Mike O'Brien

mobrien@accessintel.com / MikeOBmcm

Mike O’Brien has worked in journalism, marketing and public relations for … well, quite a while. At Multichannel Merchant he focuses on the world of direct-to-customer operations and fulfillment, editing MCM’s weekly O+F Advisor newsletter, and programs the annual Ecommerce Operations Summit conference. Previously Mike was a senior account executive for Marx Communications, a boutique public relations firm working with marketing and advertising technology companies. Other past work includes stints as a media relations consultant for a concert promoter, a marketing communications specialist for a pharma software firm, a research analyst covering corporate e-learning and a daily newspaper reporter on every beat imaginable – except sports.

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Prime Day Sees Modest Gain in Challenged Year

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon once again claimed that the latest Prime Day event was the biggest ever, with 300 million items sold and importantly, more than $1.7 billion saved by shoppers, as some observers had said ahead of the fact that deals weren’t all that spectacular compared to everyday offerings.

Google Facing Adtech Breakup Heat from DC

| Mike O'Brien

Google parent Alphabet is reportedly considering splitting up parts of its business that handle digital advertising into a separate unit, to avoid antitrust litigation from the U.S. Justice Dept. as part of an ongoing investigation, according to the WSJ. It’s not clear whether anything short of an asset sale would satisfy federal regulators.

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Ecommerce Market Share Gains Slip Slightly

| Mike O'Brien

After hitting a peak of 24% in the lockdown era of mid-2020, the ecommerce share of U.S. retail has slipped a bit but is expected to settle at 22% by year end, according to FTI Consulting, as consumer behavior has become entrenched even as stores have been reopened now for over a year.

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Flexe Raises $119M, Clears Unicorn Bar

| Mike O'Brien

Flexe, which provides outsourced warehousing and fulfillment services by matching excess provider capacity with shipper needs, has reached a $1 billion-plus valuation with its latest $119 million Series D round. The company claims six of the ten largest retailers and four of the five largest consumer packaged goods companies as clients.

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Consumers Willing to Wait, But Not Pay for Shipping

| Mike O'Brien

While consumers may be understanding of delays caused by – yup – supply chain issues, they are less forgiving when it comes to being charged for shipping. Over half of respondents to a survey from Dotcom Distribution said they get the delays, but just 25% of those respondents said it made them more tolerant of shipping costs.

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Walmart Makes Convenience Play, Combining Subscription Programs

| Mike O'Brien

Walmart is adding its in-home delivery service an option for Walmart+ subscribers, making it easier for them to access the service through a single registration as it expands to new markets. Amazon for its part is giving Prime members a year of free GrubHub deliveries, while getting an option for a 2% stake in the company.

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FedEx Consolidation Plan Was Long Overdue

| Mike O'Brien

Plans for FedEx to consolidate its operations, announced last week to analysts and investors, is long overdue and should yield the efficiency benefits executives are expecting, especially given a fairly conservative five-year timeline, most experts agreed. Others saw FedEx following UPS’ lead with a heightened focus on revenue quality.

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FedEx Outlines Integration Plan

| Mike O'Brien

FedEx executives this week announced plans to integrate its operating companies – ground, express and freight – to drive operational efficiencies and eliminate redundancies, with the hopes of more than recouping the one-time expense of $2 billion over five years to make it happen. Network 2.0 was unveiled during an investor’s day event.

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AB5 Upheld as Supreme Court Declines Case

| Mike O'Brien

The U.S. Supreme Court, in an end-of-term note, on Wednesday declined to hear a California appellate case that leaves in place AB5, a 2020 state law that calls for so-called gig workers to be reclassified as employees, causing a seismic shift in the state’s transportation sector, among others.