The Webretailer News Digest for September 6, 2022

Back in April, thousands of Etsy merchants took part in an organized boycott of the platform — said another way, they went on strike. The group shut down their stores from April 11th through the 18th to protest new policies they said cut too deeply into their profit margins. 

Reuters reported shortly after that Etsy stated the strike had no material impact on their sales. 

But that won’t stop this group of organized, striking merchants from trying to change the company’s transaction fee policies. Labor Day marked the launch of the Indie Sellers Guild

What is this group?

It’s a new non-profit created by striking merchants with the aim to “promote the interests of online sellers of handmade, unique, vintage and craft goods all over the world.” Their mission statement says they want to go “against the ‘Amazonification’ of online marketplaces. 

What are their goals?

Etsy raised its transaction fees by 30% from 5 to 6.5% back in February, so the group certainly has a point. Their ultimate goal is to create a co-op marketplace that has a greater appreciation for artists and to organize collective bargaining to advocate for better — lower transaction fees — and more transparent policies. They also aim to spark the creation of policies against merchants reselling items on the platform and to change Etsy’s policy around their mandatory advertising program. 

Can they actually change anything?

Whether their efforts will net results is yet to be seen. Etsy is having issues with a portion of its merchant base but beat all quarterly estimates back in July. We’ll have to wait and see what the group will do to gain the attention of Etsy executives.


Amazon to launch Amazon Warehousing & Distribution to address supply chain issues

Logistics and warehousing are about to get an enormous boost at Amazon. The company announced in a blog post this week that they have a new solution to help sellers enhance their shipping and storing capabilities. With Amazon Warehousing & Distribution (AWD), the retail giant says its sellers will be able “to use new, purpose-built facilities for bulk inventory storage and automated distribution.”

What does that mean for sellers?

According to Amazon, enrolled sellers will be able to send inventory to Amazon Distribution Centers — instead of Fulfillment Centers — with just one click. That alone will cause reduced storage costs and prevent the need for sellers to enter long-term contracts with suppliers. 

The company also said, “Sellers using AWD can also consolidate their global inventory, which they can then view and manage on Seller Central, simplifying their operations with one pool of inventory. In 2023, sellers will be able to use AWD to send their inventory to any location, including to wholesale customers or brick-and-mortar stores.”

Learn more

For now, that’s all we know about this new program. The blog announcement stated that the eCommerce giant will share more about AWD and “many other offerings” on September 14 and 15 at the Amazon Accelerate seller conference. 

Amazon enacts the Holiday Storage Limits policy again

Restock limits will be in full effect again for Amazon sellers this holiday season. Last week, the company sent an announcement to all sellers, letting them know that they’ll have a limit of a projected four months of inventory for their stores. If you’re not sure of how they project that number, it’s all tied to a seller’s Inventory Performance Index.

The Bigger Picture

Amazon has been trying to get more sellers on its FBA platform over the past year. And it seems like inventory limits could be counter-productive to that goal. But look no further than the first story in this section to make sense of it all. 

The new Amazon Warehouse & Distribution solution allows sellers to send inventory to a distribution center with no inventory limitations. It seems Amazon wants to give big-time sellers the option to bypass the Amazon Fulfillment Network. Yet they also want to afford smaller sellers the opportunity to get their business off the ground with a solid fulfillment network. That gives Amazon more opportunities to attract sellers on both ends of the spectrum.

Also in the News

  • Amazon sellers must get their inventory to a fulfillment center by November 2 for Black Friday availability. EcommerceBytes.
  • Amazon won’t be able to overturn the union at Staten Island. Bloomberg.
  • Amazon to shut down Amazon Care. Washington Post.


Lazada’s launch in Europe sends a message to the competition

Though we originally heard about the launch from Reuters back in April, it looks like Alibaba is making final preparations to launch Lazada in Europe. According to Bloomberg, the Southeast Asia eCommerce platform wants to “take on rivals such as Inc. and Zalando SE in one of the biggest online shopping markets.”

James Dong, Lazada’s Group Chief Executive Officer, said that their plans are contingent on market conditions. But it’s clear that Alibaba wants to expand globally after a string of issues with the Chinese government. 

Sea vs. Alibaba: An eCommerce showdown for the ages!

Lazada has been Alibaba’s only shining star abroad as it has taken a foothold in Brazil. But Sea’s Shopee just overtook Alibaba in international sales last quarter. And that’s even after Sea pulled Shopee out of France in February and India in March

We’ll have to wait for the launch to see if Alibaba can stake a flag in Europe that flies for the long term. 

The eCommerce sector in China falters along with the economy as a whole

There’s no doubt about it. According to the Wall Street Journal, eCommerce companies in China are having a tough time as Chinese consumers are saving more money and only spending on essential needs. 

It’s important to note that China is still the world’s largest eCommerce Market. However, Alibaba posted its first revenue decline ever last quarter, and saw its lowest rate of growth ever in the same period, according to CNBC.

What gives?

Like the rest of the world, Chinese citizens are dealing with increasing unemployment rates, inflation, and a slowdown in wage increases. And with more Covid lockdowns as part of the country’s zero-Covid policy, things may not smooth out soon. Consumers are stocking up on food and household items to prepare for future lockdowns. But it seems they’re not buying non-essential goods, including big-ticket items. 

Regardless, Chief Executive Xu Lei stated that the country’s consumer market is tough and will recover in the long term. 

Also in the News:

  • Lotus launched an inconspicuous eCommerce site with a ton of car parts and merchandise. PistonHeads.
  • China’s Pinduoduo quietly launches in the US. CNBC.
  • Oman adds VAT to an eCommerce market that’s expected to reach $6.52 billion by 2026. Zawya.

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