Beyond the seasonal rush to ramp up for the holidays, on top of the perennial “Best Toys” campaigns, the nation’s top two retailers found themselves engaged in a different tactical tussle this week, as Amazon and Walmart each rolled out a raft of new features aimed at keeping customers and suppliers coming back for more.
In separate but similar announcements, the two retail giants both unveiled campaigns aimed at shoring up — and adding more — sellers to their respective platforms. The fact that this pivot toward partners came at a time — in fact in the same week — when so much attention was being paid to fresh data that depicted consumers’ tepid appetite for retail purchasing, was conspicuous to say the least.
For its part, Amazon used its third annual “Accelerate” sellers convention to debut its latest efforts to keep sellers happy, while also launching new initiatives to grow their use of, and reliance on, its Buy With Prime program. Among the tweaks aimed at wooing D2Cs to sell and fulfill order on the world’s biggest eCommerce platform are a new free email messaging service as well as improved analytics and greater cohesion with the one-click purchasing and delivery system that dominates the spending of its 200+ million Prime members.
At the same, never to be outdone, Walmart answered with its own outreach to sellers, including a new suite of marketing tools, as well as internal digital selling tools and tweaks such as the new “Search Brand Amplifier,” all aimed at bringing in new and retaining existing sellers on its growing digital platform.
“As America’s No. 1 omni-retailer, Walmart has become the No. 1 online grocer and second-largest eCommerce platform in the U.S.,” Walmart Connect Head of Marketplace Mike Greenberg wrote in a blog post. “For brands both large and small selling on Walmart.com and the Walmart app, that means unprecedented opportunities to reach Walmart customers.”
While the eCommerce leader was busy courting its legion of sellers, it was also busy retraining the world’s football fans to tune in and watch Amazon’s first-ever live-streamed version of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football franchise.
Like any new player making a debut in the big leagues, the benefits and ultimate utility of Amazon’s $1 billion-plus investment to make its inaugural foray into football may not materialize for years. Even so, the Alexa overlap and ecosystem-building promotions aimed at monetizing the game for viewers were already on full view with a mix of products and promos and multimedia messaging designed to get Prime members and viewers to do more than simply watch the game on TV as they have for decades. That won’t happen overnight, and Amazon knows this, but then again, five years ago nobody would have thought football games were coming to Amazon to begin with.
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Also on the futuristic front this week, was news that Walmart was moving forward with its push into digital banking via its budding “One” financial services platform.
While the details and launch roadmap are still a closely guarded secret down in Bentonville, it is common knowledge that the operator of 4,700 domestic super stores is building a financial unit that will not only incentivize customers to keep themselves — and their money — within Walmart’s omnichannel ecosystem.
Again, it’s a project that will require a degree of customer retraining on the part of Walmart to get people to do something they’re not accustomed to, but it is also one that could bear significant efficiencies and fresh revenues in the not so distant future.
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