Digital alcohol delivery surged during lockdowns, with major players like Drizly and Minibar dominating sales within past year. However, smaller, niche platforms also found success in wooing local merchants. One startup that's offering liquor stores an alternative to big marketplaces is City Hive, which allows small businesses to provide white labeled pickup and delivery fulfillment.
Online-only, super-fast, super-cheap fashion dominated the pandemic, spurred by TikTok trends. Now, traditional fast fashion retailers will have to keep up. While brick-and-mortar retailers like H&M and Zara are struggling to return to pre-pandemic sales level, online-only fast fashion retailers like Blushmark and Shein are rising in popularity, becoming some of the most downloaded shopping apps in Apple's store. Taking cues from Blushmark and Shein, traditional retailers are reallocating investment to ecommerce, adding features like buy-now-and-pay-later to their sites, and expanding e-commerce to new geographies. Still, digital players have unique advantages of production in an online only model.
In early May, Instacart quietly added a new feature called “Product Library,” which lets brands whose products are bought and sold on Instacart edit how their products appear on the platform. The Product Library update might be small, but it showcases the extent to which Instacart, as it becomes an increasingly ad-focused company, has tried to make itself more friendly to brands.
While Amazon's Dash Replenishment might be the largest program in what remains a niche industry, a growing number of startups are pitching auto-replenishment systems to brands -- and to stand out, they’re making their case not on just the economic benefits of convincing customers to set auto reorders, but also on the potential consumer usage data that they can source.
On Thursday, Google announced a slew of new features aimed at making Google Shopping easier for brands to use and break away from the crowd. Google is adding integrations with WooCommerce, GoDaddy and Square, allowing the products of brands using these platforms to automatically show up among Google's results.
On May 17, Shein surpassed Amazon as the most downloaded iPhone shopping app in the US, something it had already done in Google Play downloads the week prior, according to analytics firm App Annie. The online-only retailer was formed in Nanjung, China, but ships its products, primarily inexpensive women’s apparel, to more than 220 countries worldwide. Researchers and consumers site innovative digital strategies and low-priced, trendy products that appeal to a Gen-Z mindset as key to the retailer’s success.
Snap isn't the only social platform making an aggressive e-commerce push. But Snap is looking to differentiate itself from rivals like Instagram by blending AR and e-commerce, making the purchasing process more experiential -- and potentially involving fewer returns -- than on other social platforms.
Facebook is working with brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics to make shopping on its platform more mainstream.
Last week, Walmart announced it would acquire Zeekit, a startup that has worked with ASOS, Adidas and other brands on building technology that lets customers virtually try on clothes before they buy them. The acquisition represents the highest-profile endorsement of virtual try-on technology yet from a major brick-and-mortar retailer -- suggesting that even while virtual try-on remains a niche phenomenon, it is fast becoming the next battleground in retail.
As the pandemic winds down, more CPG food and beverage brands are looking to expand their customer base. One example is Bulletproof, which is trying to go beyond its niche biohacking coffee brand. According to the company, its strategy for this includes new products that bridge the gap between on-the-go and the new at-home lifestyle.
Denim retailers are gearing up for the return of “hard pants” as pandemic restrictions loosen. In the pandemic, denim brands pushed loungewear and comfort and saw a majority of sales come from e-commerce, partially off-setting brick-and-mortar loses. As restrictions loosen, denim brands are betting on new silhouettes, as well as collections with a sustainability focus to win shoppers over. They also are hoping that customers will be eager to return to stores to refresh their wardrobes after a year of not having many occasions to go out for.
With the coronavirus slowing down and summer around the corner, pandemic winner Blue Apron is taking a stab at customer retention. This week, the meal kit company announced meal add-ons, butcher bundles and burgers as a way to cater to the outdoor cooking season. It's Blue Apron's latest attempt at keeping subscribers ordering and increasing weekly customer spending.
The land grab in same-day delivery continues, with delivery-only convenience store GoPuff ramping up acquisitions and partnerships. Last week, GoPuff announced an acquisition of the UK-based Fancy. This comes after another partnership announcement with Uber’s grocery delivery business earlier in the week as well as an acquisition of adult-beverage-retailer and California-start-up BevMo in November.
Going into 2021, the bigger crafting retailers are focusing on social media strategies, and building out their ad targeting strategies to appeal to the casual crafter. Meanwhile, some startups like LoveCrafts are looking to expand their presence geographically after seeing huge sales increases. But, the jury's still out on just how permanent these pandemic gains will be.
An arbitrator recently ruled that Macy's wasn't giving salespeople commissions because of its app. The decision is relatively limited in scope, but it is drawing attention to an under-the-radar issue in the retail world: as more and more retailers launch their own “scan and pay” apps, there’s a risk that sales floor workers will be locked out of commissions.
At the Modern Retail Summit, retail marketers will discuss everything from the Amazon effect to new infrastructure to the shift in the direct-to-consumer world.Book Passes