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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.

<<45678910111213>> Total issues:91

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September 01, 2014, to September 15, 2014

USPS Broadens Definition Of “Mail” To Include Groceries

The U.S. Postal Service, beset by continuing financial problems as Internet technologies eat into its core business, has launched a 60-day food delivery test with Amazon.com’s AmazonFresh unit. For the test, USPS is delivering insulated packages of meat, dairy, produce and other groceries to customers in San Francisco between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m, when its trucks are not delivering mail. AmazonFresh already delivers groceries in its hometown Seattle, and other cities. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said USPS, which handles 35 percent of Amazon’s packages, is very interested in grocery delivery, noting that Amazon is “an excellent, excellent customer and an excellent partner”.

Twitter Tests New Message Feature Allowing Users To Buy Online

Twitter said it plans to start public testing of a “buy” button embedded in tweets or posts to let users of the micro-blogging site buy a product. During the initial phase, the proposed feature will be used to sell “limited-edition” or “time-sensitive” products like T-shirts and concert tickets. Eventually, however, the company hopes to turn the feature into a source of revenue. Twitter’s latest ecommerce move will not require buyers to send tweets with a special hashtag. Instead, after clicking the “buy” button, they will be prompted for their credit card and shipping information. Initial tests would include a limited number of Twitter users in the United States, with only 19 sellers participating.

U.S. Postal Service Cuts Rates, Eyes Bigger Share Of Ecommerce Delivery Market

The U.S. Postal Service announced lower postage and delivery prices aimed at attracting big ecommerce companies and recover business it has previously lost to parcel delivery services firms FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. Despite opposition from its rival delivery providers, the Postal Service gained regulatory approval in August 2014 to cut prices by as much as 58 percent on some Priority Mail packages for deals involving at least 50,000 parcels a year. While the Postal Service claimed its high prices were limiting its ability to compete, both UPS and FedEx said the agency is leveraging its near-monopoly status to expand its share of the ecommerce delivery market. In addition to lower shipping rates, USPS is also considering grocery delivery for Amazon.com Inc. as part of its efforts to attract new business.

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August 15, 2014, to September 01, 2014

Delhaize Unit Launches Ecommerce Banner In Romania

Mega Image, the Romanian subsidiary of Belgium-based retailer Delhaize, launched a grocery ecommerce banner in partnership with eMAG. Offering a full range of supermarket products numbering around 7,500 SKU’s, the online store also sells non-food products, such as consumer electronics. Romania’s ecommerce market, dominated by retailers, including Cora, Metro Cash & Carry, and Carrefour, is among the most competitive markets in Central and Eastern Europe.

CVS Caremark Adopts Mobile As Platform To Expand Pharmacy Business

CVS Caremark is relying on mobile technology in its efforts to expand its pharmacy business, according to chief digital officer Brian Tilze. In an interview with Mobile Commerce Daily, Tilze said mobile will help the company enable customers to access all its services whenever, wherever, and however they want. Its CVS/pharmacy Mobile app, for example, comes with Pill Identifier and Drug Interaction Checker features. Tilze described his company’s biggest opportunity in mobile is pushing for integration and personalization of the “pharmacy and retail experiences,” making it easier for customers to stay healthy.

Amazon Plans To Test Drone Delivery Service In India

Amazon plans to test its drone delivery service in India, according to media reports. With fewer regulations covering unmanned aerial devices, India is deemed more attractive as a test site for the delivery service earlier proposed by the online retailer for US customers. Designed to deliver packages immediately and doing without the need for conventional shipping services, Amazon’s Prime Air drone service failed to launch due to various regulatory issues, including airspace safety, communications frequencies, and privacy. Amazon aims to launch the service before the Diwali festival, which starts in October and is an importance shopping holiday in India.

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July 01, 2014, to August 15, 2014

Lancome Wins Big With Elite Rewards Loyalty Program

L’Oreal’s brand Lancome’s Elite Rewards loyalty program saw 60 percent of its members performing at least one action, such as shopping or connecting to the brand on social media sites, per month. Using the CrowdTwist customer relations management technology platform, the program also recorded an increase in monthly customer sign-ups of more than 40 percent. Lancome said it aims to focus on connecting with consumers via social media and promote its loyalty program, with the beauty brand awarding 25 points to members who connect their account to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. For every dollar they spend online, Elite Rewards members get 10 points. They can also win minor rewards by watching branded videos or participating in email and direct mail programs.

Amazon Unit Zappos Tests Digital Shopping Assistant

Online retailer Zappos, a division of Amazon, is testing its Ask Zappos customer service. Designed to function as a personal shopping assistant, the service takes requests by processing images and looks for the product even if the retailer does not carry it. Ask Zappos allows customers to send images via Instagram or by a text message. It then returns a list of links to shopping sites.

Men More Likely Than Women To Shop Online, Study Reveals

In the United States, 40 percent of men 18–34 years old said they prefer to purchase online, according to the results of market research firm BI Intelligence’s analysis of findings by other research firms, including comScore and SeeWhy. Although women are perceived to control up to 85 percent of household spending in the country, results showed men account for online spending almost as much as women do. Data also showed 22 percent of men made online purchases using their smartphones in 2013, while only 18 percent of women said they did. Also, 20 percent of men used their tablets to buy online, while only 17 percent of women did. BI Intelligence also said 43 percent of men aged 18–24 usually shopped at online auction sites, such as eBay, compared with 31 percent of women.

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June 01, 2014, to July 01, 2014

Wal-Mart Announces B2B Online Market For India

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. plans to launch a business-to-business ecommerce marketplace in India in the first week of July 2014, according to Wal-Mart India CEO Krish Iyer. To be located in the cities of Lucknow and Hyderabad, the online service will be exclusively offered to trader members and is likely to be expanded to cover 18 more urban centers across the country. After suspending its plan to launch its retail business in India, Wal-Mart said it plans to open 50 more wholesale stores in the next 4–5 years.

Wal-Mart Expects 30 Percent Growth For Online Revenue In FY 2015

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer and operator of almost 4,000 stores in the U.S. alone, said it hopes to see a 30 percent growth for its ecommerce revenue in 2014. With online retail sales in the country growing 9 percent in 2013 and forecast to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5 percent until 2018, Wal-Mart can also count on its omni-channel initiatives, improved product variety offered online, and enhanced delivery efficiency. Also, the retailer is confident it can use its presence and network across the country in competing strongly against online retail giant Amazon. After growing 27 percent in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, Wal-Mart’s online revenue trends imply the company is likely to hit its online revenue growth target.

Amazon Invests Further In Warehouses, Distribution Centers

Amazon is expanding its network of warehouses and distribution centers in the United States to strengthen its reign as the country’s leader in online retail. Spending $13.9 billion on order-fulfillment infrastructure, which includes 50 new distribution centers, in 2010 to 2013, the online retail giant is eyeing further expansion moves and seeking ways to speed up deliveries of online orders, which include same-day deliveries, to online shoppers’ homes. Other initiatives launched by Amazon as part of its efforts to grab a bigger share of the overall retail market include the Prime Pantry service for members of its loyalty program and the AmazonFresh grocery business.

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April 15, 2014, to June 01, 2014

Unilever Executives Study Amazon's Proposed Drone Delivery Service

Unilever executives in India witnessed a demonstration by online retailer Amazon of its proposed delivery service using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. During the videoconference, Amazon executives demonstrated the UAV-delivery service first described by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in his letter outlining the company’s Prime Air delivery service. According to a Bangalore-based Unilever executive, his company has no immediate plans to adopt the drone delivery concept proposed by Amazon.

Amazon Invests Further In Warehouses, Distribution Centers

Amazon is expanding its network of warehouses and distribution centers in the United States to strengthen its reign as the country’s leader in online retail. Spending $13.9 billion on order-fulfillment infrastructure, which includes 50 new distribution centers, in 2010 to 2013, the online retail giant is eyeing further expansion moves and seeking ways to speed up deliveries of online orders, which include same-day deliveries, to online shoppers’ homes. Other initiatives launched by Amazon as part of its efforts to grab a bigger share of the overall retail market include the Prime Pantry service for members of its loyalty program and the AmazonFresh grocery business.

FedEx's Revised Rates Help Amazon Beat Smaller Online Retail Rivals

Shipping company FedEx’s plan to revise its shipping rates to charge based on the size of a package and not just its weight is likely to help Amazon.com in competing against smaller Internet retailers. Further demonstrating how Amazon.com’s size is helping it to expand its share of the online retail market, this development has also seen FedEx adding incentives for the online retail giant to keep using its service. With the huge volume of business it brings, Amazon is able to negotiate its own shipping rates with FedEx and other shipping companies. To deal with this FedEx move, online retailers are expected to use shipping boxes smaller than the ones they are currently using.

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March 15, 2014, to April 15, 2014

Tom Ford Launches Online Retail Store

Fashion and cosmetics retailer Tom Ford launched its online store, allowing its loyal customers to buy products, such as the Shanghai Lily Private Blend perfume, directly from the manufacturer. Featuring the kind of photography the company has been known for, the online store includes a feature allowing shoppers to zoom in on products, such as eye shadows and blushes, making it easy to choose products. Also, by hovering their computer mice or cursors over some colors, shoppers can see sexy GIF, such as that of a woman biting her lip. The website also offers content, which includes news and updates about the company’s various brands.

Online Retailers In China Close Stores Selling Brand-Name Cosmetic Knockoffs

In response to customer complaints and a Chinese television report, Amazon China and online retailer China Dangdang have closed online stores purportedly selling fake brand-name skincare products. Dangdang shut two stores and refunded customer payments unconditionally.  Amazon said it had closed the stores in February after receiving complaints from customers. The fake products were knockoffs of L'Oréal and Estée Lauder cosmetics that were priced far lower than the real things. A representative of one of the closed stores admitted that the knockoffs came from a wholesale market in Beijing.

Costco Launches International Ecommerce Site Developed By Reply And Hybris Software

Retailer Costco Wholesale Corporation launched its international ecommerce website, Costco.com.mx, developed by digital media-based enterprise solutions provider Reply and SAP company hybris software. Reponsible for deploying Costco’s first ecommerce platform in the UK in 2012, Reply partnered with hybris software to build the international site using the blueprint from the UK site. Fully integrated with Costco’s warehouse management system, which runs Reply’s in-house software-as-a-service technology WMS SideUp Reply, the ecommerce site lets the retailer manage orders and monitor stock levels efficiently and reliably.

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March 01, 2014, to March 15, 2014

“Click-And-Collect” Grocery Shopping Gains Momentum In The Western World

Retail grocery chains are finding that consumers are warming to the idea of buying food and other items on online, driving to the store and picking up their purchases at the curb. Customers may have been reluctant to try “click-and-collect” grocery shopping in the past, but times are changing.  Consumers immersed in e-commerce appear more comfortable with the idea of adding groceries to what they’re already buying online. Wegman’s in the Buffalo, N.Y., area is testing the service for a flat $10 fee; other chains in upstate N.Y. -- and around the U.S. -- are experimenting as well. The Wegman’s service was created in-house, but Dash’s Markets is trying  third-party provider Rosie App. The trend is gathering momentum in Canada and Western Europe and beginning to gain a foothold in large markets in the U.S.

Walmart Hopes Its Technology Initiatives Will Help Grocery Shoppers Save Time And Money

WalmartLabs announced that it had acquired online grocery shopping and recipe grabber start-up Yumprint. The company’s Web site, iPhone app and browser extension allow customers to search for and save recipes from any Web site. WalmartLabs also announced it had launched a grocery delivery pilot project (Walmart To Go) in California and Colorado to see if customers would like being able to order groceries online and have them delivered to their homes or ready for pick-up at the local store for free.

Walmart Plans To Launch An Electronic Marketplace In India

After suspending its retail expansion plans in India, Wal-Mart Stores is reportedly planning to launch an electronic marketplace in the country. According to sources, Walmart India has created a team tasked with developing the electronic marketplace that is expected to be similar to the business model currently used by online retailers Amazon and eBay Inc. After getting burned with licensing-related problems and allegations of bribery during the past two years, Walmart may have realized that expanding its business via the ecommerce route was relatively safer than the brick-and-mortar way. For example, the retailer will not have to secure numerous licenses required of businesses planning to set up retail stores in the country.

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February 15, 2014, to March 01, 2014

Whole Foods Buys Start-Up’s Checkout Technology For Smartphones, Tablets

Whole Foods has contracted with start-up payments company Square to install its smartphone and credit card readers at several stores. Whole Foods is the second national chain – following Starbucks – to sign a deal with Square. The checkout stands allow speedier payment processing using smartphones (with an app) and tablets at fresh sandwich and coffee stations, but not at the main registers. Whole Foods, seven of whose stores have the readers installed,  hopes that having several of the stands in its stores will not only speed up the checkout process, it will also attract new customers.

Online Tool Allows EZWatch Shoppers To Haggle

EZWatch, a manufacturer of security cameras and related systems increased its sales in 2013 by launching a customer engagement tool that allows online buyers to name their price. Developed by PriceWaiter, the online tool includes a “Name Your Price” button that lets online buyers indicate a price they would like to pay for a product. EZWatch CEO Ben Cornett said sometimes customers would key in an absurdly lowball price; however, EZWatch is often able to make a counteroffer that the buyer finds acceptable. PriceWaiter dropped the commission it previously charged sellers for using the online tool, but plans to introduce premium, fee-based services.

Wal-Mart's Expanding Online Business Brightens Up An Otherwise Bleak Fourth Quarter

Wal-Mart highlighted its online business, which grew 30 percent to $10 billion in the fourth quarter of 2013 and is expected to grow over $13 billion in the current fiscal year. During the company’s recent earnings call with investors and analysts, company CEO Doug McMillion said the company’s position of strength in the online business includes the “potential to create transformative growth in global e-commerce and mobile commerce.” Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon, for his part, said e-commerce added 30 basis points to same store sales, with the company posting its strongest Cyber Monday sales yet. Walmart’s expansion of its small-format stores is also expected to help boost the retailer’s online business and its efforts to provide shoppers with “omnichannel experience.”

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February 01, 2014, to February 15, 2014

Wal-Mart Stores Expects New Office In California Will Employ 1,000 E-Commerce Pros

Wal-Mart Stores, which ranks fourth on the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500, has opened an office for its global e-commerce unit in Sunnyvale, Calif. The office will eventually support 1,000 professionals; the San Bruno, Calif., office employs 1,500. Staff at the new office will focus on projects related to online and mobile shopping. The company chose the Sunnyvale location because of the “talent density” in the area, including design, app and user interface expertise. Wal-Mart Stores is expanding its e-commerce capabilities, including through its San Bruno @WalMartLabs division whose mission is e-commerce research and development.

Independent Pizza Shops Take It On The Chin As “Big Pizza” Thrives On Web Ordering

The move by big pizza chains to Web-based ordering systems – now accounting for 40 percent of total sales – has put the squeeze on less technologically savvy, poorer independent chains and shops. Large pizza chains, which already have marketing clout and lower cost ingredients, accounted for 52 percent of pizza orders, while the share for independents dropped to 29 percent from 31.5 percent. One pizza shop owner in Ohio reports a 20 percent decline in sales as a result of the Webification of pizza ordering. One possible solution for the little guys is online food ordering companies like Chicago-based GrubHub Seamless, which usually take a cut of online sales transacted via their platform.

Online Grocery Shopping Debuts Again, This Time Without Heavy Start-Up Costs

Though a bust in the early 2000s – remember dot-com flop Webvan? – online grocery shopping and delivery are experiencing a revival, thanks to the efforts of “tech-savvy retailers and retail-savvy tech companies”. One of the reasons it’s working better these days is that companies are not trying to develop their own expensive delivery infrastructure, but are tapping into existing resources and taking advantage of smartphone app technology. Lean, mean companies like San Francisco’s Instacart avoid spending millions by using existing fulfillment centers (i.e., grocery stores) instead of building their own facilities and inventory. The company streams inventory lists from brick-and-mortar stores to its mobile app where users can fill virtual shopping carts, customize requests and identify acceptable substitutes.

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January 15, 2014, to February 01, 2014

Subscription Service The Next Big Thing For Online Retail In 2014, Analysts Say

Ecommerce companies are forecast to adopt subscription-based sales platforms in 2014, driven by growing consumer demand for instant gratification and the expanding adoption of mobile devices, according to market research firm Gartner Inc. Online sellers of digital products, such as music, video, and games, are expected to take the lead in adopting subscription services; however, physical goods, such as cosmetics and snacks, are also forecast to become popular. Among the companies trying the subscription waters are Birchbox with the 400,000 subscribers to its cosmetics service and JustFab, which has secured $55 million in funding by convincing investors about the merits of its fashion subscription service. Subscription services offer many advantages for online retailers, such as a regular income, more chances to upsell, and the ability to create deeper interactions with customers. There are also some issues that need to be considered, such as the need to convince customers to stay with the service each month and the inability of current software to manage subscription fully.

Digital Technology Will Help Boost Growth In Various Markets, Study Shows

Digital technology is forecast to boost growth rates for digitally contestable markets, such as healthcare and finance, according to market consulting firm Accenture. Data from the report “Remaking Customer Markets: How Digital Unlocks New Paths to Growth” revealed, for example, that although the core healthcare market in the United States is forecast to grow 2.5 percent annually in 2012–2018, digital technology, such as remote diagnostics and electronic records management, will help push up annual growth rates to 3.3 percent. In the UK, meanwhile, the financial services market is expected to grow 2.0 percent annually during the same period; however, the digital contested market is expected to achieve annual growth rate of 2.9 percent, driven by digital technology-enabled trends, such as crowd funding and virtual wallet. Accenture also said the impact of the digitally contestable shopping, paying, and healthcare markets in 2018 is forecast to be $5.9 trillion for the U.S. economy, €747 billion for Germany’s economy, and £519 billion for the UK.

CPG Companies Getting Deeply Involved In Mobile Advertising

Mobile ad network InMobi said “deep engagements” by more than half of the leading CPG brands worldwide drove mobile ad spending up by 175 percent last year. Unilever, one of InMiobi’s top clients, is especially involved in mobile advertising: at least eight brands are using the company’s services, which include media, creative, ad delivery, consumer insights, research data, and technology platforms. According to Atul Satija, who manages InMobi’s operations in Asia Pacific and Japan, CPG companies are increasingly adopting a mobile-first strategy to engage consumers.
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