retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Bloomberg reports that Target has "discontinued its subscription service model as shoppers increasingly look for more convenient and flexible delivery options."

According to the story, "It’s quite a turn for subscriptions, which several years ago were seen as a boon for e-commerce. Getting shoppers locked into them created consistent revenue streams that impressed investors. The model proliferated from startups to legacy chains. But Target customers have moved on, lured by the ease and speed of same-day delivery and picking up online orders at the store, which can now be done without leaving your car."

This surprises me, since it doesn't make sense that a person having a subscription to certain products wouldn't also be able to use same-day delivery and pickup services.  I know this, because I do - I have maybe a dozen subscriptions via Amazon's Subscribe & Save, but also order for same-day and next-day delivery via both Amazon and Whole Foods.

It strikes me as far more likely that Target didn't do the work necessary to sell the service to consumers.  For example, I have a Target a few miles from me and I have absolutely no idea whether it offered subscriptions or not.  

But that's okay with Amazon, I suspect … since Subscribe & Save has turned out to be an enormous - and dependable - part of its business.


•  From the Wall Street Journal:

"Airbnb Inc. unveiled paperwork for its initial public offering on Monday, showing the home-sharing giant turned a profit in the third quarter after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to overhaul its business and shed costs.

"The company’s revenue for the three months ended Sept. 30 fell 18% to $1.34 billion from the same period a year earlier, as the pandemic continued to hurt bookings. But deep cost cuts, combined with an uptick in revenue from previous quarters, still led it to post a profit of $219 million."

The story goes on:  "Airbnb lost $697 million through the first nine months of the year, more than twice as much as it lost in the year-earlier period, underscoring the toll of the health crisis. Revenue dropped 32% over the nine-month period.

"The home-sharing platform’s ability to resuscitate to profitability and proceed with an impending public offering show how unpredictable—and yet ultimately navigable—this year has proven for some companies. When the pandemic first gripped China and then the world, travel firms such as Airbnb faced a drastic drop in demand. But then customers, some newly able to work remotely, started turning to Airbnb over hotels as a way to escape from cities or take a manageable vacation."