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#160 – Shopify’s ad buying service, Google Ads on Pinterest, & Amazon sued for streaming ads

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Recent Newsletters

Before we begin, I'd like to welcome Getida to the Shopifreaks family as our fourth official News Partner! 🎉🥳

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I'm thrilled to work with Getida as a News Partner and provide my readers with a solution that saves them time and puts money back into their businesses.

Let me know how your experience goes with Getida and how much of a reimbursement they're able to recover for your Amazon business. (Btw – Getida welcomes sellers big and small. No reason to leave money on the table no matter your business size.)

And now back to our regularly scheduled content…

In this week's edition I cover:

  • Shopify's new cost per action advertising campaigns with Google and Meta
  • Shopify's relaunched fulfillment network
  • The best and worst Super Bowl ads
  • Meta & TikTok fight back against EU fees
  • Pinterest Ads now available on Google Ad Manager
  • Amazon's class action lawsuits over streaming ads & Buy Now boxes
  • Amazon expanding its package-less delivery program
  • BigCommerce's new headless store builder
  • Shopify Plus fees going up
  • And BNPL rewards programs going down

All this and more in this week's 160th Edition of Shopifreaks. Thanks for subscribing and sharing!

Stat of the Week

Global e-commerce revenue is expected to hit a record-breaking $3.64 trillion in 2024 after spiking 108% during the previous five years. Global revenue grew from $1.52 trillion in 2018 to $3.15 trillion in 2023, and the trend is expected to continue to rise through 2028, when global e-commerce revenue is forecast to reach $5.3 trillion. — According to Statista data presented by

E-commerce Revenue Projections 2024

1. Shopify launches ad buying service for merchants

Last week in their Winter '24 Editions, Shopify announced that their Shop Cash Offers had been rebranded to Shop Campaigns, and that they added new estimates and analytics to the dashboard. They also wrote, “Attract buyers on the Shop app, the web, and soon, Meta and Google.”

Quick Backstory: Shopify publicly launched Shop Cash in June 2023, which was initially positioned as a rewards program that earns shoppers 1% cashback on purchases made using the Shop Pay payment method. The rewards are redeemable for future purchases within Shop App across any merchant, not just the store that the customer purchased from. At the same time, they also launched Shop Cash Offers as a way for merchants to drive traffic and sales to their stores from within the Shop App.

Now, with the addition of the words “and soon, Meta and Google”, it appears that Shopify will be helping merchants acquire new customers derived from traffic outside of the Shop App. Business Insider explored the offering further:

  • Shop Campaigns is the first time Shopify is providing a full marketing service for non-Plus merchants.
  • Merchant offers that were previously exclusive to the Shop App will now be promoted as ads on Meta and Google.
  • Merchants set their CPA and then Shopify will run ads on Meta and Google to find those customers.
  • Apparently customers only pay for converting customers into sales (not per click) and don't have to create their own assets or configure customer targeting themselves.
  • Shopify declined to specify when those ads would go live.
  • This is different from Shopify's two-year old product called Shopify Audiences, which allows its shopper data to be used to target ads on Meta, Snap, and Google through the adtech firm Criteo. This program is limited to Plus merchants.

Shopify's director of product Andrius Baranauskas said in an email, “Our goal is to help merchants achieve meaningful results efficiently and risk free, whether it's through the Shop app and web or other platforms, to grow faster by reaching a broader range of buyers.”

James Borow, cofounder of AI adtech firm Market AI, said in response to the news, “Shopify is going to become one of the largest advertisers in the world — they have a lot of leverage when dealing with all these partners. I really think it's one of the biggest deals in adtech in a long time if they can pull it off.”

Can they though — pull it off? Unless Shopify is getting incredibly discounted auction prices on their ads (which they might be through volume deals), can they afford to effectively offer a cost per action advertising model to their merchants? What if the product is terrible or incredibly overpriced? What if the product's photos and ChatGPT-written description don't do it any justice?

As most of you reading this are aware, a LOT goes into developing / marketing a product and building ad campaigns that convert. It could take thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to tweak those campaigns until you get it right. Is Shopify about to light ad spend on fire in an effort to get this right for their merchants (when they have no control over the product or assets themselves)?

My best guess is that Shopify won't be running ad campaigns directly to unproven products of smaller merchants (beyond a few tests), and will instead be driving traffic back to the Shop App and website where customers are offered a range of promoted items, and the cream will naturally rise to the top in terms of which products earn the sale and pay the CPA. That's the only way I could possible see this making sense, as I don't imagine that Shopify can simply run CPA ads for each merchant individually. But then again, I may be wrong.

If you have more insight into how Shopify will be structuring their Google / Meta ad offering, hit reply and let me know.

2. Shopify's new fulfillment network

Shopify also revealed the newest version of its fulfillment offerings in last week's edition.

If you recall, Shopify sold off its logistics division last year, including Deliverr which it acquired for $2.1B in May 2022, to Flexport in an all stock deal that gave Shopify 13% ownership in the company. (Shopify just invested another $260M in Flexport two weeks ago, which presumably increased that ownership.)

As part of the deal, Flexport became Shopify's “preferred” logistics partner, but up until now, that hadn't really looked like anything beyond words.

However now, with the newly launched Shopify Fulfillment Network, merchants are prompted to sign up to use Flexport's fulfillment services directly through Shopify's app. Merchants can then send their inventory to Flexport's warehouses and have the company handle fulfillment, wholesale distribution, packaging, and return processing with two or three day delivery.

It's understandable why Shopify would offer such a big and exclusive feature for Flexport — they have a vested financial interest in the company's success. However fulfillment isn't a one-size-fits-all service, so I'm wondering if it's the best interest of merchants that ALL of them — regardless of shipping volume, product size, international fulfillment needs, boutique packaging requirements, etc — are pushed towards Flexport.

What about Flowspace (one of our News Partners), Red Stag Fulfillment, Zenventory, Portless, or the countless other e-commerce fulfillment partners that could potentially be a better fit? Is Shopify leaving money on the table by not having commercial relationships with multiple fulfillment partners and connecting merchants with the right one for their needs?

Shopify offers similar exclusive partnerships to power other business lines:

  • Affirm is the exclusive BNPL provider for Shopify Pay Installments.
  • Global-e powers Shopify Markets Pro.
  • Shopify Payments is powered by Stripe.
  • Shopify is an investor in all of those companies as well.

I can understand offering exclusive partnerships for payments and legal services, but fulfillment is a different beast. Granted merchants are still free to use other fulfillment solutions, many which are featured in the Shopify App Marketplace, however, merchants often go with the lowest hanging fruit (like Shopify Payments), so it's a clear benefit to Flexport to be their preferred fulfillment partner.

3. What were the best Super Bowl ads?

How about that game last night?! What started out as terrible football on both sides turned into an edge-of-your-seat overtime that won me some cash with 3 seconds to spare! (Yes, I was rooting for Team Swift.)

Aside from the game itself, how about those commercials? This year I'd collectively give them a solid “meh” rating across the board. None of the commercials were that memorable in my opinion, but a few made me slightly expel air from my nose in an action that some would say resembled a laugh.

Here were some fan favorite commercials from this year's Super Bowl:

  • Michael CeraVe – This was my favorite commercial of the night, featuring a cross-over between Michael Cera and the CeraVe skincare line.
  • Javier in Frame – Google's commercial for its Pixel camera showed a man with visual impairment as he used the phone to take photos of himself and his family.
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups – Reese's used the spot to promote its new caramel big cups, with a voiceover by Will Arnett.
  • An American Love Story – Volkswagen took viewers for a drive down memory lane, praising Americans for making the car company part of our culture for the past 75 years, and ending the commercial by featuring its new electric minibus.
  • Shop Like A Billionaire – Temu forwent celebrities and nostalgia and instead opted for cartoon commercials featuring various characters outfitting themselves with products from their marketplace. When I commented that the Temu ad was “meh”, Juozas Kaziukėnas made a good point saying, “Incredibly meh. But others are possibly spending more to produce their ads than it costs to air them, with all the Hollywood talent involved. Temu instead just bought more air time. Quality vs quantity, very fitting!”
  • Hello Down There – Squarespace's Martin Scorsese directed commercial didn't make as big of a splash as it was hoping. The ad depicted an alien invasion of Earth where humans are too wrapped up in their phones to notice, to which the aliens use Squarespace to make a website advertising their presence.
  • It's the Hard Knock Life – Dove's commercial focused on girl empowerment through body confidence. I respect the sentiment, but is anyone actually joining the Dove Body Confident Sport program (which is just a newsletter) or using the #KeepHerConfident hashtag? Sometimes I think it's better just to share a positive message without the supplemental call to actions. Either way, the commercial led to some backlash by consumers reminding Dove of their previous support of transgender women taking awards away from other women.
  • The DunKings – This one by Dunkin' Donuts featuring Ben Affleck as the rap leader of the DunKings musical group was pretty good. It referenced last year's commercial where Jennifer Lopez visited Ben Affleck at his “job” at the Dunkin Donuts drive through.
  • Gift Mode – Etsy's ad for its new Gift Mode feature was kind of weird, showcasing America trying to figure out what gift to give France in reciprocation of the country gifting us the Statue of Liberty. Their answer was “cheese”, but does Etsy even sell cheese on its marketplace?
  • Well Said – Disney thought it'd be a good idea to make customers read for the entirety of their 30 second spot.
  • Dareful Handle – Toyota's ad for its new Tacoma was cute and captured the emotion of riding in the passenger seat of a truck with someone driving recklessly.

What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial of the year? Hit reply and let me know.

4. Meta and TikTok challenge the EU

Meta and TikTok are separately challenging the European Union's demands for fees under its stringent Digital Services Act, a law that aims to rein in what the EU considers the “Wild West” of the Internet by tackling issues related to illegal content, digital advertising, and the spread of disinformation.

The regulation stipulates that the amount charged annually to very large online platforms (VLOPs) should take into account the costs incurred by the European Commission, which per the Commission is around €45.24M for 2023.

The EU’s fee is capped at 0.05% of a company’s annual profits, which would cost Meta around €11M and TikTok €3.9M. However both companies don't think it's fair that other VLOPs which are operating a loss (ie: X, Snapchat, Amazon, Pinterest, Wikimedia) don't have to pay anything.

TikTok: “We disagree with the fee and are appealing on a number of grounds, including the use of flawed third-party estimates of our monthly active user numbers as a basis for calculating the total amount.”

Meta: “Currently, companies that record a loss don’t have to pay, even if they have a large user base or represent a greater regulatory burden, which means some companies pay nothing, leaving others to pay a disproportionate amount of the total.”

European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke told said that the companies have every right to appeal, but added that the EU’s “decision and methodology are solid” and that it will defend this position in court.

Bahrke said, “The supervisory fee needs to reflect and be proportionate to the economic capacity of the provider. It is not meant as a penalty. This is because the purpose of the fee is not to punish the VLOPs and have a deterrence effect (as it is for the fines, which are capped taking into account revenues), but for the regulated entities to contribute to the monitoring and enforcement without affecting their business operations and expenditure related to compliance. This means that if a company has reported a loss during the preceding financial year, it does not have to pay the fee.”

What's kind of ironic is that challenging these fines will probably cost the companies more in legal fees than simply paying them would, but at this stage of DSA enforcement, it's more about challenging the new status quo than it is about the money. The new Digital Services Act could prove to be a lot more troublesome for Big Tech than just an €11M or €3.9M fine, and as it's playing out so far, Big Tech doesn't plan on making it easy for the EU.

5. Pinterest launches new ad partnership with Google

Pinterest announced a new ad partnership with Google designed to boost its ad revenue.

The partnership allows brands running campaigns with Google Ads to create their Pinterest ads within Google's Ad Manager. When Pinterest users encounter one of these ads on Pinterest, they will be directed to the advertiser's website to complete the purchase.

In other words, instead of having to launch ads on Pinterest exclusively through the Pinterest Ads manager, advertisers can now streamline the process by managing their ad collateral, placements, and budgets alongside the rest of their Google Ads.

Pinterest initiated the rollout a few weeks ago and the full integration is expected to be phased in over several quarters.

Pinterest anticipates that the Google partnership will play a crucial role in boosting the average revenue per user in international markets. Right now 80% of Pinterest's users are based outside the U.S., but only 20% of its revenue comes from these international users, which the Google Ads partnership could help change.

Last year in April I reported (story #4) that Pinterest and Amazon entered into a multi-year strategic ad partnership that allows Amazon sellers to go directly from Amazon marketplace to Pinterest with ads while offering customers a more seamless buying experience.

Personally I think that Pinterest outsourcing its ad sales to bigger ad networks like Google and Amazon is brilliant, and I eagerly await the inevitable deal with Shopify and Meta. What are your thoughts? Good for Pinterest users and merchants, or a disaster waiting to happen? Hit reply and let me know.

6. Amazon sued for being the dumbest streaming platform on the planet

In the first edition of 2024, I reported (story #2) that Amazon would be squeezing an extra $2.99/month out of each customer who'd like to continue receiving the ad-free experience on Amazon Prime Video that they already paid for, beginning Jan 29th.

At the time I wrote: “This feels like a class-action lawsuit in the making. It's like Amazon didn't learn their lesson in 2022 when they got sued for removing free Whole Foods delivery as a benefit from existing members.”

Well the “Duh Award” this year goes to — you guessed it — Amazon! The company is now being class action sued for breaching consumer law over the addition of ads to its Prime Video service.

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon's decision to introduce ads into its Prime Video service without providing an opt-out option for existing subscribers constitutes a violation of consumer protection laws in Washington and California, as well as a breach of contract.

You don't need a lawyer to tell you that Amazon broke the rules. A caveman could tell Andy Jassy, “Customer pay for no ads. Amazon put ads. Amazon lie.”

In less caveman words, the suit read, “Instead of receiving a subscription that included ad-free streaming of tv shows and movies, they received something worth less. They cannot enjoy ad-free streaming unless they pay an extra $2.99/month. Thus, Amazon’s false advertisements harm consumers by depriving them of the reasonable expectations to which they are entitled.”

It's one thing to create a new cheaper ad-supported tier and simultaneously raise the price of the premium tiers upon renewal (which others have done), but it's another thing to pull the ad-free experience from users who are already subscribed to the premium tier! At the very least, Amazon should've waited until the subscriber's year of Prime ended, and hit them up with the new terms upon renewal.

You can't just mid-year go to your customers and say, “You know that service you already paid for in advance for a year? We are substantially reducing the value for the remainder of your subscription.”

Well, technically, Amazon can do that, but now they're going to have to pay.

For a company that has always prided itself on putting customers first, this lawsuit and the actions that led up to it are just embarrassing.

However that's not even Amazon's only lawsuit this week! The company is also being class action sued for violating a consumer protection law by steering hundreds of millions of shoppers to higher-priced items in order to earn extra fees. According to the complaint, Amazon's algorithm for choosing what to display in its Buy Box often obscures lower-priced options with faster delivery times.

The complaint said shoppers go with Amazon's choices nearly 98% of the time by clicking its Buy Now or Add to Cart buttons, often falsely believing Amazon had found the best prices, and that Amazon created the algorithm to benefit third-party sellers that participate in its Fulfillment By Amazon program and pay “hefty fees” for inventory storage, packing and shipping, returns and other services.

7. Amazon expands its Ships in Product Packaging program

Not everything Amazon does is obtuse (like adding ads to ad-free subscriptions). Here's something Amazon is doing right this week.

The company announced in an email to Chain Store Age that it is extending its “Ships in Product Packaging”  (SIPP) program to all third-party FBA sellers across the U.S. and Canada.

The program is designed to reduce packaging waste by shipping products in their original boxes without additional Amazon packaging. In other words, they stick a label on your toaster oven box and ship it as-is.

In 2022, 11% of packages Amazon shipped worldwide were shipped without additional packaging, which Amazon now wants to scale up. Since 2015, Amazon says that its packaging programs like SIPP have eliminated the need for more than 2M tons of packaging material.

In addition to environmental benefits, sellers who participate in SIIP are now eligible for discounted fees ranging from $0.04 to $1.32 per shipment. Plus, Amazon will work with manufacturers to design their packaging to be able to ship without the need for additional boxes. For example, Amazon collaborated with Procter & Gamble to make Tide laundry detergent bottles into a box which acts as its own shipping container and uses 60% less plastic, 30% less water, and is four pounds lighter than the original packaging.

I support these package-free efforts entirely. The reality is that most consumer packaging wasn't designed for e-commerce; it was designed for retail shelves. Now it's time for brands to reimagine how they package their products for e-commerce, and Amazon is the perfect retailer to throw their weight at the problem and make it happen.

8. BigCommerce launches a headless store builder

BigCommerce launched Catalyst, a new no-code builder that aims to simplify the process of building online stores using a composable architecture.

Catalyst offers reusable building blocks that work out-of-the-box to build headless e-commerce backends, while combining Makeswift, a composable page builder that BigCommerce acquired in Q4 2023, to create the frontend.

CEO Brent Bellm says, “Catalyst introduces BigCommerce’s reference composable architecture, equipping developers with the most preferred, highest performing technology, and brand users with the world’s best no/low-code Next.js visual editor. This new reference architecture serves as a composable starter kit to help customers launch faster and with greater success.”

Catalyst is built specifically for mid-market and enterprise B2C and B2B retailers and offers a streamlined GraphQL API client optimized for the latest version of Next.js and React Server Components. Its UI Kit was gathered from over 4,000 headless implementations on BigCommerce.

BigCommerce says that Catalyst provides developers out-of-the-box with Google Lighthouse scores of 100.

Can I use it to build a Shopify website? Just kidding. LOL. Kudos, BigCommerce for upgrading your builder.

9. Other e-commerce news of interest

Shopify raised its price for it Shopify Plus enterprise plan from $2,000/month to $2,500/month for merchants on a one-year term, representing a 25% increase. If merchants sign up for a three-year term, they will be charged $2,300/month. The change comes a year after it raised prices for its base plans.

UPS is cutting package sortation shifts and laying off 118 employees at facilities in Connecticut, Maryland, and Oregon due to reduced volumes. UPS has weathered volume declines over the past several quarters and plans to cut 12,000 jobs this year, primarily in management and contracted positions.

Affirm shut down its rewards program, which offered points for BNPL purchases that could be redeemed for $5 or $10 off loans at select merchants. The company says it will allow consumers to use their existing points until April 5th, and that it'll continue to explore different rewards experiences in the future. Afterpay also shut down its Pulse Rewards program, which has been around since 2020, making remaining points no longer usable. The company says its new rewards program will launch later this year.

IAB Tech Lab released a report on Tuesday scrutinizing Google's new ad protocols, particularly looking at Privacy Sandbox's effects on measurement and attribution without third-party cookies, which Google is scheduled to sunset later this year. The company says that the industry needs more time to make the transition away from third-party cookies, however Google says that the report is inaccurate and that IAB Tech Lab misunderstands how parts of its Privacy Sandbox work.

Meta, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and a total of 200 other tech companies, have joined the US AI Safety Institute Consortium (AISIC), tasked with developing guidelines for “red-teaming, capability evaluations, risk management, safety and security, and watermarking synthetic content.” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced the group's members and said that they'll be tasked with carrying out actions indicated by President Biden's sweeping executive order on AI.

Ring, the Amazon-owned doorbell camera and home security company, is raising the cost of its Ring Protect Basic Plan by $1/month or $10/year, an increase of over 22% for either option. The basic plan allows users to receive notifications of doorbell rings and remotely arm or disarm the Ring system from the app.

X launched a new partnership with BetMGM to display betting odds to users in the US just days before the Super Bowl, making BetMGM the exclusive live-odds sports betting partner of the platform. Under the deal, X will integrate BetMGM's odds info and branding, with each game linking to their website and app to allow users to place wagers in states where sports betting is legal. The bets will not actually take place on X's platform.

Amazon acknowledged, for the first time in very explicit terms, the scope of its dependence on Chinese sellers and their marketing budgets. In a filing with the SEC, Amazon wrote, “Because China-based sellers account for significant portions of our third-party seller services and advertising revenues, and China-based suppliers provide significant portions of our components and finished goods, regulatory and trade restrictions, data protection and cybersecurity laws, economic factors, geopolitical events, security issues, or other factors negatively impacting China-based sellers and suppliers could adversely affect our operating results.”

Klarna unveiled new brand messaging, created by its in-house design team, aimed to “elevate the shopping experience while still building on its distinctive pink brand colour, but with a fresh approach to art direction and motion design.” The new imagery is fashion-focused with a quirky lifestyle edge but rooted in shopping to demonstrate that Klarna has become more than just a payment method and is now an entire shopping ecosystem.

Neiman Marcus Group is ending its commercial partnership with luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch, following the purchase of Fartech by Coupang for $500M last month. Bergdorf Goodman, which is owned by the group, will no longer be replatforming onto Farfetch Platform Solutions, but Farfetch, which invested $200M in Neiman Marcus Group, will continue to be a minority investor.

Apple has been using Flexport's air freight services to transport products from some of its factories in Asia to U.S. cities for distribution to customers since late 2022. However it was recently revealed that the contract, which was once a feather in the cap for Flexport, has also proved to be a major drag on the company's bottom line, with Flexport losing at least $2M per month on its Apple freight last year.

eBay launched a new video series on LinkedIn called “The Accidental Entrepreneur: Lessons in Success”, in which CEO Jamie Iannone chats with business leaders, many of whom started their journeys on eBay. The first episode features Nick Molnar, the co-founder of Afterpay and Australia's youngest billionaire.

Tesla has begun advertising on X, after years of Elon Musk famously saying that he despises advertising and doesn't pay to advertise anywhere. Many suspect that this is a way for Musk to transfer more money from Tesla to X.

An Amazon delivery driver in Georgia tried to steal a customer's puppy after delivering their package. The driver successfully got the dog into his delivery van before the customer ran after the van, opened the back door, and yelled at the driver until he released the puppy.

Downloads of the X app spiked last week, sending X to the top of the U.S. App Store overnight after former Fox News TV host Tucker Carlson announced he would be interviewing Vladimir Putin and airing it on X, marking Putin's first interview with a Western media outlet since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Estimates indicate that X gained 117k new downloads on Tuesday, up from 93k the day before.

Walmart Marketplace is now allowing merchants to choose to have Walmart keep their returns rather than ship them back to combat the cost of return shipping. Walmart will also begin notifying sellers when a return is initiated or delivered and when a refund for a return is initiated.

Shein is opening a new office in downtown Bellevue, WA (aka: Amazon's backyard), that will serve as a U.S. fulfillment and logistics hub for the company. The 10k sq.ft. space is expected to employ more than 50 people by the end of 2024.

Bluesky, the decentralized X clone funded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, finally opened up to the public after nearly a year as an invitation-only app. The app had roughly 3M sign ups before opening its doors to the public, which still leaves it a little short of X's over half a billion users and Threads' 130M users.

The USPS announced a set of new ambitious sustainability targets for 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and waste within its operations. The goals are the latest in a series of actions the Postal Service has taken to enhance sustainability across its network and day-to-day operations. Can they hire more team members instead so that it doesn't take an hour to mail a package?

10. Seed rounds, IPOs, & acquisitions

Saleor, a Poland and US-based startup that develops an open source headless e-commerce platform which offers API that does the back-end heavy lifting for merchants allowing developers to focus on the frontend, raised $8M in a seed extension round led by Target Global, who said in a statement that the firm was attracted to Saleor's “thriving open source community” and “robust SaaS offering.” The company will use the funds to grow its market share and deepen its developer relationships.

Machinery Partner, a B2B marketplace that provides procurement, financing, and support for builders and contractors needing heavy machinery, raised $11M in a round led by Armory Square Ventures. The company will use the funds to expand across the country, beyond the 35 U.S. states it currently does business in.

Nostra, a conversion optimization software company that enables e-commerce websites to load faster, raised $6.3M in a round led by Signal Peak Ventures and Sugar Capital, bringing its total amount raised to $11M. The company will use the funds to invest in AI and R&D, as well as expand its product lines and customer base.

Klas, a Nigerian online teaching platform that offers essential class tools like scheduling, payments, community features, analytics, and video conferencing, raised $1M in a pre-seed funding round led by Ingressive Capital. The platform aims to fill a gap in the market left by larger platforms like Kajabi and Thinkirific by providing a more streamlined and simple set of tools, making it accessible for beginners to host classes.

Rupyz, an India-based B2B and retail e-commerce startup that helps brands distribute their products through an omnichannel strategy, raised $1.2M in a round led by Merak Ventures. Rupyz focuses on companies in the food, personal care, lifestyle, and consumer goods industries and plans to use the funds to onboard more businesses to its platform this year.

Octup, an AI-driven e-commerce insights platform that uncovers overlooked data to reveal opportunities to cut operating costs, raised $4M in a round led by Tal Ventures. The company will use the funds to expedite the rollout of its platform.

Mesh, a B2B identify startup that offers a multi-factor business identity tool for marketplaces, e-commerce sites, and vendor compliance, raised $5.7M in a round led by Greycroft Partners, bringing its total amount raised to $7M. The company will use the funds to build out additional features for customers like the ability to notify businesses if their credentials fall out of compliance.

ShipBob, a Chicago-based e-commerce logistics provider, is seeking to hire underwriters for an IPO later this year, which could value the company as much as $4B, according to inside sources. The company was founded in 2014 and previously raised $200M at a $1B valuation in 2021.

Jow, a French recipe and meal planning app that offers shoppable meal planning in partnership with Kroger and other grocery stores, raised $13M in a Series A extension led by Northzone, bringing its total amount raised to $33M. Jow helps grocers select higher margin products and tailor recipe and product options based on their inventory, while helping consumers lean into recipes focused on eating better.

Paytm, India's largest digital payments platform, rebranded itself as “Pai Platforms” and acquired Innobits Solutions Private Limited, a four year old ONDC seller, according to reports, however, Pai refuted the acquisition. The developments come at a time when Pai is facing a crisis with the Reserve Bank of India, which barred the company from taking fresh deposits and continuing banking services after February 29 over non-compliance.

Jeff Bezos sold 12M shares of Amazon stock, netting about $2B, in his first sale of company stock since 2021. The sale in line with a plan announced by the company last week for Bezos to sell off 50M shares by the end of the year, valued at roughly $8.5B total. Bezos owned 988M shares, just shy of 10% of Amazon, at the end of December, which was valued at around $168B.

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Paul E. Drecksler
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PS: A sweater I purchased was picking up a lot of static electricity, so I returned it to the store. They gave me another one free of charge.