Until now, Amazon Music has remained distinct from the company’s larger e-commerce business, but the recent addition of merch suggests that these two sides of the platform may become more tightly integrated down the line. It also shows the way in which Amazon, as its empire expands, is tying consumer products more tightly to its ecosystem.
Last week, Snap bought Fit Analytics, a Berlin-based software company that has supplied around 18,000 retail brands -- including ASOS, Calvin Klein and others -- with technology that lets customers virtually try on products while shopping online. The acquisition seems to cement Snap’s serious interest in becoming a major e-commerce player.
Financial advances are not a new phenomenon in the e-commerce world. But now they are zeroing in on Amazon sellers. The rise of these e-commerce fintech programs is happening against the backdrop of big investors pouring money into e-commerce businesses -- and the two trends are deeply intertwined. For sellers, these fintech firms are creating a pathway to scale a business fast, right as private equity companies and larger rollups are actively looking to acquire e-commerce businesses.
Nearly two decades after launching, Yelp is getting into the reservations game. After years of courting businesses to buy ads on the platform, the company is building tools to regain attraction among businesses, especially hard-hit restaurants and bars. Among the new features are a revamped waitlist, a POS management system and customer-facing iOS widget.
Twitter is one of the latest -- and perhaps the last -- major social platform to test out in-app buy buttons. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp all have in-app stores; Pinterest and Snapchat have shoppable AR filters; and TikTok has been testing its own in-app shops. Twitter’s entrance into the space is especially notable because Twitter has never been a significant driver of commerce -- and, if anything, Twitter’s arrival shows that social commerce is the inevitable future for all major social apps.
Fabletics is the latest fitness apparel brand to get into the virtual workouts space. The athletic apparel company recently launched Fabletics FIT, available free to subscribers and for a monthly fee to outside customers. The move is part of a growing trend of retailers looking to offer services beyond their products.
Over the last 12 months, the game We're Not Really Strangers has amassed nearly 3 million followers on TikTok. What’s most impressive is that it has created a successful brand account largely through its own content, rather than relying heavily on a network of paid influencers to boost its numbers -- and in doing so, WNRS is trailblazing a way for smaller brands to become not just savvy partners for influencers but also successful content creators in their own right.
For years, big money investors have been leery of Amazon businesses, concerned that even successful products lack any real brand value outside of the context of Amazon. But the arrival of private equity deals suggests that financial types increasingly see Amazon businesses as sustainable, long-term investments, given that private equity investors tend only to pour money into established businesses.
Amazon is doing away with its Early Reviewer Program, and is instead pushing third-party sellers to its existing reviewer programs, like Vine, as well as its newly introduced “Request a Review” button. The shuttering of the Early Reviewer Program is a further refining of Amazon’s review ecosystem. While it is not a significant loss to sellers, it shows the progress that Amazon has made in regulating how reviews are solicited through the platform.
Amazon is making a minor change to the customer data it shares with sellers. But Amazon’s move is just an extension of a growing, if not uncommon, source of tension between marketplaces and their sellers: third-party sellers account for around half of sales on a site like Amazon, but while they might be selling their products, they don’t actually gain customers.
Amazon’s attachment to U.K.-based food delivery service Deliveroo remains an intriguing footnote for both companies. While Amazon has done little to tie itself or its services to Deliveroo beyond its initial investment, Amazon’s backing suggests that the food delivery market -- a sector that Amazon has dabbled in previously, through a series of failed programs like Amazon Restaurants -- remains a strong interest for the company.
Snapchat -- much like TikTok -- is positioning itself as a more commerce-friendly space. Companies like Target and Dior now have Brand Profiles, as do dozens of others pre-approved brands, but more are likely to follow. The introduction of shoppable AR filters seems to be a particular draw -- and through its Brand Profiles, Snapchat appears to be making itself the proof of concept for shoppable AR as a future medium of commerce.
A longtime e-commerce business is now entering the Amazon roll-up fray: Berlin Brands Group (BBG) -- a Germany-based company that began as an e-commerce seller in 2005, creating and marketing its own products on Amazon and other platforms. In January, BBG announced that it was, for the first time, entering into the acquisitions space. It's an important milestone for the increasingly competitive Amazon acquisition industry.
Amazon has been actively staffing up Live over the last year, pitting it in a race against Facebook, TikTok and even Mall of America and Klarna to pitch products through livestreams. To stand out, Amazon is making Live a more friendly space to brands -- and they’re doing that by recruiting official video hosts, as well as by integrating livestreams more deeply into the rest of the Amazon site.
Amazon is continuing to invest in Alexa's conversation technology. A recent rollout is following a number of smaller initiatives from Amazon’s smart speaker team, which -- while relatively under the radar -- total to a notable investment in making conversations with Alexa smoother. Altogether, these innovations might have a marginal impact on customer adoption of voice commerce. And it might also push small brands that have resisted building out Alexa integrations because of lack of resources to develop their own Alexa skills.
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