The Webretailer News Digest for September 23, 2022

Happy Friday! eBay is making moves, and Walmart is taking eCommerce into the future. It’s been an eventful week in the web retailer world. 

Walmart elevates virtual experience for apparel

Like with many other categories within their eCommerce division, Walmart is using innovative technologies to push revenue during the economy’s inflation bout. 

Last year, the company acquired virtual clothing try-on startup Zeekit. And in March, they launched their virtual try-on platform called Choose My Model — to rave customer responses. 

This week the company launched the next phase of this tech launch with the release of Be Your Own Model

What’s the upgrade?

Be Your Own Model allows users to experience trying on clothes through their device. No, we’re not talking Star Trek here, but customers can use their own photos and swap clothing to see how it will look on them. While this type of software isn’t new — remember Clueless? — it’s the first time a major retailer is launching it to scale. And on over 270,000 items no less!

How does it work?

It uses machine learning models and algorithms to transfer the new clothing onto a photo. The company said the techniques were used in topographical mapping originally. And while other versions of the technology simply lay a photo onto another, Be Your Own Model transforms clothing images to align with colors, shadows, draping, and even the sleeve length within a base image.

Notes to take away

It’s no secret big retailers are using top tech to drive their sales. We reported back in June that furniture retailer CORT used AR and 3D tech to increase their conversions over 115% in a matter of months. And earlier in May, Walmart expanded its drone program — Amazon followed shortly after

Web retailers must adapt to the landscape and utilize innovative technologies if they expect to weather the inflation storm.

eBay and Top Retailer News

eBay surprises sellers with category updates

eBay surprised sellers on Tuesday with the announcement of updates to several categories — effective immediately. Historically, the company made an effort to provide sellers with a heads-up during their semi-annual updates. But not this time. 

The announcement stated…

We’ve revised some categories and item specifics to help make your listings easier to find on eBay and by external search engines. Starting today, you’ll see updates to the following categories: 

Collectibles (Figurines)

Parts & Accessories (Motorcycle, Scooter, and UTV/ATV)

Home & Garden (Candles & Home Fragrance, Home Décor, Pillows, Furniture, Window Treatments & Hardware)

No indication?

In an eBay monthly chat session last week, a company rep stated the company would tease some changes at eBay Open but mentioned nothing specific. Yes, it seems there was no warning at all. 

What does it matter?

Category changes can negatively affect the visibility of a seller’s products on the platform. The algorithm focuses heavily on which categories a seller assigns to a product. Even one change can shoot a product down on a search, so sellers have to adjust quickly.

Next steps

eBay sellers really don’t like category changes without notice, so this won’t go over well with the community. And there are some fears that the company will make more changes during the busy holiday season that could cause bugs on the platform. 

eBay announces international shipping program launch

This week at eBay Open, CEO Jamie Iannone announced the company is launching a new international shipping program that will apparently replace their Global Shipping Program. The CEO revealed little more in the keynote address, but the launch site states the program offers:

  • Lower selling costs
  • No return hassles
  • The ability to expand your customer base

Replacement confirmed

In the FAQ of the international shipping program site, it states that current Global Shipping Users will be automatically enrolled and their listing will default to the new program. 

Signing up for the program

The program is apparently invite only, and eBay will transition-in the launch over the course of 12 months. Here are the steps from the site:

  1. Once you get an email inviting you to the program, you’ll be able to select eBay International Shipping on all listings that are eligible for export.
  1. When your item sells to an international buyer, you’ll only be responsible for getting it to our domestic hub. We’ll handle customs and international shipping for you.
  1. Sell with more confidence and enjoy the profits. Save on the selling fees for international transactions, and say goodbye to international return hassles.

Final quote

“You’ve told us you want it to be as easy to ship internationally as it would be to ship domestically, and that you want cross-border trade to be a simple and seamless experience. And we listened to you.” – eBay CEO John Iannone 

Also in the News:

  • Walmart Connect launches partner program with top names like Roku, TikTok, and Snapchat. Walmart Corporate

International Retailer News

China opens new freight rail line in light of global eCommerce boom

Inflation, supply chain issues, and spending slowdowns are dominating a lot of the conversation in the eCommerce world. But if you read between the lines, you’ll notice some key shifts in the retail landscape that show online shopping is here to stay. 

Last month, we reported Qantas is expanding its freight fleet to account for increases in eCommerce sales. And this week, outlets announced two new freight lines from China to Poland launched this week:

Key takeaways

Although the EU is apparently getting tough on China, consumers still want their Chinese goods at the moment. It seems the current supply channels will remain open for now, and new ones could spring up soon.

China’s Pinduoduo makes a run at Amazon in the US

There’s a new Amazon competitor in town according to a report from TechCrunch. Chinese eCommerce giant Pinduoduo launched Temu earlier this month, and the application hit the top spot for Android’s US shopping apps for a brief window.

Another Chinese retailer… What makes them so special?

Yes, it’s true that Pinduoduo is late to the party with all the other ‘direct-from-China’ vendors out there. But they rival AliExpress, Alibaba-owned Lazada, and Shein, because of their deep connections to Chinese factories. They’ve become a global middle person between consumers and factories, that’s shredding away at added distributor costs. 

Final thoughts

Temu may run into the same issues as Shein in the US. But with the company expanding its factory connections every week, it’ll be hard for consumers to pass up those low prices.

Also in the News

  • Amazon halts logistics warehouse expansion in Spain. Business Insider Spain (Spanish article).
  • Swedish parcel delivery services Instabox and Budbee to merge. Bloomberg.


For everyone

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

For US sellers

September 27: Cerqular marketplace webinar with DIT. ChannelX.

For UK sellers

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

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