The Webretailer News Digest for August 29, 2022
Last Thursday, Etsy notified sellers they have 30 days to verify their bank account information, or the company will suspend their shop. The move aims to put the company in compliance with anti-money laundering regulations in the US.
Etsy obviously has to follow the law, but their methodology on this latest policy has put sellers on edge. Here’s what’s up: There are only two ways for sellers to verify their accounts.
- Via the secure API, Plaid
- Providing banking information to Etsy for micro-deposit verification
To face, this might not seem like a big deal outside of the short, 30-day, time frame. But many sellers aren’t too keen on providing their bank account passwords to a third party. In the announcement, Etsy stated that Plaid has worked with over 6,000 companies and they have internationally recognized security standards.
Apparently, that wasn’t enough for many sellers. But they ran into another issue with the second option. Using micro-deposits to verify a seller account can freeze Etsy funds for up to five days. And that’s when sellers took to the message boards and social media to voice their concerns.
With the 30-day window, there’s no reason to believe Etsy will provide another alternative. We won’t get into the middle of the fray, as both parties have valid reasons for their actions. But are there more tactful ways to run a policy compliance launch?
Selling in the UK? Be warned, The Royal Mail has ongoing strikes
Last week, major platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon sent notifications to their sellers warning that Royal Mail workers have strikes planned on August 26 and 31 and September 8 and 9. The mail service explained in a statement earlier this month that they would “do everything [they] can to minimize disruption,” but it will be significant.
Fortunately, most platforms also announced adjustments to their seller performance ratings during this time. eBay UK is removing transactions and Item Not Received claim counts for items with estimated delivery dates between August 22 and September 18. Amazon is extending customer-facing delivery promises on seller fulfillment. And Etsy said it would communicate the issue to shoppers and adjust estimated delivery dates through the Royal Mail within their platform.
According to the BBC, over 100k Royal Mail Postal workers took part in the walkout on August 26th protesting low pay rates. Hopefully, the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and the Royal Mail can come to an agreement before the coming strike action days.
Sigma Commerce launches upgrade to the flagship product
If you’re not familiar, Sigma Commerce is a leading enterprise resource planning software provider that has been in the industry since 1982. And this week, the company announced the launch of their new Sigma Commerce 1.5 upgrade.
The program allows users to manage inventory across multiple warehouses with accuracy and provides key data that enables rich insights into overall operations. With the new version, users will get one Order Management System that connects to multiple Warehouse Management Systems giving them the ability to expand with ease.
Along with a single web-based system, users will gain access to new scanning tech and turnkey integrations with major shopping carts like WooCommerce and Shopify. This could be a solid system if you need to manage inventory from multiple warehouses.
Video-first eCommerce platform nets $8 million in seed round
Seed rounds aren’t the typical focus here at the Webretailer News Digest, but new and interesting selling methodologies always make the cut. Last week, Gen Z fashion retailer VIAVIA announced an $8 million seed round led by Basis Set Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA).
What’s interesting about VIAVIA is that it’s a video-first eCommerce platform. What does that mean? Designers and sellers can use both short-form and live video content to sell items. And for the fulfillment, the platform has an AI infrastructure built for supply chains specific to the fashion industry.
The company believes that current fashion eCommerce platforms aren’t responding to the shift in consumer behavior. To fill this need, they’re partnering with creators and influencers to capture the stories of their designers and bring them to live through video.
According to VIAVIA Co-Founder and CEO Sixuan Li, “Fashion retail is undergoing a radical transformation. Export-focused Asian supply chains have warped the traditional timeline from an emerging trend concept to wearable apparel. To make sense of this speed and production volume, Gen Z consumers expect brands to communicate with them through authentic, creator-led, and video-first content.”
Whether the model will work is yet to be seen. But we’ll monitor VIAVIA to see if they can make a mark on the fashion retail world.
AB InBev launching B2B eCommerce platform in the UK
Budweiser-owned AB InBev is launching its BEES B2B eCommerce platform in the United Kingdom. It’s the first country in Europe to gain access, and it’s a big deal in the beverage industry.
The platform has grown into the tenth largest retail eCommerce platform in the world when ranked by gross merchandise volume — yes, including Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, and more. And with the platform, users in the UK now have access to seamless ordering and key insights data to help manage orders.
Regarding the launch, Budweiser Brewing Group Chief Executive Brian Perkins stated, “By harnessing the power of data and technology, we’re building shared prosperity for our business partners and our communities. Already in the top 10 eCommerce marketplaces globally, BEES has the potential to improve productivity for all businesses in our ecosystem.”
The Times ran an article back in July that provides excellent insights into the platform.
Returns are hitting web retailers hard
According to an article from The Economist last week, online retailers are receiving a tidal wave of returns. The article cited a report from the National Retail Federation that claims 21% of online orders were returned in 2021.
What’s the total value for all of those returns? A whopping $218 billion! And in the clothing and shoe markets, they stated returns percentages can reach levels around 40%. Needless to say, this is a pain point for many web retailers who are trying to compete with brick-and-mortar stores by matching their returns policies.
However, with inflation hitting many consumers. Retailers are seeing even more returns this year with buyer’s remorse on high. Some are reacting to the trend and trying to recoup funds by charging a return fee on items. And others are working with AI startups like Happy Returns to help facilitate and ease the financial burden of the process.
Regardless, every web retailer should have an effective plan in place to mitigate losses.