This week’s newsletter continues highlighting the trend of internalization and consolidation in the e-commerce space with news of platforms adding core features to gain market share, compete against each other, and bring it all in-house. Meanwhile, India is pushing back against foreign e-commerce goliaths with demonstrations across 500 cities nationwide.
All this and more in this week’s 35th edition of the Shopifreaks newsletter.
1. Shopify unveils Shopify Markets
Shopify announced the launch of a new centralized hub for merchants called Shopify Markets that offers tools to manage global commerce. Merchants will be able to identify, set-up, launch, and optimize international markets from a single Shopify store — an effort that historically has taken a combination of multiple storefronts, third party apps, and patient developers to make happen.
Shopify has previously catered to international sellers on a basic level by offering international domains and multiple currencies, but is now expanding its international service offering to include features like currency conversion, language localization, local payment options, and duty and import tax management. In the words of Shopify, the platform is going “global by default”. I’d speculate that last mile delivery will be added to that toolset in the future.
This is another recent example of Shopify taking solutions that were previously only offered via 3rd party apps and service providers and making them part of Shopify’s core feature set. Recent other examples included offering e-mail marketing and live chat features to merchants directly through the Shopify backend.
I think it’s a great move by Shopify to bring these international selling and localization features in-house as part of their core offering. Up until now it’s been a complex and fragmented system to sell internationally across multiple Shopify stores. I’m curious how much, if any, of their duty and important tax management will be handled by Global E-Online (GLBE), of which Shopify took a $193M pre-IPO stake in the company this past May.
Shopify Markets is currently accepting applications for early access. I applied with some of my international storefronts so that I can get an early look at the new centralized hub, and I’ll keep you in the loop if any of my stores are approved.
2. Adobe is adding payment services to its e-commerce platform
Adobe announced that it will add payment services to its e-commerce platform this year to allow merchants accept credit cards and other ways of paying without having to build their own payment systems or negotiate with payment processors (as is the case currently).
Adobe entered the e-commerce platform market in 2018 when it purchased Magento Commerce from Permira for $1.68B, and now it wants a piece of the growing fintech market that Shopify, Facebook, and about everyone else has their eyes set on right now.
It’s a huge market too. For perspective, in 2020, more than two-thirds of Shopify’s $2.93 billion in revenue came from its merchant services segment that includes payments.
So another Stripe white label solution? Not quite… PayPal this time!
Adobe will roll out the new payment system by the end of 2021 in the USA by tapping into Paypal’s payment processing network, which will allow them to accept debit and credit cards as well as PayPal’s BNPL payment option. However it’s deal with PayPal isn’t exclusive, and Adobe will work with other payment processors in other markets as it expands into Canada, Australia, and Western Europe in 2022.
3. FedEx and Salesforce team up to compete with Amazon
FedEx is integrating two Salesforce cloud solutions into its ShopRunner e-commerce platform, which Fedex purchased in Dec 2020 to connect shoppers with retailers.
Through this partnership, FedEx says it will be able to provide companies with access to millions of high-value shoppers and also leverage Salesforce CRM functionality to provide more precise delivery information to customers.
When FedEx purchased ShopRunner, the company said it hoped to create an “open, collaborative e-commerce ecosystem that helps merchants deliver seamless experiences for their customers.” — So pretty much Amazon with extra steps.
FedEx has been on a roll in recent years making partnerships, integrations, and acquisitions to secure its market share in the next decade. Recent moves include:
- Partnering with Nuro in June 2021
- Integrating with Adobe Commerce in April 2021
- Acquiring ShopRunner in December 2020
- Partnering with Happy Returns in October 2020
- Partnering with Microsoft in May 2020
- Partnering with BigCommerce in April 2020
4. Speaking of Salesforce…
Salesforce and Alibaba Cloud announced that they are working toward an agreement to launch Salesforce Social Commerce, a headless commerce product that is being designed and built in China to help multinational brands grow their businesses within China’s borders.
China is currently the world’s largest online retail market, so doing business in the country is critical for many Salesforce customers, however companies face challenges operating in the region.
Salesforce Social Commerce is being built with this challenge in mind, helping businesses unify data across their Chinese storefronts and offering integrations with key local systems. The platform will support e-commerce across China-specific channels including social networks and .CN websites. It will also support local payment systems such as Alipay.
It wasn’t specifically mentioned in the article, but I assume that Social Commerce will also help Salesforce satisfy China’s stringent data and consumer surveillance rules as part of their integration with “key local systems.”
5. India’s 30-Day Campaign Against E-commerce Giants
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has launched a month-long national campaign against e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart. The organization will hold ‘dharnas’ in more than 500 cities across the country in protest of the “gross violation” of India’s laws and rules by foreign e-commerce giants.
Called “E-Commerce Per Halla Bol”, the national campaign alleges that Amazon and Walmart (operating as Flipkart in India) are opposing the country’s new e-commerce rules, and is contending that the new law should put these companies and small traders under one bracket to easier control.
CAIT has stated that foreign ecommerce companies will adversely affect the country’s economy and retail market and feels that, “consolidation of the nationalist forces has become very important.”
6. Switzerland commits $4.4M for UNCTAD’s e-commerce and digital economy work
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is a permanent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1964, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Their mission is to help developing countries access the benefits of a globalized economy more fairly and effectively by providing analysis, facilitating consensus-building, and offering technical assistance.
UNCTAD’s e-commerce and digital economy program focuses on enhancing the capacities of developing countries to harness the evolving digital economy for more inclusive development — which is a fancy way of saying they help countries get online. “Have you tried unplugging and replugging your digital economy?”
Switzerland announced a contribution of $4.4M to support this program’s technical cooperation, research and consensus-building activities until 2024.
7. WPEngine launches a headless WordPress framework
WP Engine has launched Faust.js, a new headless framework that is open source and designed to work in any Node hosting environment.
The new framework will allow developers to build scalable, better performing sites with modern frontend tools while preserving WordPress’ publishing experience. Faust.js includes content previews, support for custom post styles, and built-in authentication to support paywalls, e-commerce, membership sites, and other functionality that has been traditionally difficult for headless sites.
Faut.js will compete with existing headless solutions like the React-based Frontity framework, which Automattic (the parent company of WordPress) acquired last month.
Faust.js creator William Johnston said, “Frontity and Faust are similar, the main difference is that Frontity focuses on providing a framework on-top of React where Faust is primarily built with Next.js support in-mind… It also lets Faust focus specifically on how to make Headless WordPress a better experience, without having to come up with a comprehensive solution for front-end, node-base, static/server-side applications.“
8. This week in seed rounds & acquisitions….
- Intuit, best known for its TurboTax software, is acquiring Mailchimp, an e-mail marketing service and e-commerce platform for small businesses, for $12B in the biggest sale ever of a private bootstrapped company. Intuit feels that the deal will advance its powering prosperity around the world and its strategy to become an AI-driven expert platform.
- Maersk, a Danish international container shipping company, acquired Huub, a Portuguese cloud-based logistics startup, for an undisclosed amount. Maersk previously invested in the company in 2019.
- Commercetools, a headless e-commerce and API platform, raised $140M in a Series C round led by Accel with previous investors Insight Partners and REWE Group participating, valuing the company at $1.9B. The company will use the funding to continue organically expanding its business and to make acquisitions to bolt on new customers and technology.
- Rewind Software Inc., an Ottawa-based startup that backs up Shopify data, raised $65M in a round led by Insight Partners. The company will use the funding to expand its offerings for small business software users.
- Millions, a social commerce platform geared towards professional athletes, raised $10M in a round led by Volition Capital. The company will use the funds to grow its product engineering team and on marketing to sign more athletes to their platform.
- Capiter, an Egyptian B2B e-commerce startup, raised $33M in a Series A round co-led by Quona Capital and MSA Capital. The company will use the funding to expand geographically and reach new types of buyers.
- GAIA, a Mexico-based online furniture sales platform, raised $50M in a Series C round led by SoftBank Latin America Fund. The company will use the funds to launch a marketplace to showcase its more than 300k products and improve its current tech and operational infrastructure.
- Billogram, a recurring billing payments platform, raised $45M from a single investor, Partech. The company will use the funding to help expand from its current base in Sweden to six more markets.
- SellersFunding, a fintech startup that offers working capital and cross-border cash / tax management, raised $166.5M in a combination of Series A equity funding and credit facility led by Northzone. The company will use the funding to continue developing its technology and payments platforms for e-commerce businesses.
- Constructor, a search and discovery tool for e-commerce businesses, raised $55M in a Series A round led by Silversmith Capital Partners. The company will use the funding to take its tools to new frontiers including social media and in-store search.
- Zonos, a cross-border commerce company, raised $69M in a Series A also led by Silversmith Capital Partners. The company will use the funding to continue building its APIs that auto classify goods and calculate total landed cost on international transactions.
What’d I miss?
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Paul E. Drecksler
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