Friday Five, September 4: A Quick Summary Of The Top 5 News Articles From This Week
Well… it’s finally September. And what a summer it’s been! Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, retail space closures, and online shopping advancements, there has been more than enough news for us to talk about in our weekly “Friday Five” blogs. And, of course, this week is no exception. Although it’s technically still summer, brands and retailers are already thinking about the November and December holiday season and discovering innovative ways in which digital transformation continues to change the retail industry – perhaps forever.
In this week’s “Friday Five” blog – and our last Friday Five of 2020 – we discuss all of that, plus this: how retailers are reporting record e-commerce numbers during the pandemic, the opening of Amazon’s long-anticipated, high-tech supermarket, the future of curbside pickup and how it’s popularity will continue, how mall Santas of America are approaching Christmas 2020, and the battle some retailers are fighting to get Amazon to reveal information about their third party sellers. We hope you enjoy, and we’ll see you back here next summer!
CNBC – August 30, 2020
Thanks to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, non-essential store closures, and shopper safety concerns, many popular retailers have experienced more online sales in 2020 than ever before. However, according to Forrester analysist Sucharita Kodali, “this growth is definitely going to go down next year.” As Kodali said, “anybody who has any proclivity to buy online has bought online. Anything they would have needed, they purchased.” Notably, online sales were up 242% during Best Buy’s second quarter, and Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lowe’s, Tiffany, and Home Depot also reported triple-digit e-commerce gains. That said, all the online shopping people are doing is also causing a boost in product returns, packaging materials, and shipping costs. To counterbalance those increases, many retailers are cutting jobs and employee hours, closing underperforming stores, and canceling seasonal sales and promotions. Regardless, experts agree that many popular retailers will continue to see e-commerce success, especially companies that had already been investing in online strategies pre-pandemic.
Retail Dive – August 27, 2020
Amazon’s long-anticipated, tech-savvy supermarket in Woodland Hills, California, officially opened on Thursday, August 27. However, it wasn’t the grand, public opening many people were hoping for; instead, the e-commerce giant is only inviting select customers to shop in the Amazon Fresh store for the time being. According to Retail Dive, “although the Amazon Fresh store is independent of Amazon’s Whole Foods Market subsidiary, the new supermarket will carry organic items sporting the 365 by Whole Foods Market brand. In addition, the store will sell products from companies like Coca-Cola and Kraft as well as items from local brands.” In keeping with Amazon’s legacy of innovation, Amazon Fresh customers can use Amazon’s automated Dash Cart technology to avoid the checkout line, and they can also employ the company’s Alexa technology to handle shopping lists and find their way around the store. What’s more, same-day delivery, as well as in-store and curbside pickup, will be free for all Prime members.
Yahoo Finance – August 31, 2020
What began as a seemingly “safe” option to avoid large crowds and face-to-face contact, curbside pickup is evolving to become an overall more convenient way for people to shop. One company in particular that’s benefited from the shift in online shopping habits is Dick’s Sporting Goods. According to Yahoo Finance, “75% of Dick’s online orders in Q2 were fulfilled by stores (either shipped to a customer from their nearest store or picked up curbside, rather than shipped from a warehouse). Now, even after Dick’s reopened its stores to in-store shoppers in June, curbside continues to thrive.” And, apparently, that’s not surprising. According to one McKinsey industry expert, curbside pickup is here to stay. Although some retail categories are more conducive to in-store interactions and experiences, and – of course – the human connection can never be fully replaced, e-commerce is simply more convenient for some people. Walmart is also feeling the effects of curbside pickup; its online sales rose 97% in Q2.
The New York Times – September 2, 2020
Although we’re barely a week into September, many brands and retailers are already thinking about the impending 2020 holiday season, and how COVID-19 may transform shopping in some fundamental ways. For one, “Santas” across the country are less likely than ever before to allow lines of little children to sit on their laps and make their Christmas wishes known, particularly because the people who play Santa are usually immune-compromised senior citizens who are at a greater risk than the general population of developing life-threatening complications from a coronavirus infection. Another challenge? According to The New York Times, “customers have moved online in greater numbers, hoping to avoid crowds at stores, and retailers are already adjusting their holiday plans accordingly.” What’s more, with the national unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, the estimated 30 million Americans who are relying on unemployment benefits may not be able to spend lavish amounts of money on holiday gifts.
Forbes – September 1, 2020
According to Forbes, “GAP, JC Penney, Birkenstock, and Levi’s have joined a coalition of apparel and retail trade groups pushing for legislation to require Amazon other online marketplaces to do a better job of monitoring third party sellers.” This coalition – the Buy Safe America Coalition – said the legislation will address the problem of counterfeit and stolen merchandise being sold online by third party sellers whose identities are kept hidden from consumers. Since COVID-19 has caused online shopping to rise, counterfeit and stolen merchandise has also risen during the pandemic as organized crime rings have rushed to capitalize on the e-commerce surge. In addition to Amazon, the legislation would also apply to Etsy, eBay, and all other e-commerce sites with third party sellers. Unfortunately, Amazon’s current policies regarding third party seller privacy makes it difficult for consumers to see who exactly they’re buying from, and also for brands to take legal action against the perpetrators of these black-market crimes.
That’s it, the very last “Friday Five” of 2020! Did you enjoy these weekly recaps? Let us know in the comments below, or on any of the BDS social media channels. And hey – if you really loved them, maybe we’ll bring ‘em back for good! J Good luck in the months ahead, and if you need any help prepping for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the holiday season, you know who to call.