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.

eBay Strikes Deal with UPS, Offering Sellers Discounted Shipping

| Mike O'Brien

eBay has struck a deal with UPS to provide its sellers with discounted shipping, after telling them last month it was aware of service delays with primary carrier the U.S. Postal Service and complaints from sellers. The major marketplace said the discounts would be available to all of its sellers by the end of September.

FedEx Sees Record Revenue, Huge Spike in Ground Parcels in Q1

| Mike O'Brien

Like UPS before it, FedEx reported a blowout first quarter fueled by pandemic-era ecommerce demand, with revenue and profits exceeding estimates and average daily volume in its ground parcel network increasing by 31%. Executives said they are ready for a massive peak holiday season with personnel, facilities and technology.

FedEx Rolls Out Average Rate Increase of 4.9% for 2021, Adds a Late Fee

| Mike O'Brien

FedEx announced its 2021 rate schedule, once again with a 4.9% increase for its ground, express and home delivery services, lower than some observers had expected, and the addition of a late fee for unpaid invoices, which UPS has had in place for years. FedEx is also adding surcharges for high cost and out-of-the-way areas.

E-Grocery Sales Down 20% in August, But AOV, Regular Usage Increasing

| Mike O'Brien

While total e-grocery sales in the U.S. declined 20% in August vs. June to $5.2 billion, other factors indicate strength in the sector, such as growth in average order value and repeat usage intent, according to a survey by Mercatus and Brick Meets Click. AOV reached a high of $95, the survey found, 32% higher than a year ago.

Walmart Flytrex drone

Walmart Launches Second U.S. Drone Delivery Pilot in North Carolina

| Mike O'Brien

Walmart on Sept. 9 launched a second pilot drone delivery program, this time in Fayetteville, NC, using a control system from Israeli firm Flytrex, zipping grocery and household items to nearby customers. This is in addition to a program drone program Walmart launched in April in Grand Forks, ND, again with Flytrex.

Amazon FBA logo

Amazon FBA Sellers Facing Suspension Over Late Carrier Deliveries

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon is warning ecommerce shippers using Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) that late shipments to an FBA facility on the part of their carrier could result in suspension of their FBA shipping privileges, even if the shippers themselves aren’t responsible for the delays. The new policy went into effect on Aug. 25, 2020.

Macy’s Benefiting from Centralized Plan as Ecommerce Grows 53% in Q2

| Mike O'Brien

In a familiar theme for omnichannel retailers who have gotten ahead of the curve in digital transformation, Macy’s reported store sales down 61% in the second quarter, while ecommerce increased 53%. Still brick-and-mortar news was not all bad, as stores reopened stronger than expected and luxury goods outpaced projections.

Amazon Prime Air Gets FAA Approval for its Drone Delivery

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate its delivery drones beyond visual line of sight of the pilot, removing a key roadblock to its eventual goal of deploying aerial fulfillment for Prime customers in less than a half hour.

Walmart+ bags 2

Subscription Program Walmart+ to Launch Sept. 15

| Mike O'Brien

Walmart+, the $98 per year subscription program the company insists isn’t competing with Amazon Prime when it is, will launch Sept. 15, offering free same-day delivery on 160,000 items. Monthly membership is $12.95, similar to Prime, and a 15-day free trial is available. Members of Delivery Unlimited will automatically revert to Walmart+.