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The holidays are in full swing with Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s, plus the busiest retail and ecommerce day expected to occur tomorrow on Super Saturday, December 20. In fact, analytics firm ShopperTrak predicts this Super Saturday will approach $10 billion in sales.
If you missed some of this week’s big ecommerce news due to the busy retail season and holiday prep, we’ve got your back! This week in online retail news, announcements from FedEx, Ikea and rumors from Google top the need-to-know list. Find brief breakdowns of this week’s top ecommerce stories below.
FedEx Makes Big Moves Toward International, Omnichannel Ecommerce
FedEx announced two major acquisitions this week, as shipping remains top-of-mind for both retailers and consumers during the holiday season.
First, on Tuesday, the company announced its acceptance to buy logistics firm Genco, a specialist in handling product returns, as ecommerce shipping becomes a larger focus for the FedEx brand. Genco handles more than 600 million returned items per year, making the company a leader in reverse logistics.
This holiday season, FedEx expects shipments of more than 290 million packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, with untold amounts of returns following Christmas day.
Our collective cross-border and transportation solutions will catapult our customers’ global e-commerce business capabilities.
“As ecommerce continues to grow, customers of both companies will reap the benefits from the broadened capabilities and powerful new services,” FedEx Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith said in the statement.
Then, on Wednesday, the company announced its acquisition of Bongo International, which specializes in helping North American retailers and brands sell online to consumers in other countries, proving FedEx’s push toward borderless, omnichannel ecommerce. At least seven of Internet Retailer’s Top 500 retailers report using Bongo International for international services, and with 144 of the top 500 retailers on that list being FedEx customers, Bongo International’s top retailer clientele is expected to expand.
“Our knowledge and experience within the evolving cross-border enablement environment, as well as our customer-centric culture, is a perfect fit with FedEx. We’re excited about joining the FedEx family,” said Craig Turnbull, Bongo International co-founder and CEO. “Our collective cross-border and transportation solutions will catapult our customers’ global e-commerce business capabilities.”
Ikea to Open Smaller String of Stores Across Canada
Ikea, too, is facing difficulty in proper ecommerce delivery and maintaining inventory. With a brand valuation of $12.5 billion, Ikea ranks 40th on Forbes’s most valuable global brands list, and is notorious for social innovation with a penchant toward sustainable products. In 2013 alone, the company phased out all wooden pallets from their global transport network, now using only paper pallets – an innovation that saves money and is better for the environment.
But, with so much money and so much innovation, the company is buckling under the stress of ecommerce purchases. After a 20% growth of visitors on Ikea.com in 2013, CEO Peter Agnefjäll said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that, yes, Ikea’s ecommerce effort will be growing in coming years, but the company doesn’t expect online to be the biggest source of revenue.
“I think that in 2020 the absolute majority of sales will still be in our stores,” he said.
Ikea proves the company’s strong focus on brick-and-mortar, even for those online shoppers.
Though the strategy for how the company will pull online shoppers in store wasn’t communicated at the time, a new announcement by Ikea proves the company’s strong focus on brick-and-mortar, even for those online shoppers: pick-up stores.
Beginning in Canada, Ikea will be opening five to 10 pickup stores for ecommerce customers in the area, with the smaller shops also likely allowing for small retail purchases in-store.
“Canadians like ordering stuff online and then picking things up in the store,” agreed retail analyst and Retail Insider Media Ltd. owner Craig Patterson. “It’s better for retailers to have people come into the store because then they can sell them additional products.”
The push here is one toward locality, an already rising trend in mobile shopping and mobile SEO.
The push here is one toward locality, a rising trend in mobile shopping and mobile SEO, as opposed to globalization, which Ikea already has covered. If the Canadian trial goes well, it’s likely Ikea will expand its pick-up stores offering to larger markets.
And what about those bigger Ikea stores? Ikea Canada president Stefan Sjöstrand hinted that some full-size Ikea stores could help with ecommerce fulfilment in the future as a way to speed delivery.
Google Shopping Rumors Predict New Ecommerce Marketplace
Google may be the next company behind a new ecommerce marketplace akin to Amazon. The online search company has reportedly been floating the idea of a “Buy Now” button in addition to the current Google Shopping offering, allowing customers to checkout from the Google Shopping platform, rather than forcing them to do so via the merchant’s own site.
The goal is to mimic Amazon’s popular one-click ordering feature, and provide increased convenience for shoppers already using Google Shopping.
Retailers themselves would still fulfill orders and while the focus here sounds very much consumer-driven, ecommerce sites would likely also benefit from the release via new promotional tags.
The goal is to mimic Amazon’s popular one-click ordering feature, and provide increased convenience for shoppers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the program would “allow merchants to promote two-day shipping for products purchased through its shopping service,” likely increasing SEO for individual products that can be shipped out almost immediately.
Thus far, Google’s only comment on the news is that they are continually testing ideas. Merchant response has been relatively positive, with many expressing concerns for marketplace monopolies. Between Amazon, Pinterest, Wanelo, Ebay and more, any additional marketplace players coming into the industry reduces the possibility of individual company ownership.
Twitter and Facebook are also in on the shopping marketplace game, with both platforms announcing new product features geared at ecommerce, including mobile-specific targeting for retailers and a Craigslist-like classifieds ecommerce push, respectively.
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