Ecommerce Briefs: Unilever’s Liquidation Website; Amazon’s Shipping Delays; Shopify; Jumia

“Ecommerce Briefs” is my occasional series on developments and news that affect online merchants. In this installment, I will report on Unilever’s new B2B liquidation website, Amazon’s holiday shipping delays, Shopify’s holiday shopping statistics, as well as the issues of Jumia, the African ecommerce market.

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Unilever’s Liquidation Marketplace

The new Unilever Liquidation Auctions utilizes the B-Stock platform. Sellers thus far include leading consumer brands.

Unilever has partnered with B-Stock — an auction platform for unsold inventory — to get a B2B market of new, extra merchandise. Unilever Liquidation Auctions offers Brands like AXE, Dove, Suave, Nexxus, Vaseline, and Q-Tips in bulk amounts to qualified U.S. business buyers.

More brands will be added from the beauty, personal care, and food and refreshment categories. The marketplace features inventory in both truckload and less than truckload quantities.

B-Stock provides services for both enterprise and small business companies. Most buyers around the B-Stock auction platform are merchants. But, large retailers are also sellers. Examples include Best Buy, Lowe’s, Office Depot, and Walmart. Unilever will bring GE Appliances and Whirlpool in the market area as sellers. Amazon liquidates goods throughout the B-Stock platform, also.

Amazon Does Not Deliver

This is the first holiday season that Amazon is not relying on FedEx for ground shipments as FedEx stopped the partnership past summer. Furthermore, this is the first year that Amazon guarantees free one-day or two-day delivery to the majority of Prime customers. This, in combination with adverse weather across much of the nation over the Thanksgiving holiday, led to a lot of delays.

Divulging a little-known reality, Amazon told clients that Prime’s one-day and two-day delivery timeline starts once an item leaves a warehouse, not when a product is ordered. Amazon sellers were also affected, leading to a lively discussion on Amazon Seller Central. Here’s a typical comment:

Just noticed they removed delivery date dividers for all of my FBA listings. I also bought something FBA on Tue along with the delivery guarantee was next Monday. I bet they’re not committing to 2 or 1 day guarantees now for the holidays.

Amazon’s standard reply to client complaints was,”We are sorry for the wait! As a consequence of high order quantity, delivery estimates for some orders might be longer than usual.”

Paradoxically, Amazon cut back on its use of FedEx, UPS, and USPS many years back because those companies couldn’t deliver packages on time.

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Shopify’s Black Friday during Cyber Monday

Shopify reported that merchants using its ecommerce platform had excellent results for the November holidays.

  • The amount of purchases totaled 25.5 million compared to 16 million in 2018.
  • Global sales totaled $2.9 billion, up from last year’s $1.8 billion, representing merchants in approximately 175 nations.
  • The normal U.S. cart worth was $85.88.
  • Sixty-nine percentage of earnings came from a mobile device.
  • The hottest product types were apparel and accessories and beauty and health.
  • Overall year thus far, Shopify merchants have experienced a 48 percent increase in earnings in the U.S. since last year.

Jumia Retrenches

This week Jumia, the pan-African ecommerce company, announced it has closed its food and beverage delivery service firm Jumia Foods in Rwanda, just weeks after it completely exited Cameroon and Tanzania, according to the Financial Times.

Jumia has also scaled back company in Nigeria, its biggest market. The business now operates in just 11 of Africa’s 54 nations. The prior unicorn (reaching $1 billion in value) has seen its share price fall almost 90 percent from its high after record on the New York Stock Exchange in April. Shares, which reached $49.77 just after the IPO, have dropped to $4.96 as of December 11. Jumia appears to be pivoting towards becoming a fintech company, focusing on its Jumia Pay payment system.

The closures highlight the complexities of operating an ecommerce business across a continent with weak infrastructure and deficient logistics. Jumia’s satisfaction costs rose 63 percent in the first three quarters of 2019, versus a revenue increase of just 28 percent.

Jumia has incurred more than $1 billion in losses since launch in Nigeria in 2012. It’s facing increased competition from Amazon, which may deliver products faster and at a lower cost. Additionally, little sellers on Instagram and other societal platforms have begun to get traction in Africa.

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