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HomeeCommerceThe Webretailer News Digest for April 8, 2022

The Webretailer News Digest for April 8, 2022

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Walmart is introducing a promotion to entice new vendors to join its Walmart Marketplace third-party ecommerce platform as soon as possible. The New-Seller Savings promotion is the latest offering from North America’s 2nd largest eCommerce marketplace to recruit new sellers, coming on the heels of Open Call 2022, which ended April 8. 

For the first 90 days, sellers who join Walmart Marketplace by May 31, 2022, and start selling on Walmart.com by June 30, 2022, will receive a 50% commission rate discount. Walmart has also extended its Intro Offer for Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) to those sellers who want to take advantage of Walmart’s fulfillment option. By June 30, 2022, approved sellers who enroll in WFS, complete the setup process, and inbound one item to a fulfillment center will receive 90 days of free storage and a 10% fulfillment cost savings.

Clearly, Walmart is trying to grow its marketplace and offer an enticing package to prospective sellers. But is it a good deal? Let’s take a deeper look at the promotion and find out.

New-Seller Savings from Walmart – What a deal!

The first thing that third-party sellers want to know about this promotion is, “Am I eligible?” The requirements for New-Seller savings are: you must be a new Walmart seller, must apply by May 31, 2022, and must go live by June 30, 2022. To get in on the WDFS part of the offer, you must enroll in WFS, sign a contract, and set up and inbound one item.

Overall eligibility for the promotion is restricted to US businesses, with a US Business Tax ID, a W9 or W8 form from the IRS, and an EIN Verification Letter from the Department of Treasury that verifies your US business address or place of physical operations.

Next, let’s break down the promotion details. 

Fifty percent off commission rates for 90 days is a pretty good deal, especially if you have products with a higher price tag. Walmart’s usual fees run between 6 and 15%, depending on the item category and total sales price.

On the fulfillment side, WFS is a fast-growing rival to Amazon FBA. With the rising prices of warehousing storage worldwide, 90 days free could be the difference between starting your Walmart ecommerce career in the black or the red. The 10% discount off the standard WFS fulfillment fees will also add up. In general, if you have products that you know will sell fast once you join Walmart, you will be able to take the most advantage of the WFS promotion.

Walmart has been aggressively expanding in the US and globally over the last two years. Last year, the platform’s ecommerce sales increased by 11% percent compared to 2020 and by 90% compared to 2019. They have been making substantial investments in tech to optimize fulfillment and create better shopping experiences. And unlike Amazon, they are not under the impending threat of antitrust legislation or trade regulations. 

For sellers interested in trying out an Amazon alternative in the US or who are just Walmart-curious, the New-Seller Savings promotion offers an easy entry with tangible benefits to a marketplace with high growth potential.

Read more at Walmart.

Why Amazon aggregators are pausing acquisitions

A recent report from Marketplace Pulse indicates that Amazon aggregators have slowed, and even paused, their voracious purchasing of successful Amazon brands. Why? Chalk it up to stopping to catch a breath and strategize, a lack of optimism, and most importantly, a leveling out of Amazon seller valuations. 

After a dramatic growth period, the aggregator industry is now in what is known as the “Trough of Disillusionment,” a part of the Gartner Hype Cycle where “interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver.” On a practical level, aggregators are reevaluating purchases, strategies, and future trends. Valuations are being reappraised, brands that didn’t work out are being off-loaded or consolidated, and some aggregators are moving into tighter verticals or different, non-Amazon-centric models. 

The lack of optimism comes from the aggregators dealing with ongoing marketplace challenges en masse: the supply chain, inflation, parts shortages, and the war in Ukraine. All this is occurring despite Amazon being forecast to capture nearly 40% of US retail ecommerce sales in 2022.

However, it’s expected that this pause is momentary and that the aggregator industry will be back in motion shortly (if it ever really paused at all). South Korea-based aggregator Wholesome recently secured $50 million Series A funding to purchase more businesses from third-party sellers, so the pause hasn’t affected everyone.

This is good news to the 43% of Amazon sellers that have spoken with a broker or Amazon aggregator about selling their business since the beginning of 2022. The downside may be that valuations will be lower than six months to a year ago, and there will be few less interested takers. It should be noted that the subsequent two phases of the Gartner Hype Cycle are the not-so-slippery “Slope of Enlightenment” and the scenic vistas of the “Plateau of Productivity.” The future looks bright indeed.

Read more at Marketplace Pulse.

Etsy seller boycott begins next week

Next week, from April 11 to 18, thousands of Etsy sellers are expected to participate in a one-week “strike.” They will be protesting various grievances against the platform, including Etsy’s recent transaction fee increases, increased ad expenditures, and an influx of non-handmade sellers to the marketplace. 

As previously documented in this space, the sellers have legitimate grievances against the platform. So far, 34,822 people, including approximately 12,000 sellers, have signed a petition on coworker.org. They demand that Etsy cancel fee increases, a crackdown on resellers, offer “golden” support tickets, terminate the Star Seller program, and allow sellers to opt out from offsite ads.

While it’s unclear how many sellers will participate in the boycott, 5.3 million people are signed up to sell on the platform—so even if all 34,822 signers were sellers that shut down for a week, the financial impact on Etsy would be negligible. Etsy itself indicated that in an email sent to Gizmodo, where it downplayed the strike, saying that “the petition represents less than .03% of its total seller base and that the organizers’ perspectives did not match the point of view of all sellers on the site.” 

But Etsy Strike organizer Kristi Cassidy told Value Added Resource that “the reaction we are getting from buyers is 100% positive. They shop on Etsy to support us, and they do not want the platform to make any changes to hurt us, or cause more of the money they spend to be diverted to Etsy.”

The idea of a seller strike is undoubtedly something that other marketplaces with disgruntled sellers (Amazon, eBay) will be watching closely as sellers band together to stand up for fair play. 

Read more at Etsy Strike and BuzzFeed.

Google’s new Retail Search solution benefits ecommerce sites

Google has announced Retail Search, a new solution that allows eCommerce merchants to add the power of Google Search and recommendations to their websites. Part of Google Cloud’s Product Discovery Solutions, Retail Search benefits ecommerce sellers with powerful abilities to:

  • “Reduce search abandonment by leveraging Google-quality search capabilities
  • Enhance shopping experience by making it easier to search for products with an image 
  • Improve conversion and order value by personalizing the shopping experience”

Retail Search is fully customizable and allows merchants to apply filters, tags, and define what customers see, among other features. Its ability to better understand user intent makes it a game-changer, especially if you’re one of many sellers with poor website search functionality. 

When considering that Amazon sellers benefit from a robust, accurate search engine, one cannot underestimate the opportunity for non-marketplace sellers to level the playing field with customizable Google-quality search capabilities. 

Read more at Google.

Also in the news

  • Plan your shipment early for Prime Day 2022. Amazon US.
  • Now available: Returns Provider program for seller-fulfilled orders. Amazon US.
  • Valid tracking IDs are required for all Merchant-fulfilled shipments fulfilled by Whilst. Amazon UK.
  • 20% lower shipping fee with Amazon Partnered Carrier programmed for UK domestic small parcel delivery. Amazon UK.
  • eBay Wallet Spendable Funds Rolls Out By Invitation Only. Value Added Resource.
  • The online tail now wagging the retail dog as ecommerce surges globally. TelecomTV.
  • The retail industry prepares for Russian cyberattacks. NRF.

Webinars in the week ahead

For everyone

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program continues with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, reporting, optimization, and tips. Amazon.

For US sellers

April 12: What the Future Holds for Retail CX Organizations. Digital Commerce 360.

April 13, 14, 15: Seller University – Grow your Brand with Amazon. Amazon.

April 14: Amazon Branding Strategies from Top Sellers. eComEngine.

For UK sellers

Various dates: Amazon webinars covering selling, fulfillment, SFP, advertising, and Amazon Business. Amazon.

And finally…

If Amazon’s such a great place to work, why did this top H.R. executive quit?

And finally, you may have heard recently that “no one wants to work anymore.” Amazon is losing a senior Human resources executive who was in charge of putting the company’s commitment to be “Earth’s Best Employer” into action. In an incredibly ironic turn of events, Pam Greer quit Amazon in the same week that LinkedIn announced the company as the top place where Americans want to work for the 2nd consecutive year. 

So, was leaving Amazon a case of “mission accomplished?” Was it the latest twist in the Great Resignation? Or could there be more to the story?

Greer was a force behind Amazon’s recent focus on employee welfare, reevaluating and updating policies and programs as part of the Jeff Bezos-announced push to become the world’s best workplace. At a certain level, she may have succeeded because LinkedIn recognized “Amazon as the most desirable workplace in the US based on the company’s ability to attract and retain talent, including how it provides career advancement opportunities for employees of all backgrounds.”

But according to Bloomberg, Greer was the latest in a long line of HR execs to pack their bags and go. Why? In the history of Amazon employees, you’ll find a legion of complaints about long hours, low wages, absurd performance metrics to meet, safety concerns, and job stress so bad that Amazon installed “crying rooms” in its fulfillment centers. Among many people, it’s not considered the most beneficial employer or desirable place to work.

There’s certainly a possibility that Greer and the other HR execs left for greener, more humane pastures—and that the recent LinkedIn story was just the fruit of an overly successful PR campaign. But there are menacing storm clouds on the horizon for Amazon. Unionization of fulfillment center workers, potential antitrust legislation, and a new congressional labor investigation looms large.

Perhaps Greer quitting was simply “getting out while the getting’s good.” And if she was a canary in a coal mine, the implication is that significant changes could be coming to Amazon that will affect sellers, workers, shoppers, and even ecommerce itself in profound ways. 

It’s no wonder no one wants to work anymore.

Read more at Amazon and Bloomberg.



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