business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that "Amazon hasn’t had the merriest of holiday seasons yet. But the e-commerce giant is in a better position than ever to help shoppers who didn’t get on the ball early."

The story notes that "concerns about Amazon’s vital holiday season have weighed on the stock, which is down more than 8% since the start of the Thanksgiving week compared with a 3% drop for the S&P 500 in that time. The pandemic gave many other retailers a chance to step up their online game. Shopify, which helps power the e-commerce services of many of those competitors, reported $6.3 billion in sales by its merchants for the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period—a 23% jump from last year.

"Amazon’s own holiday sales release for the period was characteristically free of useful data; the company only said Black Friday and Cyber Monday were “record-breaking.” Truist analyst Youssef Squali projects that Amazon will lose about 1 percentage point of share of e-commerce sales volume this holiday season."

But … "One thing Amazon’s rivals don’t have, though, is a massive fulfillment network that is getting more massive by the day. The company is projected to add a record 625 facilities to its fulfillment network this year alone, according to data from logistics consultant MWPVL International. That would bring its total facilities globally to more than 2,000 … The ability to get products to consumers quickly will likely be useful as the holiday season progresses. Not all shoppers heeded the frequent advice to make purchases early to avoid shipping delays and product shortages."

•  Eastern Massachusetts-based Big Y announced that its e-commerce platform, myPicks Online Ordering, now will offer same-day pickup on orders placed before 10 am at select locations.  The company calls it "a free, easy and contactless shopping experience for Big Y customers" with no additional fee, and "another way for customers to shop for groceries with the ease of choosing when and how they want to shop."

I write this at the risk of seeming to contradict what I say above in the DoorDash piece, where I said that retailers have to be careful not to equate speed with the reduction of friction.  While I think that the latter is most important, that's not to say that speed is irrelevant … and I have to think that same-day-pickup for orders placed before 10 am is just a place holder for a system that inevitably has to provide faster service if it is going to be competitive.