Retailers across all sectors are having to rethink how they approach the holidays, and grocers are no exception. The challenge they face is two-fold: grocers preparing for an uptick in demand for grocery delivery, as coronavirus cases rise in the U.S. And, they're anticipating that certain items like baking supplies and smaller turkeys will be in demand, as people spend more time at home and have holiday gatherings. But what remains to be seen is whether or not grocers will experience the same rush of shoppers as they did in the spring.
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.
Online Black Friday sales are proving to be more difficult to administer than usual. With the lack of physical store openings and the fierce e-commerce competition among DTC brands and traditional retailers, brands like Deciem are looking to creative approaches to draw in shoppers this season.
As more food and beverage sales move online, e-commerce is becoming a bigger part of food startups' strategy. Take Siete Family Foods, which makes grain-free versions of Mexican-American staples, like tortillas and chips. The six-year-old company is now using its website to test out new products before selling them in physical stores. Through a new section of its site called Small Batch, Siete Family Foods plans to launch ten new products within the next year, selling anywhere from roughly 100 to 1,000 units of each. The goal is to gather data on what types of Siete's most loyal customers are most interested in, and use that data to pitch retailers on carrying that product in stores.
This year, as fewer people do their holiday shopping at stores, more toy sales are expected to move online. That means retailers like Walmart and Target also have to shift more of their marketing efforts for toys online, as do top toy brands like Mattel and Hasbro. This was a trend that was already underway before the start of the coronavirus outbreak, but has since been accelerated. According to eMarketer, e-commerce sales of toys are projected to grow 34.9% year-over-year, compared to 1.5.5% the year prior.
Lowe's has been one of the few brick-and-mortar retailers to see a consistent sales increase during the pandemic, after being declared essential in the spring. Now, the company is hoping to use the momentum to get more people to think of Lowe's as a place to buy their holiday gifts. Lowe's executives say that the home improvement retailer's website will be carrying more cookware, toys, and fitness products on its website this year, as they seek to market Lowe's as a gift-giving destination.
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.
Big-box retailers are starting to announce their holiday hiring plans, and among those that are still hiring, most of them have a singular focus: to hire more people to help them fulfill online orders. Target, Walmart, Kohl's, Gap, Michael's and Dollar General are among the retailers who have announced within the past two weeks plans to start hiring in preparation for the holidays, with an emphasis on hiring for roles to fulfill online orders. "We know customers will be shopping online more than ever this year and we’re staffing accordingly to support increased digital fulfillment efforts," Kohl's chief people officer Marc Chini said in a press release.
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.
Before the coronavirus, Bed Bath & Beyond had reported nearly four more years of same-store sales declines, culminating in CEO Steve Temares stepping down and being replaced with former Target executive Mark Tritton in December. But now, the home-goods retailer may have found new life, as home goods sales have increased during the pandemic. And Bed Bath & Beyond isn't the only retailer encouraging people to spend more money on their home as they are stuck inside.
As an installment payment app Affirm has become known as the go-to partner of high ticket items, including fitness startups like Peloton and designers like Gucci. However, the company is making a foray into lower-priced transactions with the addition of its new product, which allows for purchases as low as $50. This move is part of a bigger plan to become a more dominant payments player.
The countdown has begun for sellers: after a months-long delay, Amazon has officially announced a new date for Prime Day. Amazon's annual sales event will now be held on October 13-14. On the one hand, some sellers are hoping that more customers will use Prime Day to do their holiday shopping, and allow them to capture a greater share of sales than they would have if the event was once again held in July. But, others are concerned that more shoppers will decide to just wait a few more weeks, in the hopes of getting better deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
E-commerce companies are preparing for a huge surge in online orders over the holidays, as people remain hesitant about visiting stores. While the extra revenue may be welcomed, it could also put a strain on their ability to get products to customers on time. In a recent survey of 63 merchants by CommerceNext, an event series and community for retail marketers, respondents said that their biggest logistics concern leading up to the holidays was that carriers like FedEx and UPS would cap deliveries during peak demand.
Private labels have been on the rise for the past five years and show no sign of stopping. With consumers giving non-national brands a second look and a shortage of essential supplies, retailers are focusing on growing their in-house labels more than ever. One example is online bulk grocery delivery service Boxed, which launched Prince & Spring five years ago. Now, the line is expanding it at a rapid pace.
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