Home » Latest News » E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Mar 29): Amazon Navigates EU Ad Transparency, Google Unveils Shopping Recommendations

E-commerce & AI News Flash Collection (Mar 29): Amazon Navigates EU Ad Transparency, Google Unveils Shopping Recommendations

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US News

Google’s Personalized Shopping Experience

Google announces a new feature that delivers personalized shopping recommendations to users, amid competition with Amazon, Walmart, and others who have already launched AI-driven shopping features. After users search for shopping-related content, a new page labeled “Style Recommendations” appears, allowing users to swipe products left or right to “like,” “dislike,” or “skip,” with Google using this data to tailor personal recommendations. If users do not find what they want, Google updates the results after more products are rated and records user preferences for future searches.

Users can manage their preferences via the “About this result” link in personalized options. Initially available to U.S. shoppers using Google’s browser and apps, Google has not disclosed plans to expand this feature to more countries, highlighting that consumers shop on Google over a billion times a day, with search results featuring over 45 billion products.

Home Depot’s Strategic Acquisition to Enhance Pro Sales

Home Depot has announced its largest acquisition ever, purchasing SRS Distribution for $18.25 billion, signaling a bold move to expand its professional customer base. The acquisition, set to close within the fiscal year, will be funded through cash and debt. Home Depot aims to tap into the lucrative contractor and roofer market, especially as DIY projects decline, by leveraging SRS Distribution’s network and resources, including its 11,000 employees and 760 branches across 47 states. This move is expected to bolster Home Depot’s offerings to professional customers, increasing its total addressable market by $50 billion. The company’s strategic acquisitions, including the recent purchase of HD Supply for approximately $8 billion, further emphasize its focus on growing the professional segment amidst stagnating growth.

Amazon Expands Same-Day Prescription Delivery Service

Amazon Pharmacy has expanded its same-day prescription delivery service to New York City and the greater Los Angeles area, marking a significant step in the e-commerce giant’s efforts to deliver a wide range of products, including prescription medications, on the same day. Launched in 2020, Amazon Pharmacy is leveraging new, smaller facilities to ensure rapid processing and delivery of the most common prescription medications for acute conditions. The service, which aims to provide the fastest and most convenient prescription medication home delivery, will soon be available in over a dozen other cities by year-end. This expansion builds on Amazon’s ongoing efforts to enhance its logistics network and explore innovative delivery solutions, such as drone delivery in select cities and e-bike deliveries in New York.

Global News

EU Regulation and Amazon’s Compliance

Following a failed appeal to the CJEU to suspend compliance with the DSA’s ad transparency requirements, Amazon agrees to disclose detailed information on its advertising operations within the public ad registry. The Digital Services Act (DSA), aimed at protecting users from illegal goods and content, mandates all online platforms and search engines, except for small and micro enterprises, to comply. Last September, Amazon challenged the DSA’s ad transparency clauses, but the EU’s lower court initially agreed to suspend the advertising disclosure requirements for Amazon.

However, this Wednesday, the EU’s higher court overturned the decision to temporarily suspend Amazon’s compliance with the ad transparency clauses, rejecting Amazon’s request for interim measures. Amazon expressed disappointment in the ruling, firmly denying that it falls under the DSA’s definition of a “Very Large Online Platform” (VLOP), committing to continue working closely with the EU Commission and fulfilling its obligations under the DSA.

Chinese E-commerce Giants Set to Dominate Global Markets

A recent report by HSBC predicts that by 2027, the GMV of Chinese e-commerce “Four Little Dragons” abroad, including Temu, Alibaba International, SHEIN, and TikTok, will each exceed $100 billion as part of a broader trend of globalization, with Chinese e-commerce GMV in overseas markets expected to reach $500 billion by 2025. Platform-specific projections suggest that Temu, leveraging its full-hosting model, affordable pricing, and extensive promotions, will further expand its influence in markets like the U.S., Europe, South Korea, and Japan, with a projected GMV of $140 billion by 2027.

Alibaba has already made significant inroads in Europe, ASEAN, South Korea, and Latin America with AliExpress and its global smart logistics network built by Cainiao, offering more competitive advantages compared to traditional platform models, with its international GMV expected to reach $118 billion by 2027. Fast-fashion retailer Shein, relying on a highly responsive supply chain, is positioned for strong growth with a projected GMV of $100 billion by 2027. TikTok, utilizing live commerce to convert traffic into commercial success, is forecasted to achieve a GMV of $111 billion by 2027, with the U.S. and ASEAN as key growth contributors.

India’s Myntra Sees Significant Growth

Indian fashion e-commerce platform Myntra experiences notable growth, with its Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) during the recent Ramadan season almost doubling the market rate and Monthly Active Users (MAU) increasing by 33% to around 60 million by the end of 2023. Myntra’s brand and category sizes have surged yearly, with the D2C segment’s GMV growing over 80% and the premium ethnic wear business over 100%. Beauty and home categories have also seen significant growth, reflecting Myntra’s diverse customer base. With an expanding customer base, deep collaborations with strategic brands, and technology-led innovations, Myntra’s EBITDA has remained positive since the last quarter of 2023. The Indian fashion and lifestyle e-commerce market is expected to reach about $35 billion by 2028, with Myntra poised to drive the industry’s future growth.

Wasoko’s Valuation Plummets After Share Sell-Off

Wasoko, a leading African B2B e-commerce company, sees its valuation drop to $260 million after one of its major shareholders, VVN Global, sells off 48% of its shares. Last year, Wasoko secured $125 million in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global, with a post-money valuation of $625 million. However, the business models of B2B e-commerce startups in Africa face challenges due to poor unit economics and high costs reducing profit margins, further exacerbated by an unfriendly capital environment in this emerging market. Earlier this year, two of Africa’s largest e-commerce companies, MaxAB and Wasoko, announced a merger amid significant downsizing in the African B2B e-commerce industry. Wasoko has initiated its largest-ever layoffs and exited markets in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, closing some hubs in pursuit of cost reductions and efficiency gains, with plans to also shut down operations in Uganda and Zambia.

Canada Goose Announces Major Layoffs

Canada Goose, the luxury outerwear brand, announces a 17% reduction in its workforce as part of a strategy to cut costs and streamline its organizational structure. The layoff announcement caused Canada Goose’s stock price to drop, closing down 6.79%. The company’s workforce has significantly expanded over the past two years, growing from 544 employees at its headquarters in April 2021 to about 915 by April 2023, nearly doubling.

According to data from financial market company Refinitiv, Canada Goose had 4,760 employees as of April 2023, indicating that up to 800 employees could be affected by the layoffs. CEO Dani Reiss states the layoffs result from a comprehensive review of the organizational structure and roles, aimed at aligning resources with company goals to drive growth across geographies, categories, and channels, and reinforcing Canada Goose’s position as a premium luxury brand. More details on the company’s transformation and outlook for the 2025 fiscal year will be shared during the fourth-quarter and full-year financial results announcement in May.

AI News

Amazon Invests in AI Start-Up Anthropic

Amazon announces an additional $2.75 billion investment in Anthropic, an AI start-up outperforming GPT-4 in multiple task categories with its advanced large language models. This investment follows a $1.25 billion funding round led by Amazon last September, bringing Amazon’s total investment in Anthropic to $4 billion. Anthropic plans to allocate the funds towards foundational model development and AI safety research, utilizing Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure to build its new generation large language models.

Additionally, Anthropic will use AWS as its “primary” cloud provider and Amazon’s custom chips for building, training, and deploying AI models. Anthropic’s large language models, including the flagship Claude 3 series model Opus, which has outperformed OpenAI’s GPT-4 in internal evaluations and on the Chatbot Arena leaderboard, will be accessible on Amazon’s Bedrock, a hosted service launched last April by AWS to provide access to internal and third-party foundational models.

Michel Janse, a content creator, discovered her image was used without consent in a YouTube ad promoting erectile dysfunction supplements, a new form of identity theft facilitated by AI. This incident is part of a troubling trend where AI technologies clone individuals’ voices and images for unauthorized use in various advertisements. The case illustrates the emerging challenges surrounding AI’s potential for identity theft and the inadequacy of current legal frameworks to protect individuals from such exploitations.

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