Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Mar 12): Trump Comments on TikTok, Coupang Expands to Japan

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Mar 12): Trump Comments on TikTok, Coupang Expands to Japan


US News

Trump Speaks on TikTok’s Future

On March 11, former U.S. President Donald Trump discussed TikTok, acknowledging its threats but cautioning that a ban could harm young users and inadvertently benefit Facebook, which he termed “the enemy of the people.” Trump, who had previously attempted to ban TikTok and WeChat during his presidency, expressed opposition to recent legislative efforts aimed at pressuring ByteDance to divest TikTok, citing concerns over the impact on youth and potential benefits to competitors. He emphasized the mixed advantages and disadvantages of TikTok, highlighting the platform’s significant youth engagement. Trump’s stance reflects a broader debate on the balance between national security and free access to digital platforms.

Kohl’s Welcomes Babies R Us to Its Stores

Kohl’s has announced a collaboration with WHP Global to introduce Babies R Us sections in about 200 of its stores, starting this August. This move, aimed at expanding Kohl’s baby product range and attracting younger customers, comes as the retailer seeks to reverse declining sales under new CEO Tom Kingsbury. The partnership will also see an enhanced baby product selection on Kohl’s website and the launch of a baby registry. This strategic initiative follows Kohl’s efforts to rejuvenate its brand, including expanding product assortments and leveraging its Sephora beauty shops to draw in shoppers. The collaboration with Babies R Us marks a significant step in Kohl’s turnaround strategy, potentially setting a new standard for retail partnerships and customer engagement in the competitive landscape.

Liquid Death Secures $67 Million in Funding, Doubling Valuation

The viral beverage brand Liquid Death has announced a $67 million funding round, doubling its valuation to $1.4 billion. This investment will support distribution expansion and new product development, with contributions from celebrities and athletes. Liquid Death, known for its canned water and unique branding, reported $263 million in sales for 2023, planning an IPO in spring 2024. The brand’s success on TikTok, with 5 million followers, underscores its appeal to younger consumers. The funding and planned IPO signal Liquid Death’s ambition to dominate the beverage market, leveraging its edgy brand identity and environmental consciousness. The brand’s rapid growth and innovative marketing strategies have set a new standard in the beverage industry, attracting a loyal and engaged customer base.

Global News

Coupang Launches B2B Shopping Site in Japan

South Korea’s leading e-commerce platform, Coupang, has announced the launch of Rocket Direct, a B2B cross-border shopping website, in Japan. This expansion, part of Coupang’s strategy to enter new markets amid domestic saturation, follows its successful ventures in the United States and Hong Kong. With Japan’s cross-border e-commerce market growing by 11% in 2023, Coupang aims to cater to the demand for fashion, food, and home goods, marking its first annual profit since its inception in 2010. The move into Japan is seen as a strategic step to leverage the growing appetite for international products, particularly in categories like food which saw a 45% increase in transactions. Coupang’s international expansion is a testament to its ambition to become a global e-commerce powerhouse, adapting to market trends and consumer preferences.

Luxury E-commerce Platform Matchesfashion Declares Bankruptcy

The British luxury e-commerce giant Matchesfashion has entered into administration, announcing a 50% workforce reduction, approximately 300 employees. Once celebrated as one of the UK’s most profitable luxury e-commerce platforms, Matchesfashion has struggled despite being acquired by Frasers Group for £52 million in December 2023. The company reported a pre-tax loss of £70 million and sales of £380 million as of January 31, 2023, highlighting the challenges in the luxury e-commerce sector. This downturn reflects broader issues within the luxury online retail space, as other prominent platforms also face financial difficulties. The sector’s volatility underscores the changing dynamics of luxury consumer behavior and the need for adaptation.

Amazon Aggregator Razor Acquires Perch Amid Funding Success

Razor, an aggregator of Amazon businesses, has solidified its global leadership in the e-commerce brand aggregation space with an €80 million Series D funding round and the acquisition of American counterpart Perch. This move comes as the aggregator sector faces challenges, with Razor’s valuation reaching $1.2 billion and its combined entity valued at $1.7 billion. Razor’s strategy focuses on expanding its brand portfolio and market presence, despite the recent bankruptcy of industry pioneer Thrasio. The acquisition spree and funding success position Razor to capitalize on the consolidation trend within the Amazon ecosystem, aiming to streamline operations and enhance brand value. Razor’s aggressive growth strategy highlights the competitive nature of the e-commerce aggregator market, as companies vie for dominance in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Swiss Customs Law Complicates Parcel Delivery

Switzerland’s National Council has passed a legislative amendment overhauling customs regulations, potentially making parcel delivery slower, more complex, and costlier. The new law allows importers and exporters to decide who handles customs clearance, possibly burdening consumers with additional documentation and delivery companies with extra sorting and storage tasks. Critics, including Swiss Post and logistics companies, warn of extended delivery delays and increased bureaucracy, despite intentions to streamline processes. The implications of this law could significantly impact Switzerland’s e-commerce ecosystem, challenging both local and international retailers to navigate the new regulatory landscape effectively.

Allegro Enters Slovak Market

Polish e-commerce giant Allegro has officially launched its Slovak website, allegro.sk, marking its expansion into Slovakia. Prior to the launch, 42% of Slovak respondents were already familiar with Allegro, with 82% expressing willingness to use the platform. Allegro’s entry into Slovakia, where the e-commerce market was valued at €2.8 billion in 2022, is part of its strategy to simplify the shopping process and localize offerings to cater to the Slovak market’s needs. The introduction of a “no registration required” purchasing option and adjustments in logistics, currency, and language aim to enhance the shopping experience for Slovak consumers. Allegro’s strategic move into Slovakia demonstrates its commitment to expanding its footprint in Central Europe, capitalizing on the region’s growing e-commerce market and consumer familiarity with the brand.

AI News

SXSW 2024 Highlights Emerging Tech Supercycle

At SXSW 2024, futurist Amy Webb introduced a new “tech supercycle,” driven by the convergence of AI, connected ecosystems, and biotechnology. This cycle, distinguished by collaborative advancements across these technologies, promises significant and sustained economic impacts. Webb’s insights suggest a future where AI’s integration into various sectors accelerates innovation, reshaping human existence with smarter AI models, increased data collection devices, and new challenges in AI security and ethics. This supercycle heralds a transformative era in technology, emphasizing the need for ethical considerations and robust security measures to harness its full potential responsibly.

Meta Unveils GPU Clusters for AI Development

Meta has revealed its latest AI infrastructure advancements, showcasing two new data center-scale GPU clusters equipped with Nvidia H100 GPUs to support the training of more complex models like Llama 3. This expansion signifies Meta’s commitment to advancing AI research and development towards building advanced machine intelligence. By the end of 2024, Meta aims to possess 350,000 Nvidia H100 GPUs, enhancing its computational power to support its ambitious AI goals, including the pursuit of AGI (advanced general intelligence). The scale and scope of Meta’s investment in AI infrastructure underscore the company’s leadership in the field and its determination to shape the future of AI technologies and applications.

In a significant legal filing, OpenAI has branded Elon Musk’s lawsuit claims as “incoherent,” seeking to have the case recognized as “complex” to streamline the discovery process. This move reflects the deepening divide between OpenAI, an AI research leader, and Musk, a tech titan and former ally, highlighting the escalating legal battle that could set precedents for AI governance and ethics. The organization’s decision to employ a law firm Musk once sued underscores a determined defense strategy, showcasing OpenAI’s readiness to confront the lawsuit head-on. By pushing for a complex case designation, OpenAI aims for a methodical litigation approach, highlighting the strategic depth in addressing Musk’s allegations. This clash not only spotlights the tensions within AI leadership but also signals a critical juncture in the debate over AI’s future direction and ethical governance, potentially influencing how AI organizations operate and are regulated in the future.

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