The Web Retailer News Digest for July 30th, 2021

While the infection data tells one story about the pandemic, the shopping behavior of consumers on tells another. Sales of party decorations, dresses, luggage and teeth-whitening products have gone through the roof. There could hardly be a clearer picture of how people feel about the Covid-19 health crisis today.

Last year, Amazon bestsellers included puzzles, kitchenware and exercise equipment. People were clearly getting comfortable at home, and making an effort to stay fit and entertained. They were also big buyers of athleisure clothing including sweatshirts, hoodies, sweatpants and leggings – and that is one of the few trends that has continued this year.

So, while shoppers in 2021 continue to workout (or try to look like they do), which product categories are growing fastest this year?

The post-pandemic best sellers

For much of the world, the pandemic is far from over. But that hasn’t stopped shoppers in the US from planning for a future with much more socializing, travel and parties.

Here are some of the biggest winners:

  • Sales of party supplies such as tableware and decorations have more than doubled.
  • Formal clothing sales including dresses, suits and tuxedos have more than tripled compared to last year.
  • Dental hygiene is a concern, as sales of toothpaste, teeth whitening products and mouthwash are up 66%. Wait… did people stop brushing their teeth in 2020?
  • Beauty products are also coming back, with premium lipstick sales up 58% and curling irons up 30%. Subscription sales for skincare products are up 38%.
  • Luggage sales have had the biggest recovery, with sales up 460%.
  • Other travel items have benefited as well. Swimwear sales have doubled and sunscreen sales are up 70%. Electronics cases are up 86%, and camping products are up 130%.

And on it goes!

People clearly plan to be outdoors, dressed-up and made-up, with glowing white teeth and the handles of brand new suitcases in their hands.

Let’s hope they make it to the beach, and not into compulsory quarantine, so they can change into their new swimsuits, apply their new sunscreen, and remove their electronic devices from their new protective cases.

Read more at About Amazon.

Other big news this week

eBay Promoted Listings ads go external

eBay’s Promoted Listings ads will now be featured outside eBay, within external ads on search engines and other websites.

There will be no additional fee for these external Promoted Listings, beyond the usual percentage of the sale price charged for a successful sale resulting from an ordinary (on-site) Promoted Listing.

eBay has updated its campaign reports so sellers can see how many sales have come from external Promoted Listings, and sellers will be able to opt out of the new external ads if they wish.

What isn’t clear is how this will affect eBay’s existing advertising of listings on search engines, which they have been doing for many years. eBay has said:

We remain committed to providing sellers with the opportunity to be included in eBay’s external advertising at no charge. Sellers will not be required to participate in external Promoted Listings in order to be eligible to appear in eBay advertisements on search platforms or partner sites.

So what is the difference between your eBay listing appearing in a Google ad as a result of eBay’s usual advertising efforts, and it appearing in a Google ad due to participation in external Promoted Listings?

Well, besides one being free and the other costing an additional percentage of your sale price?

Etsy made a similar move in February this year, introducing an additional fee of up to 15% for sales that come from offsite ads.

Read more at eBay Community.

Etsy Star Seller badge ignites tracking fight

eBay has taken a leaf out of Etsy’s book with their new external ads, and Etsy has taken a leaf out of eBay’s book with a new designation for high-performing sellers.

The new Star Seller badge will be awarded to Etsy sellers who offer an “excellent customer experience” in the areas of customer support, order dispatch and feedback ratings. It will be shown starting from September this year, to make it easy for shoppers to identify qualifying sellers.

Part of the criteria (for sellers in the US) is that 95% of orders are dispatched on time and with tracking numbers. Similar requirements have been introduced on eBay and Amazon, and on all of these platforms sellers have responded with frustration and claims of injustice.

Etsy’s post announcing the Star Seller program currently has 437 comments from sellers, many of which are complaints that tracked shipping is not appropriate for their products because the higher cost would make them uneconomical to sell. Many of the comments that are not about shipping, are complaints that the requirement for customer responses within 24 hours will mean they can never have a weekend off.

As Etsy continues to move from a warm-and-fluffy community to a marketplace driven by data and algorithms, its relationship with sellers is likely to become evermore strained. Etsy is dominated by individual sellers making products with their own hands. They are justified in questioning policies that emulate marketplaces dominated by larger businesses mainly selling mass-produced products.

Read more at Etsy.

YouTube shopping takes a step forwards

You will soon be able to buy products directly from selected live streaming videos on YouTube, under a new pilot scheme. This is a separate feature to the ability to buy products from pre-recorded videos, which YouTube is also testing.

YouTube is the sleeping giant of social media and ecommerce. It is the second most-visited website in the world, with double the average visit length of Facebook. Much of its content on YouTube is already product-related including reviews, unboxings and try-ons.

Video streaming and a tight integration into social media is virtually the norm for ecommerce in China. Many companies in the US are investing heavily in video shopping, including Facebook and TikTok. But will it ever become as mainstream as it is in China? Or will it forever be the “next big thing”?

Read more at TechCrunch.

Also in the news

  • Amazon IP Accelerator now available for trademark registrations in Japan. Read more at Amazon Sellers Forums UK.
  • Ex-eBay security manager sentenced to 18 months for stalking journalist. Read more at Bloomberg.
  • Amazon marketplace seller pleads guilty to DVD and Blu-ray price fixing. Read more at the US DOJ.
  • China’s Foreign Trade Department director suggests that fake reviews are simply a “Chinese solution”. Read more at South China Morning Post.
  • Amazon is a revolving door of “pseudo-brands”. Read more at Marketplace Pulse.
  • Other retailers will be able to buy Walmart’s ecommerce technology… which also provides fast access to Walmart’s online marketplace. Read more at CNBC.
  • Amazon UK sellers now have to provide country of origin information. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums UK.
  • Amazon UK sellers can access A/B listing experiments in Seller Central. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums UK.
  • Amazon apologizes for UK valid tracking rate (VTR) errors. Read more at Amazon Seller Forums UK.

Webinars in the week ahead

For everyone

August 4-6: eBay Open Online seller conference (eBay).

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

For US sellers

Various dates: Amazon small business Pathways series (Amazon).

August 5: Reducing Amazon FBA fees (eComEngine).

August 10: New product launches on Amazon (Tinuiti).

And finally…

Amazon wants a key to your building

Amazon has been working hard on inventing new ways to deliver parcels, including dropping them off in your garage or the trunk of your car. These programs are convenient for customers and greatly reduce parcel theft.

A lesser-known program is Amazon’s Key for Business, which gives Amazon drivers the ability to unlock the front doors to entire apartment buildings. This means parcels can be left safely in lobbies rather than outside where they are vulnerable to thieves and inclement weather.

This week it came to light that Amazon has salespeople all over the US pushing landlords to let them install the device on their buildings. The company installs the device for free and can even offer a $100 gift card on top. The people who “sell” it can make up to $11,000 a month in commissions and bonuses.

It says something about the scale of doorstep parcel theft that Amazon will pay thousands of dollars to people whose job it is to give away a device to apartment building landlords.

Read more at Associated Press.


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