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#84 – Pinduoduo enters the US, Refersion and Amazon team up, & Walmart+ adds cash back

by | Aug 29, 2022 | Recent Newsletters

I've spent the better part of my adult life traveling the world and running my businesses remotely. One of the questions I often receive after visiting a country is, “What'd you think of the people?”

And for years I've given the same comedic but truthful answer, “People in _____ are the same as people everywhere. Some are the nicest and kindest I've ever met and are willing to give you the shirt off their back. Others are pieces of ****!”

My point of sharing that story with you is to demonstrate that we often unintentionally overestimate or underestimate people from other countries in various ways. And when it comes to global business, that can be dangerous. 

In this week's 84th Edition of Shopifreaks, I cover one of China's largest e-commerce marketplaces setting their sights on the US, a popular Shopify affiliate app's new partnership with Amazon, and a new way to shop for groceries in India. 

I also report on Walmart's new loyalty program, BigCommerce's identity verification play, and Levi's patent-pending logistics software. 

All this and more in this week's edition. Thanks for being a subscriber.

PS: If you've never introduced yourself, please hit reply to this e-mail and do so now. I appreciate knowing who's on the other end of these e-mails. 

Stat of the Week

66% of shoppers are cautious to purchase on social channels again after having to return products. The cumbersome return process left shoppers either unlikely to buy again on social channels or more likely to buy directly on the brand website. – According to SimplicityDX

Share this week's stat on Twitter & LinkedIn

1. Pinduoduo enters the US market

Pinduoduo, one of China's largest e-commerce marketplaces known for selling goods at rock-bottom prices, announced its plans to expand into the US next month.

Pinduoduo's founder, Colin Huang, a former Google employee, describes the platform as a cross between “Costco and Disneyland” — a description which feels like it panders to American stereotypes, but we'll let it slide…

The company has grown to be one of the largest e-commerce marketplaces in the world since it was founded in 2015, generating $15.1B in revenue for the twelve months ending March 31, 2022.

Pinduoduo launched by targeting smaller cities and rural areas in China and attracting less wealthy and more cost-conscious shoppers to its signature “group buying” feature, which allows users make mass purchases directly from manufacturers at a steep discount.

The platform is also heavily integrated with China's super app, WeChat, which made it easy for users to gather up friends and family for group buying items.

After years of expansion, China's tech sector recently hit a wall, and prospects for growth at home have dwindled, so firms are looking abroad. While Alibaba, Meituan, and have found success marketing to SEA and Latin America, Pinduoduo is inspired by Shein and Bytedance's success in the US.

One obstacle they may face in recruiting US talent, is that Pinduoduo doesn't have a great reputation in regards to its labor practices. The company is infamous for its extreme overtime, intensively competitive work environment, employee deaths and suicides, merciless firings, and overcrowded offices.

Li Qiang, a labor activist and founder of a non-profit called China Labor Watch, said, “I think that for American tech workers, this definitely isn’t a good thing. In terms of manufacturing costs, American companies have no way to compete with Pinduoduo. If Pinduoduo succeeds, it could take Chinese-style labor practices and bring them to America.”

Could Pinduoduo actually pull that off though?

I think that Qiang's hypothesis is slightly unfounded. While they may try to implement similar labor expectations, do you know any American tech workers who would put up with any of the above without publicly and virally quitting on social media? Not to mention that given Pinduoduo's preceding reputation, labor boards and unions will be all over them with watchful eyes from the day they opened an office in the U.S.

Poor labor practices haven't fared well for other Chinese companies that entered the West. In June, I reported that Joshua Ma, a senior exec at ByteDance (owner of TikTok), was voluntarily taking some time off during an internal investigation that began after telling employees at TikTok's London offices that as a capitalist, he didn't believe companies should offer paid maternity and paternity leave. Over 20 TikTok employees have left the London office since it opened in October, citing a toxic work environment as their reason for departure. A new report by Financial Times also revealed that the company had a “kill list” of workers that they wanted to force out of the London office.

My point being that just because they try, doesn't mean Chinese companies will prevail at implementing the same labor and cultural environments in offices in the West, as they do in China.

Plus, it's stereotypical to think that ALL Chinese companies would even try. Sure there are anecdotal stories, like at TikTok's London offices, but there are also many Chinese companies that have successfully penetrated the US market without negative fanfare. What's the first drone maker you think of?

I think that setting the expectation that a Chinese company will enter the U.S. and run the exact same business that they do in China undermines the intelligence of the Chinese. 

Large companies typically get away with what the system they operate in allows them to. While Americans may rightfully look at Chinese labor practices with disdain, other countries often view our labor practices as archaic and exploitative. 

None of that is to defend Pinduoduo. That's not my place to do. I'm just trying to say that expecting the worse from the company as they enter the US is dismissive, and in my opinion, US companies best not dismiss Chinese competitors entering their territory.

2. Refersion launches Amazon Connect

Refersion, a NYC-based affiliate software that integrates with over 30 e-commerce platforms and SaaS products, launched Amazon Connect, a first-of-its-kind affiliate marketing solution for brands that sell on Amazon Marketplace. 

“Affiliate marketing for Amazon? Hasn't that existed since 1996?” — you might be asking yourself. At least that's what I was thinking when I first read the news. It took me a minute to understand what Amazon Connect is and how it plans to add value to the Brand + Amazon + Affiliate relationship.

First, let me define two things…

Amazon Associates Program = Amazon's affiliate program with over 1.9M affiliates worldwide.

Amazon’s Brand Registry Program = A program designed to help brands protect and build their brand on Amazon's platform with over 500k brands registered worldwide. 

Now here's what Refersion's Amazon Connect does…

1) Refersion's tool allows those 500k Amazon-registered brands to manage some of those 1.9M affiliates and publish promotions of their Amazon storefront products within the Refersion platform.

The reason why this is valuable is because even though Amazon offers a built-in affiliate program for sellers, it doesn't allow me to directly connect with the affiliates who promote my products.

For example, while hundreds of affiliates promote our new book Capital Cities: A Journey Around The World Through 118 Capital Cities, our World Map Coloring Poster, and our official World Traveler Tee on Amazon — I'm not able to see who those affiliates are, converse with them, or offer special promotions to them, unless I scour the web and find them / contact them myself. (Which may be against Amazon's TOS. I have no idea. Some companies do it anyway.)

btw – Do you like my organic plug above for my own products? 😉

2) Refersion's tool also offers merchants the ability to create custom commissions and rewards for affiliates in search of direct partnerships. 

I can see that being of value from a management perspective. I've had many Amazon sellers reach out to me in the past and offer me bonus commission on top of my Amazon commission for promoting their brand — but the tracking and payment processes were manual. 

3) Through Amazon Connect, brands can also leverage Amazon’s Brand Referral Bonus, a 10% commission on organically generated conversions in Amazon (ie: non-sponsored). The added 10% allows the brands to pay affiliates more and attract top talent, who in turn can earn more from Amazon's high conversion rate.

Why is Refersion barking up Amazon's tree?

It might have something to do with Shopify's recent direct moves into the affiliate marketing space. Last week I reported on Shopify's new platform-wide affiliate program, dubbed Shopify Collabs, which is now available to all retailers in U.S. and Canada. And in April, I reported on Shopify's acquisition of the influencer marketing app, Dovetale, which has since been sunset and now powers Shopify Collabs.

Today, Refersion integrates with most major players including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Recharge, Klaviyo, Salesforce, and more, however, the company got their start on the Shopify App Marketplace, and further expanded into additional platforms from there. 

I've been an affiliate of Refersion since 2016 and have setup many companies with their affiliate software. I think they're a great company and have been smart to diversify away from being a Shopify-exclusive app. Doing so has been a matter of survival. 

While few could have predicted if or when Shopify would acquire an affiliate app and integrate it freely into their platform (thus picking a winner amongst affiliate apps on their marketplace), and later convert it into the backbone of their platform-wide affiliate program, the handwriting has been on the wall for a while that this was a possibility. 

As you might recall in the 59th Edition of Shopifreaks, I reported on Bolt founder and CEO Ryan Brewslow putting Shopify on blast for “using app partners as their R&D engine” and then throwing them to the curb when Shopify takes a partner-provided feature in-house. 

With Shopify desperately needing to provide additional marketing opportunities to their merchants since Apple made it more difficult for them to advertise on Facebook, picking a winner in the affiliate category was an obvious choice. And while I think it was a great move for Shopify and their merchants, it leaves companies like Refersion looking elsewhere for growth. And there lies the behemoth Amazon.

However I do find it unusual for Amazon to outsource this important area of affiliate relationship building, as opposed to building it in-house. But then again, it's also not unknown or uncommon for Amazon to feature-partner with 3rd parties for R&D before building tools in-house either.

Or maybe it means that an Amazon acquisition of Refersion is on the horizon? Place your bets!

Hit reply and let me know your thoughts on Refersion's new Amazon Connect. 

3. BigCommerce News (Sponsored)

  • BigCommerce has partnered with A2X to integrate their account app onto their powerful e-commerce platform. With BigCommerce and A2X, ecommerce accounting is simplified, automated and accurate. This integration transforms a manual, time consuming process into an automated experience that gives you true financial visibility in just a few clicks.
  • By the end of 2021, there were an estimated 2.1 billion digital buyers worldwide. Learn how you can reach those buyers and increase e-commerce traffic to your store with SEO, Google Ads, Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Google Shopping, and Influencer Marketing through BigCommerce's new guide
  • Reminder to register free for the Make it Big Conference, a two-day virtual event on September 13-14, 2022 featuring panels, workshops, and interviews about cryptocurrency, NFTs, Web3, metaverse, headless commerce, and more. Level up your e-commerce knowledge and explore the latest retail trends at BigCommerce's free, virtual conference with speakers including Seth Godin (best selling author), John Mackey (co-founder of Whole Foods Market), Jenny Fleiss (co-founder of Rent the Runway), and other leaders in our industry. I'll see you there!

4. Grocery shopping on WhatsApp

Let me start by telling my American readers (who might not be as familiar with WhatsApp's global messaging dominance) that people overseas use the heck out of WhatsApp in their daily lives!

As you might know, I spend most of my year overseas, primarily based out of Ecuador, and I use WhatsApp to communicate with literally EVERYONE down here — including businesses. 

That's why it makes so much sense for WhatsApp to become the de facto commerce solution for people and businesses overseas — including online ordering, peer-to-peer payments, in-person payments, rent payments, and more. 

As much as I've anticipated that this avenue is the (potentially only) future for Meta, it's been slow coming, but it just got a little closer…

Meta, India’s Reliance Retail, and Jio Platforms are bringing grocery shopping to WhatsApp in what they said was a global-first end-to-end shopping experience on the platform.

India's 500M WhatsApp users will be able to browse JioMart’s grocery catalog directly within the app, add items to their cart, and make the payments via local payments rail UPI without ever leaving WhatsApp.

Meta and JioMart first began testing an integration with select users two years ago, and now it'll be available to all WhatsApp users in India. If successful, it could prove to be a major source of revenue for WhatsApp, which has so far avoided serving ads to users or charging a subscription fee.

I remember at one point during the WhatsApp timeline, that the app costs a one-time fee of $1.00 to download, and then later switched to a $1.00/year model (while grandfather in existing users), but then the fee never came for most users. In 2016, Meta scrapped that plan in favor of market growth, given that some users, particularly those in developing markets which is where WhatsApp took off, didn't have a credit card to make the payment. Since then, the app hasn't been monetized, but additional e-commerce plans are on the horizon. 

As you might recall, Meta is in the process of combining their WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram Direct Message platforms. So expect that more messaging e-commerce integrations like this will eventually head your way, even if you're not a WhatsApp user. 

5. Walmart+ adds cashback

Walmart is introducing a new perk for Walmart+ members, their subscription service which currently offers a combination of free shipping, fuel discounts, contact-free checkout, exclusive deals, free streaming, and more. The Walmart+ subscription will now offer cash back in the form of digital rewards that can be used on future Walmart purchases. 

As members search for products on or the Walmart app, they’ll see an option to obtain rewards on certain products, starting with groceries, household goods, pet care, and other select categories. From there, members can bank their digital rewards in the Walmart wallet and use them to save on future purchases in stores and online.

It's kind of amazing that since 1962, Walmart hasn't had to offer ANY type of loyalty, rewards, or cash back programs. They've historically built customer retention and loyalty via their expansive product offering and low prices, without the need for points and gimmicks like competing grocers and apparel retailers. However the market has changed a little since 1962…

The unique part about this new Walmart Rewards program is that it's only available to Walmart+ subscribers (ie: paid subscribers). Off the top of my head, I can't think of another major rewards program that requires a paid subscription to earn points, so the move is quite innovative. It also helps offset the $98 yearly cost of Walmart+ for members — a savings that Amazon currently doesn't offer a comparative approach. 

I couldn't help but laugh though on Walmart's FAQ which read, Does Walmart Rewards cost money? No, this is a free program for all Walmart+ members.”

LOL – So, free with paid subscription? Is that still free?

Either way, I'll be curious to see how Amazon responds — if they do, and if they have to — as currently the Amazon Prime subscription has offered a better bang for your buck despite the higher price tag.

However Walmart is on a mission to change that. I reported two weeks ago that Walmart has also been having discussions with major media companies like Paramount, Disney, and Comcast about bundling streaming entertainment into its subscription offering. Adding a streaming perk would push Walmart+ closer to a multi-benefit bundled subscription like Amazon Prime, rather than simply a membership with shipping benefits.

Last week I reported that MercadoLibre announced the creation of a new cryptocurrency called MercadoCoin, which will initially be implemented in its loyalty program.

Are rewards / cashback becoming the standard amongst mega e-commerce marketplaces, and will Amazon have to respond in kind? Hit reply and let me know your predictions. 

6. Payoneer expects e-commerce slowdown to continue 

Payoneer, the NY-based global platform for cross-border digital payments, is battling what their CFO Michael Levine called e-commerce “softness”. (I've heard there's a pill for that, Michael…)

The company expects a second-quarter slowdown in e-commerce to continue, and is focusing on its other revenue streams to help offset the softness.

The company has carved out a niche in China, which accounts for more revenue than any other country it operates in. For the first half of 2022, $89.8M of Payoneer’s total revenue came from China, compared to $38.3M from the U.S. Other countries accounted for $157M in revenue.

Payoneer’s largest revenue stream flows from marketplace customers, such as freelancers on Fiverr and travelers using VRBO. eBay is also one of its largest customers. 

Moving forward, the company wants to focus on products that hep small businesses expand their web presence globally. Previously, Payoneer added B2B services like automated payables and receivables and access to working capital.

7. BigCommerce to verify offers for digital customers

BigCommerce is partnering with SheerID, an identity marketing technology provider, to enable retailers using its platform to provide exclusive offers and discounts to specific customers such as students, military personnel, healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, and more.

The SheerID app offers instant verification of eligible consumers without leaving the merchant website, ownership of zero-party data for future marketing and sales, ROI reporting, and leverages BigCommerce's promotion engine integration for single-use codes. 

Retailers on BigCommerce will be able to verify customers through multiple steps in their shopping journey, which will enable them to extend targeted offers at different times during the shopping experience through landing pages, discounts during checkout, or within a loyalty program.

SheerID runs on a digital verification engine that accesses 20k digital data sources around the world that can instantly verify eligible customers for exclusive offers. According to the company, retailers have been able to generate 3X the conversion and a 20-to-1 or higher ROAS.

I've reported on various ID verification startups in the past, but most were aimed at verifying and connecting unbanked users in developing nations or facilitating credit. Perhaps I've just been out of the loop, but I'm not as familiar with identification technology being used for dynamic marketing.

It's quite fascinating, and I can see how personalized offers like that can lead to better KPIs — depending on the intensity of the personalization of course. For example, I may not think twice as a teacher if a website advertised 20% off for school teachers in their top bar, but I would find it off putting and invasive if a website I'd never visited before advertised, “Free International Shipping For Americans Living in Ecuador.” Luckily SheerID doesn't offer THAT type of personalization (yet). 

To my BigCommerce merchants, is this a technology that you plan on implementing into your own store? Or do you feel that your existing offers serve your customers well enough?

8. Levi's is upping their logistics game with innovative AI

Levi Strauss & Co. is launching a patent-pending AI and machine learning-driven e-commerce solution aimed at optimizing inventory management and streamlining order fulfillment. 

The system is called BOOST, which stands for Business Optimization of Shipping and Transport. I see how they included the “of” in the acronym, but not the “and” — otherwise it'd be BOOSAT. 

Here's how it works…

Consumers who are looking to purchase a specific product online, and find that it's out of stock, will be able to easily locate nearby stores that are carrying the item. That in of itself is not that revolutionary, as it's a feature we're all accustomed to when shopping on websites like Lowe's or Walmart.

In September, I reported that Amazon is developing a new type of POS system that can handle both online and offline transactions, which could eventually enable similar local shopping features across their network of merchants. 

BOOST also helps the company choose the best fulfillment option for both the customer and their own bottom line. For example, the software can help them determine which fulfillment center and/or store can handle all, or the bulk of, the order fulfillment, rather than unnecessarily split delivery. 

Louis DiCesari, global head of data, analytics, and AI at Levi's, “If a consumer orders three things from Levi’s and gets three packages from Levi’s, it’s a poor experience for the customer and a bigger strain on resources.”

Levi's said that it's already seeing benefits from the system across the board. At the moment, the system accounts for about 40% of BOOST-eligible orders, but by Black Friday this year, they expect to be processing 100% of eligible U.S. orders, and later scaling across Europe.

9. Other e-commerce news of interest this week

  • Instacart started enlisting celebrities and influencers to create shopping lists. The new feature, called Carts, will display lists of grocery items themed around events or picked by celebrities that customers can add to their own carts. 
  • Bonanza launched a webstore which they call “an easy Shopify alternative” to compete in the e-commerce space. The stores kind of look like they were made using Geocities in the 1990s. 
  • Peloton is now selling its Bike and Guide, along with apparel, on Amazon, with free white-glove delivery and installation (which Peloton started charging an extra $250-350 for earlier this year). Up until now, the only way to purchase Peloton products was on their website. 
  • Shopify Capital, which offers loans to Shopify merchants with repayments made on a per-sale basis, entered the Australian market, now offering up to $2.5M AUD in funds to merchants. In Q2 2022, merchants in the US, Canada, and the UK received a total of $416.4M in loans from the program. 
  • Google is hosting a a virtual event tomorrow (Aug 30 @ 12-2 PM CDT) called Think Retail, which will kick off with a keynote presentation covering the latest holiday shopping insights, category trends, consumer behaviors, and Google solutions to help businesses get ready for the holidays.
  • BigCommerce was selected as an approved e-commerce technology supplier for the UK government-backed Help to Grow: Digital Scheme. The partnership will offer BigCommerce's platform at subsidized rates to allow small and medium sized businesses to build online stores.
  • André 3000 will star in Supreme’s upcoming Fall/Winter 2022 campaign, where the musician will appear wearing the classic Supreme logo tee with a distressed olive military jacket, red beanie, and pinstripe overalls.
  • Amazon India signed an agreement with Rajasthan Grameen Aajeevika Vikas Parishad (RGAVP), an autonomous society, established by the Government of Rajasthan, to support the growth of women artisans and Self Help groups across the state. A regional selection of products made by over 15,000 women entrepreneurs and SHGs will be listed on Amazon's online marketplace. 
  • Packable, the parent company of the top-ranking Amazon seller, Pharmapacks, is ceasing operations, laying off employees, and liquidating, after a failed effort to go public through a SPAC last year. Pharmapacks was the number one Amazon seller in the US at one point, and now ranks number five. Scary that one of the top five Amazon sellers can't afford to stay in business — especially with $1.6M in average daily revenue. Although I'd imagine it's a result of mismanagement and a focus on growth over profit in previous years. 
  • Affirm reported a 96% increase in active users to 14M during the period ending on June 30, compared to 7.1M for the same period a year ago. To keep the growth trending upward, the company plans to launch a rewards program in beta this September with a select number of retailers. 
  • Gap Inc. is opening a new high tech fulfillment center to support its rapidly growing e-commerce sales. The 850k sq.ft. distribution center in Longview, Texas is outfitted with robotics systems and automation technology.
  • Zip, the Australia-based BNPL provider, is exiting UK in the wake of a $701.3M loss, after recently announcing that it would exit Singapore. In July, I reported that Zip called off its acquisition of Sezzle, a BNPL firm in the US. 
  • Shopify introduced a bundled shipping insurance offering for US merchants in partnership with Shipsurance. Merchants can now purchase shipping insurance of up to $200 for eligible labels purchased through Shopify Shipping, which will cover against loss, theft, or damage.
  • Cash App and Block are being sued in a class action lawsuit alleging that the company failed to safeguard the information of their customers during a Dec 2021 data breach, leading to the unauthorized public release of personally identifiable information of 8.2M customers. The data breach came to light after Block disclosed that one of its former employees had downloaded the private info of Cash App investors without being authorized to do so. 
  • ShopX, a B2B commerce company in India, is shutting down operations after not generating enough cash flow. The company is in default of multiple loans form its investors and has filed an application for initiating corporate insolvency, citing lack of funds.
  • Uber and AMC Theatres have partnered with the e-commerce company Rokt to generate more revenue during checkout on their mobile and web platforms. The integration with Rokt's platform will allow the two companies to deliver more relevant messaging at a time when the consumer is most likely to make an additional purchase. 
  • A former OpenSea product manager was charged with wire fraud and money laundering in June for using his inside knowledge to purchase NFTs before they were featured and later selling them at a profit. His lawyers now filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that NFTs are neither securities or commodities, so no insider trading could have taken place. 

10. This week in seed rounds, IPOs, & acquisitions….

  • DigitalOcean, a US-based website host, entered into an agreement to acquire Cloudways, a Pakistani cloud hosting provider, for $350M in an all-cash transaction. The two companies have been business partners since 2014, and after the merger, will serve over 124k customers paying over $50/month.
  • Noon, an e-commerce company backed by Dubai billionaire Mohamed Alabbar and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, is purchasing Namshi, a fashion e-commerce platform, from Emaar Properties for $335.2M. Emaar bought Namshi for a total of $281M, having first acquired 51% in 2017 before buying the remaining 49% in 2019.
  • Myplanet, a software studio that specializes in composable commerce, raised $11M in funding from Tercera, an investment company that focuses on cloud professional services. The company will use the funds to deepen its MACH Alliance partnerships and double the size of its global workforce.
  • Farfetch, a curated fashion platform, acquired a 47.5% stake in Yoox, an e-commerce wholesaler that launched its own marketplace earlier this year. Yoox is part of the Net-A-Porter Group, which has been losing money for years and had been planning to sell a minority stake in YNAP for a while.
  • Lily AI, an AI-powered platform that connects a merchant's shoppers with products they might be looking to buy, raised $25M in a Series B round led by Canaan, bringing its total amount raised to $41M. The company retains a team of fashion experts who help to refine product taxonomies, which are then used to train algorithms for product search and recommendations.
  • Cashify, an Indian platform for buying and selling used mobile phones and laptops, raised $90M in a Series E round led by NewQuest Capital Partners and Prosus. Amazon was also an investor in the round and will hold a 2.12% stake in the company.
  • Thirdweb, a London and San Francisco-based platform that aims to become the default developer tool in the Web3 space, raised $24M in a Series A round co-led by Haun Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, and Shopify, valuing the company at $160M. Thirdweb has been live for nine months, has attracted 55k developers to its platform, and has deployed over 150k smart contracts across six blockchains. The company will use the funds to support a wider array of blockchains, bring on more users, and grow its team.
  • VIAVIA, a new video-first e-commerce platform, raised $8M in a seed round co-led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Basis Set Ventures, following its $1.15M pre-seed round in Feb 2022. The company seeks to modernize fashion e-commerce experiences by combining creator-driven live and short-form video content with AI-powered tech infrastructure for the fashion supply chain. 
  • Ready Player Me, a software development company that produces animated avatars for virtual worlds, raised $56M in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz. More than 3,000 apps have linked to the platform to handle over 5M customized avatars. Their vision is to help the metaverse ecosystem break free from a future that is dominated by a few walled gardens and allow interlinked and interoperable virtual worlds.
  • Hello Clever, an Australian buy-to-earn startup that offers shoppers real-time cashback, raised $4.5M AUD in a round led by Vectr Fintech Partners. The platform provides real-time cash back for customers at participating merchants and allows users to track their spending across multiple bank accounts in real-time using open banking, fast payments, and AI technologies.
  • Tamara, a Saudi Arabian BNPL provider, raised $100M in a Series B round led by Sanabil Investments, a portfolio company of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, bringing, their total amount raised to $216M in equity and debt. The company has 3M customers and 4k merchants including IKEA, SHEIN, Adidas, Namshi, and Jarir, and will use the funds to fuel its growth into new markets and expand its product offering across payments and shopping. In a recent interview, CEO Abdulmajeed Alsukhan said that the BNPL debt trap is a myth and that they are better compared to credit cards and bank loans. 
  • Qoo10, a Singapore-based e-commerce firm that operates localized marketplaces in SEA, announced plans to acquire Tmon Inc., a Korean e-commerce platform, through a stock swap deal. Qoo10 is also pushing to buy Interpark, a local e-commerce platform, from Yanolja Inc., which owns a 70% stake.
  • eBay is acquiring myFitment, a provider of tools and support to assist online automotive and powersport parts and accessories sellers, for an undisclosed amount. eBay sells more than 500M parts and accessories globally, and the integration of myFitment's technology will help optimize the listing process for sellers and add a layer of confidence for buyers by simplifying how they navigate inventory to find parts for their cars.
  • eBay is also acquiring TCGplayer, an online marketplace for trading cards, in a deal worth up to $295M. The company will continue to operate independently after the deal. In June, I reported on eBay's launch of eBay Vault, a 31,000 sq.ft. temperature controlled facility for collectors to store their physical collectibles, beginning with graded trading cards valued at over $750.
  • Zuora Inc., a cloud subscription services company, will acquire Zephr Inc., a subscription paywall software startup, for $44M in an all-cash deal. Combining the two services will allow the company to continuously innovate around new services, offers, and bundles. 

What'd I miss?

Shopifreaks is a community effort and I appreciate your contributions to help keep the rest of our readers in the know with the latest happenings in e-commerce. Whenever you have news to share, you can e-mail [email protected] or hit reply to any of my newsletters.

You can also mention @shopifreaks on Twitter or submit posts to r/Shopifreaks on Reddit, and I'll curate the best submissions each week for inclusion in the newsletter. 

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See you next Monday!


Paul E. Drecksler
[email protected]

PS: What's South America's most hilarious fruit? … Naranja ja ja ja!

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