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.
For a decade, Shopify has been slowly growing, describing itself as a quiet no-nonsense back-end tool to help merchants grow their businesses. And over the last year it's become an empire. Now, as Shopify has create more programs to bring in new merchants, the company has become a new e-commerce default -- and it has big plans to expand beyond mere DTC brands.
YouTube's build-out of its e-commerce capabilities has been slow, especially in comparison to other platforms like Facebook and TikTok. But starting this spring, the video sharing site will begin testing a more robust shoppable video tool, which could allows for more effective brand advertising.
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.
The ongoing alcohol delivery boom has prompted brands like Anheuser-Busch to move ad spend to platforms like Drizly and Minibar. In turn, Facebook is courting both platforms and brands to advertise their beverages to local 21-plus customers.
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.
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.
"The genie is out of the bottle" for contactless transactions, said one analyst, as 2021 is set to help the method accelerate even more. After months of avoiding touching POS systems, experts say shoppers are increasingly on board to tap and go to pay for their goods in the age of coronavirus.
Shopify announced that it would be banning two online stores affiliated with President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Stripe has reportedly stopped processing payments for the Trump campaign. Rarely do political calls for action extend to e-commerce marketplaces or software providers. But recent actions signal that may start to change.
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.
While still a niche social marketing channel, Twitch is gradually being considered by more brands for digital activations. Following in the footsteps of gamer-friendly brands like Mtn Dew, Papa John's and Red Bull, hard seltzer brand White Claw recently began experimenting with virtual events for the platform's engaged users.
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.
With the right video, any user -- and any brand -- can find themselves catapulted to viral fame overnight. But bigger companies figured out those same lessons -- and by crafting their own branded songs, leaning into self-parody and, in some cases, encouraging their employees to post on their behalf, retailers in 2020 finally learned how to use TikTok effectively.
Social selling just recently began to take off in the U.S., but the trend is quickly evolving to include everything from virtual cooking classes to artisan services. As marketplace Zazzle's investment in its Zazzle Live shows, demand for on-demand digital activities is beginning to stick.
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