x5: Big Players Enter Streaming, Amazon’s First Move at Whole Foods & More

Retail sales inch higher to $49B in June

Canadian retailers have reported growing sales four months running early in 2017. The sectors that performed the best through to June were general merchandise stores, clothing and accessories stores and building and garden stores. Canadian retailers have seen 8% growth in brick and mortar business while e-commerce has grown by an amazing 43%.

Why This Matters

From the outside, it might look like retail is doing poorly. Stores are closing left, right and centre and many spaces are being left vacant and abandoned across North America. But retailers have adapted well to the push online.

The massive growth in Canadian e-commerce over the last year is proof that online sales have been embraced by retail at large. This is on the back of many companies pledging to put more money into streamlining their online buying process. The growing areas of data analysis, re-marketing and optimization tactics have helped drive conversion rates higher as well. Some brands have even chosen to close physical stores to focus on e-commerce as recently as this year.

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Big players in movies and television to work on streaming platforms

The subscription-based streaming market is getting a little more crowded. Disney has decided to pull out of its deal with Netflix by 2019. While the fate of some movies from Marvel and Lucasfilm haven’t been decided, Disney have planned to create its own movie and sports streaming services—the latter under the ESPN umbrella.

Sports is a very coveted market in live streaming. In the past few years we’ve seen Twitter and Facebook broadcasting games across various sports and now CBS, with rights to the NFL, PGA and NCAA have announced plans to build their own streaming platform as well.

Why This Matters

Traditional TV has struggled for a few years against streaming. Many top TV shows are seeing massive declines season over season. So it’s no surprise that big networks and distributors want to get in on the act. Sports, in particular, is one of the few areas of television that is still performing well and the live aspect also lends well to social media. It seems natural to push into the digital space with this. Now the real problem comes when we have too many streaming options. And with more fragmentation comes higher combined costs to the consumer. Will the increase in companies entering the digital space save broadcasters or will they see more declining numbers?

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Amazon cuts prices at Whole Foods to compete with Walmart

Amazon closed on its $13.7 billion deal with Whole Foods early last week. Its first move in control of Whole foods was to reduce prices on some organic and perishable items by up to 40%. Amazon also announced that Prime would be introduced at Whole Foods further down the road, giving Prime members additional savings and in-store benefits.

Why This Matters

Grocery store chains already predicted the entry of Amazon into their market would cause ripples. Already, Whole Foods, who have a reputation for high prices, are showing signs that they will be able to compete with lower-priced chains. For Amazon, it’s not only a way to expand their empire and build out their loyalty program through Amazon Prime. Last year, the company announced Amazon Go, a grocery store that used sensors and beacons to track items and allow people to walk in and out with their items and skip the cashier. Whole Foods could become the first testing ground of this technology in the future.

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Uber hires new CEO

Uber finally ended their months-long look for a new CEO by appointing former Expedia head Dara Khosrowshahi. In his initial statements, Khosrowshahi revealed plans to overhaul the company’s culture and file for an initial public offering (IPO) within the next three years. To make matters more difficult, Uber’s major competitors, Lyft, recently announced that it will be able to service 40 states, including areas of the US that Uber doesn’t operate in.

Why This Matters

Uber has been plagued by scandal after scandal over the last year, which culminated in the resignation of Travis Kalanick as CEO. Uber’s new chief now has a big task on his hands to turn the company around but which a new approach, the company could see further growth in an increasingly competitive market not just at home, but abroad as well.

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PayPal offers its first cash back credit card

PayPal have just released their first ever cash back credit card in the United States. With no fees, no minimum redemption, cash rewards and no expiration, the company wants to push in-store sales. PayPal have partnered with Synchrony Financial and MasterCard on this project. The cash back card isn’t the only offering though. The company has also released the PayPal Extras MasterCard, more focused on a traditional rewards system.

Why This Matters

By showing a commitment to improving in-store purchases, PayPal is entering the ring with Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. All these companies already have an established track record with mobile payments and make point-of-sale purchases easier. The benefit for PayPal is the platform itself. PayPal members are more likely to shop online often and by driving more in-store traffic, they may be able to see more success than their rivals in this field.

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