On Wednesday, Affirm announced that it intends to acquire Returnly, a software startup that helps retailers manage returns, for $300 million in cash and equity. The acquisition gives more insight into exactly how Affirm -- and some of its other competitors -- are mapping out their strategies for what else they can offer retailers, beyond just a digital form of layaway.
As more consumers shop online, brands are looking for ways to minimize return rates and keep logistics costs low. One solution for this is "try before you buy," which allows customers to test out their order and pay for what they want to keep. While services like Amazon's Prime Wardrobe and Stitch Fix helped popularize this model, smaller fashion brands are testing it out to drive conversion and keep returns minimal.
Like a number of other resale-focused platforms, OfferUp has experienced a surge in growth throughout the pandemic. The company's approach to resale is similar to Facebook Marketplace, with emphasis on local selling over shipping. After a year of facilitating quarantine-friendly home goods and furniture, the company is planning for retention by building out a mobile-focused app.
Used car e-commerce companies are in high demand. The rise of companies like Vroom, Carvana and Shift shows that, as e-commerce continues to sweep the retail world, it has begun to ensnare even nontraditional online purchases, including big, expensive items like cars.
With the e-commerce boom comes a costs -- for shipping that is. Over the past year, shipping carriers FedEx and UPS imposed surcharges on large fulfillment orders, which are still in place. These additional costs, on top of fixed annual increases, are expected to keep delivery costs rising. The issue is prompting small and medium sized brands are looking for ways to minimize e-commerce costs to improve margins.
For the past several years, Target has centered its e-commerce strategy around using its stores to fulfill online orders. Now, Target is starting to look beyond its stores to more efficiently fulfill online orders.
On Tuesday, Katrina Lake, announced that she would be stepping down as CEO in August. Replacing her is Elizabeth Spaulding, who joined Stitch Fix as president last January after spending 20-plus years at Bain & Company. Lake's resignation comes as Stitch Fix has been investing in giving customers more ways to buy and select clothes, which hints at what Stitch Fix's next phase of growth under Spaulding might look like.
Verizon Media is launching a new marketplace called Yahoo Shops. This is Yahoo's biggest, but not its first, step into the e-commerce landscape. Yet while Yahoo might be helping customers discover products, it isn’t capturing the actual purchases on its own platform. By building a marketplace that contains those purchases in-house, Yahoo can both keep a cut of the commission and refine their ad targeting.
Last year, grocers like Kroger reported unprecedented growth in grocery delivery and pickup, driven largely by customers who were too afraid to step inside stores while the coronavirus pandemic is still raging. Now, the company is thinking about how to keep those customers using its e-commerce services, now that they have more options. At its investor day yesterday, Kroger outlined what areas it will be investing in to increase its market share in online grocery.
Two resale apps, Poshmark and ThredUp, have gone public within the past three months, and as a publicly-traded companies, now face more pressure to maintain revenue growth, namely expanding into new products and services. But, the biggest challenge standing in the way of these companies' expansion plans, analysts say, is in ensuring that people keep wanting to sell products through their sites.
Even after the introduction of Walmart Fulfillment Services last year, most Walmart sellers continued to opt for third-party fulfillment services, and those that wanted to join WFS often faced long wait times. But a sharp jump in the numbers of sellers enrolled in WFS this month reflects the increasing priority that Walmart is placing on WFS -- and as Walmart expands its marketplace, its fulfillment services are likely to balloon with it.
The resale boom has given eBay a lifeline over the past year. Now, the company is hoping to capitalize on the pandemic's growth by investing in tools aimed at secondhand sales, particularly in the collectibles categories. By pivoting back to focusing on refurbished and pre-owned inventory, eBay's latest strategy involves investing in features better fit for selling and buying used goods.
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.
U.S. department store chains are starting to embrace livestream shopping, as it gives them another way to pitch themselves as a place to discover new products, whether in-store or online. Nordstrom announced yesterday that it is launching a new page on its website dedicated to livestream shopping, and plans to host several livestream events each week throughout 2021. The news comes after Macy's also hosted its first livestream shopping event at the beginning of March.
The pandemic could've been a moment for another major bookseller, like Barnes & Noble, to step in and make its pitch to book buyers. Instead, Barnes & Noble saw a slide: in major cities, sales were down 50%, driven in large part by a collapse of its physical stores. And e-commerce-focused indie bookstores have started to take its place.
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