After brands and retailers have began the 15% Pledge to add diverse products to their shelves, some companies have rolled out the first assortments in time for Black History Month. Retailers like Gap, Macy's and Lowe's have taken the first steps to carry BIPOC-founded products, alongside initiatives like hiring diverse candidates and incubating Black and other founders of color.
TikTok is testing a new third-party selling product called TikTok Shop. Within the app, brands can upload their products and prices, receive and process orders and transactions, track deliveries, give refunds and interface with customers. And it suggests that TikTok is building out a third-party marketplace even more sophisticated than its closest rival, Instagram Shops.
ThredUp is about to go public, but it faces stiff competition. What ThredUp says makes it different from the rest is its back-end business model intended to help retailers facilitate their own resale services. In its S-1 the platform went to great lengths to showcase its ability to diversify revenue by offering these back-end services. Still, ThredUp faces a tough road ahead. Its losses continue to mount and 2020 was not friendly to the apparel industry.
Nearly a year after a proposed spin off of Victoria's Secret was called off, the lingerie brand has been trying quietly to course correct some previous missteps. Most recently, Victoria's Secret announced this week that it would once again start selling swimwear in select stores, after exiting the category in 2016. Retail analysts say that Victoria's Secret's recent moves have been less focused on trying to re-establish itself as the most-talked about brand in lingerie, and rather getting back to the fundamentals of retail.
The so-called ugly produce movement has gained steam during the pandemic, with customers turning to services like Misfits Market, Imperfect Foods and Hungry Harvest for their grocery essentials. Now these startups, typically viewed as a niche category within the overall delivery space, are focusing on private label and customization for customer retention.
Aldi is one of the few retailers who still has an ambitious slate of store openings planned for this year. The discount grocer announced last week that it plans to open 100 more stores in the U.S this year, and is set to have the third largest number of grocery stores in the U.S., behind Kroger and Walmart. In addition to opening more stores, Aldi has been making other investments to become more of a household name.
Startup EatOkra wants to become much more than a Yelp for Black business. Its current iteration lets users filter by location and food type, leave reviews and find contact info and open hours for restaurants in their area. But the company said a lot more is on the horizon, including new features that would let users buy from businesses and even home chefs directly in the app. In a dire moment for the Black business community, EatOkra wants to become something bigger.
This week Uber announced the acquisition of alcohol delivery service Drizly, which will eventually be integrated within the Uber Eats app. The deal marks the latest consolidation within the food and beverage delivery space, and signals Uber's increased focus on retail services.
Chocolate brand Godiva is the latest brand to close its retail shops due to the pandemic. The century-old company, which also operates wholesale and e-commerce channels, will shutter its brick and mortar stores and cafes in March. Like others, the confectionary brand will shift focus to its growing digital presence.
It's a good time to be a startup that sells products for cats and dogs, as the pet care sector is currently booming. Earlier this month Wild One, which launched in 2018 by selling accessories like leashes, announced that it would start selling some of its products in Target. In October, another dog food startup, Jinx, announced that it would start selling its products on Petco's website. These pet care startups have a few trends working in their favor, namely that a number of pet shelters reported record adoptions in 2020.
The company behind Hudson News is investing in Amazon's cashierless technology. The partnerships make a certain amount of sense. On the retailer side, this is one way to lower the barriers to entry as much as possible for customers. For Amazon, airport retail is a complex and expensive sector to enter -- so, the e-commerce giant relying on its technology to get a foothold into the market instead.
ClassPass, which began as fitness boutique-booking app back in 2013, has been rapidly expanding into other areas such as wellness and beauty treatments. In the past year, the platform has added 6,500 non-workout venues to help diversify its marketplace offerings and potential revenue. And the company plans to double down on this area.
Retailers are trying to get their employees vaccinated -- and fast. There's a clear incentive for retailers to encourage their employees to get vaccinated as quickly as possible: as more of their employees get vaccinated, it decreases the likelihood that one of them will contract the coronavirus at work. However, mandating that employees get the vaccine presents its own set of challenges.
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.
Walmart is starting off 2021 by losing one of its key e-commerce executives. Marc Lore, who has led Walmart's e-commerce strategy since the big-box retailer acquired his startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion, announced he was leaving Walmart after nearly five years. It leaves Walmart without the person who has previously been deemed the architect of its e-commerce strategy. All this during a year in which e-commerce is likely to once again experience tremendous growth — and as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.
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