.
Google is slowly but surely expanding its commerce features. Whether or not companies want to participate, there's a good chance Google will try to insert itself into the transaction. The question remains: How far will Google go and what will the collateral damage be?
With the holidays fast approaching, Amazon's massive logistics network is being put to the test.In order to get those packages to customers on time, Amazon doesn't just rely on third-party carriers like the USPS, UPS and FedEx. Since building its first fulfillment centers in 1997, Amazon also now has its own fleet of trucks and cargo planes rushing to get customers their delivery time. It's also constantly adding new types of robotics to its warehouses, looking for ways to speed up the picking and package sortation process.
Postmates announced a new partnership with Old Navy, allowing customers to have items delivered to their door within a day. While the app has always been agnostic when it came to types of products delivered, this partnership indicates that it's further trying to differentiate itself from the food space.
In February, Amazon launched Amazon Live, a page for its own QVC-like shopping videos that are livestreamed and produced by Amazon, as well as a new app that would allow brands to create their own live shopping videos. Although Amazon is encouraging more brands to test out Amazon Live, it has yet to become a critical driver of sales during large shopping holidays like Cyber Monday.
Pinterest has a new page that showcases select small businesses. It's another example of the social media platform trying to prove to brands that it's a worthy alternative to Facebook and Google. The next year will be the real test for whether or not Pinterest can make the case.
This week, PayPal announced that it was acquiring Honey, a browser extension and mobile app that helps users find coupons when checking out on a retailer's site, for $4 billion. It's a pricey purchase, but one that will quickly give PayPal a lot of data on how shoppers search for products, and what ultimately makes them buy. That type of data will be critical for PayPal's ambitions to become more than just a payments processor.
Poshmark has over 7 million sellers on its resale platform. One way it's been trying to garner more engagement and retention is by facilitating small local events for these users. The company is now trying to invest further in this events program, as it tries to scale and potentially go public.
Nike made the announcement that it would no longer have a brand presence on Amazon. This move highlights the calculus businesses make about how they should interact with the e-commerce platform. As a result, a debate is ensuing about whether brands need Amazon or Amazon needs brands.
Facebook wants people to shop on its platform. The latest evidence comes from two product rollouts -- one for catalogs in WhatsApp, the other called Facebook Pay. It's part of a bigger industry realization that conversational messaging is the next big frontier for US platforms. But Facebook has some big hurdles to overcome in order to succeed.
Amazon has a few new features it's testing with brands that look a lot like some Facebook programs. They all seem like ways to promote more content posted to the e-commerce platform -- and it looks like Amazon is beginning to listen to some of the needs of its partners.
Shopify is largely considered the go-to solution for DTC e-commerce architecture. But some say the enterprise solutions are lacking. And other digitally native brands trying to scale their businesses have had to get creative to use the platform to their advantage.
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