March 2024 E-commerce Insights Mid-Month News Review

Hey there, welcome to our mid-March press review! A lot is going on right now, so let’s dive into what’s next. From groundbreaking partnerships to major industry shifts, this month is packed with exciting updates. We’ve curated some of the most compelling stories just for you, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in. Ready to catch up on the latest news in e-commerce? Let’s get started.

Decathlon Embraces New Era with Bold Brand Refresh

Decathlon, a renowned sports retailer since 1976, recently unveiled its new branding and campaign to position itself as a global sports brand. Collaborating with Wolff Olins, the brand introduced a redesigned logo, ‘L’Orbit’, and refined its wordmark, alongside adopting a new slogan, ‘Make sport yours’. This initiative reflects a shift towards inclusivity and the joy of sports participation, aligning Decathlon’s 85 in-house brands under a unified identity that champions accessibility over elitism.

The overhaul, a result of a two-year strategic transformation, features a custom typeface, Decathlon Sans, and launches a vibrant campaign, ‘Ready to play?’. This campaign highlights Decathlon’s commitment to a democratic and people-centered approach to sports, inviting everyone to embrace the world of sports. Through this bold move, Decathlon aims to make sports even more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.

HelloFresh Faces a Tough Year: Stock Prices Tumble

HelloFresh’s stock took a big hit, dropping up to 48% after announcing that profits might go down this year. The company, famous for its meal kits, had to let go of its ambitious goal to hit 10 billion euros in sales and a billion euros in profit next year. It’s been spending a lot on advertising and expanding, which is eating into its profits. Despite growing its ready-to-eat meal business, especially in the US, the costs are high and the returns aren’t as good yet.

Last year, HelloFresh’s sales barely changed, and its main product, the meal kits, didn’t do as well as expected. Looking ahead, they’re predicting even less profit and only a slight increase in sales. This has left investors wary and waiting for better news before they jump back in.

Amazon and Retailers Hit by Refund Fraud Schemes Spread on Social Media

Refund fraud schemes are making waves on platforms like TikTok and Telegram, costing giants like Amazon billions. These scams, run by groups mimicking legitimate businesses, exploit generous refund policies to siphon off vast sums from retailers. Amazon alone faced over $700,000 in losses from one such ring, highlighting the scale of the issue. The phenomenon has escalated to a point where it cost retailers more than $101 billion last year across various forms of fraud.

Amazon, in response, has ramped up its fight against these activities, employing specialized teams and technology to detect and prevent refund fraud, and has been actively collaborating with law enforcement to dismantle these criminal groups.

The challenge for retailers is substantial, with fraudsters continually recruiting inside help and sharing their methods openly online, making it easier than ever for individuals to jump on the fraud bandwagon. Retailers are now tightening return policies and using technology to track and analyze returns more closely in a bid to combat this growing threat.

Apple Faces Hefty €1.8 Billion EU Fine Over Music Streaming Restrictions

The European Commission has slapped Apple with a massive €1.8 billion fine, significantly higher than initial speculations of €500 million. This decision stems from Apple’s restrictions on informing users about payment options outside the App Store, a move sparked by a complaint from Spotify. The EU argues that Apple’s practices created unfair trade conditions, abusing its dominant market position by limiting developers from promoting alternative, cheaper music services outside the Apple ecosystem.

This isn’t the first time Apple has faced criticism for its app store policies, but the scale of this fine is unprecedented, aimed at deterring Apple from similar future conduct. Despite Apple’s plans to appeal, claiming no harm to consumers or competitive behavior, the EU’s decision highlights ongoing tensions between regulatory bodies and tech giants over market dominance and fair competition.

Apple’s rebuttal indicates a complex battle ahead as they challenge the EU’s ruling.

Big Changes in Bike-Sharing: Nextbike Gets New Owners

Nextbike, a key player in bike-sharing, is about to change hands again. Just two years after being bought by Tier Mobility, a company known for its e-scooters, it’s now being sold to STAR Capital, a UK investment firm. This sale highlights the ups and downs in the bike-sharing industry, where even big names like Bird have faced tough times. Nextbike has been a big deal, offering 100,000 bikes in 300 cities worldwide.

But as Tier moves on to join forces with Dott, aiming to lead Europe’s shared mobility scene, Nextbike’s next chapter under new ownership is something to watch. This shake-up shows just how competitive and challenging the bike and scooter sharing market can be.

DHL Partners with Reflaunt to Enter the Resale Business

DHL Supply Chain is teaming up with Reflaunt, a leading technology platform in the branded fashion resale market, marking a significant move into the growing sector of recommerce in Europe. This partnership aims to address the scalability challenge in fashion resale, offering a comprehensive solution for brands to manage their resale operations effectively.

Following a year-long pilot in Poland, Reflaunt and DHL have demonstrated a successful model that combines infrastructure, scalability, and cost management to support brands’ resale activities. Under this collaboration, brands can utilize Reflaunt’s services while relying on DHL for product handling, authentication, inventory management, and distribution.

Products managed through Reflaunt are picked up, inspected, and processed by DHL personnel at their facilities, ensuring authenticity and quality before being listed for resale. This integration expands Reflaunt’s capabilities, connecting it to over thirty platforms like eBay and Vestiaire Collective for broader market reach.

Swiss Customs Law Overhaul to Impact Parcel Delivery

Switzerland’s parcel delivery system faces potential setbacks due to a major overhaul in customs legislation passed by the National Council. The new law, criticized by some as overly burdensome, permits importers and exporters to decide who handles customs clearance. This change could lead to slower, more complex, and costlier deliveries, sparking concern among consumers, delivery companies, and political figures.

Under the new system, consumers might have to manage customs clearance themselves, requiring them to submit extensive documentation to receive their parcels. Delivery companies are expected to take on more sorting and storing responsibilities, but they cannot pass these added costs onto customers.

Critics, including Swiss Post and some lawmakers, warn that the law could significantly delay Swiss e-commerce deliveries, complicating rather than streamlining the customs process. Logistics firms also fear extra administrative work and potential operational bottlenecks.

Finance Minister Karin Keller-Sutter has expressed concerns about goods flow disruption, with parcels possibly being held up pending customs declaration. As the law moves to the Ständerat, the other chamber of the Swiss federal parliament, many hope for a reconsideration of these contentious changes.

The Body Shop Declares Bankruptcy in US and Canada

The Body Shop’s operations in the US and Canada have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, following a similar move by its UK-based parent company in February. The unexpected financial downturn occurred shortly after the European private equity firm Aurelius acquired the brand from Natura &Co for over $250 million. With approximately 250 UK stores and a global presence of 3,000 stores, The Body Shop faced a dire financial situation, with lease liabilities reaching £57m by the end of 2022.

The centralized cash management system, which funneled daily cash to a concentrated account, was severely impacted when the parent company withdrew funds right before its UK insolvency filing. This action left the US subsidiary without the necessary liquidity to continue operations beyond March 1, 2024. Consequently, The Body Shop ceased sales at its 50 US outlets and closed 33 of its 105 stores in Canada.

E-commerce to Dominate One-Third of Air Cargo by 2027

E-commerce is revolutionizing the air cargo industry, with projections showing that by 2027, one in three parcels shipped by air will originate from online orders. Currently accounting for 20% of global air cargo, this sector’s rapid growth is set to increase significantly, driving the volume of parcels from 170 billion in 2022 to an estimated 256 billion. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) underscores the urgency for the logistics sector to prepare for this surge, emphasizing the industry’s evolution towards accommodating the e-commerce boom. It shows the expanding role of digital commerce in global trade but also marks a pivotal moment for air freight logistics, challenging carriers to adapt to the rising tide of online shopping parcels efficiently.