Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Alibaba Group, China’s most valuable company with a market capitalization of $800+ billion, is paying $3.6 billion to gain more control of Sun Art Retail Group, which operates 480+ large supermarket stores. As in the U.S. and elsewhere, COVID-19 has seen many consumers shift to online shopping for food and other essentials. In 2017, Alibaba acquired a 36 percent stake in Sun Art for about $2.9 billion. With the latest purchase, Alibaba will own about 72 percent of the company and is positioned to compete with Walmart. Continue reading Alibaba Buys Majority Stake in Big-Box Grocery Store Chain

Amazon Notes Prime Day Was a Bonanza for Small Vendors

Although it didn’t reveal total Prime Day numbers, Amazon stated that small- and medium-size businesses in its marketplace earned $3.5+ billion during the event, a 60 percent increase from last year’s sales and a record for these vendors. It added that third-party sales on Prime Day grew more than Amazon’s own retail business. Prime Day was launched in 2015 and has become one of Amazon’s more crucial retail and marketing events. This year’s event was pushed from July to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Notes Prime Day Was a Bonanza for Small Vendors

Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Google has plans to turn YouTube into a major marketplace and has already asked creators to tag and track products on their videos via YouTube software. Google will then link that data to shopping tools and analytics. According to sources, Google is also partnering with Shopify to test an integration for selling items on YouTube. A spokesperson, who confirmed the company is testing the features “with a limited number of video channels,” added that creators will maintain control over the products displayed. Continue reading Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

After a 16-month investigation, the House Judiciary Committee presented a 449-page report stating that Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google abused their monopoly positions and calling for reform of the antitrust laws. Lawmakers stated the companies had evolved from startups to “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons” and stated their breakup would restore competition. This marks the biggest antitrust effort since the government sued Microsoft in the 1990s. Continue reading Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

Walmart Propels Its Digital Future With Walmart+ and TikTok

With its new deal to invest in TikTok (with Oracle), Walmart is taking big steps to create a transformative digital-centric future and a company that can successfully compete with its closest rival, Amazon. One analyst predicted the TikTok deal could “redefine retail” and Cowen retail analyst Oliver Chen called it a “bigger-picture opportunity.” Although it’s not yet clear what Walmart will do with TikTok, it now has another way to engage with consumers not actively shopping online, perhaps gathering data or serving ads. Continue reading Walmart Propels Its Digital Future With Walmart+ and TikTok

Amazon’s Small Hub Plan Threatens UPS, U.S. Postal Service

As the holiday season looms, Amazon plans to launch 1,000 small delivery hubs throughout the U.S., according to sources. With COVID-19, online orders soared, and Amazon was not capable of meeting its two-day delivery pledge. The company hired 175,000 new workers, which has helped clear the delivery pipeline, but wants to ensure that Amazon Prime subscribers can get as many products as possible on the same day. Its rivals Walmart and Target are able to speed deliveries due to their thousands of well-located stores. Continue reading Amazon’s Small Hub Plan Threatens UPS, U.S. Postal Service

Amazon Hires, Builds and Grows During the COVID Pandemic

In August and September, Amazon revealed plans to hire 20,000 more employees in seven cities in the U.S. and the UK. The massive e-commerce company has seen tremendous growth during the coronavirus pandemic as have other retailers including Walmart, Target and Instacart. Amazon, which continues to allow employees who can work from home to do so until January 8, is continually recruiting hourly positions at warehouses. Although it pays a minimum of $15 an hour, Amazon no longer provides incentive pay or stock for hourly workers. Continue reading Amazon Hires, Builds and Grows During the COVID Pandemic

Walmart to Roll Out Subscription Service With Free Shipping

On September 15, Walmart will debut its anticipated Walmart+ subscription service. At $98 per year, the new offering is intended to compete with Amazon Prime, priced at $119 per year. Walmart+ requires an order of at least $35 for free shipping directly from stores to customers’ homes. It offers 160,000 items, including produce and groceries, and subscribers will also get a 5-cent-per-gallon discount at its affiliated gas stations. Walmart hopes its many stores’ proximity to customers will mean delivery of fresher food than its rivals.

Continue reading Walmart to Roll Out Subscription Service With Free Shipping

FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just approved Amazon’s plan to create a fleet of drones. The e-commerce company will still need to jump through some hoops before beginning limited tests of package delivery to U.S. customers. Amazon also has testing sites in Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom and other international locations but can only perform tests in the UK and U.S. Before drone delivery becomes widespread, the FAA must complete rules for remote identification and for letting drones fly above populated areas. Continue reading FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

When Angela Bolger’s laptop caught fire due to a replacement battery she bought on Amazon, she suffered third-degree burns and filed a lawsuit against the popular e-commerce site. Amazon responded by providing a refund for the battery. Until recently, Amazon has successfully fought off such liability suits. The stakes are high since almost 60 percent of all physical goods on its site now come from third-party sellers. The courts have traditionally sided with Amazon, but recent cases from a few states are changing that trend. Continue reading Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

ByteDance is expected to soon make a deal to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations to one of two groups of suitors: Microsoft, now teamed up with Walmart, or Oracle, potentially supported by a coalition of investors. According to sources, discussions are still “fluid.” Walmart entering the fray has changed the calculus; its background in digital sales could push TikTok to evolve to a platform with e-commerce integration. A sale to Oracle, however, might focus more on TikTok’s data to buttress its own advertising, cloud and data businesses. Continue reading ByteDance Considers Two Competing Offers for TikTok U.S.

Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Amazon built its largest office building in the world in Hyderabad, a city of 10 million in southern India also known as Asia’s Silicon Valley. Amazon spokesperson Minari Shah said, “Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size.” Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft also have bases in that city. In the United States, Amazon said it will hire 3,500 white-collar employees, including 2,000 in New York, continuing with plans it made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Continue reading Amazon Builds Mammoth Facility in India, Plans U.S. Growth

Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

The S&P 500 achieved record heights via the 37 percent rise in shares of the Big Five tech companies in the first seven months of 2020. Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook, the five largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., now account for 20 percent of the entire stock market’s total value. Meanwhile, according to Credit Suisse, all other stocks, fell a combined 6 percent. Apple’s valuation hit $2 trillion, the first U.S. company to do so, and only 21 weeks after its $1 trillion valuation. Continue reading Big Five Tech Companies Dominate the Rise in Stock Market

Epic Requests Stay of Its Ban From Apple Developer Program

The dispute between Apple and Epic Games over in-app payments has heated up, with the “Fortnite” game developer accusing Apple of threatening to remove it from the Apple Developer Program, thus blocking its access to iOS and macOS developer tools. Apple said it would do so by August 28 if Epic Games does not comply with its App Store rules. Epic has asked a federal judge to issue a stay, claiming the ban would cause “unquantifiable and irreparable” damage to the company and its 350 million registered players. Continue reading Epic Requests Stay of Its Ban From Apple Developer Program

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