This Week in eCommerce June 14, 2021

Brittany Blackman
Jun 10, 2021

Amazon Prime Day is June 21 and its Competitors are Making Moves

Amazon Prime Day has officially been set for June 21 - 22. The company’s highly anticipated annual event was held later in October last year due to the pandemic shaking things up. 

However, it seems like its biggest competitors, Walmart and Target, want to get in on the frenzy too. Target's Deal Days will take place suspiciously close to Amazon’s, from June 20 to June 22. The digital sales event will feature discounts on electronics, beauty items, and, unlike its competitor, food and beverages. 

All Deal Days purchases will be eligible for same-day delivery, as well as curbside and in-store pickup, and unlike Prime Day, Target's event doesn't require a membership. These accessible details could potentially attract more customers than Amazon’s event. 

Meanwhile, Walmart is holding Deals for Days at the same time, from June 20 to June 23. The retail giant is hosting an omnichannel sales event, with some deals available either online or in-store and others available for both. Consumers can access promotions in categories like electronics, toys, and beauty from the company and its marketplace sellers. Walmart's multi-channel approach will undoubtedly set it apart from its competitors. 

Target and Walmart's strategy to counter Prime Day isn't anything new, but it lets us know just how quickly the competition is heating up. Last year, both retailers introduced events coinciding with Prime Day. Clearly the companies intended to capture some market share from Amazon, whose 38.9% share made it the leader of the US ecommerce market in 2020, according to eMarketer

But, even against its rival events, Amazon still managed to net over $6 billion (with a B) in sales during Prime Day last year

Etsy Acquires Second-Hand Fashion App Depop

Etsy has announced that it’s buying Depop for $1.625 billion in a mostly cash deal. 

Depop has had itself quite a year. The secondhand shopping platform designed for the age of influencers has exploded as primarily TikTok influencers push their unwanted clothing on the app to their vast following. The company will continue to operate as its own standalone marketplace. Etsy, meanwhile, says that by acquiring the platform, it’s adding “the resale home for Gen Z consumers” to its roster.

As The Morning Brew points out, what sets the company apart from similar marketplaces is its intentional Gen Z appeal. Around 90 percent of active Depop users are younger than 26, and the platform is supposed to be the 10th most-visited shopping site among Gen Z-ers in the US. 

The kids these days are all about sustainability and exclusivity, and secondhand selling covers both of these facets. A “vintage” 2003 John Deere cropped tanktop appeals to shoppers because, to them, no one else could possibly have such a rare piece. They’ll even drop some staggering cash on these pieces, like $70 for said John Deere top. 

The Depop deal comes as Etsy says it wants to become the home of multiple e-commerce brands that cater to new audiences. Back in 2019, Etsy bought Reverb, a marketplace for new and used musical instruments and equipment to aid those efforts. At the same time, the company might have a lot to gain from Depop’s influencer-based approach to selling clothing online. 

Investors are also hungry for these types of acquisitions. Last month, Europe’s largest secondhand fashion marketplace, Vinted, raised 250 million euros in a funding round that valued the start-up at €3.5 billion ($4.26 billion), while in the United States companies such as ThredUp and Poshmark have gone public this year.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2021, subject to antitrust reviews in Britain and the United States.

Facebook to Open its Messenger API to Businesses

Facebook has opened up its Messenger API for Instagram to all developers who are making it possible for brands to offer messaging experiences on Instagram. 

The company began beta testing the Messenger API for Instagram back in October with a group of select businesses of all sizes and developers. It gives them new tools to manage their customer communications on Instagram at scale.

The feature is opening first to all developers globally, with a phased approach for businesses:

Phase 1 will see Instagram accounts with follower counts of over 10,000 and under 100,000 connect to the API. It will then allow access to users with followers numbering between 1,000 and 100,000 in July (phase 2), with remaining accounts coming online by Q3.

The main draw with this tool is that this integration represents a significant step forward in how companies can leverage the Facebook platform on a larger scale.

In the past, a brand that wanted to interact with customers either needed to do so directly through Instagram, or via Facebook’s unified business inbox, which is limited to how they can be used. They were especially a pain to companies that might be handling large volumes of traffic, and it was difficult to be able to link up those customer interactions with wider customer service databases.

The new API feature helps to deliver a high quality and improved customer experience. When businesses can respond to people quickly and in a personal way, it builds trust and loyalty, making customers stay with a brand for the long haul.

Given Instagram’s prominence as a product where consumers go to interact with and discover brands, it’s crucial for that app to have a heightened customer service experience. For example, Facebook notes that with the Messenger API for Instagram, Sephora amplified its ability to be engaged and active, holding faster conversations, resolving queries more easily, and serving customers solely via Instagram. Since the API’s integration, 100% of Sephora’s customers who reach out on Instagram end up actually being served on Instagram and not addressed through a separate channel. 

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