Today in Retail: TikTok Dumps Livestream Shopping Expansion Plans; Amazon Part of UK Antitrust Probe Because of Sales Practices


Today in retail, retailers look to diversify their suppliers as a recession looms on the economic horizon, while Target kicks off its back-to-school shopping season as summer hits full stride. Plus, a Reliance Retail partnership is bringing Gap stores to India, and Carvana, Wayfair, Etsy and Chewy rebounds show eCommerce is down but certainly shouldn’t be counted out.

Don’t Tell the Kids, but Target Has Already Kicked off Back-to-School Sales

Target, one of the nation’s largest retail chains, is already pushing back-to-school sales just as legions of vacationing school children everywhere have only started getting into the swing of summer. The Minneapolis-based operator of 2,000 stores, an eCommerce website and the delivery service Shipt said this year’s event would be longer and also incorporate more ways to save — including new outreach efforts to teachers and college students.

Although Target’s back-to-school sale is slated to officially run from July 17 through Sept. 10, the retailer pointed out that customers could immediately begin to access in-store and online sales of curated seasonal items if they wanted to start early.

At the same time, the retailer also pointed out that its Deal Days event, which overlays Amazon Prime Day and runs from July 11 to 13, is also fast approaching and would serve as its “biggest sales event of the summer.”

TikTok Troubles Put Focus on Livestream Shopping’s Environmental, Data Impact

News hit on Tuesday (July 5) that China-based short-form video platform TikTok is dropping its expansion of livestream shopping in Europe and the U.S. as its U.K. operation suffers from lackluster sales, a stream of creator complaints, hostile workplace allegations and more.

This is happening at a time when livestream shopping is emerging as the next, best frontier for social selling, as popular influencers curate items and outfits for their followings. Instagram launched live stream shopping in 2020, and Amazon Live and YouTube also joined in on the action.

TikTok’s headwinds are a bit more complicated than other players as parent ByteDance is partly owned by the Chinese government and has thus been under heavy scrutiny among U.S. lawmakers and regulators worried about data privacy issues — and even national security.

Gap Coming to India Through Reliance Retail Partnership

Indian retail giant Reliance Retail Limited is bringing American fashion brand Gap to India through a long-term franchise agreement, according to a Wednesday (July 6) press release.

The partnership makes Reliance the official retailer for Gap across all channels in India.

Reliance will use a mix of exclusive brand stores, multi-brand store expressions and digital commerce platforms to introduce Gap’s offerings to Indian shoppers, the company said, noting the goal is to leverage Gap’s position as a leading casual lifestyle brand.

Amazon Faces UK Antitrust Probe Over Sales Practices

The United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into whether Amazon “has a dominant position in the U.K. and whether it is abusing that position and distorting competition by giving an unfair advantage to its own retail business or sellers that use its services,” it announced in a Wednesday (July 6) press release.

The investigation, which will consider whether Amazon is offering preferential treatment to its own third-party sellers on the Amazon U.K. Marketplace, follows the European Commission’s examination of similar concerns for the world’s largest retailer.

The CMA investigation will look into how Amazon collects and uses third-party seller data, how Amazon sets criteria for allocation of suppliers to be the preferred/first choice in the Buy Box, and how Amazon sets the eligibility criteria for selling under the Prime label, according to the release.

Battered eCommerce Group Gets Fresh Look as Carvana, Wayfair, Etsy, Chewy Soar

After suffering some of the sharpest market losses in the first half of the year, a basket of badly beaten dot-com stocks has suddenly become the new leaders as investors give the group a second look.

As much as there’s no way of knowing if this budding bounce will prove to be sustainable or simply another trap in a long running sell-off, the reasons behind the sudden surge in eCommerce brands are both familiar and unique to the present economic maelstrom.

Whether it’s a fuel-based decision to make fewer trips to the store, an inventory driven desire to see which particular products are actually in-stock, or the economic adjustments that are causing consumers to scan the web for deals, the shared truth is that eCommerce is as viable as ever.

As Recession Looms, Retailers Face Pressure to Quickly Diversify Suppliers

With too many indicators pointing to a recession in the second half of the year, merchants and brands already struggling with inflation, inventory and a nervous consumer base have their work cut out in riding out what may be an insulting economic episode after an injurious pandemic.

Mike French, vice president of partnerships and alliances at eCommerce solutions platform Digital River, told PYMNTS if you’re not diversified, watch out. Saying that making “more granular decisions more frequently” is a strategy fitted to down economies, French noted that “the other thing that I see successful brands do is another old adage, it’s about diversification.”