Data Dive

Data Dive: Moving In, Doubling Down And Backing Out

Just because a week goes short, doesn’t mean it can’t be eventful. Last week it felt a bit like the news cycle decided to push 5 days of information  into a 4-day period and hoped that everyone was ready for it.

Payments and commerce had a particularly top-speed sprint back into the work week. Google made new additions, Walmart had expansions and Facebook had subtractions.

Google Eyes Rewards For The Play Store

According to reports, Google looks to be gearing up to launch a reward system aimed at moving more customer purchases in the Google Play store.

Citing a teardown of the Google Play Store by 9to5Google, the latest iteration of the Play stores has many references to Play Points, making it seem as though Google is gearing up to offer a points based loyalty program.

Google has neither confirmed or denied reports about the loyalty program, though the points are not the only piece of evidence that point in that direction. The teardown of the Android PacKage (APK) indicates that the system will reward consumers for buying within the Play Store, with a string of code indicating that users would “earn 1 point per ¥100 on everything [they] buy.”

The teardown also indicated that the points are cumulative and seem to be arranged in a level-based structure. It also seemed as though user can make in-app purchases with the Play Points or cash them in for credit that can be used in the Play Store.

The teardown also discovered a few other interesting additions that may be coming soon, including a voting system that asks users to vote for their favorite apps. Another change indicates what seems to be an overhauled account page.

The push to bulk up the Play Store comes as the competition between Apple and Google becomes more heated for app store dominance. Apple’s App Store endured its first ever contraction in 2017 — dropping from 2.2 million published iOS apps in the beginning of the year to 2.1 million by year-end. That contraction came as the Play Store expanded up 30 percent to around 3.6 million apps.

The drop-off, however, comes with a few caveats. Apple has begun pushing for stricter enforcement of app guidelines — meaning more apps were categorized as spam and removed. There were also technical changes to the App Store that required developers to adopt a 64-bit architecture.

Walmart’s eCommerce Overhaul

Walmart is overhauling its eCommerce system so that it is not sending out items that are extremely expensive to ship. Walmart customers are finding that some products are now showing up as out-of-stock when searching for them.

According to reports last week, the changes to the eCommerce system mean that heavy, bulky items, like laundry detergent and cat food, stored in a warehouse too far away from the buyer will not be available for purchase. In the past those items had been shipped.

The change, according to reports has also resulted in a decline in sales at some of the companies that supply products for Walmart.com, which suppliers do not love. What they love even less is that they claim they were not warned of the changes to the platform in advance. As a result, many noted, they will have to stock more products in Walmart warehouses around the U.S. in order to keep their sales levels.

“I think, long-term, it’s absolutely the right choice to make shipments more profitable,” one executive told The Wall Street Journal. “Short term, it’s a bit chaotic.”

Walmart explained that the changes are part of a test to see if it is able to deliver more products via ground shipping, which is cheaper than air shipping. It’s also a test to see if it can lower the number of split shipments — online orders that come in several boxes from different warehouses.

And the test itself covers popular products that consumers are most likely to purchase, like household cleaners, non-perishable groceries, pet food and makeup. A Walmart spokesperson noted that consumers likely won’t see a big increase in out-of-stock items because the site will suggest other products in warehouses that are closer by.

The system is similar to the technology used on Jet.com, which is the eCommerce startup Walmart acquired two years ago.

Millennials Say Goodbye To Facebook

It looks like the ever-coveted millennial generation is falling out of love with Facebook — at least is the latest data from Pew is right. The research organization found that  a “significant” share of its users have changed their relationship with the social media network during the past year.

According to the report, 42 percent of Facebook users have taken a break from the platform during the past year, while 54 percent of those 18 and older noted they have adjusted their privacy settings during that timeframe.

Meanwhile, 42 percent said they have taken a break from checking the platform for several weeks or more, while 26 percent said they deleted the Facebook app from their smartphone. Pew Research found that 74 percent of Facebook users have taken one of those actions during the past 12 months.

The data is drawn from a study of U.S. adults from May 29 through June 11.

It also found that the majority of Republicans think that social media platforms in general censor political speech they don’t like, but an equal number of Democrats and Republicans use the social media network. Republicans aren’t more likely than Democrats to take a break from Facebook or delete the app, despite their views of about prevalent censorship on the platform.

The data also revealed that younger Facebook users are more likely to adjust their privacy settings or delete the Facebook app from their mobile phones. Of those between the ages of 18 to 29, 44 percent said they opted to delete the Facebook app during the past year, which is close to four times the share of users age 65 and older that are deleting the app.

The report also noted that only about one-third of Facebook users 65 and older have adjusted their privacy settings. Nearly two-thirds of other user groups have made updates.

So what did we learn this week? It’s all about making things more rewarding. Google wants to make its Play Store more rewarding for customers, Walmart wants its eCommerce margins a bit more rewarding by tightening their shipping roots and Facebook better find something to reward millennials pretty quickly.

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