retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Bloomberg has a story about how "consultants that help brands navigate Amazon’s marketplace say the company is attracting a broad range of vendors that before the outbreak sold everything from fishing gear and art supplies to clothing and beach totes at physical stores. Brands and wholesalers assume that many of their retail partners won’t survive the pandemic, meaning Amazon will probably hang onto much of the new business."

The story goes on:  "Before the pandemic, about 45% of brands didn’t sell products on Amazon at all, according to a survey conducted by Feedvisor, which sells pricing software used by online retailers. And more than one-third said they didn’t need Amazon to reach customers. Many brands and wholesalers kept Amazon at arms length because they were concerned it would squeeze their margins, collect precious customer data and copy their most popular products."

But now, with a lot of retailers either in a weakened position or going out of business altogether, Amazon increasingly is looking like one of the only games in town.  And, according to Andrew Lipsman, analyst at EMarketer,  “It’s not just Amazon. The top 10 retailers that can remain open have a tremendous advantage and we’re going to see a lot of smaller retailers get washed out."

This is, he says, "one of those situations where the rich get richer."

It will be interesting, a year from now, to see how market shares have shifted since a year ago.  The betting here is that they will be significant and, by that point, as permanent as such shifts can be.  (Which is to say, only until someone and/or something else comes along to disrupt things.)

•  Bloomberg reports that the nation's largest owner of warehouse space, Prologis Inc., is saying that the huge growth of e-commerce during the pandemic has created an “almost insatiable” appetite for its facilities on the part of companies like Amazon and Walmart.

CEO Hamid Moghadam tells Bloomberg, "We’re not seeing those guys slow down, they continue to be very active in making new deals.  The strong continue to be taking a lot of space."

More warehouse space used by these retailers will inevitably mean that this space will be closer to shoppers … which will mean that they will be able to be even more efficient in getting products ordered online to shoppers.  Which ends up reducing the advantage that bricks-and-mortar retailers have in categories where they are undifferentiated.