Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Apr 07): Amazon Celebrates Spring Sales Boom, Korea’s E-commerce Scene Shaken by Chinese Giants

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Apr 07): Amazon Celebrates Spring Sales Boom, Korea’s E-commerce Scene Shaken by Chinese Giants

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US News

Amazon Springs Forward with Record Sales

According to a study released by Momentum Commerce on April 5, 2024, Amazon’s U.S. platform witnessed a 5.9% increase in sales compared to the previous year during its first-ever spring sale from March 20-25. Despite the event’s significant sales uptick, it didn’t quite reach the peaks seen during Amazon’s July Prime Day or October’s Prime Big Deal Days. The sale particularly boosted categories like patio, lawn, and garden items, marking a notable seasonal sales triumph that doubled the growth rate to 2.9% from the previous month. This demonstrates Amazon’s ability to drive consumer engagement and sales outside of its traditional mega-sale events.

Strategic Adjustments at Amazon Web Services (AWS)

AWS announced a round of job cuts impacting hundreds across its sales, marketing, and technical teams, a move aimed at addressing the cloud computing division’s recent growth challenges. This decision comes on the heels of Amazon discontinuing the “Just Walk Out” technology in its Fresh supermarkets. Despite AWS accounting for 14% of Amazon’s total revenue, its Q4 2023 revenue growth of 13% year-over-year marks a slowdown from the 20% growth rate seen in the previous year. These layoffs are part of Amazon’s broader effort to streamline operations and maintain competitiveness against rivals like Microsoft and Alphabet, especially after expanding its workforce significantly during the pandemic.

Amazon Abandons Cashierless Checkout in Fresh Stores

Amazon has decided to remove its “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology from Fresh supermarkets in the U.S., opting to focus on enhancing customer shopping experiences with Dash Carts instead. This shift aims to improve customer satisfaction through better value, convenience, and selection, responding to feedback for easier access to nearby products and deals. While the Just Walk Out technology will continue in Amazon Go and some Fresh locations in the U.K, The move represents a significant strategy adjustment in Amazon’s grocery sector.

Amazon Resumes Bellevue Office Tower Construction

Amazon is restarting the construction of a 42-story office tower in Bellevue, Seattle’s suburb, after a hiatus. This move comes as part of the company’s broader shift towards hybrid and remote work models, with a commitment to requiring office presence for at least three days a week. The Bellevue project, among others in the area, signifies Amazon’s ongoing expansion and space acquisition outside Seattle, despite pausing other office constructions like the HQ2 project in Virginia.

Walmart Initiates Recall of Dangerous Blenders

The CPSC has announced a recall of approximately 51,750 Mainstays mini blenders sold exclusively at Walmart between August 2022 and October 2023, due to risks of laceration. These wireless, rechargeable blenders, identified by the model number MS14100094536S1, have reportedly caused injuries during assembly or when not properly enclosed during use. Walmart has responded by offering full refunds, reflecting its commitment to customer safety and regulatory compliance after receiving several reports of related injuries.

Ulta’s Forecast Warns of a Slowdown in Beauty Demand

Ulta Beauty’s CEO, Dave Kimbell, has signaled a cooling trend in the beauty products market, prompting a drop in the company’s shares by about 15%. This slowdown, which spans across various price points and beauty categories, comes despite the sector’s strong performance in recent years. Kimbell attributes the trend to broader economic pressures affecting consumer spending, including rising credit card debt and geopolitical uncertainties. This change reflects a shift in one of retail’s previously booming segments.

Global News

Amazon Ventures into Budget Fashion with Bazaar in India

In an effort to tap into India’s burgeoning e-commerce market, Amazon launched Bazaar on April 6, a new online storefront that offers a wide range of low-cost, unbranded fashion items, including clothing, jewelry, and home goods, all priced below 600 rupees. Initially introduced within Amazon India’s Android app, Bazaar is positioned to directly challenge local competitors like Meesho and Flipkart’s Shopsy by promising sellers zero commission rates and hassle-free delivery, alongside targeting rapid delivery times for Prime members. This strategic move not only diversifies Amazon’s product offerings in India but also aims to rejuvenate its growth in a highly competitive market.

The Dynamic Shift in Korea’s E-commerce Market

Coupang’s dominance in the South Korean e-commerce landscape is being vigorously contested by the rapid ascent of Chinese platforms like Temu and AliExpress, which have dramatically increased their monthly active users, ranking them among the top in Korea. March saw Temu’s user base grow by 42% to 8.29 million, while AliExpress boasted an 8.4% increase to 8.87 million users, surpassing local giants like 11Street, Gmarket, and WeMakePrice. Despite differing business models, these platforms are directly competing with Coupang, highlighting a notable market shift driven by consumer demand for diverse shopping options. In response, the Korean government has bolstered regulations to ensure consumer protection against the backdrop of these platforms’ aggressive expansion strategies.

Temu Defends Its Business Practices Amid Criticism

Temu has contested accusations from German consumer organizations that its platform engages in unfair trading practices. The company, known for offering Chinese bargains, faced criticism from the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv) over not clearly explaining the basis for its discounts and employing manipulative tactics, known as dark patterns. Temu insists its practices, including displaying stock levels and shopping cart numbers, are truthful and aimed at aiding consumer decisions, not manipulation. Despite these controversies, Temu, supported by PDD Holdings, has seen rapid growth in Europe, achieving over 30 billion euros in revenue last year.

Yoox Eyes Multiple Suitors for Acquisition

Online luxury fashion retailer Mytheresa, along with BestSecret, is reportedly interested in acquiring Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP). Richemont, the current owner of YNAP, which has faced operational losses, sought new buyers after a failed acquisition attempt by Farfetch. Despite YNAP’s ongoing financial struggles, Mytheresa, Bain Capital, and Permira are considered potential buyers, reflecting the challenging valuation due to YNAP’s financial outlook.

AI News

Saudi Arabia Announces $40 Billion Investment in AI

In an ambitious move to diversify its economy, the Saudi Arabian government plans to invest $40 billion in artificial intelligence. This massive investment aims to foster development in AI and related technologies, building on the country’s prior investments in various sectors. The initiative will likely stimulate growth in the domestic AI market and attract major cloud service providers to the region, supporting Saudi Arabia’s strategic shift from oil dependency.

Nvidia to Establish $200 Million AI Center in Indonesia

Nvidia is set to establish a $200 million AI center in Indonesia, in partnership with Indosat, to enhance its presence in Southeast Asia. The center will focus on telecommunications infrastructure, leveraging Nvidia’s latest technologies. This move marks Nvidia’s continued expansion in the region, supporting local AI development and applications in diverse sectors. The initiative highlights Indonesia’s growing importance in the global tech landscape and Nvidia’s strategic investment in future technologies.

Hailo Raises $120 Million for AI Hardware Development

Israeli startup Hailo has secured $120 million to advance its AI accelerators for edge computing. The company, aiming to enhance generative AI application performance, has introduced the Hailo-10 GenAI accelerator chip. This development underscores Hailo’s commitment to revolutionizing AI edge applications, with the new chip offering significant performance and energy efficiency improvements. Hailo’s funding and product launch reflect the growing demand for advanced AI solutions in various industries.

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