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#83 – Shopify’s affiliate game changer, Latin America’s new crypto coin, & AI commerce trends

by | Aug 22, 2022 | Recent Newsletters

This is one of my favorite and most exciting Shopifreaks editions to date! Platform-wide affiliate programs… new cryptocurrencies launched by major e-commerce players… AI commerce trends to look out for in the coming year… Amazon's becoming TikTok… fintechs are becoming super apps!

This week's 83rd Edition is jampacked with news, so I'm going to keep the intro short this week so that you can dive right in. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on these stories. You can hit reply to any of my e-mails, or join the conversation on on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit.

PS: Last week I informed you that I was launching a referral program soon for Shopifreaks. It'll be a few weeks as I finalize reward partnerships with apps, SaaS companies, and digital products, and while I setup the technology that will power the referral program, but it's on the way! I'm excited about launching it and will keep you posted. Thanks to everyone who reached out about your company offering a reward. Feel free to contact me anytime for details if you haven't already, as I'd love to have your company participate. 

Stat of the Week

The majority of online shoppers prefer to use their mobile phones to make purchases online. – According to PayPal Research. Are you part of the majority?

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1. Everything you need to know about Shopify Collabs

Shopify has released a new tool called Shopify Collabs to enable content creators to partner with Shopify merchants to build curated shops, share products, and earn commissions. Shopify Collabs is now available to all retailers on the platform in the U.S. and Canada.

Here's some backstory: In April, I reported that Shopify acquired the influencer marketing app, Dovetale, for an undisclosed amount, and made the app free for all of its merchants. Dovetale was an affiliate / influencer marketing app that allowed brands to manage and accept new applications for influencer partners, send products and discount codes to them, keep track of how many sales they generate, and pay commissions.

Dovetale also tackled an influencer management issue that other apps on the market don’t currently handle — sending / tracking free samples and discounts to influencers. Other affiliate apps on the market only track referrals and sales commissions, and keeping track of promotional merch had to be done externally. 

Back to the news story: As you can see, I'm speaking about Dovetale in the past tense, because Dovetale as a stand-alone platform is being sunset and all the features that used to be part of the platform have been migrated into Shopify Collabs, which will be accessible via the Shopify Admin for merchants.

Shopify also launched a separate Creator portal area for Creators to apply to join the network and then discover brands to work with. With Dovetale, merchants were required to to manually share their application page to get creators to apply to their program, but the new Shopify Collabs offers a discovery platform, which is currently opt-out (meaning merchants who would not like to be listed on the discovery platform must contact Shopify to opt-out). 

Dovetale was formerly just one of many affiliate program apps available on the Shopify App Marketplace. Others include Refersion, LeadDyno, Post Affiliate Pro, Shoutout Global, GoAffPro, and so on. And just like how most the other affiliate apps operated, Dovetale merely provided the software to run your own affiliate program — however building relationships with affiliates / creators were up to each individual merchant. Goaffpro and Refersion have run affiliate marketplaces for several years that connect their merchant clients with a database of affiliates, and LeadDyno used to, but they are all less integrated with Shopify than Shopify Collabs (obviously LOL). 

How Shopify Collabs works: After a merchant installs Collabs and makes their store and products discoverable, creators can apply to join that retailer’s community. From there, Creators can partner with those merchants and use Linkpop, Shopify’s free linking solution, to curate a selection of products to share on their selected platforms.

So basically it operates like a traditional affiliate network — the major difference (and UVP) is that it's now built-in by default to all Shopify stores. 

I’m heavily involved in the affiliate marketing space and particularly well versed about affiliate apps in the Shopify ecosystem. Since 2016, I've helped 1000+ store owners get started with affiliate marketing by pairing them with the right affiliate app or network for their needs and helping them structure an attractive and competitive affiliate program. 

Everything I've ever done in the affiliate marketing space with Shopify has just instantly changed. For most merchants who just want to operate a simple affiliate program, there's now no need to look elsewhere and compare affiliate apps. Everything they need is now built into Shopify by default and included in their monthly Shopify subscription. There are exceptions to this statement for merchants who want to run more advanced affiliate programs, but I'm speaking about the majority of Shopify merchants which are small stores and just a simple cost-effective solution to paying commissions. 

Shopify Collabs is an absolute gamechanger for the company. For the past year and a half, you've heard me talk about how Shopify desperately needed more product discovery options for its merchants, now that traditional advertising methods have become more expensive and less effective. A platform-wide affiliate network that connects merchants and affiliates is a perfect idea to solve that need. 

I may be slightly biased because of my inclination towards the affiliate model. I love affiliate marketing and (when done right) think that it's a win-win for merchants and affiliates. I've been involved in both ends of the spectrum for many years — having setup hundreds of companies with affiliate programs and running my own affiliate programs for my own business, as well as acting as an affiliate for hundreds of companies through Travel is Life and my other brands. 

However the keywords above are — “when done right”. 

Operating an affiliate network is no easy task. Just ask CJ, Share-a-sale, Impact, or the countless other affiliate networks out there, including Google who has started / acquired and shut down multiple variations of an affiliate network in the past two decades. 

Operating as an affiliate network makes you the middle man between merchants and affiliates — who sometimes can be at odds with one another. Commissions need to be paid out on time… Brands have advertising guidelines that need to be followed by affiliates… There's also fraud and unscrupulous affiliate tactics to deal with. It's not as simple as merely connecting creators with brands and letting the good times roll. 

So while Shopify Collabs could be a gamechanger for the company and their merchants — proper execution is going to be key to its success. 

In other related Shopify news… Shopify partnered with YouTube to allow their merchants to integrate their online stores with the video platform. Merchants will be to tag and pin products during live streams, show a curated list of products in a product shelf below on-demand videos, and add a store tab under their YouTube channel to feature their products.

Here's the way to tie it all together… Shopify has tons of MERCHANT integrations that allow them to connect their Shopify stores to YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and so on. They've also offered Buy Buttons and Widgets for years that let merchants display their products on other websites they operate. 

However none of those integrations, buttons, or widgets are tied to their new affiliate program — yet. The final leg of this journey for Shopify will be to allow their Creators / affiliates the same set of integrations (with YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, etc) and buyer tools (like Buy Buttons and Widgets) so that they can display products in the same way as merchants, but earn as affiliates.

What are your thoughts about Shopify Collabs? Do you think the company will be successful at operating an affiliate network? What are some obstacles they face ahead? Hit reply and let me know your thoughts. 

2. I want to be a MercadoCoin HODLer!

Last week, MercadoLibre announced the creation of a new cryptocurrency called MercadoCoin, which will initially be implemented in its loyalty program. Starting August 18, the cryptocurrency was available to more than 500k users in Brazil, and the company expects to make it available to at least 80M customers by the end of the month. The company did not indicate when it would expand MercadoCoin to other Latin American countries besides Brazil, but it's on their radar.

MercadoLibre customers in Brazil earn MercadoCoins as cashback when buying products on the e-commerce platform, which they can then use for purchases or to trade on the company's financial services unit MercadoPago. The coin is currently not available for trade on other exchanges (although I'm guessing that someone will figure it out soon). The developer team hinted at opening the token to the secondary market at some point, but did not elaborate on when.

MercadoCoin will run on the Ethereum network as an ERC-20 token priced at $0.10 each before being open to market pricing.  

MercadoLibre entered into the world of cryptocurrency last year with the launch of a crypto wallet that allows Brazilian users to buy and sell BTC, ETH, and USDT. The company feels that using cryptocurrencies through MercadoPago will have a meaningful impact in Latin America, as many people are unbanked.

I think that this is big. One of the most difficult parts of launching a new cryptocurrency is adoption and usage — both of which are factored into MercadoCoin's launch.

Today, the coin may only be available to Brazilian shoppers, but in the future, it could connect businesses and consumers across all Latin American countries and currencies in which MercadoLibre operates.

At some point, people in Latin America could start putting their money into MercadoCoin as a safeguard against fluctuations in their country's currency. The possibilities are truly endless, and I'm excited to watch this coin unfold.

I'd be even more excited if I could buy some MercadoCoins at $0.10 a piece right now! I'm currently in Cuenca, Ecuador writing this newsletter today. It's just a short flight to Brazil, right?

3. BigCommerce News (Sponsored)

  • BigCommerce was named a “Challenger” in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Digital Commerce Report. This was the third consecutive year BigCommerce has been recognized as a “Challenger” in this report for their ability to execute and completeness of vision.
  • 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. Amazon's new TikTok-like feed

Amazon is internally testing a vertical photo and video feed in its app among staff. The new feed, known as “Inspire”, appears at the bottom navigation bar in the Amazon app. When users tap the diamond-shaped icon, they see posts on the feed, which include links to purchase featured items.

Amazon product recommendations are very popular on TikTok. The hashtag #amazonfinds has 25.6B views, and some influencers have amassed millions of followers solely by finding interesting Amazon products to recommend. It makes sense that Amazon wants customers to be able to find these “Amazon Finds” on its own app rather than on TikTok or IG.

Amazon is no stranger to catering to creators. In June, I reported that Amazon hosted more than a dozen Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube stars at resort in Todos Santos, Mexico where they could visit a curated pop-up shop of “Internet famous” items for sale on Amazon, hang out on the “Kindle Beach Oasis”, and attend a Prime Video movie night.

Amazon has also experimented with social features in the past, including Posts, an Instagram copycat feature, as part of its advertising tools, and Amazon Live, their platform for live shopping. 

It’s not clear at the moment, whether this new TikTok-like feed will eventually roll out on the Amazon app to the public. Would you like it to? Hit reply and let me know. 

5. AI Commerce Trends in 2022 & 2023

I don't think a week goes by that I don't use the term “AI” in one of my newsletters. E-commerce companies are obsessed with AI right now.

And although we may sometimes wonder if there's actually artificial intelligence happening behind the scenes of these companies, or if companies are merely using AI as a buzzword and running their apps on an Excel spreadsheet or through antiquated manual processes, nevertheless, AI is here to stay.

(Remember when I reported on Nate App, which called itself an “artificial intelligence startup” but was actually employing workers in the Philippines to process their transactions manually?)

Vered Levy-Ron, CEO of Syte, an AI-powered product discovery platform, wrote a piece for Geektime entitled, “The 9 Trends Defining eCommerce AI in 2022 & 2023” which you can read in entirety here. I'm going to briefly recap those trends below.  

  1. Increase in Voice Search and Voice-Enabled Shopping – As more consumers get comfortable with AI voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, the technology will continue to advance at a steady pace, resulting in an increased number of voice assistants that can use natural language processing to understand complex queries. 
  2. More Intuitive and Engaging Visual Shopping Experiences – We will see more companies offering polished visual search, enhanced AR/VR tools, and more sophisticated product recommendations that use visual AI to provide suggestions.
  3. Smarter Upselling and Cross-Selling Opportunities – 63% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from stores that offer relevant product recommendations, and 49% of consumers have purchased a product they did not intend to buy after receiving a personalized product recommendation.
  4. Increased Use of Real-Time Data Analytics to Optimize Operations – Brands can use data to determine which products are in demand and which aren't moving, which products to offer sales and discounts, and create more detailed product tagging, benefiting customers by optimizing their shopping experience. 
  5. Heightened Focus on Omnichannel Product Discovery – Numerous online and offline channels compete for customer attention, and brands can use AI to access real-time data and create effective omnichannel strategies. 
  6. Growth of Direct-to-Consumer Sales – AI going mainstream gives smaller brands and retailers a chance to create the best customer experience possible and personalize every angle of the customer journey, allowing brands to understand their customers better and provide them with tailored experiences. 
  7. More Effective eCommerce Fraud Prevention – E-commerce fraud has spiked in recent years, leading to developments in cloud-based AI fraud prevention and chargeback correction, as well as other advancements in using AI to distinguish legitimate purchases from fraudulent ones, which we'll continue to see advance. 
  8. Solutions to Support Mobile Commerce – Mobile commerce is expected to become one of the main channels for online shopping, and brands and retailers can benefit from optimizing their AI-powered mobile shopping tools such as visual search. 
  9. More Concentrated Sustainability Efforts – Greener choices have become a top concern for customers, and moving forward, shoppers will expect brands to take more responsibility for their environmental impact, which they can use AI to help accomplish. 

Many AI experts read this newsletter, so I'm curious — do you agree with Levy-Ron that these trends are defining AI commerce? What else would you add to her list?

Hit reply to this e-mail and let me know, or start the conversation on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit.

6. TikTok's new ad tools

TikTok launched a new suite of ad tools as part of their latest endeavor to bring hyper-personalized product recommendations to users' For You Pages. Those tools include:

  • Video Shopping Ads – giving brands the ability to place shoppable videos on users’ For You Pages.
  • Catalog Listing Ads – A new ad type available in the US that isn't required to be in video format.
  • Live Shopping Ads – Shoppable livestreams that will surface in users’ For You Pages. This ad type is debuting first in the U.K., Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and with select partners and accounts in the United States as a beta test. 

Wait, so are you giving up on Live Shopping in the US and UK or not TikTok? I need to know how to shop!

Last month I reported that TikTok put its plans on hold to roll out its new e-commerce Shop marketplace in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and U.S. And two weeks ago I reported that Facebook announced that its shutting down its live shopping feature on Oct 1 to focus instead on Reels.

I shared my thoughts in that edition about how Meta isn't giving businesses, creators, or users enough time to catch up or adopt new habits, and they’re going to find that they quit on live commerce too early, only later to play catch up after consumer habits shift.

TikTok's data shows that 70% of users surveyed said that it seems easy to make purchases through its shopping-related ads, 56% said TikTok ads have helped them discover new products and brands, and 48% expressed interest in making a purchase via TikTok in the next quarter.

Next month I'm speaking at a conference in Bogota about the future of live commerce in the West. (If they record the presentation, I'll share it with you afterwards.) I started working on the presentation about two months ago, and have had to update it weekly because of all the changes this summer! We certainly work in an exciting and everchanging industry. By September, when I give the presentation, Meta might pivot and say they fully believe that live commerce is the future!

7. Choose product size and color on Pinterest… finally!

Pinterest launched a new streamlined conversion process for Shopify merchants that will make it faster for users to buy direct from Pin listings. The new hosted checkout process enables users to select all the relevant product variant info within the app — like size and color — rather than referring shoppers back to the merchant's website to make the purchase. 

The company wrote in their blog post

When someone shops from a product Pin with hosted checkout, they pick the exact product they want – think colors or sizing. Then, they tap “Buy” to enter the hosted checkout experience via Shopify. From there, it’s just a matter of final details like shipping and payment.”

Pinterest also wrote that Product pins will get “boosted organic distribution” — which could mean that product sales could contribute to relevancy and impressions in Pinterest search and discovery, similar to Amazon and Etsy's seller rank. 

Hosted Checkout is currently only available to select US merchants who are taking part in the Pinterest Verified Merchant Program and that use Shopify to sell their products.

In beta tests, Pinterest saw a +3.9% lift in customer purchase propensity and a +2.7% lift in checkouts per user compared to Pinners who did not encounter the hosted checkout experience.

Once this begins to fully rollout, this is a game changer for Pinterest. Creator merchants and users have been waiting years for this type of complete purchasing experience on Pinterest — which seems so obvious one might wonder why it hasn't existed for years. 

It's also the type of visual product discovery and conversion platform that Shopify merchants desperately need right now, as I was speaking about earlier. If the Shopify ecosystem (as a whole of all its merchants) is to effectively compete with Amazon, they need new forms of product discovery, and Pinterest is a perfect match. 

A few week’s ago, I reported that Pinterest’s co-founder, Ben Silbermann, was stepping down from his role as CEO, and the company was replacing him with Bill Ready, a former Google commerce executive with extensive e-commerce experience. A week after that, I reported on 4 new e-commerce features that the company released including Shopping API, Product Tagging, Video in Catalog, and Shop Tabs on Business Profiles.

8. Klarna further seeks Super App Status

Webster's Dictionary defines “Super App” as “The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary. Click on a spelling suggestion below or try again using the search bar above.”

In simpler terms, a super app is one that combines messaging, payments, e-commerce, ride hailing, dating, and more within a single application. Comparatively, most consumers in the U.S. and Europe use a combination of non-super apps to accomplish all the above — FB Messenger, WhatsApp, Amazon, Uber, Tinder, PayPal, and so on. 

The most famous super app to date is China's WeChat app, which is indispensable to users in the country. Grab is also commonly used in South East Asia. Tata Group is developing a super app called TataNeu for India, and other wannabe-super apps are in development in the country as well. (I first reported on TataNeu in April.)

Tech giants around the world are striving for super app status in the countries they serve — and Klarna is no exception. Last week the Swedish BNPL app that turned broader fintech expanded its all-in-one shopping app with a new feature that automatically consolidates purchase information from all retailers into their app, enabling U.K. customers to keep track of all their online shopping in one place.

The feature enables users to connect their email accounts and import purchase information including product prices, images, order and delivery tracking status.

It's expected that British consumers react favorably to Klarna's attempted transition to super app, as 70% of U.K. consumers surveyed by PYMNTS were interested in having a super app. Consumers in the U.K. were also found to have the highest number of connected devices, with an average of 5.5 each. 

Klarna's super app intentions were first revealed last November when the company released a new version of their app that consolidated shopping, payment management, and support for products, delivery, and returns. Through an in-app browser, customers could shop at any online store, regardless of whether it had a partnership with Klarna.

Is Klarna's app technically a “super app” if it doesn't offer peer-to-peer messaging, ride hailing, dating, and other features that WeChat boasts? Perhaps it'd be considered more of a “financial super app” since most of the features it aggregates are around purchasing and money management versus social and transportation.

The goal post for super app status will shift over time, and fitting today's definition doesn't really matter for anything other than status seeking. 

I'd argue that USA already has a super app — called Apple iOS. It may not house every feature within a single app, but at this point, calling software an “app” is just semantics. iPhone users today could survive in the world just fine with only Apple apps — messaging, music, video streaming, Internet, Maps (with integrated ride hailing), payments, and more. 

9. Other e-commerce news of interest this week

  • Sezzle launched a direct integration with Klaviyo to let merchants offer BNPL payment options as shoppers are ready to abandon their carts. Merchants can also launch marketing campaigns with flexible finance messaging.
  • LAYOFF ALERTS — Wayfair terminated 870 employees, or 5% of its global workforce. Stripe laid off 45-55 employees who support TaxJar, which it acquired last year. But wait, it gets worse… Kaola, a cross-border e-commerce firm acquired by Alibaba, cut 95% of its workforce, reducing its headcount from 400 to less than 20. 
  • Walmart's last-mile delivery service, Walmart GoLocal, which leverages Walmart's own delivery platform to service other merchants, topped 1M deliveries in its first year. I first reported on GoLocal in Aug 2021 when it launched.
  • BigCommerce is making BNPL available to all its merchants in a deal with Affirm. The new BNPL service will be available within the BigCommerce control panel, and once enabled, eligible customers will see bi-weekly and monthly payment options side-by-side on merchant sites. 
  • Shopify has partnered with Urb-it, a sustainable logistics provider, to offer merchants zero-emission last mile delivery options in European cities. Deliveries are made by employed couriers using e-cargo bikes, which reduces emissions, congestion, and noise pollution in the urban areas the company serves. 
  • The FTC is investigating Amazon over its cancellation process (among other things), and company executives say that they find it burdensome to appear in court. The company says that asking executives to testify in court is a form of harassment and a disruption to their business operations.
  • DoorDash is ending its partnership with Walmart after more than four years of delivering products to customers. Sources say that the partnership is no longer mutually beneficial and that DoorDash wants to focus on its long-term customer relationships. Last week I reported that DoorDash is partnering with Meta to deliver Marketplace items up to 15 miles away, as long as the items fit within the trunk of a car.
  • Woola, an Estonia-based startup, believes that wool could be the next sustainable packaging option to address the environmental footprint of e-commerce. The company claims that 90% of wool produced in Europe is unused because it is too course to be used for yarn, and that paired with paper, could be used for plastic-free protective packaging options.
  • According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, Saudi Arabia's e-commerce market value increased by 60% between 2019 and 2020, and is now forecast to exceed $13B by 2025. E-commerce sales in the country have been driven by apparel, electronics, and appliances.
  • Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, will purchase six Airbus A321 aircrafts and convert them to freighters as replacements for smaller, older Boeing cargo jets to keep up with the increase in demand for cargo space powered by e-commerce. The investment will help the company support their increased demand for next-day delivery.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked a federal judge to force Block to fully comply with its investigative demands relating to its Cash App payments tool, as the company has yet to provide all the documents and data they requested in Aug 2020 and Aug 2021. The investigation is looking into Cash App's handling of complaints and disputes.
  • Amazon is raising seller fees during the holiday season to contend with rising costs. From Oct 15 through Jan 14, FBA sellers will have to pay $0.35 per item sold in the U.S. or Canada. This is the first time Amazon has hiked seller fees during the holidays. 
  • Amazon is pausing the rollout of self-checkout Amazon Fresh stores following disappointing sales. Sources said that Amazon walked away from talks on dozens of new sites for its grocery stores and ended searches for new locations.

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

  • Guesty, a platform to manage property listings across Airbnb, Vrbo, Expedia, Booking, and other sites, raised $170M in an all-equity Series E round co-led by Apax Digital Funds, MSD Partners, and Sixth Street Growth, valuing the company around $690M. The company will use the funds to build more automation into the product and enhance their AI-based communication tools.
  • HyperTrack, a startup that offers APIs for freight order planning, assignment, and tracking, raised $25M in a Series A round led by Westbridge Capital. The funds will be put toward expanding their engineering team and doubling down on growth.
  • Highbeam, a New York-based neobank built for e-commerce brands, raised $7M in a round co-led by FirstMark and Mayfield. The company will use the funds to increase their headcount and product development including investing in better experience and credit offerings.
  • Super Payments, a new company founded by Funding Circle co-founder Samir Desai, that offers cash back on purchases made through the app, raised £22.5M in a round led by Accel a few months ago that was just recently confirmed. Super isn't open until later this year, but the company has been list building customers and onboarding brands.
  • HiBob, a cloud-based human resources platform that gives HR teams tools to manage their workforce, raised $150M in a Series D round led by General Atlantic, bringing its total amount raised to $425M and its valuation to $2.45B. HiBob has just come off its sixth year in a row of triple-digit revenue growth and doubled its headcount with more than 370 new hires in the past year.
  • Geopagos, a Buenos Aires-based payments infrastructure provider that serves 15 countries in Latin America, raised $35M in an equity round led by Riverwood Capital. The funds will be used to for developing new embedded payments solutions and expanding throughout Latin America.
  • PayStand, a Latin American blockchain-enabled accounts receivable and B2B payments company, acquired Yaydoo, a Mexico-based accounts payable, cash flow management, and liquidity solution provider. The combined company will be one of the first global B2B blockchain platforms at a significant scale with over 500k connected businesses worldwide. 
  • FinAccel, the Singaporean parent company of Kredivo, an Indonesian BNPL app for e-commerce purchases, aims to raise $100M at a $1.5B valuation, which is 25% lower than the $2B valuation it had in 2021. The company suspended a planned $430M IPO in March, citing adverse market conditions.
  • Omnibiz, a Nigerian B2B e-commerce company that serves 65k retailers, raised $15M in a pre-Series A round led by Timon Capital. The company will use the funds to expand further in the region. They are currently active in 12 cities in Ghana and Nigeria.
  • Graas, a Singapore based e-commerce solutions provider started by ex-Facebook execs that serves SEA, raised $40M in a Series A round led by Galaxy, Performa, Integra Partners, Yuj Ventures and AJ Capital. The company is launching a technology solution called ‘Growth-as-a-service' which uses predictive AI to predict trends and offer real-time insights and recommendations for brands.
  • iProcure, a Kenyan B2B agtech that connects agricultural manufacturers and distributors to local retailers, raised $10.2M in a Series B round led by Investisseurs & Partenaires, bringing its total amount raised to $17.2M. The funds will be used to scale their operations in their existing markets, enter Tanzania, and introduce higher-quality cheaper products sourced from international players. 
  • Dianxiaomi, which roughly translates to ‘shop assistant', a cross-border e-commerce platform that allows exporters to more easily figure out what to sell and how to sell, raised $110M in a Series D round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II and Sequoia Capital China, bringing its total amount raised to $210M in 2022 alone. The company plans to open offices in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the U.K.
  • Northbeam, a data startup that uses machine learning to power marketing analytics, raised $15M in a Series A round led by Silversmith Capital Partners. The company's revenue has grown by 37 times YoY, and they plan to use the funding to grow their 30-person team and launch more products.
  • LiSA, a Berlin-based social commerce cloud that facilitates cross-platform discovery for users and offers an API-based partnership network, raised €2.7M in a round led by TechVision Fund. The startup aims to help e-commerce retailers leverage social discovery through its headless CMS that allows online retailers to develop their own live and social e-commerce experiences at scale.
  • Venue, a video conferencing platform built for larger team meetings that offers personalization features designed to make meetings more engaging, raised $4M in a round led by Accel. The company will use the funds for more product development and to scale its infrastructure to work with more customers.
  • Pattern, an e-commerce acceleration platform that helps brads drive traffic and conversions for product listings on D2C websites, acquired Current, an influencer marketing platform that helps brands build ambassador programs. The acquisition will bring Current's social selling tools to Pattern's platform and will help drive brand growth across new channels for their brands.
  • Amazon will invest in istyle, the Japanese company behind the @cosme review and retail site. istyle will issue 2.5B yen in convertible bonds and 11.5B yen in warrants to Amazon on Sep, which if turned into stock, would make Amazon the top shareholder with a 36.95% stake. i

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: Who runs Amazon Mexico? … Jeff Pesos!  

PPS: If you enjoy this newsletter, write a review on Google and Product Hunt. Thanks!