With the infamous eCommerce event Black Friday growing in popularity every year, we take a look to the companies hitting the headlines. By the time you are reading through this, you may very well have bagged yourself a Black Friday bargain. This weekend, millions of us will “Add to basket” and “checkout” billions of pounds worth of goods.
In recognition, this edition of Our Week in Digital looks to the world of eCommerce. We look into the broader trends sweeping Europe and beyond. We delve into the latest fund rounds and examine the acquisitions both among the big names and the smaller startups disrupting the scene.
2019 has been a stellar year for French e-commerce. In the first 9 months of 2019 alone, French Ecommerce achieved a turnover of 74 billion euros.
It doesn’t stop there! French eCommerce association, Fevad believes that thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers will ‘checkout’ 20 billion euros in the last quarter. This late surge of spending will propel the French eCommerce market to exceed 100 billion euros this year.
According to Fevad, French consumers will mostly complete their Christmas shopping between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. During these 4 days alone, it has been estimated that shoppers will ‘Add to Basket’ sales that could represent 1.7 billion euros.
It is this increase in the number of buyers along with the frequency of purchases, that could see French eCommerce generate this huge number of 20 billion euros in sales during the last quarter of the year.
Not only this. Fevad has also announced that since the beginning of this year, the number of eCommerce websites in France has grown rapidly. Currently, there are 191,700 eCommerce websites in France. This is 16% more online shops than last year. These figures include physical stores that have launched an online store in support of their brick-and-mortar business. According to market data from the Centre for Retail Search, online sales from these platforms account for 6% of total retail sales.
It’s undeniable that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be massive contributors to the success of French eCommerce over 2019. However, much of the work was done during Q3. During these three months, eCommerce in France was worth 24.6 billion euros. The overall eCommerce turnover in France grew by 10.8% during this period in comparison to the same time frame last year. A huge total of 426 million transactions took place during these three months. Again, this is an increase of 14.2% compared to the same period last year.
eCommerce giant Amazon has 1.1million active sellers in Europe.
This is a huge increase; compared to this time last year, this is a leap of 25%. Looking more deeply into the figures, the most % growth can be found on Amazon Turkey and Amazon Italy.
The definition of an “active seller” is a retailer or an agent who has any product listed for sale. Currently, there are 1.16 million active sellers on the six marketplaces Amazon has across Europe; the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Turkey.
The majority of these “active sellers” can still be found on Amazon UK. At the time of the most recent body of research from Marketplace Pulse, this number stood at just over 281 thousand. This too is an upward trend. In comparison with last year, the number of active sellers in this market has increased by 18.4%.
Amazon’s worldwide reach
Amazon Germany is the UK’s closest rival. 244,425 sellers are active here, which also reflects a growth of 17.5% since last year.
Some eCommerce commentators have speculated that these impressive numbers from Europe are a direct result of Amazon’s efforts to enable European sellers to sell in all five EU marketplaces.
Looking cross-continent, Europe has slightly more active sellers than Amazon US, which has 1.11 million active sellers. Europe can also boast a more active growth than the US market. The US marketplace is growing at a rate of just 5.1%.
Having said that, the Amazon marketplace in the US is still four times larger than over here in the UK. The UK is the second largest.
Worldwide, Amazon can boast a massive 3 million active sellers; an increase of 17.7% compared to last year.
Although “active” not all these sellers are profitable. Many of the new sellers replace old sellers as they get suspended or stop selling. Some of the new sellers stop without ever making a sale at all. Less than 10% of these active sellers were able to achieve $100,000 (or the currency equivalent) in annual sales. Only 1% reached $1 million in sales. This is indicative of the Amazon marketplace as a whole, which exhibits the Marketplaces Power Law.
As with most superpower organisations, this rule dictates that a large portion of total transactions are generated by a small fraction of the sellers’ population.
Online Marketplace, Trouva raises $22M
Online retail business models come in a variety of forms. They range from the huge to the niche and everything in between. Amazon pioneered the business model and now dominate the market.
This week though, London startup, Trouva has raised £17m to fuel its international growth.
Trouva have taken the online retail model and have applied it to a far more curated set of retailers and goods. It provides an online marketplace for brick-and-mortar independent boutiques selling “beautiful” and hard-to-find pieces.
Off the back of its strong Berlin launch last year, Trouva plan to use this cash to push forward its international growth. On top of this, they plan to develop the technology on its platform; specifically its inventory and logistics management.
The funding round
This round was led by Octopus Ventures, C4 Ventures and Downing Ventures. BGF and LocalGlobe were also in the round. Trouva have so far raised about $36 million. At this time, despite obvious investor interest, Trouva is choosing not to disclose valuation.
Online giant Amazon may dominate our consciousness when it comes to online shopping. For many, it is the first place we head. While it does have obvious benefits, what it lacks is retailer autonomy. Retailers do not get a lot of freedom in how they present items. In addition to this, levels of competition to be ‘seen’ amongst other retailers – Amazon-branded products included – are massive. Amazon is an ‘everything’ store…it is a functional proposition rather than a pleasurable one.
How does Trouva differ?
In direct contrast, Trouva has incorporated the scarcity gene into its very DNA.
Mandeep Singh, who co-founded the company has remarked Trouva is “very picky” about who they allow to sell on the site and “have to turn down the majority” of applications from those who wish to. They are only looking for the very best curators and heavily place quality over quantity.
Trouva is part of a growing subgroup of online retailers dedicated to showcasing products from independent retailers who target the more discerning online shopper; people who are looking for more unique things to buy with their money.
Singh notes that there are more than 20,000 independent brick and mortar shops in the UK today and that Trouva works with just 500 of the very best.
Despite their ‘scarcity’ model, Trouva is not without competition, both from other selling sites and the independents themselves. Singh notes that it is “very easy” for independents to set up an online store. The hard part is driving customer sales and managing the technicalities of sudden expansion.
What benefits does it have?
Trouva takes care of this. It has a range of backend technologies including inventory management and shipping logistics software, both of which can be difficult for a [physical] boutique to do on its own.
He says; It’s easy to sell online but you still need someone who has the economies of scales to pick up and deliver.”
At the current time, Trouva has no plans to divert from its current model. It has no plans to sell its ‘own’ branded goods or to partner other online retailers. However, it may in the future look at how it may leverage warehouse space to help its smaller retailers with their inventory management.
eCommerce startup Giorgas raises $14m to help ecommerce deliver on customer service.
Startup, Giorgas offer Artificial Intelligence tools and solutions for online customer service and support to eCommerce businesses.
This cash injection couldn’t have come at a better time. More and more, brands are choosing to sell directly to consumers, rather than going through intermediaries. Nike’s recent decision to remove its products from Amazon is a prime example of this. Gorgias is taking advantage of the broader shift amongst the market.
As brands make this change, co-founder and CEO Romain Lapeyre said they need a “bundle of tools” to build their online business, and “each little part of the bundle is separate.” For example, they might create a store with Shopify, accept payments via Stripe and now, handle their customer service through Gorgias!
The Gorgias product integrates with Shopify and uses AI along with customer data to automate responses to basic questions like, “What’s my tracking number?”.
How does this help?
By automating these basic processes, businesses can free up customer service representatives from spending most of their time responding to routine requests. Not only is it more productive for businesses, but customers also get faster answers to their queries.
Although the automation will tackle the basic, Gorgias also provides tools that help customer service representatives to respond more quickly to complex queries and to perform additional tasks. Lapeyre has said that using their product, customer services representatives will be able to upsell additional products and services. In this vein, they can become “sales associates rather than customer service agents.”
This model is already proving successful among several Gorgias’ 2,000 strong customer base. At Steve Madden, for example, the customer service team is using automation to respond to 20% of tickets while at Groovelife, the customer service team can earn a commission based on upselling using the Gorgias product.
This isn’t the first round of funding Gorgias have enjoyed. They have previously raised $3.5 million in seed funding. This new round was led by Flex Capital, with the participation of SaaStr, Alven, CRV, Amplify Partners and Eric Yuan.
Gorgias will use the money to build out the product with new features while also bringing on more merchants.
eBay sell StubHub for $4billion.
European rival, Viagogo will buy the ticketing business in a $4 billion deal.
The two companies disclosed the all-cash deal on Monday. Once completed, the combined company will be huge. It is expected that the site will sell hundreds of thousands of tickets each day across more than 70 countries.
According to representatives from the merging companies, combining the sites will have benefits for customers and shareholders alike. Eric Baker, Viagogo’s founder and CEO has said the merger “creates a win-win for fans” while eBay interim CEO Scott Schenkel said the transaction “maximizes long-term value for eBay shareholders”.
StubHub sells tickets for a host of different events, including sports and music concerts. Swiss-based Viagogo also resells tickets, though mostly for sporting events including European football, rugby and cricket fixtures.
StubHub and eBay
StubHub was procured by eBay back in 2007 for a price of $310 million. The sale of the site comes amid a broader review of eBay’s businesses. In March, the company announced it was initiating a strategic examination of its assets following pressure from activist investors to spin off or sell StubHub and its ‘Classifieds’ Group.
Earlier this year, eBay also announced a restructuring that would bring various regional marketplace units under one global leadership team.
In early trading on Monday morning, shares of eBay spiked nearly 1.75%. The stock is up roughly 27% for the year.
The deal looks set to close in the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.
5 eCommerce Companies powering the £2bn Black Friday market
For both consumers and businesses, Black Friday marks the start of the busiest season in retail. Last year, the four days including and between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, drew in sales of £1.6bn here in the UK alone.
This does not appear to be an isolated occurrence. This year, this figure looks set to rise and businesses need to be prepared to cater to all those eager consumers looking to get the most punch from their pound.
In addition to the booming market, businesses also have to contend with the rise of retail giants from the east; Alibaba, for example, who are increasingly moving into the global e-commerce space.
This is of particular importance to smaller independent players. Not only do they have to withstand the competition from these retail giants, but they also need to make sure their online offering can withstand the increase in online traffic.
The 5 companies
These 5 companies are powering the online shopping surge ahead of the holiday season. They are working behind the scenes to enable businesses to reach consumers whenever, wherever, and on whatever device they happen to be shopping on.
Following domination within the world of Fintech, Transferwise is now making a play for the B2B tech space. Their latest offering means that businesses can operate across currencies and locations. This offers the retail market a global reach, allowing them to fully capitalise upon Black Friday and beyond.
GBG has enjoyed a 30-year history in tech and is now a $1bn company. The company supplies a combination of location, fraud and identity tech that helps retailers reach more customers securely.
For example, their Loqate solution ensures that packages from thousands of retailers – from ASOS to Gymshark – reach their end destinations. They use cutting-edge tech like geolocation, machine learning (ML) and data triangulation to keep customers happy and help retailers avoid the costs of failed deliveries. Costs occurred from missing packages are currently estimated to be £200,000 per year, per retailer.
eCommerce giant Checkout.com tech supports customers such as Adidas, Samsung and Virgin to go global across a range of payment functions.
Checkout.com ensures businesses can operate and trade internationally while providing a flawless online experience. Their proprietary technology ensures that businesses can meet the demands of their users, globally.
ClearPay – as well as its parent company AfterPay were built around shifting attitudes toward spending. They were built to provide an alternative to credit options.
The ClearPay model allows shoppers to pay in interest-free instalments, meaning that consumers can structure their repayments. In so doing, customers can reap the benefits of the Black Friday bargains.
Stripe has long been a player in the global retail and e-commerce space. One feature to note though is their machine learning product, ‘Radar’. Not only does this monitor fraudulent activity, but it also enables businesses to customise and adapt to shifting patterns across industries.
Companies can keep an eye on activity across the busy holiday season, remaining vigilant, while protecting their customers and themselves from fraud.
As retail businesses gear up to take on the challenges of Black Friday, implementing any one of these solutions could mean having the edge! As more and more companies enter the eCommerce sector, it’s fair to say that retailers need any edge they can get.
What tech do you have your eye on this year?
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