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And now, it's my pleasure to bring you this week's 36th edition of the Shopifreaks newsletter.
1. Squarespace launches new features for e-commerce websites
Squarespace introduced a series of new product features to help its e-commerce customers sell in different ways online including physical products, digital content, classes, appointments, and reservations.
The new features were inspired by the growing “creator economy” which makes up a sizable portion of their clients. New features include:
- Video Studio App – allows anyone to create professional-level videos that promote their business and tell their story.
- Scheduling – offers merchants the ability to share their availability on their website, social channels, and through emails and texts to schedule classes and appointments.
- Etsy Integration – connects merchants Etsy shop and review to their online stores.
- Tock — enables time-slotted businesses such as restaurants, wineries and bars to manage their reservations, events, and to-go orders.
- Unfold Updates – user can schedule their social posts weeks in advance across multiple Instagram accounts and optimize their “link in bio” pages.
- Video Classes – a new way for educators, content creators, and community leaders to monetize their expertise by selling video classes in a members-only area.
- Web Design Tools – new features for customizing the look and feel of of websites.
- Brand Consistency Tools – to help achieve brand consistency across websites, e-mail campaigns, videos, and bio sites.
Squarespace is also launching a new brand campaign, “Everything to Sell Anything,” which captures the company’s vision for its online commerce platform.
2. Roku is launching an app for Shopify ads
Roku is launching an app to provide Shopify merchants a way to easily build, buy, and measure streaming TV ad campaigns — marking the first ever TV streaming app for the Shopify App store.
Merchants of any size will be able to create TV ad campaigns using precise audience selection. Campaigns can then be launched within minutes to Roku's audience of 55.1 million active accounts.
The integration will be rolled out this holiday season and will be beta-tested by Birthdate Co, Jambys, Moon Pod, and Olipop.
3. Shopify surpasses Amazon in online traffic
According to data by Business Insider, Shopify has reportedly beaten Amazon in online traffic. Their report analyzed traffic from Similarweb to reveal that, collectively, all the Shopify-powered websites online surpassed Amazon for unique visitors in the last quarter of this year.
Average Monthly Unique Visitors: April 1 – June 30, 2021
Shopify: 1.16 billion
Amazon: 1.10 billion
Business Insider also reported that the gap is expected to increase in the current quarter with Shopify-powered sites anticipated to draw 1.22 billion visitors versus 1.13 billion for Amazon.
Of course, this report specifically looks at visits to Amazon Marketplaces (where you buy things), and doesn't include AWS traffic, Amazon's cloud server division, which powers about 1/3 of Internet traffic.
4. Amazon rolls out voice shopping in Hindi
Amazon announced that it plans to roll out its voice shopping experience feature in Hindi in the South Asian market ahead of the Diwali festival in early November. The feature will allow shoppers to search for products and check their order status using voice commands such as “joote dikhao” which is Hindi for “show me shoes.”
Only 10% of India’s 1.3 billion people speak English, and voice search has surged in the country as many new mobile users find it difficult to type on virtual keyboards.
Amazon launched voice shopping in English in 2020 and has seen wild success and quick adoption of the feature among English speaking customers. The new Hindi language rollout is part of Amazon's broader localization push, and of course, part of their mission to gain as much market share as possible in the world's second largest populated country.
Amazon’s voice shopping experience will be available to only Android users. Finally something comes to Android before Apple! Although it's nothing personal — it's purely numbers driven. Android owns 95% of mobile market share in India compared to Apple's 3% market share.
5. Slack releases video clips and Salesforce integrations
Slack, which has been talking about expanding beyond text-based messaging for quite a while, announced two major updates to its platform:
1) Clips – a way to leave short video messages that users can watch at their leisure. The idea is to take a traditional 30-minute meeting and remove the requirement for all participants to be available together in real time.
2) 16 Salesforce Integrations – including connections to swarms, the sales-focused deal room, MuleSoft and Tableau, and industry-specific integrations for banking, life sciences and philanthropy.
Salesforce bought Slack at the end of 2020 in a deal worth almost $28 billion, and the company is continuing its plans to build in integrations across the Salesforce platform.
6. India's e-commerce rules facing internal government dissent
According to memos reviewed by Reuters, India's plan to tighten rules on its e-commerce market has run into internal government dissent, with the Ministry of Finance describing some proposals as “excessive” and “without economic rationale”.
Suhaan Mukerji, managing partner at India's PLR Chambers, said, “The ministry of finance raising such concerns would likely spur a rethink of the policy.”
As a quick reminder of India's recent saga with e-commerce — this past June, India's consumer affairs ministry proposed legislation to limit anti-competitive and monopolistic practices by online marketplaces, specifically setting their sites on Amazon and Walmart's Flipkart. The rules were announced after complaints from brick-and-mortar retailers about unfair practices of foreign companies.
However since then, the finance ministry, the ministry of corporate affairs and the federal think-tank NITI Aayog, as well as the marketplaces themselves, have raised objections on the grounds that the proposals go far beyond their stated aim of protecting consumers and also lack regulatory clarity.
I'll continue to keep you updated on the status of India's new e-commerce rules as new information is revealed.
7. Freshworks had its IPO
Freshworks – India's oldest unicorn – was listed on Wednesday with the opening price of $43.5, higher than the set price of the IPO at $36 per share, raising a little over $1 billion in its IPO and valuing the company at more than $10 billion. It is the first of India's tech unicorns to go public.
On the first day, the stock price reached a high of $48.75 before closing at $47.55 and a volume of 2,01,42,120. At the time of writing this newsletter, it's dropped into $44 territory.
Freshworks was founded in Chennai, India in 2010, but is now headquartered in San Mateo, California. However the majority of its engineering staff is still based in India.
Freshworks provides SaaS solutions to small businesses such as sales funnels, CRMs, and marketing tools.
Girish Mathrubootham, CEO and founder, said in their IPO filing, “We weren't founded in Silicon Valley. We didn't target large enterprises. We didn't have access to a been-there-done-that talent pool. I'm very proud that Freshworks is a pioneer of Indian entrepreneurship, and of our ability to blend the art of Indian design with the science of Silicon Valley scaling.”
8. This week in seed rounds & acquisitions….
- Sendinblue, a digital marketing platform, acquired three e-commerce marketing companies for more than $47M: Chatra, a messaging platform for SMBs, Metrilo, a marketing and sales analytics SaaS platform for e-merchants, and PushOwl, a push notifications app. The acquisitions are part of Sendinblue's longer term vision to dive into the e-commerce space.
- Mirakl, a French marketplace platform, raised $555M in a Series E round led by Silver Lake alongside existing investors 83North, Elaia Partners, FElix Capital, and Permira, valuing the company at $3.5B. The company plans to use the funding to increase the size of its engineering team.
- Evermos, an Indonesian halal-focused social commerce startup, raised $30M in a Series B round led by UOB Venture Management's Asia Impact Investment Fund II. The funding will be used for hiring, enhancing their recommendation engine and other AI tech, and entering new regions in Indonesia.
- Tag, a Pakistani fintech startup, raised over $12M in a round led by Liberty City Ventures, Canaan Partners, Addition, Mantis, and Banana Capital, bringing their total to-date funds raised to over $17.5M and valuing the company at $100M. The company will use the funding to broad its product offerings and hire more talent to win the trust of the market.
- Airwallex, an Australian fintech startup that provides banking services and APIs to small businesses, raised $200M in a Series E round led by Lone Pine Capital, valuing the company at $4B. The company will use the funding to continue investing in its product and technology and expand its geographical and client footprint.
- Flippa, a marketplace to buy and sell online businesses and digital assets, raised $11M in a Series A led by OneVentures, the company's first venture-backed round. The funding will be used to double the company's employees to more than 100 people as it builds offices globally and establishes outposts in Melbourne, San Francisco, and Austin.
- Boulevard, a British marketplace seller, raised €2.5M in a round led by Fuel Ventures. The company will use the funding to further diversify its products and advance its in-house algorithm.
- Sendcloud, an e-commerce shipping platform in Europe, raised €150 in a Series C funding round led by Softbank. The company will use the funding to accelerate rowth and continue its international expansion.
What'd I miss?
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Paul E. Drecksler
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