Returns Driving Retail?

In the afterglow of the Pandemic wherein the whole world was on line buying “stuff” the issue of returns has become a gigantic consideration.

Look at the number of parcels handled worldwide during the time period 2013 – 2026 (estimated). It is truly gigantic. Click on the graph to see it at a usable scale.

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Walmart v Amazon Subscriptions

Let me start with the bottom line, Walmart is launching its “Walmart +” subscription service for $98/year that will deliver the following benefits:

 1. Unlimited free “same day” grocery and merchandise delivery

 2. Limited free Express 2-hour delivery

 3. Discounts on gas at its Walmart gas stations (usually already the cheapest gas in town, always use them when traveling, I think this is worth $0.40/gallon

 4. Early access to new products and deals

 5. Access to a Walmart + credit card

 6. Free access to CAMP, the Walmart entertainment platform — yawn

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The Amazon Third Party Data Shuffle

Amazon, the Bully of the Boardwalk when it comes to eCommerce, sells things on its powerful website for third parties. They also sell their own private label products.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of  data captured thereby. Take a second and imagine what data such an assignment might generate — popularity of product, names of buyers, pricing info?

So, there has been a persistent “rumor” that Amazon has been using this third party data to decide what items to make for its own account. Act surprised to learn that Amazon makes its own private label offerings — 158,000 such products at last count. Wow!

Immediately, your ethical alarms begin to signal. The red light goes on, it twirls, the siren sounds.

When asked by the US Congress, Amazon gave this answer:

“Well, no, of course, we don’t use third party data to determine what things we might private label, make for our account, but, but, but we might use something we call ‘aggregated data.'”

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Casper — CSPR — The Unfriendly Mattress Company

So, Casper — CSPR NYSE — got public at a value that is a meaningful  discount to the last venture money valuation. Still, they got public.

The IPO went through some birth canal stress, exiting as a skinnier version of its most recent $1.2B private value. It is currently showing a public market cap of $346MM. That is one Hell of a haircut.

“Could you nip it a little close on the sides, please? But, don’t amputate the ears?”

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Shopify — The Revolutionary

Image result for shopify logo

Huge fan of Shopify for a number of reasons:

 1. Shopify is a plug-and-play solution to getting you into the eCommerce business. Sign on with Shopify and you are in business as quickly as you can take pictures of your merchandise and put a price on it. Effortless. Streamlined.

 2. As a software product, Shopify fulfills the promise of the Internet as a means of creating “digital real estate” whereon a tech savvy digital business woman (see what your “woke” Big Red Car did there?) can reach the entire world without having to undertake a huge tech effort to get her store open.

This is a huge victory, a fulfillment of an enormous promise.

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The Long Teeth of VC Backed Firms

Today, dear readers, we speak of Rent The Runway as an exemplar for changing conditions in the world of financing and venture capital. Today RTR announced they had closed a $125,000,000 VC round led by Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital Ventures.

This brings the total of VC funding (they also have $200,000,000 in debt) to $337,000,000 based on a valuation of $1,000,000,000.

Wow! RTR has come a long way since its 2009 funding by Bain of $1,800,000.

RTR has been working for ten years to become an overnight success. Some whisper RTR is being groomed for an Initial Public Offering, something they spoke of in the past, but not recently.

rent the runway

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