Posted on June 23rd, 2017

UPS has begun to roll out the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper 2017, with volume one of the five-volume study focusing on U.S. shoppers. This volume, Digital Evolution, states that online shoppers in the United States are making more purchases from international retailers, using mobile devices to make more of their purchases, and relying more on international marketplaces.
UPS researchers describe a new crop of online shoppers. These shoppers have honed their online shopping skills so that they can search for the best prices from every corner of the world.
The comfort level for shopping via mobile devices has increased over the last two years. This extends to research as well as purchases: product research using a smartphone was up three points over the last two years, with 76 percent of millennials using their smartphones for product research.
UPS surveys show that 38 percent of U.S. online shoppers begin their product searches at an online marketplace, and 29 percent of online shoppers start their search at Amazon.
To download the report, click here.

Posted on June 23rd, 2017

The United States and China are the biggest markets for online spending, with India growing fast, according to PayPal Cross-Border Consumer Research 2016. That finding should come as no surprise, given the population sizes of those three countries. Other findings in the PayPal report, however, add nuance to the growing market for cross-border online shopping.
  • Portugal, Peru and India are the countries where cross-border online shopping is most prevalent.
  • In terms of regions, Latin America and Middle East have highest incidence of cross-border online shoppers.Middle East shoppers are comfortable with cross-border purchases, but they prefer to buy from large “global stores,” such as Amazon and eBay when purchasing from another country.
  • Consumers want a choice in whether to pay in the local currency of the seller or in their own currency.
  • Shipping costs and other fees, plus concerns about getting what they have paid for are the main factors deterring consumers from cross-border shopping. Free shipping and payment security are the top factors that could drive more cross-border shipping.
  • China is the most popular shopping destination for global online shoppers, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom. 
The PayPal report draws on research conducted across 32 markets and surveys of 28,000 consumers. To read the full report, click here.

Posted on June 19th, 2017

​Amazon announced on Friday morning that it’s buying Whole Foods for just under $14 billion, the retailer’s largest acquisition ever. The purchase holds implications for the future of groceries, the entire food industry, and—as hyperbolic as this might sound—the future of shopping for just about anything.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. At the simplest level, the deal represents a straightforward confluence of interests. Amazon needs food and urban real estate, and Whole Foods needs help.

The e-commerce giant has been expanding into groceries and physical locations, including bookstores, ironically working itself back into the brick-and-mortar business that it’s also disrupting. Whole Foods, meanwhile, offers the biggest name in yuppie groceries and a fleet of urban locations, which can double as Amazon warehouses. Meanwhile, the grocer is in a tailspin, its stock price cascading as revenue growth has fallen every year since 2012. Investors had for weeks been pushing the company to sell itself to a larger grocer, like Kroger. That Whole Foods ended up with Amazon is poetic justice, considering that, in 2015, CEO John Mackey said Amazon’s move into grocery delivery would be “Amazon’s Waterloo.” Doubters of Amazon’s strategy can point to the fact that groceries are a terrible, low-margin business. That’s true—almost as terrible and low-margin as e-commerce, where Amazon has already demonstrated that it can hypnotize Wall Street’s myopic financiers, while it spends tens of billions of dollars building a global warehousing and delivery infrastructure for a shopping future that is moving online. In short, Whole Foods was in a free fall, and Amazon is the perfect net to catch it.   

That’s the most straightforward analysis. But then again, Amazon always seems to be not just several moves ahead of its competitors, but playing another game entirely—chess versus checkers, as they say—so it’s worth thinking through some of the more long-term, hypothetical implications of this deal.

Read the full Atlantic story here. ​

Posted on April 26th, 2017

Amazon is under pressure from Wall Street to reduce its shipping costs, Reuters reports, and recent filings in China and the United States suggest one avenue it may pursue to bring those costs down. Those filings include:
  • Registering its Chinese subsidiary, Beijing Century Joyo Courier Service, as a freight forwarder with China's transport ministry last year, allowing it to export cargo out of the country. (A freight forwarder does not own ships but handles customs and other documentation.)
  • A similar application by the subsidiary with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission in November.
  • An application with the Shanghai Shipping Exchange to serve as a shipping broker for 12 trade routes, including Shanghai to Los Angeles and Shanghai to Hamburg, Germany.
According to the Reuters report, analysts suggest Amazon’s freight forwarder license will make it easier for Chinese merchants and manufacturers to transport their goods to major Amazon hubs.

To read the full Reuters story, click here.

Posted on April 21st, 2017

New requirements for the U.S. Postal Serivce's Commercial ePackets (CeP) are scheduled to take effect on April 30. The following are the changes that will be introduced:
  • Addition of Japan to the destination country list (Price Group 6).  There are now 30 countries on the list.
  • Movement of Brazil from Price Group 15 to Price Group 10.
  • Addition of the pallet option for mailings entered at JFK, ORD and SFO.
  • Elimination of the pallet option for mailings entered at LAX and MIA.
Further details can be found in the Commercial ePacket (CeP) Mailer Preparation Requirements. Click here to access the document.

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