Data Dive

Shake It Off Edition: Google, Shopify And Walmart

American poet and woman of letters Taylor Swift once noted that the haters gonna hate (hate, hate, hate, hate) and the players gonna play (play, play, play, play) – but that she would, in any event, shake it off.

As it turns out, that advice would probably have been useful to many players in the payments and commerce marketplace this week, as both haters and players have been particularly active.

So, how has everyone been shaking it off?

Google’s Emoji Miss
 
Sayre’s law – named for Wallace Stanley Sayre, political scientist and Columbia professor – states: “In any dispute, the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”

Said more simply: the more trivial the issue, the bigger the fight people will have about it.

Anyone wondering what Sayre’s law might look like in action need look no further than Google: specifically, its new burger emoji, and the legion of haters it attracted.

Because the cheese was in the wrong place.

Google’s version of a burger emoji displays the cheese slice placed below the meat patty, rather than on top.

There are just some innovations the world is not ready for yet.

Writer and media analyst Thomas Baekdal called attention to the culinary gaffe in an Oct. 28 tweet that quickly went viral.

“I think we need to have a discussion about how Google’s burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top,” he wrote.

Other Twitter users adamantly agreed with Baekdal’s analysis – that the cheese is in the wrong place – while others fought back passionately that the cheese melts better if you put it under the patty.

This went on for a while.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai eventually stepped into the ring, noting that he and his company will “drop everything else we are doing and address on Monday:) if folks can agree on the correct way to do this!”

As of today, however, no change has been made. The cheese does not stand alone: it is buried under the meat.

As it turns out, there are standards for these things – sort of. The Unicode Consortium determines standard symbols for emojis and other software. But companies like Google and Apple can come up with their own interpretations of those symbols and their details to make them more distinct. Android recent redesigned theirs, and Apple is set to release a new wave of them later this month.

Interestingly, the internet did manage to agree on something: the team at Microsoft include the only people who can build a digital burger.

“The burger emoji battle is fun, but let’s take a moment to point out that Microsoft is the only one that gets it completely right,” tweeted user Rich Woods.

For the record, the correct order is bun-salad-cheese-patty-bun.

Exactly as God and Ronald McDonald intended.

Shopify’s Short Seller Standoff

Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke is in the midst of a protracted struggle with short seller Andrew Left of Citron Research.

During the company’s upcoming earnings call last week, Lutke took time to address some of Left’s concerns, but reports indicate the firm is limited in what they can say.

Specifically, shareholders and analysts seem to agree that disclosing company secrets simply to quiet Left is ill-advised.

A Shopify investor (who preferred to remain unnamed) explained that if Shopify reveals the average amount that its nearly 2,500 high-end Shopify Plus members pay monthly, it could result in a short squeeze.

Reports indicated the minimum monthly charge for high-end Shopify customers is $2,000, but there are additional charges for those processing more sales.

Left has criticized Shopify’s payments to bloggers and others who get merchants to sign up for the company’s eCommerce platform. He also wants the company to state the rate of customers who leave the platform, otherwise known as churn.

Analysts told Reuters that Lutke can push back against Citron by telling investors how many of its customers sell goods with a value exceeding $100,000 each year.

“I’d love to have [the] churn [number], I just don’t think we’ll get it,” said Ross MacMillan, RBC Capital Markets analyst, in an interview with Reuters.

MacMillan downgraded Shopify to sector perform earlier this year, largely due to the company’s lofty valuation and the longer time frame before new services will impact earnings.

Left’s push aside, short sellers’ interest in Shopify does not seem to have increased as of yet.

Walmart Celebrates The Holidays – Literally
 
Faced with falling foot traffic – and consumers who are increasingly likely to shop online – retailers everywhere are wondering how to keep customers shopping in stores through the most wonderful time of the year.

Walmart decided that the key to keeping customers shopping in stores during the holidays is to make it a celebration in itself.

According to reports, Walmart will be throwing tens of thousands of holiday parties at its Supercenter locations this shopping season.

Walmart had a pretty merry Christmas last year, with a much better performance than its rivals at Kohl’s and Target – but both competitors have significantly raised the level of their competitive game for the season. Some of the 20,000 parties have already kicked off in select locations.

The parties will be a chance for Walmart to showcase certain spend-drawing departments. The early November parties will focus on the retailer’s toy department, early December parties will focus on entertainment items and mid -December will be all about popular gift ideas.

Walmart will be hiring larger numbers of seasonal “holiday helpers,” who will assist shoppers in retrieving online orders and help to increase checkout speeds.

“We’ll have deep availability of top items, and our store shelves will be stocked,” noted Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer of Walmart.

On top of the celebratory environment, Walmart said its online assortment is three times larger than last year, and that customers will receive discounts if they go to a store to pick up their online orders. Additionally, Walmart is introducing a number of brands it hasn’t carried previously.

But what isn’t Walmart doing? Waiving all shipping fees, as some of its rivals have done.

So what did we learn this week? Haters gonna hate – even about something as minor as cheese placement on a burger. Players gonna play – which is rough if one happens to be a CEO and the game is your firm’s stock price. And, when it doubt, shake it off by throwing a party whenever possible.

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Latest Insights: 

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