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E-commerce Industry News – Week of Oct 3rd, 2022

Hi r/ecommerce – I'm Paul and I follow the e-commerce industry pretty closely for my Shopifreaks E-commerce Newsletter. Each week I post a summary recap of this week's top stories, which I cover in depth in the newsletter:

  1. STAT OF THE WEEK: 65% consumers with a disability have abandoned their cart due to poor accessibility of the online store.
  2. In July, I reported that TikTok was putting its plans on hold to launch live shopping in the US later this year, and would instead solely focus on making the product a success in the UK for the time being. A few weeks later, I reported that Facebook coincidentally came to a similar decision about live commerce on its platform, shutting it down on Oct 1 to focus on Reels instead. I had joked at the time, “Do you ever wonder if TikTok is ACTUALLY scaling back its live commerce plans in Europe and the US, or if their announcement was just the ultimate corporate trolling to set Meta back by a few years because TikTok knew they’d bail right after too?” Well, that joke may have aged like wine, because TikTok is now reportedly launching live shopping in the US again — but this time with a partner. According to Financial Times, the company has been talking with TalkShopLive, a California-based provider of live commerce tech, to provide the infrastructure for the live shopping features on TikTok. The partnership will allow creators and brands to sell their wares through videos on the platform with TalkShopLive taking a 10% commission from sellers for providers its services. TikTok is likely to cover that cost for the initial phase of the project.
  3. Twitter is launching a scrollable TikTok-like video feed on its platform, beginning with iOS users. They did not say when it would be available for Android users. In addition, they are launching a new video carousel within the app’s Explore tab, where users will see a new “Videos for you” category that will display popular and trending videos. Twitter says the purpose of the new immersive media viewer is to make it easier for users to discover engaging videos — which is great in theory, because the video experience on Twitter has historically been terrible. Video on Twitter has always felt like an afterthought.
  4. On Tuesday, Shopify launched POS Go, a new handheld tool that looks like a cell phone with a built-in card reader at the bottom. Shopify has offered a point of sale system since 2013, but it’s historically worked via an app on a company’s existing desktop, Android, or iOS devices. However with this new standalone POS Go, no additional device is necessary to operate a fully functioning mobile POS terminal. The POS Go device offers: A barcode scanner that lets retailers view detailed product info, customer notes, and purchase history. Merchants can build carts in store, and email them to customers to complete later. Payment acceptance via built-in card reader that customers can tap, swipe, or insert their chip cards into.
  5. At its annual Search On event last week, Google introduced several new features including Multisearch Near Me to allow users to find local retailers who offer products, Neighborhood Vibe which gives user an instant understanding of a specific neighborhood within Maps, and visual search experience which introduces shortcuts to some of Google's tools within results. They also teased the upcoming launches of two new Maps features called Immersive View, which combines computer vision and AI tech to fuse together Street view and aerial imagery to display weather, traffic, and crowds, and Search with Live View, which lets you use your camera to find shops, ATMs and restaurants. Lastly Google is revamping its Play Store to help users better discover and install apps to other devices such as watches, tablets, TVs and cars.
  6. According to research commissioned by FedEx Express, both Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and consumers agree that there’s room for further growth in the e-commerce sector. The What’s Next in E-Commerce survey polled SMEs in 11 markets in the Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa region (AMEA) to explore the continuing evolution of e-commerce and identify trends that could fuel future growth including consumers looking for more personalization, shoppertainment, and seasonal offers. Deliveries taking too long is the number one consumer pain point (53%) followed by handling returns (42%).
  7. Walmart is hoping to meet younger consumers in the metaverse through two new Roblox experiences. Walmart Land is a colorful amusement park with a Walmart-themed Ferris wheel, slides, beaches, and more. The island is shaped like the Walmart logo, with a circle-shaped center and six branches with different themes and activities. At the center hub, players can redeem tokens for virtual merchandise such as apparel, accessories, and electronics, as well as win prizes. Universe of Play is for much younger players. It features PAW Patrol and L.O.L. Surprise! toys, and also has a blimp, like Walmart Land. The virtual world offers challenges and activities like hunting for missing dinosaur eggs, helping the PAW Patrol team find Mayor Goodway’s pet chicken, hosting fashion shows, and riding Razor scooters on a track in the sky.
  8. Instagram is making it harder to find the Shop tab, which used to be on the bottom of the navigation bar, by hiding it within the Settings menu. Some users reported that the Notifications tab replaced the Shop tab, while others found that the Messages tab had taken its place instead. Meta confirmed with TechCrunch that the company is testing different versions.
  9. Amazon on Wednesday unveiled several new or updated devices at its invite-only, virtual event including Kindle Scribe, Halo Rise, Echo Dot (5th Gen), Echo Studio, Echo Auto (2nd Gen), Fire TV Omni QLED TV, Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen), Alexa Voice Remote Pro, Ero PoE 6 Wi-Fi Router, Eero PoE Gateway, Blink Wired Floodlight Camera, Blink Mini Pan Tilt, Ring Spotlight Cam Pro, and Ring Panic Button 2.0. Many of these items will be available for sale in Amazon’s first ever Amazon Prime Early Access Sale on Oct 11 and Oct 12.
  10. Starting on January 30, 2023, Meta will no longer support the ability for sellers to create vehicle & real estate / rentals listings using a Facebook business Page. After this change, people on Marketplace can continue to create vehicle & real estate / rentals listings from their personal profile.
  11. Amazon will spend $1B to increase wages for hourly workers in the US. The starting wage for the majority of front-line warehouse and transportation personnel will be over $19/hr, while fulfillment and other areas will increase to $16/hr. Minimum salary will stay at $15/hr.
  12. Sky.Garden, Kenya’s Amazon-style marketplace, faces closure after funding fell through. The 2017 startup raised $4M last year and earns an 8% commission on every sale made through its platform. Turns out it takes 15% to keep the lights on.
  13. On Etsy, you can now set different return policies for each listing in your shop instead of just one return policy for your entire shop. This means you can make it clearer to buyers which items from your shop, if any, can be returned.
  14. Meta is working on making it easier for users to switch between Facebook and Instagram accounts through a new profile switching tool. At the same time, the company is also making it simpler to create and manage multiple accounts by offering users the ability to create new accounts with an existing Instagram or Facebook login rather than signing up from scratch.
  15. WhatsApp is rolling out links for video calls which will allow users to share links with family and friends to join the call. If a users sends the link to someone who doesn’t use WhatsApp, they will be redirected to download the app.
  16. Two and a half years after unveiling Google Stadia, the game streaming service is officially done. Subscribers will have access to the games library through January 18, 2023, after which point, it will shut down for good. In July 2022, Google tweeted that Stadia is not shutting down — a tweet that did not age well.
  17. WooCommerce released Blocks 8.6.0 with support for a new block that displays cross-sells for products within the customer’s cart. The new feature is only available to users in the cart and are curated to be specific to the item in the cart.
  18. Koji, a link-in-bio platform, announced the launch of Shopify Storefront, a new app that lets creators import and sell their Shopify products inside of their Koji profile. In Nov 2021, I reported that Linktree launched a similar feature.
  19. Amazon India rolled out a live-streaming video feature for promoting products on its shopping platform, employing a format popular in China of teaming with social media influencers to host live-streams during which they can interact with customers and also offer limited time deals. The platform will host livestreams across several categories including electronics, fashion and beauty, and home décor and will run 15 livestreams a day between 10am to 1am, expecting to produce over 450 hours of content (using the word “content” loosely).
  20. The Vision Fund, SoftBank’s investment arm, has begun cutting at least 30% of its staff, or at least 150 of its 500 workers. Its founder, Masayoshi Son, had foreshadowed cost-cutting this summer after the company posted a $21.6B quarterly loss for the fund.
  21. Deliveroo is experimenting with opening up its dark stores in Central London to customers. So, like a regular convenience store? Kind of, except the biggest difference is that customers don’t pick their own items. They instead use their phones or digital kiosks to order groceries which are then picked and packed off the shelf and handed to the customer a few minutes later.
  22. An administrative court judge in Italy canceled the €200M retail collusion fine levied against Apple and Amazon in Nov 2021 over accusations that the two cooperated to prevent price cuts from other vendors, in part by preventing the sale of Apple and Beats-branded products by retailers that are not taking part in Apple’s official program. At the time, Apple and Amazon rejected the ruling and vowed to appeal, and now the court has scrapped the fines in their entirety.
  23. Square launched Tap to Pay on iPhone to sellers in the US, available within the Square POS iOS app. In June, I reported that Square began testing the feature with plans to rollout later this year.
  24. China’s Cosco Group and Alibaba logistics unit Cainiao have teamed up to offer an end-to-end intercontinental fulfillment of merchandise sold by Alibaba to European consumers. The initiative is being piloted via shipping vessels, but may extend to rail and air freight if it goes well.
  25. Iliad, the telecom company owned by French billionaire Xavier Niel, is launching a payment subsidiary called Stancer, which will be focused on lowering transaction fees as much as possible. Stancer currently processes 200k transactions per day and charges 0.7% + €0.15 in processing fees, versus Stripe’s 1.4% + €0.25. Stancer is still a work in progress and currently only focuses on the French market.
  26. Plus 13 seed rounds, IPOs, and acquisitions of interest including Satispay's €320 round which brought it to unicorn status.

I hope you find this news recap helpful. See you next week!

-PAUL, Editor of Shopifreaks

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