Ecommerce Briefs: Walmart; Amazon Logistics; Holiday Shopping

“Ecommerce Briefs” is my occasional series on news and developments that impact online merchants. In this installment, I’ll focus on Walmart’s ecommerce activity, Amazon’s parcel delivery, and consumers’ holiday shopping intentions.

Walmart

  • Earlier this month Walmart announced a partnership with Netflix to sell products from the streaming service’s popular kids’ shows. Called Netflix Hub, it will consist of music, apparel, toys, and games — all available in Walmart’s physical stores and website.
  • Walmart in September announced that it is collaborating with media company Meredith Corporation to create shoppable ads across Meredith’s portfolio of consumer websites, including Allrecipes, Real Simple, EatingWell, and more. Customers can soon buy ingredients from Walmart for meals featured on those sites, among other collaborations.
  • Walmart announced this week a partnership with technology company InComm Payments for in-store cash bill-payment services. The offering is available at all U.S. Walmart locations through InComm Payments’ VanillaDirect program. Consumers can pay routine bills with cash or add funds to an existing VanillaDirect account. More than 15,000 billers and account providers across a variety of industries participate in the VanillaDirect network.
  • ShipStation, an ecommerce shipping-software provider, announced its integration with Walmart Canada Marketplace. Approved ShipStation merchants can now sell their products on Walmart Canada Marketplace, and the Marketplace’s existing merchants can now process their orders on ShipStation’s platform. Walmart.ca serves more than 900,000 shoppers daily.
  • Walmart is now offering the delivery of oversized items —bicycles, big-screen TVs, Christmas trees — from more than 2,800 U.S. stores. Walmart also expanded pickup and delivery of alcoholic beverages, now available at 3,000 stores for click-and-collect and 1,500 stores for delivery.
  • The Walmart+ subscription program is gaining momentum and attracting younger, higher-income shoppers, according to research from Deutsche Bank. Walmart has long coveted higher-income shoppers. But unlike online consumers, Walmart’s physical-store customers are still older with lower incomes.

The subscription service—  launched about a year ago to compete with Amazon Prime — offers free shipping and subscriber-only discounts on prescriptions, fuel, and more. The service has grown to an estimated 32 million U.S. households, according to the Deutsche Bank’s monthly surveys of consumers. About 86% of Walmart+ members who responded to the survey also subscribe to Amazon Prime.

Amazon Parcel Delivery

According to data from Pitney Bowes, the postage technology company, Amazon has displaced FedEx as a top-three U.S. deliverer of parcel shipments — boxes and packages delivered to people’s homes. In 2020, Amazon Logistics delivered 4.2 billion parcel shipments, up from 1.9 billion in 2019. By volume, Amazon now comprises 21% of the parcel shipments in the U.S., behind the U.S. Postal Service at 38% and UPS at 24% but outpacing FedEx’s 16%. However, FedEx has 34% of the parcel market by revenue, surpassing Amazon Logistics’ 10%.

Consumers’ Holiday Shopping

Rewards application provider Shopkick surveyed over 23,000 American consumers in July to determine their holiday shopping intentions. Forty-one percent said they intend to do more online shopping due to Covid-19. Spending between $301 and $600 is the sweet spot for 30% of respondents, about the same percentage as last year. However, 21% said they would spend less than they did last year due to financial insecurity.

Thirty-one percent of respondents are interested in purchasing apparel this holiday season. Electronics — usually a popular gift choice — comes in only at 21%. Perhaps heeding warnings of product shortages, about 22% of consumers intend to shop earlier this year than last, with 25% expecting to do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving. Fifty-two percent of shoppers plan to do most gift purchasing between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. Over 60% of respondents stated that they plan to shop on Black Friday (compared to 57% last year), and 67% will shop on Cyber Monday (compared to 65% last year). More consumers indicate they will shop in physical stores this year vs. last year.

Ninety-four percent of the surveyed consumers said they expect free shipping and free returns.

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