A slew of recent earnings showcase the momentum some businesses have accrued, as well as the mistakes others have made. The lessons aren't new, but they are important: The businesses that were prepared to handle shifts in demand and new types of fulfillment were the ones that remained relatively unscathed, if not boosted. And now retailers are detailing their plans to keep the engines running, as well as prepare for a post-pandemic world.
Shoppable videos may soon be dispersed far and wide across Walmart’s marketplace. The retailer's latest video program is a food-inspired series called Cookshop. Given that Amazon has also been spreading shoppable livestreams hosted on Amazon Live to more corners of its platform, including onto product pages, both companies seem to see shoppable video as an important part of product search and discovery. As Walmart and Amazon battle over e-commerce shoppers, shoppable video is a new frontier for competition.
As more sales move online, some wholesale retailers are taking steps to reduce the amount of inventory they own. Specifically, department stores like Nordstrom and other brick-and-mortar retailers like Footlocker are starting to carry more products on a dropship basis. But while dropshipping might be more cost effective for both brands and retailers, it also comes with some drawbacks.
Shopify recently announced it was launching an esports team. While other companies have paid to sponsor a team or league, meaning it might get listed as the “official” e-commerce business of a given team, Shopify is actually building its own team from scratch -- investing in gaming talent and building up a following of fans for a new team. Shopify’s announcement represents one of the biggest bets yet from a retail brand on the esports space, which has attracted growing interest from brands in the last few years.
Like many retailers, thrift shops have had to adapt to the pandemic by launching online stores. One chain that recently unveiled its online operation is the nonprofit Housing Works. The New York-based organization has historically relied on in-store shopping to support its mission. This year, Housing Works plans to recreate that experience online via an auction and "buy now" e-commerce sites.
Lost packages typically mean lost revenue for retailers. With the current e-commerce sales boom, the chances of having to replace delayed or lost customer orders has increased. Despite having to eat the added costs, a number of brands are figuring out new ways to deal with this mounting problem.
Walmart is reaching out to sellers, trying to get them to try out its third-party marketplace. These direct reach-outs appear to be rare, limited only to the bigger players on Amazon, but they indicate Walmart’s increased commitment to bringing third-party sellers whose products have already found success on Amazon directly to the Walmart Marketplace.
Joann is getting ready to go public, betting that it will be able to ride the crafting boom for a while. The crafting supplies retailer filed its S-1 last week, reporting that its revenue during the first three quarters of 2020 was $1.921 billion, up 24.3% compared to the same period the prior year. Joann was taken off the public markets after being acquired by a private equity firm a decade ago. But now, the company is ready to take another crack at being a publicly-traded company, citing the fact that its acquired eight million new customers during the pandemic.
As e-commerce has grown into a bigger industry, brands now have more ways to build their online stores than ever before. One type of e-commerce architecture that's being talked about more is headless commerce. At its most basic level, headless commerce means that the architecture for the front-end of the website from the back-end, which gives companies more control over how their website looks and runs.
As some retailers start carry more products on their websites, they've found that it can be overwhelming for customers to sort through dozens of different sneakers or leggings. For retailers that sell thousands of SKUs like Bandier, the challenge is to improve the overwhelming experience via recommendations and promoting curated collections on their homepage.
Coupang is extremely young compared to Amazon, and it has not yet turned a profit. But in some ways, it has taken the Amazon model of efficiency-at-all-costs and heightened the stakes -- often offering shipping speeds to its Korean consumers that Amazon hasn’t yet managed.
Although there are a few regional stores now enrolled in the SNAP pilot, most prominently Texas’s H-E-B, the pilot is largely centered around three companies -- Amazon, Walmart and Aldi. And while the USDA claims that the pilot covers “over 90%” of households, only a handful of the small and medium-sized groceries that service much of the U.S. are approved to accept SNAP payments online.
As the number of purchases made online grows, so has the number of startups selling businesses on their checkout experience like Bolt and Fast. Meanwhile, established companies like Shopify and Apple are trying to push greater adoption of their own digital wallet. All are trying to convince direct-to-consumer startups and other e-commerce brands that if they use their incrementally better checkout system, it will result in huge increases in conversion rates and average order values -- but the reality is that only a few will become the go-to checkout options for most consumers.
Merch listings associated with far-right groups violate the company’s offensive material policy, yet were still promoted. Recent searches showed that merchandise, including gun parts, branded with marks, logos and phrases associated with far right nationalist groups are readily available for sale on eBay, including numerous listings that were promoted by eBay’s advertising platform.
Since launching in 2016, Facebook Marketplace has had mild success compared to competitors such as Amazon and Walmart. Now that millions of potential shoppers and sellers are home, the site has seen a surge in popularity, prompting Facebook to build e-commerce products tailored to its peer-to-peer nature.
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