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Walmart Removes $35 Minimum for Same-Day Delivery

| Mike O'Brien

In a move surprising no one except for the timing, Walmart announced it’s dropping the $35 minimum order threshold for shoppers to qualify for same-day delivery with its Walmart Express service, just months after doing the same for members of its Walmart+ subscription program. Walmart’s ecommerce growth “fell” to 69% in Q4.

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Fabric Raises $43M in Series A Round

| Mike O'Brien

Fabric, a provider of cloud-based headless commerce architecture, has raised $43 million in a Series A round led by Norwest Venture Partners, with additional participation from Redpoint Ventures and Sierra Ventures, coming months after its $9.5 million seed round. Funds will be used to expand its engineering, product and sales teams.

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Walmart Expands Store-Based Grocery Fulfillment Automation

| Mike O'Brien

Walmart is taking another huge leap forward in its attempt to dominate grocery sales, launching an aggressive plan to increase the number of stores using micro fulfillment via automation and robotics to speed orders to local customers as it builds on the digital legacy of the departing Marc Lore. Dozens of such locations are planned.

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Amazon Gives Break to SFP Merchants

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon is giving merchants using its Seller Fulfilled Prime a break in terms of service level commitments, removing a plan to have them meet one- and two-day shipping requirements, in light of ongoing challenges on speedy delivery from carriers, CNBC reported.

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China Luxury Goods Market Up 48% in 2020

| Mike O'Brien

Driven by a pandemic-fueled lack of travel and more disposable income, the China luxury goods market grew 48% in 2020, doubling the country’s overall share, according to Bain & Company. The upward trend is expected to give China a leading share of 45% of the global luxury market by 2025, outpacing Europe and North America.

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USPS Suffered Most in Holiday Package Deluge

| Mike O'Brien

The U.S. Post Office suffered most in terms of on-time performance and complaints this peak holiday season, experts agreed, with FedEx also having issues but not to the same extent and UPS doing better. Carriers of all stripes were buried by a cataclysmic holiday package deluge from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

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Will Dark Stores Outlast the Pandemic?

| Mike Chou

Dark stores, even as a temporarily approach, can help offset the cost of underperforming stores and the expense of freight and logistics, especially in more densely populated areas. It also takes online fulfillment out of store operations, allowing retailers to concentrate on customer service and minimizing inventory confusion.

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2020 Year in Review: Retail Upended, Reset Continues

| Mike O'Brien

As 2020 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect back on a wild and crazy year in retail, to paraphrase the Festrunk brothers from Saturday Night Live. COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball in February and March, causing widespread shutdowns that hit retail especially hard, leading to hockey-stick growth in ecommerce.

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Holiday Returns Cost Expected to Double

| Mike O'Brien

After the explosion in holiday ecommerce, comes the flood of holiday returns, expected to cost retailers $1.1 billion, twice what it did in 2020, according to data from Narvar. goTRG and Returnly both said Dec. 26 was the peak day for consumers to initiate returns. UPS traditionally lists Jan. 2 as peak returns day for transit of returns.

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UPS, FedEx Diverge on Last-Mile Surcharges

| Mike O'Brien

UPS has extended shipping surcharges into 2021, with some similarities and some differences FedEx. Most notable was a steeper price drop for the surcharge on UPS’s SurePost last-mile service, used by many smaller ecommerce shippers, as FedEx may be covering the cost of shifting volume from the USPS into its own ground network.