retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon "is prepping a marketplace for artisan goods it is calling Handmade," designed to compete with Etsy, a growing site with a similar mission.

The story says that Amazon has been propositioning Etsy sellers directly, offering them access to a test site for handmade.

"Amazon’s new site could present a new challenge for Etsy, whose stock has fallen about 43% since the close of its first day of trading last month," the story says. "Unlike Amazon, Etsy doesn’t have its own Prime loyalty program, nor does it oversee a shipping network to expedite deliveries.

"Still, Etsy’s 3.5% commission and 20-cent listing fee are potentially much less expensive than Amazon’s cut. Today, Amazon’s commission varies depending on the product sold, but for many categories it charges sellers a 15% fee on the price of each sale."


• Deutsche Bank Securities is out with an analysis suggesting that UK-based online retailer Ocado could be looking for a US food retailer with which it could partner to bring its service to American shores.

The report offers a rationale for such a deal: "For a U.S.-based food retailer looking to launch an ecommerce business, partnering with Ocado has several advantages. First, Ocado would put up a large portion of the capital in exchange for a one-time set-up fee and a commitment of at least 3 years (which would include variable fees tied to sales). Second, Ocado would handle ongoing maintenance of the equipment (reducing ongoing labor and other expense). Third, Ocado would be responsible for integrating all systems and for software updates. Fourth, partnering with Ocado would provide a first-mover advantage, which is especially critical given that the market is likely to shift more towards online in the future."

And, Deutsche Bank notes, Ocado has been public about its desire to partner with global retailers and expand its footprint.
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