UPS Warns About US Economy, AI Generates Reviews, and More News

Did you hear about Zalando’s New AI Fashion Assistant? If not, then don’t forget to catch up with last week’s news. This week, though, the spotlight is on UPS warnings and Amazon’s AI reviews. Without further ado, let’s check out what’s going on in the world of eCommerce during these last few days of April. 

Today’s news is 1484 words and takes 6 minutes to read.

UPS Warns About US Economy

United Parcel Service (UPS), the largest trucking company in America, reported a 6% fall in revenue and a 22% fall in operating profit in Q1 2023, with earnings just below Wall Street forecasts. The company cited the deceleration in US retail sales and the ongoing demand weakness in Asia as reasons for the lower volume than anticipated.

According to Carole Tome, CEO of UPS, the volume of shipments in January met their expectations. However, they still observed a decline of 7% in volume compared to the previous year, in March, due to a weakened macroeconomic environment.

 contract negotiations

The company is also facing contract negotiations with the Teamsters union, which represents over 340,000 of its 444,000 US employees. By August 1, the company’s contract will expire, and the union may choose to initiate a strike. Tome said that negotiations led to good progress, but there may be bumps along the way. However, Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien has stated that the union may go on strike if necessary to win the desired contract.

Should eCommerce sellers worry?

The weaker performance of UPS may impact the e-commerce world, as the company is a key player in the shipping industry. The lower volume and revenue may cause higher shipping costs for online retailers, which could ultimately pass on to consumers. Additionally, if there is a strike by the Teamsters union, it could disrupt shipping operations and cause delays in deliveries.

How should you prepare for potential strikes?

For eCommerce sellers concerned about potential UPS strikes, it is important to consider several measures to ensure customer satisfaction. 

These may include: 

  • researching alternative shipping providers, 
  • proactively communicating with customers about possible delays, 
  • providing remedies such as free shipping or discounts for those experiencing shipping issues
  • and reviewing inventory and utilizing shipping management tools as needed (more on inventory and shipping management)

It’s important to note that thinking about these preventive measures does not suggest that a UPS strike is inevitable. But rather, it’s to ensure that eCommerce sellers prepare for any potential disruptions to their shipping operations.

Big Retailer News

AI Generated Amazon Reviews are Here

CNBC has reported that some products on Amazon’s web marketplace have reviews that appear to have chatbots, such as ChatGPT, as authors.

The reviews do not hide that someone generated them with AI and begin with the phrase “As an AI language model” before continuing. Amazon has stated that it has a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews and has teams dedicated to uncovering them.

AI-generated reviews are becoming increasingly common as businesses seek to streamline their operations and save time and money. While this technology can be useful for generating a large volume of reviews quickly, it also poses significant dangers to consumers and businesses alike.

What are the dangers of AI-generated reviews?

One of the major risks of AI-generated reviews is that unscrupulous businesses can manipulate them to mislead customers. For example, a business might use AI to generate a large number of positive reviews for its products, even if those products are of poor quality. This can lead to consumers making purchasing decisions based on false information, which can damage their trust in the business and harm its reputation in the long run.

Another danger of AI-generated reviews is that they can be difficult to detect. While some businesses may be transparent about their use of AI-generated reviews, others may try to pass them off as genuine customer feedback. This can create confusion and mistrust among consumers, who may have trouble distinguishing between authentic reviews and those generated by AI.

AI-generated reviews

Last, but not least, AI-generated reviews can also lead to a lack of diversity in customer feedback. Because AI tends to generate reviews based on patterns and trends, it may overlook important nuances and unique perspectives that only human reviewers can provide. This can cause a one-dimensional view of a product or service, which may not accurately reflect the experiences of all customers.

In the long run, this can lead to a decline in the quality of products and services, as businesses become less attuned to the needs and preferences of their customers.

It’s a good thing that on Webretailer we only have ‘man-made’ reviews. Check them out here.

Apple Pay Later Threatens other BNPL Services

Apple Pay Later, launched by Apple in March 2023, has the potential to be a major threat to other buy now, pay later (BNPL) services. 

As a highly established brand with a loyal customer base, Apple’s entry into the BNPL market could cause increased adoption of BNPL as a payment method, potentially taking market share from competitors. Moreover, Apple Pay Later offers competitive features such as flexible payment options and low interest rates, which could make it a more attractive choice for consumers.

Apple Pay Later’s close integration with other Apple services, including Apple Pay and the Apple Card, further strengthens the company’s position in the BNPL space. By providing a seamless experience for users, Apple is likely to attract even more customers to its BNPL service, potentially impacting the market share of other providers. 

What should other BNPL service providers think about?

With the entry of Apple into the market, other BNPL services may need to innovate to keep up with the competition. 

For instance, they may need to offer:

  • more flexible payment options, 
  • lower interest rates, 
  • other features to remain competitive.

A question to our readers

Are there any options that you would find useful for BNPL services to have? List them down below in the comments! 

Also, if you’re wondering whether you should have a BNPL option in your store, then read this article, which covers all the reasons your business should have a BNPL service. 

Also in the News 

International Retailer News

Europe names brands with strict regulations

The European Union has released a list of digital platforms that will face the strictest level of regulation under the Digital Services Act (DSA). 

The list includes 19 platforms that offer familiar digital services, including social media apps, search engines, and app stores. Most of the regulated platforms are US-based for-profit firms, with a few European players in the mix, and one non-profit, Wikipedia. 

Here’s a full list of platforms

  • Alibaba AliExpress
  • Amazon Store
  • Apple AppStore
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Google Play
  • Google Maps
  • Google Search
  • Google Shopping
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Twitter
  • Wikipedia
  • YouTube
  • Zalando

These apps confirm the criteria of being VLOP (very large online platforms) or VLOSE (very large online search engines) companies. 

A VLOP or VLOSE designation carries extra requirements to assess and mitigate systemic risks attached to the use of algorithms and AI. Regulated platforms must be proactive about analyzing and reporting potential issues related to the operation of technologies like content ranking tools and recommender systems. Penalties for non-compliance can scale up to 6% of global annual turnover.

Mindverse AI Building an API Interface

Mindverse AI, a Singapore-based startup, is developing an API interface that creates smart agents with its own vertical memory and skill sets using large language models (LLMs) from OpenAI’s GPT series. 

Mindverse’s AI agents are already getting tested by early adopters, including an undisclosed platform within Alibaba’s ecosystem, a16z-backed fashion startup Cider, and Hooked, a web3 education platform that leverages the AI agent to guide users through its site. Mindverse is getting ready to complete a $10 million Series A funding round soon, with investors excited about its traction and expertise in conversational AI.

Mindverse’s platform allows clients to quickly build specialized intelligent agents for different domains. A Mindverse-powered e-commerce site, for example, greets users with a chatbot that has absorbed all the inventory data from the site. The chatbot can explain product differences and suggest alternatives based on real-time conversations. Similarly, a hotel booking site can use Mindverse to create a virtual guide that recommends places to stay based on simple input like “I’m planning a trip to San Francisco with my wife.”

Fangbo Tao, Mindverse’s founder, explains that Mindverse’s AI agents can learn from real-time conversations and user intentions, and integrate with conventional capabilities behind software. Mindverse’s technology has the potential to revolutionize recommendation algorithms and search capabilities by providing a higher level of interaction with users.

Also in the News 

  • Cashierless checkout becoming retail’s new normal. PYMNTS.
  • Temu launches in Europe. Silicon. 
  • Digital strategy paying off for Coach and Gucci. SCMP.


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

May 11: The 15 Minute Breakdown. Tinuiti.

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.


Dominika Kaminska

Dominika Kaminska

Amazing content you need, amazing content we deliver. Whether you need marketing, eCommerce, or news digest related to eCommerce, Dominika is here to guide you through it all. You will also find her in the top tips section, giving only top-notch advice.

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