August 17, 2016

If you can’t beat them, buy them. It’s a concept familiar to many in the tech sector and it seems to be catching on in retail, if Walmart’s $3.3 billion Jet acquisition is anything to go by.

For anyone unfamiliar with Jet.com, it’s the online retail platform founded by Marc Lore, who previously sold diapers.com to none other than Amazon. Launched to the public little more than a year ago, Jet quickly racked up a reputation for deep discounts and rewards for consumers who bought in bulk. By leveraging extensive VC funding and the e-commerce expertise of its founder, the site was able to accelerate to a valuation of more than $1 billion in twelve months. Continue reading Walmart’s Jet Acquisition Will Spur on Amazon’s Fulfillment Plans

February 27, 2016

At some point, every ambitious online business needs to scale. Expanding beyond that early period of rapid growth and operational independence is a daunting prospect, but the transition from plucky startup to established brand is what secures continued success.

In addition to hiring the right people to help grow your business and physically expanding the operation to larger premises, brands that sell online face a major challenge regarding order fulfillment. There comes a time when even the most customer-focused CEO must stop packing orders and start planning strategy, which is when the important consideration of outsourcing e-commerce fulfillment arises.

Continue reading 4 Ways Outsourcing E-commerce Fulfillment Helps a Business to Scale

February 11, 2016

Early in the holidays, we examined the expectations of a record-breaking peak period for e-commerce during the 2015 sales season. These predictions proved to be the case as online sales soared, but not in the kind of even distribution across big brands that some analysts expected.

Far from being boom time for all the major retailers, it appears that Amazon once again dominated the holiday orders, leaving its competitors to fight it out for a distant second spot. The realization that they could be left behind is hitting household names like Walmart and Sears hard, as their strategic announcements during January clearly signal. Continue reading Retailers Revise Store Strategies After Record Holiday Sales Online

July 14, 2015

So, are you all set for the big day?
If you shrug your shoulders and look mildly confused, you’re forgiven; July 15th is not typically a day of great note… yet. Amazon would like to change that, however, as it seeks to set the date in stone as Prime Day.

Under the banner of celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary, Prime Day is the latest in a line of members-only promotions and services that Amazon hopes will win over new subscribers. Billed as an event “bigger than Black Friday,” it’s fair to say that the company has high hopes of cornering the calendar on this one.

Make no bones about it, the e-commerce giant is serious about becoming the consumer’s one-stop shop for online purchases.

Do We Need a New Black Friday?
After raising the question late last year as to whether retailers had jumped the shark with fabricated discount days, it’s clear which camp Amazon falls into.

Clearly, there’s some indication that it felt the same about the seasonal holiday rush to deep discounts. The answer from Bezos and co, however, is not to curtail these celebratory sales events, but rather to spread them out.

Somewhat inevitably,  Amazon won’t be alone in this endeavor. Walmart has already entered the fray with something it’s calling “atomic deals,” and others are expected to follow.

Whether they can make the July 15th deadline is another matter, but there’s plenty of summer left yet and you can bet your bottom dollar that retail marketing managers around the country are in meetings this week to plan their respective responses.

Interestingly, Amazon seems to have been inspired to hold Prime Day by competitors both existing and emerging.

On the major player side,  Alibaba’s Singles Day has been a growing sales event in China since 2009. With the company’s successful IPO last year on the New York Stock Exchange, Alibaba clearly has ambitions to become more of an influence in Amazon’s home market and the wider international stage.

On the start-up side, jet.com is set to launch next week. The club savings site is run by Amazon alumnus Marc Lore, who has a history of rattling his former employer’s cage and is basing much of the site’s appeal on discounts that are deeper even than Amazon’s.

Whether it’s celebration or competition that gave birth to Prime Day, the end result is the same: a speeded-up schedule for the e-commerce price wars, with all of the pluses that come with it for consumers, but also plenty of associated negatives for smaller-scale retailers.

At the Other End of the Scale
For smaller brands, the current retail landscape is less clear.

Unable to compete in a long-term price war with the giants, who can afford to accept heavy losses on select products to win the wider war for consumers, they must fall back on other competitive distinctions. Quality of service and depth of knowledge in a specific niche still offer an opportunity to give customers something they can’t find in mass services, and some are willing to pay for that quality regardless of the discounts on offer elsewhere.

A price squeeze is inevitable as discount competition hots up, but it doesn’t spell the end for smaller brands in general.

There are always brands that will find a loyal customer base when they stay true to a core value or service offering. With a targeted strategy and tight operation, it’s possible to emerge from whatever dust Prime Day and its peers stir up, stronger and more focused on what it is that makes your business special to consumers.