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E-Tail Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<234567891011>> Total issues:91

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July 15, 2015, to September 01, 2015

U.S. Consumers Warm Up To Idea Of Online Grocery Shopping

Online grocery shopping is growing in the United States, driven by demand among busy people who do not have enough time to go to grocery stores. After launching its Aisles Online grocery shopping program in spring 2015, Hy-Vee has seen its stores averaging about 1,300 online orders per week. Other grocers, including Safeway and Giant, and other retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Publix, and Kroger, are also launching their respective online shopping programs. Online retailers, such as Amazon, Peapod, and Door to Door Organics, are also offering online grocery shopping services.

Subscription Box Companies Make Money Selling Free Samples

One of the newest formulas for online retail success is the theme-based subscription box that arrives – at $10 to $30 per shipment -- full of stuff the company got as free samples from other companies. The concept originated with two Harvard Business School graduates who created Birchbox. The company, for $10 a month, mails a box packed with free sample cosmetics products. A slew of competitors now offer doomsday preparation supplies, pet treats, Japanese snacks, recipes and ingredients, wine, children’s products, socially responsible goods, and books (and trinkets) for young adults. Some observers think the subscription box phenomenon may be a bubble about to burst, but that’s not deterring copycats: “[The economics are] alluring enough that new players keep charging in."

China’s App-Based Food Delivery Industry Is Booming

Startup food delivery companies backed by big investors like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. have tapped into a vibrant market in China, as diners increasingly choose to order in. The app-based startups are providing stiff competition for struggling KFC and McDonald’s that have for years maintained armies of bike- or motorcycle-riding food couriers. New companies like Ele.me and Meituan Waimai that use mobile apps achieve economies of scale by partnering with thousands of Chinese restaurants and other food outlets. In 2014 the startup bike courier companies delivered $15.7 billion worth of food, a 54 percent increase over 2013, according to one research firm.

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July 01, 2015, to July 15, 2015

Organizations Need to Get Hip To The Marketing Opportunities In Messaging Apps

Businesses and nonprofits will miss out on a major digital marketing and communication opportunity if they ignore messaging apps popular among the Gen Z crowd (twenty-somethings and younger) who are leaving traditional social media behind. At least six of the top 10 most popular apps around the world are the messaging apps WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, KakaoTalk and WeChat1.0. But not all businesses are reluctant to adapt the rapidly growing platform to their marketing strategies. Coca-Cola, Evian, Comic Relief, The Co-operative Group, JustGiving, and Groupon are using messaging apps to reach potential customers.

Amazon Celebrates 20 Years Of Online Business With Prime Day

Online retailer Amazon will launch Prime Day in celebration of the company's 20th anniversary on July 15, 2015. According to the company, the “global shopping event” will offer more deals than Black Friday, the biggest shopping event of the year that happens after Thanksgiving. As with Black Friday, shopping deals will start at midnight, with new discounts offered as often as every 10 minutes. Amazon said the event will be open to all members of the company's Prime program in the United States, the UK, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria.

Amazon.com Expands Program Offering Business Loans To Sellers In 8 Countries

Amazon.com Inc. plans to expand its program providing business loans for small sellers to include eight more countries, including China. Previously available only in Japan and the United States, Amazon Lending will offer short-term working capital loans in the countries where it runs a third-party, seller-run marketplace business. In addition to China, the other countries are Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain, and the UK. Not available to all sellers on Amazon's platform, the service is on an invite-only basis. Other online retailers, such as PayPal and Alibaba Group Holdings, are also offering credit services to expand their vendor base.

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June 15, 2015, to July 01, 2015

Online Retail Giant Amazon Still Looking For Faster Delivery Options

Amazon.com continues to test new ways to speed delivery of products to customers, including taxicabs, Uber vehicles, bike messengers, USPS trucks, even drones. Now it is reported that the company is experimenting with ordinary people who would be paid to deliver packages while running their own errands. Unnamed sources say the project, code-named “On My Way,” would involve storing packages for delivery at retail stores in urban areas. The service could, if implemented, help cut shipping costs, but it’s not without its problems: how, for example, to vet potential deliverers, and whether retail competitors would cooperate with the online giant.

Unilever Launches Online Store On JD.com's E-commerce Platform

Unilever plans to launch a flagship store on China's online direct sales company JD.com, Inc.'s JD Worldwide e-commerce platform. Coinciding with JD.com's major anniversary sale, the launch of the flagship store will bring some of Unilever's global brands to Chinese consumers for the first time. Brands to be featured include Dove, Ponds, Vaseline, and Lux.

OTA Presents Most Trustworthy Online Retailers For 2015

American Greetings, Cabela's, and Drs. Foster & Smith are among the companies with the most secure e-commerce sites, according to the Online Trust Alliance's 2015 eCommerce Online Trust Audit and Honor Roll. Criteria for selection used by OTA include online security, privacy, and consumer protection practices of the companies. Other companies included in the top 10 most trustworthy online retailers are Fanatics, GameStop, The Honest Company, and Jomashop. OTA said 212, or 42 percent, of the 500 largest online retailers qualified for its Honor Roll, with the group reporting a 78 percent improvement in online retailers' security, compared with 2014 results.

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June 01, 2015, to June 15, 2015

Birchbox's Beauty Samples Subscription Boosts Sales, Its Own And Of Rivals

Birchbox's customers increase their spending on the online retailer's products by 38 percent after signing up for the company's beauty samples subscription service. However, according to data from Slice, other beauty retailers also benefit from this trend, with Sephora seeing a 5 percent boost and Ulta seeing a 6 percent gain among Birchbox's subscribers. Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp said she is happy that her company's subscription service helps other beauty retailers' businesses; however, Birchbox's loyalty program, which offers referral bonuses and points, helps ensure that subscribers head to the company's online store first before visiting those of its rivals.

Walmart VP Wanda Young Says Retailers Should Shift From Print To Mobile Advertising

Walmart VP of media and digital marketing Wanda Young said retailers are expected to shift their advertising spend from print to mobile. During an interview with The Drum magazine after her presentation at the Mobile Marketing Association's London Forum on June 8, 2015, Young said this trend will be driven by customers' growing consumption of digital media content. According to Young, Walmart is cutting down on print-based advertising and expanding its digital media advertising, as it focuses its marketing toward millennial consumers.

Kellogg Deepens Commitment To Mobile Buyer Rewards Program

The three-year-old Kellogg’s Family Rewards program is deepening its commitment to mobile shopping technologies by making it easier for buyers to collect purchase points. The company says it is unique in the consumer packaged goods industry because it uses a combination of retailer frequent shopper integration and receipt scanning to collect points. The program will allow members to collect points by scanning receipts without having to enter product codes. Buyers can also enter points for purchases by linking with retailer frequent shopper cards.Nielsen research shows that more than 60 percent of U.S. households use loyalty programs when making shopping decisions

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May 15, 2015, to June 01, 2015

Alibaba Is World's Most Valuable Retail Brand,

Alibaba is the world's most valuable retail brand, according to the 2015 BrandZ ranking of the 100 most valuable brands. After its $25-billion IPO in New York in September 2014, Alibaba became eligible for the ranking, and its landing on the 13th spot helped push the retail category's value by 24 percent. Its strategy of providing market links between buyers and sellers also helped the company overtake rivals Amazon and Walmart, data from the market research firm revealed.

Walmart China Tests Comprehensive O2O E-Commerce Platform

Walmart hopes to boost sales performance in China by making it very easy for smartphone customers to shop, select, pay for and pick up purchases in stores using a comprehensive “Walmart to Go” O2O (“online to offline”) e-commerce platform. The pilot program is being tested in 23 stores in the city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong in Guangdong Province. Using either an iOS or Android smartphone app, shoppers can access more than 10,000 products, including fresh/dairy/frozen, grocery, health, beauty and household chemical items. Walmart China CEO Sean Clarke said the O2O program will make Walmart “the most trusted omni-channel retailer in China.”

Amazon Files Patent Application For Drone Delivery System

Online retailer Amazon has filed a patent application for a drone delivery system for bringing packages to customers, according to a report by the BBC. According to Amazon's application papers, the company envisions its delivery drones coming to where the consumer's smartphone is located. Once it is within range, the drone will then hover and drop the package off. Some issues need to be resolved before the online retailer can launch such a service, including the lack of guarantee that authorities in the United States would approve the patent or allow it to operate drones beyond line of sight.

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May 01, 2015, to May 15, 2015

Walmart Tweaks Distribution System To Serve Customers Who Have Already Paid

Borrowing a leaf from the Amazon.com book of digital retail success, Walmart is forging ahead with plans to take greater advantage of online and smartphone technologies – and its 4,200 U.S. stores – to make it easier for shoppers to buy products, pick them up or receive them quickly at home. The company hopes to provide “choice and convenience” by boosting the number of pickup points, either at stores or at other locations, and by adjusting supplier dynamics to include faster home delivery. A Walmart representative said the process “requires a whole different level in terms of precision, pickup performance, and distribution” because “the customer has already given you the money.”

Sehpora Launches First China Online Store On JD.com's Platform

Beauty retailer Sephora launched its Chinese online flagship store on local online direct sales company JD.com's e-commerce platform. Highlighting an important e-commerce step for the beauty retailer, Sephora's online store will be the largest cosmetics store on JD.com's platform. It will feature more than 1,200 products from over 70 major international cosmetics brands, such as Dior, Guerlain, and Givenchy.

Wal-Mart Says Building New Distribution Centers For Growing Online Retail Business

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open four giant distribution centers in the second quarter of 2015 to support the expansion of its online shopping business. By 2018, the retailer aims to triple its online sales to $35 billion from $12 billion in 2014. Unlike traditional warehouses, which are built for storage of pallets of products that are handled by forklifts, fulfillment centers for e-commerce operations are designed for processing of individual items. Wal-Mart said each of the new facilities will have more than 1 million square feet of floor area and can store at least 500,000 items.

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April 01, 2015, to May 01, 2015

Amazon Fresh Takes Early Pricing Lead In Online Grocery Shopping/Delivery

A pricing study limited to New York City has found that Amazon.com is cheaper than its online grocery delivery competitors Instacart, Peapod and Fresh Direct. For the study, Nomura Securities ordered a cart of 30 items from each of the companies. Amazon’s bill for shopping and delivery was $122.03 ($5 tip included). The Instacart bill (ordered through grocery store Fairway) was $142.86. Fresh Direct came in at a whopping $158.74. The $10.9 billion online grocery market is growing rapidly – 9.6 percent annually through 2019.

CPG Companies Begin Testing Amazon.com “Dash Button”

Big CPG companies are testing Amazon.com’s innovative “Dash Button,” a small plastic device installed in rooms around the home that allows consumers to re-order common household items, like food, beverages, detergents, etc. Each button is unique to a product and is installed in appropriate areas (e.g., kitchen, laundry). P&G, Clorox, Coca-Cola and Kraft are testing their versions of the Dash Button with Amazon Prime members who receive the buttons on an invitation-only basis during testing. A wide-scale rollout is expected; Amazon has already unveiled a Dash Replenishment Service (DRS) and has asked manufacturers to incorporate the technology into product designs.

Membership Model Of Grocery Delivery Could Be A Game-Changer For Industry

A report from BI Intelligence says that the trick to succeeding as an online grocery delivery service is to make it membership-based. The membership strategy, based on Costco’s model, is being applied successfully by several companies, not the least of which is Amazon, and could prove a disruptive force in the $600 billion retail grocery industry. The main benefits of the membership model include (for the business): repeat customers and lower per-order delivery fees; and (for the consumer):  guaranteed fresh food from the local supermarket and less time spent in-store. The report looks at the grocery delivery services of Amazon, Instacart, Shipt and Thrive Market.

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March 15, 2015, to April 01, 2015

Macy's Buys Spa And Beauty Chain Blue Mercury

Macy's agreed to acquire high-end spa and beauty chain Blue Mercury. Some market analysts are wondering whether the deal, which could bring Blue Mercury's Diptyque candles, Phyto hair products, and La Mer face creams to Macy's stores, would affect search results on the retailer's website. Department stores account for significant portions of beauty brands' sales. At present, Estee Lauder's beauty brands are among the top results in Macy's search visibility.

Birchbox Launches Beauty Box Subscription Business In Canada

Birchbox launched its online beauty box subscription service in Canada, after achieving market success in the United States and launching limited distribution in European markets. Shipping consumers a beauty box that contains sample-sized premium cosmetics, skincare, and haircare products monthly, Birchbox also allows customers to buy full-size products from its online store. Birchbox aims to differentiate itself from other beauty box subscription service providers in Canada by allowing local consumers to pay in Canadian dollars and offering a Canadian-market-dedicated website that highlights products from local beauty and personal care companies.

Chinese Search Engine Plans U.S. IPO In 2015

Sohu.com Inc.'s web search engine business Sogou Inc. is preparing a $3 billion initial public offering in the United States. According to unidentified sources, the company could sell shares by the second half of 2015. Sogou reported revenue rose 70 percent to $119 million in the fourth quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in the previous year. It accounted for 6.9 percent of web search queries in China during the same period, compared with rival Baidu's 74.4 percent.

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March 01, 2015, to March 15, 2015

Selfie-Based Digital Contouring Advice Service Helps Sephora Customers

Sephora has launched a service on its mobile Web site that allows smartphone users to upload a selfie for automatic analysis and subsequent personalized makeup application tips. The service was created for use with Sephora’s Pocket Contour Class app with help from startup company Map My Beauty. Sephora recently identified contouring as a trend taking hold, but the technique is difficult to master. The new service resulted from Sephora’s recognition of a need to "educate and empower" customers to create the contoured look themselves.

Beacon Technology Test Is Encouraging For Unilever

A Unilever beta test involving beacon and smartphone technology and Knorr soup brand and food vans proved successful enough for the company to investigate expanding the availability of the app to other media outlets. For the test, Unilever deployed branded food vans in Sweden where people could sample Knorr soups. When shoppers were within ten meters of the vans, the beacon devices picked up their smartphone IDs. The next day they were sent a personal message referring to the taste test and providing a discount coupon redeemable in-store. The results were encouraging enough for the company to ponder a mass rollout across all brands.

L'Oreal USA Adopts PowaTag Mobile E-Commerce Technology

L'Oreal USA partnered with PowaTag, a mobile e-commerce technology provider. PowaTag's mobile technology can transform a wide range of consumer mobile and online contact points into a “platform for mobile transactions.” In addition to interactive digital marketing, the technology can also help online retailers in providing consumers with mobile and desktop e-commerce options, the company said.

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February 15, 2015, to March 01, 2015

Beacons Offer Advertisers A Sophisticated Way To Gather Consumer Intelligence

The tiny Bluetooth transmitters known as beacons offer marketers a new layer of consumer intelligence that reveals digital actions and exposures. Beacons – currently placed around stores to push coupons and user reviews to shopper phones and tablets -- allow advertisers to pull together online ad and marketing exposures to offline behaviors. They also make the process of retargeting offline behaviors with online ads very accurate “because real-world behaviors can be located to extremely precise locations and interactions”. The insights on the potential of beacons were presented at a recent Mediapost conference.

Retail Market Suffers Decline In Customer Satisfaction In 2014, ACSI Report Says

Customer satisfaction with the retail market declined 1.4 percent to an ACSI score of 76.8, with all retail categories, except Internet retail, showing weaker or flat customer satisfaction levels. Factors driving the downturn included rising prices, with retailers selling non-discretionary products being affected the most. Online retailers received higher customer satisfaction, compared with 2013, a year characterized with winter storms and and an increase in online shopping which caused delivery delays. Customer satisfaction with gasoline service stations dropped 2.7 percent to an ACSI score of 73; however, prospects looked better for 2015, driven in part by falling oil price.

Amazon Competitor Jet, Preparing For Spring Launch, Bulks Up With More Venture Cash

E-commerce start-up and avowed Amazon nemesis Jet has raised another $140 million in venture funding after raising $80 million last September, pushing the company’s valuation to $600 million. The company unveiled a private beta site last month and expects to launch a "Jet Insiders" site next month. Founder Marc Lore says the site will go public later in the spring. The company will mimic Amazon by selling pretty much everything, but 10 to 15 percent cheaper than Amazon. Customers will make up the difference with a $50 annual membership fee, like at Costco.
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