Week of 07/24/2020 Tech News and Views

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Over the last few months, ecommerce has made more market penetration than in the previous 10 years combined. With so much growth, what do you think the next major innovation or brand in the world of ecommerce will be? The ecommerce world is moving faster than almost any other industry right now, but it’s important to remember to slow down and smell the news.

Check out the state of ecommerce this week:

  • Everyone’s trying to get yoked at home :muscle:
  • Amazon’s introducing smart carts that nobody asked for
  • Food delivery goes oligopolistic on us (big word alert)
  • Cloudflare shuts down, and Shopify gets hit
  • is booming (shout-out to a fellow Utah company! :100:)
  • Instagram, Google, and Snapchat continue to create ecommerce solutions


What is Amazon even doing?

There’s been some good, some bad, and some weird for Bezos and Co. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in Amazon’s ecosystem.

Amazon is rolling out a “smart cart” that makes shoppers do all the work

Amazon reportedly began testing a smart grocery shopping cart called “Dash Cart” that will allow shoppers to skip checkout altogether. Dash Carts are equipped with cameras and sensors as well as a screen tallying up the shopper’s purchase.

Pretty neat.

Once someone is done shopping, they can just walk out and the total will be charged directly to their Amazon account. It’s a cool idea, until you realize that you have to do everything from downloading the app (and getting an account if you don’t have one), scanning, weighing, and bagging all your goods, dealing with phone-pairing woes, and navigating your way to the Dash Cart lane. What a pleasant shopping experience, eh?

Some more cons to Dash Cart include:

  • Right now, they’re going to roll out in one store in California that hasn’t even opened yet.
  • They’re only truly useful to Amazon members.
  • Have a lengthy shopping list? Too bad. These carts are designed for small to mid-size hauls, or up to two (2!) bags of groceries.
  • We all know people treat grocery carts like precious treasures and these will definitely live long lives (and not end up five blocks down the road at a bus stop).

AMZN saw multi-day drops

Amazon’s stock suffered its worst week since February last week, posting five straight days of losses. Not to worry though, Amazon surged back to begin the week, nearly making up all lost ground on Monday. The stock is still up over 60% YTD.

Prime Day postponed! :scream: How do we know the coronavirus is here to stay for while longer? Amazon postponed Prime Day . Just a year ago, Amazon declared Prime Day its biggest shopping event in history, outselling Cyber Monday and Black Friday (combined!). Retailers have been given a tentative date of October 5, but the fact that Prime Day was postponed at all is rattling and paints a grim picture of the effects of the pandemic on Amazon’s supply chain.

Reading between the lines
It’s clear that Amazon is still trying to figure itself out right now. With increased demand and unforeseen market shifts, the behemoth is falling behind. Ya, ya, they’ll do just fine, but while they’re experiencing supply shortages, shipping delays and digital lines of frustrated customers , independent retailers can snatch up some market share that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

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Fitness products swell during quarantine

What happens when the world shuts down and gym rats have to stay home? Loads of home gyms. According to data from eBay , fitness equipment sales soared several thousand percent since March.

  • Dumbbell sales increased 1,980%
  • Weight plate sales increased 1,355%

Strong performance. :muscle:

Personal trainers in your living room

Not only did equipment sales climb, but so did online and digital workout classes. Some online gyms reported increases in online bookings by more than 2,000%. That’s great news for companies like Peloton and Mirror (recently sold to Lululemon).

Home gyms are on-brand for a pandemic
Increases in at-home fitness mesh right in with the overall picture of the 2020 American consumer. We have shifted our lives from being lived outside of our homes to being lived entirely inside—and our spending reflects that change.

Are home gyms here to stay, or will swells of swole people make their way back to gyms as this pandemic subsides?

Uber Eats

Uber is hungry for Postmates :drooling_face:

In the game of chess that has become the food delivery service, Uber made some major moves and is acquiring Postmates for $2.6B in an all-stock transaction.

The move will help to cement UberEats as a solid second place in the food delivery market. It will also help increase Uber’s presence in markets where UberEats has not been as successful such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

Slim pickin’s on the menu of food delivery services

Some critics claim Uber buying Postmates is a tale of “one failed company buying another.” The truth is, food delivery services continue to hemorrhage money. Others claim that the acquisition will violate antitrust laws as it will result in an oligopoly with Uber, DoorDash, and GrubHub basically becoming our only food delivery options.

Uber is counting on hungry pandemic homebodies

As the pandemic continues to rage, Uber’s food delivery services continue to play a larger role in their revenue flow. With less riders hailing trips, and more people eating at home, Uber has had to pivot to make food delivery a priority.

:thinking: Reminds us of another industry that had to pivot quick and put a premium on delivery .

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Cloudflare outage takes out Shopify stores

Where were you when the internet imploded last week? Cloudflare’s latest outage, which they claim came from an error with a router and a routine update, created outages for more than 6 million websites hosted with Cloudflare’s DNS, including major Shopify customers.

Wouldn’t want to be whoever made that “routine update” :eyes:

Outage creates chaos (Just what we need right now)

For about 27 minutes, millions of websites including Fashion Nova, Kylie Cosmetics, and Brooklinen were out for the count. These outages, while neither the site nor Shopify’s fault, can create a huge economic impact. According to a survey by Infrascale , outages can cost online retailers around $10,000/hour between lost sales and damaged reputation .

This isn’t the first time a Cloudflare outage has affected Shopify merchants. Last July, a problem with their firewall led to a 20-minute outage. Will Shopify and other Cloudflare customers band together and demand change?

Judy kit

JUDY: The latest brand we’re obsessed with

Disasters aren’t cool. Being prepared, on the other hand, is verrrrry cool.

And JUDY is showing us just how cool preparedness can be.

Prep kits don’t have to be as extreme as what you see on Nat Geo — homemade bunkers, bug-out bags, crossbow stockpiles, and enough pickled beets to last a decade. Instead, JUDY is making prep kits for the average person living an average life who might just find themselves in the average disaster (we’re not saying that a zombie apocalypse isn’t possible, but being prepped for a house fire might be more practical).

A prep kit for those who don’t prep

JUDY is different. Besides the awesome eye-catching branding, sturdy materials, and digital integration of their goods, these emergency kits also educate the buyer. Anyone can sign up for JUDY text messages that send alerts about impending emergencies like inclement weather, and when you become a JUDY customer, you can also text JUDY questions about what to do in pretty much any scenario.

Whereas most kits are either skimpy, cheap, or DIY, JUDY kits come with everything you need for the emergencies most common to where you live. For instance, if you live in Minnesota, you don’t need a kit outfitted for someone fleeing a hurricane.

JUDY is also Kardashian-approved. Could it get much better?

Bug out to JUDY

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Overstock stock going nuts

One exciting byproduct of our pandemic world has been the resurgence of some of ecommerce’s oldest players. One of the biggest stock-movers over the last few months has been

  • It’s stock price has risen nearly 2100% since mid-March
  • Digging out from $2.67 to more than $54 per share

Overstock isn’t the only ecommerce mainstay that’s thriving

Other online retailers such as Etsy, Stitch Fix, Wayfair (which has been in the news for other reasons recently), and Chewy have all jumped triple digits due to the increase in ecommerce from the coronavirus, according to MSNBC.


Social media goes shopping: Instagram Shops, Google Shoploop, Snapchat profiles

Big social media continues to make its foray into the world of ecommerce. This week, Instagram unveiled its redesigned shopping experience, Google released a video shopping app, and Snap introduced brand profile pages.

Instagram Shop
Say hello (again) to Instagram’s newest shopping tool. Instagram Shop will be accessible from the explore page and users will be able to browse and purchase items from retailers with Facebook Pay without ever leaving the Instagram app. Instagram says they plan to make Shop a standalone tab on the navigation bar later this year.

Google is looking to capitalize on influencer marketing by releasing Shoploop, an interactive video shopping experience. Brand spokespeople (ambassadors or influencers) can use Shoploop to create 90 second video content selling a product.

Snapchat profiles
Some big name brands recently joined in on Snapchat’s brand profiles test, including Target and Ralph Lauren. Brand profiles will give brands a home on Snapchat and let users interact with custom content. Hopefully, this will help lure more advertisers to the platform. Adidas reported a 52% boost in its return on advertising spending using Snapchat ads.

More interesting stuff to fill all that time on your hands:

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We’ll be back with more news and insights next Friday!

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