Today in Retail: GameStop Increases Its Digital Focus; Fighting Back Against the Rise of Friendly Fraud

Walmart app

Today in retail, Walmart’s eCommerce head refers to its 4,700 stores as “shoppable fulfillment centers.” Plus, online sneaker startup KicksCrew is expanding its reach, Walmart and Gap team up on a home collection for kids and online car marketplaces are spurring profits across the MENA region.

Walmart’s New eCommerce Chief Calls Stores ‘Shoppable Fulfillment Centers’

Walmart U.S. Chief eCommerce Officer Tom Ward said shoppers have become more reliant on eCommerce since the start of the pandemic, and he sees his company as ready to embrace that transformation, as brick-and-mortar stores have a new place in our lives these days.

Among the examples of how Walmart is changing its stores’ identity is the debut of its delivery drone service from store parking lots, the addition of direct-to-customer (D2C) food delivery and the upcoming debut of third-party sellers’ goods packed and shipped from Walmart’s thousands of U.S. locations.

Amazon has had a stranglehold on the eCommerce market with a 40% market share, according to CNBC, and consumers are now spending more on gas and food because of inflation, so they’re looking for bargains and deals anywhere they can find them, which is why eCommerce remains sustainable today.

GameStop Doubles Down on Digital Assets, Blockchain, NFTs

GameStop has been quietly preparing for its entry into cryptocurrency, blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), with its fiscal 2022 first-quarter earnings press release showing the company has been making hires and plans in that space for at least part of the three months ending April 30.

The video game, consumer electronics and gaming merchandise retailer revealed in the release that it “took steps to support the recent launch of a digital asset wallet to allow gamers and others to store, send, receive and use cryptocurrencies and [NFTs] across decentralized apps” in the quarter.

GameStop’s wallet extension will enable transactions on the company’s NFT marketplace, which is scheduled to launch at some point in the second quarter. GameStop also “continued hiring individuals with experience in areas such as blockchain gaming, eCommerce and technology and operations” during Q1, including a new chief operating officer with a background in retail and stores.

KicksCrew Aims to Grow Sneaker Culture to More Women, Mom and Pop Shops

In a crowded industry that’s dominated by a handful of huge global manufacturers as well as a growing number of online and in-store outlets vying for a piece of the red-hot athleisure and streetwear trends, it could be argued that sneaker retailing is probably best avoided, at least by relative newcomers.

Ross Yip, co-founder and COO of online sneaker startup KicksCrew, said there’s plenty of space for something new and different, especially if it appeals to first-time buyers and brand-new sellers.

Not only is KicksCrew working to introduce more women to its platform, it’s also looking to help small retailers and mom and pop shops bring their businesses online to a growing global audience. About 40% of KicksCrew’s customers are now female and the list of retailers that are looking to present their digital storefront to the world is also growing.

New Tech Helps Merchants, Banks Beat Back Rising Tide of Friendly Fraud

Eric Kraus, V.P. and general manager of Fraud, Risk and Compliance Solutions at FIS, told PYMNTS that friendly fraud looms as a growing threat for merchants and banks alike.

Friendly fraud is another name for first party chargeback fraud, which occurs when a consumer buys something online through a card-based purchase, and then disputes the charges or requests a chargeback, having already received the item or the service that they bought. The conversation was held against the backdrop where merchants of all sizes say “friendly fraud” is the No. 1 fraud trend they are dealing with, representing a significant increase in loss exposure the past few years.

Then there’s “refund fraud” which also occurs after the transaction is completed. However in this scenario, the goods that have been purchased are not returned — or something else entirely is sent back to the merchant.

Online Car Marketplaces Drive Profits for MENA Startups

With almost 2,000 cars sold daily and nearly 750,000 vehicles sold on a yearly basis, the Egyptian used car market, representing a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of about $10 billion, is a very large but fragmented one.

According to Omar El Defrawy, co-founder and CEO at Cairo-based used car online retailer Sylndr, the level of fragmentation is extremely apparent in the fact that none of the estimated 18,000 dealers in the market even has a 0.5% market share, posing significant challenges to businesses in terms of low margins and expensive logistics.

Market fragmentation aside, he said the lack of trust between buyers and sellers — a common trend in emerging markets like Nigeria, Kenya, Mexico, Brazil and India — remains the biggest obstacle to industry growth.

Google Could Give Tipping Point to India’s Open Commerce Digital Network

The open network is gaining adherents across India, with Amazon firmly in the crosshairs and at least a few other nations might follow suit, should India’s government-backed grand eCommerce shift take root, especially if Google opens the open network with critical mass, chiefly through the tailwinds of software and payments functionality.

We contend that Google can indeed provide that critical mass, considering that, per Statista, Android has nearly 96% market share in India. In the connected economy, it is the device, after all, coupled with digital wallets, that brings consumers fully onboard to buy pretty much anything from anyone.

India’s open network for digital commerce (ONDC), represents a government-backed effort to push back on the dominance of U.S.-based eCommerce giants such as Amazon and Walmart. There’s a cross-functionality that should appeal to merchants and consumers alike — and that can, in essence, tighten those stakeholders’ relationship so that they’d crowd out Walmart and Amazon because buyers and sellers will be able to connect and transact with one another regardless of app – with particular emphasis on smaller businesses.

Walmart, Gap Unveil Gap Home Kids Line

Walmart and Gap on Wednesday (June 1) launched Gap Home Kids, an online-only line of more than 200 products across bedding, bath, pillows, throws, rugs and window treatments priced from $20 to $79, according to a company blog post.

“At Walmart, we believe great style doesn’t have to be expensive,” wrote Anthony Soohoo, executive vice president, Home, Walmart U.S. “We have spent the past several years on a mission to democratize style by building our home assortment with high-quality, stylish — and often exclusive — home goods at an incredible value. Our partnership with Gap is a big part of that strategy.”

The Gap Home assortment includes furniture, décor, tabletop, bedding and bath options. Gap Home Kids features bedding, curtains, rugs and room accents, according to the blog post.