TikTok May Team Up with TalkShopLive for a Holiday Launch

TikTok is said to be partnering with Los Angeles-based TalkShopLive to handle its live shopping initiative in North America after an in-house UK effort produced lackluster results. Due to hit the U.S. in time for the holiday season, TikTok Shop will be built on technology and support from TalkShopLive as it positions live-stream shopping hosted by influencers, brands and retailers selling products on the short-form video platform. Launched last year, TikTok Shop UK was the ByteDance company’s first such effort outside of Asia, where it is available in countries including Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines. Continue reading TikTok May Team Up with TalkShopLive for a Holiday Launch

Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

Walmart has planted its flag in the metaverse, launching Walmart Land and Walmart’s Universe of Play on Roblox, a virtual worlds game platform that emphasizes user-generated content. Roblox community members can check out the Walmart “isles” to collect “verch,” or virtual merchandise, “catch top music artists and unlock exclusive interactive content,” the company says. “Roblox is one of the fastest growing and largest platforms in the metaverse, and we know our customers are spending loads of time there,” Walmart CMO William White said, citing the platform’s 52 million daily active users. Continue reading Walmart Begins Metaverse Build-Out on the Roblox Platform

California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

California attorney general Rob Bonta has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, claiming the e-tailer has managed to bend competition and pricing to its will. Only about 25 million of Amazon’s 147 million U.S. customers are domiciled in California, but if the measure succeeds it could impact regulations across the country and across the globe. “For years, California consumers have paid more for their online purchases because of Amazon’s anticompetitive contracting practices,” Bonta said Wednesday. “Amazon’s market dominance, allowing the company to make increasingly untenable demands on its merchants,” resulted in “higher prices and more control.” Continue reading California Attorney General Files Antitrust Suit Against Amazon

Meta Expands Advantage Program with AI-Powered Ad Tools

Meta Platforms is expanding its Meta Advantage advertising automation program, an effort to mitigate fallout from Apple’s consumer privacy measures, which have substantially constrained its ability to target and personalize ads. Launched in March, Meta Advantage bundles AI and ad automation tools to simplify the process for advertisers. This week the company added Advantage+ Shopping, assisting in campaign creation, simultaneously offering up to 150 automated creative combinations. The update offers more options to e-commerce brands and is geared toward optimizing the presence of Facebook or Instagram storefronts. Continue reading Meta Expands Advantage Program with AI-Powered Ad Tools

How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

The nation’s largest publisher, Penguin Random House, was in federal court this week to defend itself against the Justice Department, which filed an antitrust lawsuit to block its acquisition of Simon & Schuster. The DOJ has been increasingly focused on antitrust and is hiring more trial lawyers in preparation for an action against Alphabet’s Google for its dominance in search and digital advertising. Although ostensibly on trial for threatening to shrink the number of American mass-market publishers from five to four, the Penguin suit also involves examination of the retail power of Amazon. Continue reading How the DOJ Antitrust Publishing Lawsuit Relates to Amazon

Amazon Reports Online Sales Are Down While Revenue Is Up

Amazon increased revenue by 7 percent to $121.2 billion in the second quarter, beating analyst expectations and sending the stock soaring 12 percent despite a $2 billion loss. That contrasts with a $7.8 billion profit for the same period last year. The loss was due in part to Amazon’s investment in the electric car company Rivian, whose value has plunged this year. “Despite continued inflationary pressures in fuel, energy, and transportation costs, we’re making progress on the more controllable costs we referenced last quarter, particularly improving the productivity of our fulfillment network,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. Continue reading Amazon Reports Online Sales Are Down While Revenue Is Up

Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

In the wake of the European Union’s strict new digital-competition laws, Amazon has proposed settlements in two EU antitrust cases. The U.S.-based e-commerce giant says it will stop using non-public data it obtains from the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace to inform its own business decisions in competition with those sellers. A separate investigation found Amazon to be self-dealing with regard to its Buy Box and Prime plans, resulting in a commitment to give third-party sellers equal treatment. The commitments would remain in force for five years, monitored by a trustee reporting to the European Commission. Continue reading Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

Replenished GPU Inventory Results in Return to MSRP Pricing

The graphics processor unit drought may be over as retailers report inventory is plentiful with prices returning to pre-scarcity norms. Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti’s that were marked up to nearly double the MSRP on sites like eBay are now available for approximately their intended $2,300 price. “GPU prices continue to drop on a monthly basis,” reports Tom’s Hardware, attributing the favorable conditions in part to the cryptocurrency crash, which has “resulted in more mining firms shutting down,” selling off hardware and not competing for new units. The easing of COVID-19 supply chain bottlenecks is another mitigating factor. Continue reading Replenished GPU Inventory Results in Return to MSRP Pricing

In First for Apple, Maryland Store Employees Vote to Unionize

The National Labor Relations Board announced over the weekend that 65 Apple employees at a Towson, Maryland store (near Baltimore) have voted to unionize (33 voted against). The Apple CORE (Coalition of Organized Retail Employees) will become part of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The decision follows a growing labor trend across restaurant, retail and tech industries, while marking a first for Apple’s more than 270 U.S. retail locations. The Towson facility is the third Apple Store to conduct a union drive this year, but the first to hold an official vote. Continue reading In First for Apple, Maryland Store Employees Vote to Unionize

Twitter Expands Its E-Commerce Efforts with ‘Product Drops’

Twitter is expanding its online shopping initiatives with features including “Product Drops,” which allow e-commerce merchants to tease upcoming availabilities. “People come to Twitter to talk about products and product drops every day. And merchants have long been dropping products on Twitter without any native product support,” Twitter explained. Product Drops connects the two. Participating merchants can add a “Remind Me” button on upcoming product tweets. Users who tap it receive in-app notifications around the drop that connects to a “shop on website” button, while clicking the tweet itself opens a product page with pricing and details. Continue reading Twitter Expands Its E-Commerce Efforts with ‘Product Drops’

Direct-to-Consumer Marketers Seek Social Media Alternatives

Direct-to-consumer startups that previously relied mainly on Facebook and Instagram to reach customers continue to adapt strategies more than a year after Apple’s privacy policy revisions forced massive change on the digital advertising sector. Brands that were marketing before Apple’s privacy changes took effect last year had an opportunity to build customer bases using the uniquely specific targeting opportunities once offered by social media. Newer entities, however, are struggling to get a toehold as they search for comparable tools, looking well beyond the traditional social platforms. Continue reading Direct-to-Consumer Marketers Seek Social Media Alternatives

Amazon Intros Invite-Based Ordering for High-Demand Items

Amazon is combatting inventory shortages with a new invite-based ordering protocol for high-demand products, starting with U.S. fulfillment of the Sony PlayStation 5 game console, followed by Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. The idea is to prevent hoarding by “scalpers” who program bots to buy in quantity then resell the items at significant markup. Participation does not require Prime membership, merely a request for the invitation. Amazon plans to roll the program out to more countries as it strives to ensure a positive shopping experience for individual customers and households. Continue reading Amazon Intros Invite-Based Ordering for High-Demand Items

Atlanta Apple Store Employees Pause Union Organizing Push

Apple Store workers in Atlanta, Georgia have paused organizing efforts that could have resulted in the first unionized Apple Store in the U.S. The matter was scheduled to be put to vote this month, but the Communications Workers of America withdrew the request, citing the safety of Cumberland Mall workers amidst a COVID-19 surge and charges of union busting by Apple. At least three other U.S. Apple Stores are holding union drives, according to reports. Workers at a Towson, Maryland location are scheduled to vote June 15, with New York City’s Grand Central Terminal Apple Store also teeing-up, union leaders say. Continue reading Atlanta Apple Store Employees Pause Union Organizing Push

Meta Launches WhatsApp Cloud API for Business, Enterprise

WhatsApp is now offering commercial services to businesses that want the global messaging app, which now has more than a billion users. The WhatsApp Cloud API lets companies build their own WhatsApp dashboard to chat with customers. WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook, now Meta Platforms, in 2014 for a reported $22 billion, and this expansion is the company’s first serious attempt to monetize the platform. Speaking at a “Conversations” live event last week, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new WhatsApp Cloud API was for businesses “big and small.” Continue reading Meta Launches WhatsApp Cloud API for Business, Enterprise

Marriott Teams with Yahoo on First Hospitality Media Network

Marriott International has teamed with Yahoo to launch what is being called the hospitality industry’s first media platform. The Marriott Media Network aims to help advertisers reach consumers by placing ads on hotel websites with plans to eventually harness the power of TV sets in hotel rooms. Using what is considered “first party data” — interaction derived from consumer interaction with brands (in this case, the hotel chain’s guest data) — the  Marriott Media Network is designed to fill a void left by privacy changes at companies like Apple and Google that will block third-party cookies and ad tracking. Continue reading Marriott Teams with Yahoo on First Hospitality Media Network