E-commerce Industry News — Week of Nov 7th, 2022
Shopifreaks ensures that you never miss the most important e-commerce industry news. This is a summary recap of the week's top stories, which are covered in depth in the newsletter.
Asheville, NC (PRUnderground) November 8th, 2022
- STAT OF THE WEEK: Amazon has over a thousand Rivian electric vans making deliveries in the U.S. They’ve delivered over 5M packages in nearly 100 U.S. cities since launching in July. – According to The Verge
- Disney+ announced the launch of a new test that will allow subscribers to shop exclusive merchandise from their brands directly from the detail pages of select movies, series, and shorts on the streaming service. Subscribers will hold up their phone to the TV screen to scan QR codes that will bring them to a website on their phone to view and purchase the merchandise. Users will be required to login to the e-commerce platform using their Disney+ credentials, which means that for the time being, the merchandise will be exclusive to Disney+ subscribers only.
- Google is building package tracking right into your Gmail Inbox so that you don’t have to open a “your item has shipped” email or click on a tracking link to find out the estimated delivery date. Gmail will show you the delivery date on the list item for any shipping e-mail from within the Inbox view, and a card with more detailed info if you open the e-mails. Similar to how they display Calendar invites and travel itineraries above the e-mail itself. Here’s the big catch though… The feature will work with most major U.S. shipping carriers EXCEPT… Amazon! Amazon’s shipment notification e-mails don’t include tracking information or even tell you what products have shipped, likely because Amazon doesn’t want Google to be able to track what you bought from it and use that info for advertising.
- BigCommerce and Snapchat have launched a new app together that enables U.S. merchants to integrate their store and sync their product catalogs. The new app will allow BigCommerce merchants to create shopping ad campaigns on Snapchat from within their BigCommerce dashboards using Snap’s made-for-ecommerce ad formats. After installing the app, merchants can use the Snap Pixel to track conversions and view, analyze, and edit campaigns.
- Shopify shut down Exchange Marketplace, its platform for buying and selling Shopify stores, on Nov 1st. Shopify merchants who want to sell their stores will now have to use other marketplaces such as Flippa or Empire Flippers, or sell their store to an aggregator like Open Store or Foundry. Shopify did not offer a reason for why it shut down the exchange. Maybe they accidentally fired all the people who ran it.
- A few week’s ago I reported on EU’s new Digital Services Act, an online safety-focused overhaul of e-commerce rules, and the first major update to the legal framework for digital services since the year 2000. The EU also recently launched the Digital Markets Act, with a goal of requiring companies such as Apple and Google to offer alternatives to allow third-party app stores on its platforms and alternative payment systems. The Digital Markets Act entered into effect on November 1 and will be applicable on May 2, 2023.
- WhatsApp launched Communities, a new feature that offers larger and more structured discussion groups. Previously, WhatsApp only offered group chats, which got a bit cumbersome to keep up with as they grew. While some features of Communities are comparable to those of Facebook Groups, the latter is designed to connect strangers who share a common interest, whereas the former is meant to be used by members who are already connected in the real world. Also unlike Facebook Groups, which are discoverable on the platform, WhatsApp Communities are hidden. There will not be a search and discovery feature available. Users will have to be invited to join a Community.
- Despite record funding and patronage during the pandemic, many e-commerce brands are at risk now that consumers have returned to stores, and that consumer spending in general is down. Inflationary and volatile economic environments have impacted both brands and consumers, as businesses have had to increase prices to improve their button line. Krista Morgan, general partner of Stage, a female-led private equity group that acquires controlling interest in early-stage companies, outlined some of the risks that brands are facing in a recent interview with Forbes, which I highlighted in the newsletter.
- Consumer habits in Latin America changed drastically during the pandemic, possibly more than any other region. Out of necessity, people became e-commerce shoppers for the first time and started buying essentials like groceries, household goods, and apparel online. I can attest! I spend most of the year in Tena, Ecuador (in the heart of the Amazon jungle) and have seen the rise of e-commerce adoption first hand in Ecuador during the past couple years. Practical Ecommerce shared some insights into how Latin America is one of the most rapidly growing e-commerce markets in the world.
- Shopify has begun unifying its fulfillment network with Deliverr, President Harley Finkelstein said on a Q3 earnings call last week. The process is expected to be completed in Q1.
- The USPS revealed that they are monitoring social media to measure custom satisfaction by zip code via a heatmap that geographically displays comments left on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and on online review sites. With the help of the map, a South Florida district observed a 31% reduction in “where is my package?” complaints, a 51% reduction in Certified Mail exceptions, and an 85% drop in “where is my mail?” concerns.
- Tock, a Squarespace company that allows guests to discover and book culinary experiences at restaurants, bars, wineries, pop-ups, and events, launched its own e-commerce platform, Tock Wine Shop, which enables winery partners to sell directly to consumers while continuing to manage tasting reservations on its all-in-one platform. The shop is launching with an initial collection of thirty wineries, with hundreds more to come.
- Retail Federation (NRF) reported that last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5% over 2020 and forecast this year’s sales will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021. Online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, are expected to increase between 10% and 12%.
- Udaan, a Bengaluru-headquartered startup that helps merchants secure inventory and working capital, laid off 350 employees as part of cost-cutting measures and to tackle redundancies in certain roles, as part of their journey to become profitable. Last week I reported that the company raised $120M in convertible notes and debt and hopes to be ready for the public markets in 12-18 months.
- Jumia, an African e-commerce Amazon-like marketplace, saw its co-founders Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec step down as co-CEOs. Francis Dufay, who previously held the CEO role at Ivory Coast will replace both co-founders as acting CEO. When Jo Bennett found out there were co-CEOs, she said, “Two guys doing one job? We’ve got to do something about that. This is knucklehead talk. I’m not going to bite it. You can’t give me gravy and tell me it’s jelly ’cause gravy ain’t sweet!”
- Amazon Prime Video launched a new mobile-only plan for users in India for Rs 89 ($1.09) a month billed annually. The mobile plan will compete against similar subscriptions offered by competitors like Disney+, Hotstar, and Netflix.
- FedEx owned ShopRunner, a platform that connects consumers with more than 100 retailers and brands and offers an Amazon Prime-like shipping incentive, launched a new app designed to simplify online shopping. The app allows users to discover new brands and connect with retailers through a single feed that can be optimized through their browsing and purchase history. Users can also purchase, ship, track, and return items directly through the app.
- Splitit partnered with Checkout.com to offer their BNPL services through the platform. The partnership will see Checkout.com’s merchants and marketplace adopt Splitit’s Installment-as-a-Service platform, which debuted in May.
- Substack launched Substack Chat, a new feature that allows writers to communicate directly with their most avid and loyal readers within the mobile app. With the new chat feature, Substack is taking on Twitter, Discord, Slack, and Telegram by eliminating the need for its writers to “frankenstain together different software tools and cross-reference subscriber lists.”
- Instagram will soon have NFT creation and trading tools built in, but in-app purchases will be “subject to applicable app store fees.” At launch, Instagram will use the Polygon blockchain for NFT minting and pull NFT metadata from OpenSea.
- Apple is now worth $2.307T, more than Alphabet ($1.126T), Amazon ($940B), and Meta ($240B) combined.
- Mastodon, a free and open source decentralized social network that launched in 2016, gained more than 230k new sign-ups since Oct 27, the day Musk took over Twitter. From what I saw, it’s currently mostly just a mix of posts from users about being new to Mastodon, comparing it to Twitter, introducing themselves to no-one, and patting themselves on the back for not being on Twitter. Then they’ve returned to Twitter to talk about how they’re on Mastodon because they just “cannot with Twitter anymore!”
- Benitago Group, an FBA aggregator, confirmed that it is NOT shutting down its operations or selling its assets, despite rumors. The company is merely laying off some employees as it shifts gears toward brand incubation and operations.
- The online banking company Chime also laid off 12% of its employees last week, or about 160 jobs, blaming current marketing conditions. Chime makes money by earning a fee from payment processors like Visa every time a customer uses a Chime debit or credit card and was valued at $25B after a funding round in August last year.
- Stripe has launched in Thailand, continuing its goal of expanding into the Asia Pacific region where it spotted demand for its payment tech. The expansion comes in the week that the company fired about 1,000 workers, and after seeing its valuation fall about 27% to $74B this year.
- PayPal announced during an earnings call that 25M consumers are now using its BNPL option, equating to 150M loans over 2.2M unique merchants, with nearly $5B in Q3 volume, up 157% YoY. Meanwhile at Block, BNPL through its acquired Afterpay contributed to $150M of gross profit, split across Square and Cash App, with GMV in Q3 to the tune of $5.4B.
- Amazon will be freezing their recruitment plans for its corporate sectors. No specific dates were given regarding how long, but the announcement said that the hiring freeze will last for a few months.
- New Zealand proposed new BNPL regulation, such as requiring providers to carry out affordability checks for purchases above NZ$600 ($424), as the country has seen BNPL spending increase from NZ$755M in 2020 to NZ$1.7B in 2021. Government officials will collect feedback for the proposed rules and roll out final regulations next year.
- Drizly, the Uber owned on-demand alcohol delivery platform, announced a new brand direction. It will head in the direction of an e-commerce resource for any occasion with a focus on gift giving. The overhaul comes just a little over a year after Uber purchased the company for $1.1B.
- Plus 11 seed rounds, IPOs, and acquisitions of interest including Shopify’s acquisition of Remix.
For more details on each story, see the full edition:
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