eBay Return Shipping Causing Havoc, FedEx New Digital Platform “fdx” and More News

Happy Friday, folks! It’s Friday, and after another bustling week, we’re back with the latest eCommerce news. Following last week’s discussion on TikTok’s rapid growth, we have some noteworthy updates on eBay and FedEx for you this week. So, without delay, grab your morning coffee, and let’s dive into this week’s highlights.

Today’s news is 1618 words.

eBay Return Shipping Causing Havoc

In a significant policy shift, eBay has quietly made a transition from utilizing USPS to FedEx for return shipping labels, introducing a noteworthy challenge for sellers navigating this new landscape. 

Despite the absence of a formal announcement from eBay, this change became evident in May of last year, sparking considerable debate and concern among the seller community. 

This shift’s repercussions became evident in a specific case where a seller, who had mistakenly shipped the wrong item, was forced to resend the package at a higher cost due to eBay’s label generation.

However, the buyer was unable to return the incorrect package using the FedEx outpost, which wouldn’t have been a problem with the home pickup offered by the USPS.

These developments have triggered active discussions on eBay forums, with notable contributors shedding light on the anxieties and challenges faced by the seller community. 

The concerns voiced encompass the lack of flexibility in choosing a more affordable or convenient return shipping carrier, coupled with the additional burdens placed on buyers, especially those encountering difficulties reaching FedEx locations. 

Beyond being a mere logistical change, eBay’s policy shift has evolved into a critical point of contention within the eBay community, prompting a collective call for a reassessment that better aligns with the needs and preferences of both buyers and sellers.

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

Apart from the additional costs, sellers will have to handle a more complex return process, particularly for those customers for whom FedEx access presents a challenge. 

Sellers on eBay must quickly adapt to these new conditions, striking a delicate balance between managing expenses and ensuring customer satisfaction.

If you’re an eBay seller, we recommend diving deeper into the topic for a smoother shipping experience. 

MORE: eBay seller hub.

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Big Retailer News

FedEx New Digital Platform “fdx”

FedEx is stepping into the spotlight with its groundbreaking digital platform, “fdx,” set to redefine the game for businesses in the eCommerce realm. Currently, in a sneak peek mode for a select few, fdx is gearing up for its grand entrance in Fall 2024. 

According to Raj Subramaniam, the President and CEO of FedEx, this platform is a game-changer, made to:

  • boost demand, 
  • improve conversion rates, 
  • optimize order fulfillment, 
  • and streamline returns. 

In a world where Amazon outpaced FedEx and UPS in U.S. home deliveries in 2022, it’s clear that FedEx is leveling up the playing field with its enhanced technological enhancements.

Now, let’s talk features. 

First up, it’s integrating real-time FedEx network insights into order management systems for smooth and cost-effective order fulfillment. Simultaneously, it’s crafting a post-purchase experience that aligns seamlessly with brand standards, covering everything from order tracking to returns, backed by transparent and accurate shipment updates. 

These upgrades come together with existing features like: 

  • ShopRunner member network access, 
  • estimated delivery date sharing, 
  • FedEx Surround for improved shipment visibility, 
  • Sustainability Insights for carbon emissions data, 
  • and streamlined returns management.

Unveiled at the National Retail Federation’s annual trade show in New York, fdx is more than a digital platform; it’s FedEx’s strategic move to strengthen ties with businesses amid escalating competition, especially Amazon. 

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

This platform, armed with comprehensive digital intelligence and end-to-end eCommerce solutions, is positioning FedEx as a pivotal player in this ever-evolving landscape. 

By addressing the dynamic needs of retailers and leveraging advanced technology, FedEx is on a mission to optimize growth potential and solidify its role as an industry leader. Buckle up – exciting times ahead in the world of eCommerce.

MORE: eBay Guaranteed Delivery: Your Questions Answered.

Walmart’s Latest Tech Tools

In a recent CES keynote, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon, outlined the company’s tech-driven approach to enhance their customer’s shopping experience. Behold — Gen-AI powered search for iOS users, enabling personalized searches by specific use cases. 

The innovative Walmart In-home replenishment service, utilizing AI and replenishment expertise, ensures the delivery of customers’ online shopping carts directly to their refrigerators.

Venturing into social commerce, Walmart introduces ‘Shop with Friends,’ a VR shopping platform allowing users to create, share, and receive feedback on virtual outfits. 

Suresh Kumar, Walmart’s global CTO, terms this strategy as “adaptive retail,” seamlessly blending the best aspects of different channels. Successfully tested in Sam’s Club, these technologies will broaden implementation alongside Walmart’s expanded drone delivery service, reaching 1.8 million additional households. 

Walmart’s commitment to technology extends to its 2.1 million associates, streamlining work processes through tools like My Assistant. This deliberate and mature approach positions Walmart to stay ahead in the competitive retail landscape.

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

For eCommerce sellers, Walmart’s tech-driven initiatives signal a shift in the retail landscape, offering insights into emerging trends and customer expectations. 

The introduction of a Gen-AI-powered search for iOS users highlights the growing importance of personalized and efficient search experiences. 

This innovation presents an opportunity for sellers to optimize product visibility and cater to specific customer needs.

MORE: From Amazon to Walmart: Why you can’t copy and paste your strategy

Also in the News 

  • Amazon’s one-time password scam victims. The Guardian.
  • ‘I cannot fulfill that request’ Amazon products and the terrible use of AI. Slashdot.
  • Alexa ad targeting lawsuit. Mediapost.
  • Google’s partnership with Victoria’s Secret. Fashion Network.

International Retailer News

Microsoft’s AI Assistant

Exciting news on the tech front – Microsoft is shaking things up by introducing a consumer version of its AI assistant, Copilot, priced at $20 per month. The consumer version unlocks OpenAI’s advanced ChatGPT technology and image-creation features. 

It offers Office cloud subscribers to use Copilot across applications like Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint for tasks such as answering questions, summarizing data, and creating content.

Breaking away from the previous model, catering mainly to large enterprises, Microsoft is ditching the subscription minimum for its enterprise service. Now, even smaller companies can tap into Copilot’s capabilities without previous limitations. 

Copilot for Microsoft 365, undergoing testing since March, opened its doors widely in November, responding to unprecedented demand from small and medium businesses seeking a more flexible approach.

But wait, there’s more! 

Microsoft introduces Copilot Pro, a service competing with OpenAI’s ChatGPT Plus at the same price point. What sets it apart? Integration into Microsoft Office applications. 

Microsoft’s future plans include a builder tool akin to OpenAI’s offering, enabling individuals to create personalized Copilots tailored to specific topics. 

Plus, there’s a nuance in privacy rules – the consumer version has different rules compared to the business version, with Microsoft keeping a portion of prompts and responses to enhance the product through model retraining.

This big announcement precedes the World Economic Forum in Davos, highlighting Microsoft’s commitment to advancing AI technology for a broader audience. 

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

The introduction of a consumer version at $20 per month, along with the removal of the subscription minimum for the enterprise service, makes advanced AI services more accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Overall, Microsoft’s commitment to advancing AI technology underscores its relevance for eCommerce sellers seeking enhanced productivity and efficiency in their operations.

MORE: How to pick the right inventory management technique for your business

Alibaba’s Tech Solutions

In its pursuit of enhancing the lives of millions of Chinese citizens with disabilities, the Alibaba Group ecosystem is at the forefront of leveraging cutting-edge solutions, as highlighted in a recent report by the Alibaba Foundation. 

With a global population of approximately 15% facing physical, intellectual, or cognitive impairments, including 85 million in China, the Foundation aims to address the overlooked needs of this demographic in daily tools and services. 

In 2023, Alibaba’s initiatives focused on elevating accessibility on eCommerce and navigation platforms, benefiting not only people with disabilities but also China’s rapidly growing elderly population.

Established in 2011, the Alibaba Foundation allocates 0.3% of the company’s revenue to a private charity fund dedicated to sustainability and supporting disadvantaged communities in China. 

Notably, the collaboration between the navigation platform Amap and the Alibaba Foundation has expanded its capabilities to offer accessible route planning for people with disabilities in 30 Chinese cities, creating 24 million barrier-free routes in its inaugural year. 

Alibaba’s commitment extends beyond navigation, with various apps like Quark, Fliggy, and Youku integrating accessibility features for the visually and hearing impaired. 

The Tmall shopping app employs optical character recognition technology to serve over 320,000 visually impaired users. At the same time, Taobao introduced a “senior mode” catering to the elderly with voice assistant services, benefiting over 3 million users by the end of 2022.

Alibaba’s dedication to inclusivity was notably demonstrated at the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, where innovative technologies like the AI-powered translator Xiaomo and exoskeleton products transformed the experience for participants with hearing impairments and mobility challenges. 

What does it mean for eCommerce sellers?

For eCommerce sellers, Alibaba’s commitment to enhancing accessibility and inclusivity means potential opportunities to reach a broader customer base. 

The integration of features like optical character recognition and a “senior mode” in platforms such as Tmall and Taobao demonstrates a focus on creating a seamless shopping experience for diverse user groups, including those with disabilities and the elderly. 

Sellers can draw inspiration from these initiatives to prioritize accessibility features and user-friendly interfaces, contributing to a more inclusive online environment.

Also in the News 

  • Elon Musk’s Tesla loses 94 billion USD in the first two weeks of 2024. SCMP
  • Apple’s rare price drop in China — iPhone, iPad and MacBook discounts are causing friction among customers. Pandaily.

Webinars

For everyone 

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program continues with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Amazon Prime Day preparation, sponsored products, sponsored brands, reporting, optimization, and other tips. 

Learn more: Amazon.

January 23: How mature is your eCommerce search — are you ready for AI? Learn more: DigitalCommerce360

For US sellers

February 7: The Amazon and Retail Media Summit. Learn more: Tinuiti

For UK sellers

Various dates: Amazon advertising’s global webinar program continues with 20+ webinars scheduled, covering Amazon Prime Day preparation, sponsored products, sponsored brands, reporting, optimization, and other tips. 

Learn more: Amazon.

Author

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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