Topics Covered:

  1. Omnichannel bucking the 3Q digital deceleration trend
  2. Can VPs of eCommerce expect to WFH when they join a new company?
  3. Retail media forecasted to reach $31 billion
  4. Amazon expanding JWO tech with Starbucks
  5. Facebook building more social commerce features
  6. Instacart delaying plans to go public as growth slows
  7. New marketplaces from Macy’s and potentially Shopify


Omnichannel Performance

Walmart, Target, Home Depot and Lowe’s all reported results last week, bucking the decelerating digital growth trend their pureplay eTailers like Amazon and Wayfair demonstrated during the quarter. 

  • Consumer Demand: Each of the omnichannel retailers indicated they were seeing accelerating demand thus far in 4Q21, with no signs of any consumer slowdown. Home Depot and Lowe’s indicated DIY strength returned in 3Q vs. the dip it saw in the 2Q, attributed to a persistent focus on the home by the consumer.
  • Inflation: Walmart spoke the most about inflation, seeing it across all categories, from grocery to general merchandise.
  • Margin Pressure: Both Walmart and Target experienced gross margin pressure in the quarter, a result of inflationary and supply chain pressures impacting the industry. The homecenters saw more mixed margin results, particularly as lumber prices have come back down.
  • Retail Media: Walmart indicated its Connect business is up 240% on a two-year stack, acknowledging that growth is off a much smaller base than peers (although not disclosing the dollar amount); Lowe’s made brief mention of its new One Roof Media initiative, while Target did not discuss Roundel.

In particular, Target and Lowe’s demonstrated substantial digital strength. Target’s same day delivery offerings have grown by 400% on a two-year stack basis, or over $2 billion in total dollars, and store-driven fulfillment now accounts for over 96% of its digital orders.



This holiday is all about managing through supply chain, inflation, and inventory. Amazon and Home Depot appear to have grown inventory the most Y-o-Y. Stratably’s latest consumer work indicated a third of consumers have already run into OOS issues with gift giving, and two-thirds are concerned about the in-stock situation as the holiday season progresses.



Most Interesting quote came from Walmart on how it is adapting its organization for an omnichannel world:

“We use a phrase here that’s called four-in-a-box which is an agile way of working with customer, product, design, technology, engineering, all around the table designing omnichannel outcomes for customers and members. Historically, if you look back years ago, the company would have operated in specialized silos, merchandising operations, finance, logistics, et cetera. And the teams learned in recent years and is still learning how to move faster, again, with the end in mind, design with that outcome. And that enables us to put technology to work in a way that is truly omnichannel, not siloed. Customers and members expect that. We’ve got unique opportunities to deliver that. But the change inside the company has to happen to enable it.”






Stratably joined 15 large consumer brands last week to talk all things digital commerce including the topic of WFH. Opinions varied. Some felt WFH is a new reality that brings with it an opportunity to tap into a larger pool of talent, while others were concerned about the ability to retain remote employees, particularly if much of the organization is located near HQ.
This is a hot button issue, with some suggesting only a Boomer would make the case for needing to work in the office. Yet, VP’s of eCommerce know that a major part of their role is to educate the organization on digital.

  • Can you do that if you’re new, working remotely, and trying to change ingrained thinking?
  • How important is the oft-stated serendipitous collaboration that can take place in the office?
  • Is it all moot considering COVID-19 cases continue to spike causing firms to delay return to office mandates?

Harry Joiner at developed the diagram above to articulate the case that for most VPs of eCommerce, working alongside senior leadership at HQ is often what the individual needs and/or the organization requires.  In select circumstances where the executive is established and the firm has a robust digital business, VPs can expect to be able to work from home. But those two aligning appear more the exception than the rule.
What else impacts this diagram?

  • Has the VP delivered remarkable results remotely PRE-PANDEMIC?
  • Is the rest of the senior leadership team at HQ or remote?

What do you think?



For the Nerds


Retail media outlook: eMarketer is forecasting retail media to surpass $31 billion this year, up 53% Y/Y and 135% on a two-year stack basis. While Amazon’s peers have dominated the headlines around new retail media offerings, much of this growth is being driven by Amazon as it successfully moves up funnel with its programmatic offerings. (link)




Amazon & Starbucks Partnering: The duo launched a new retail experience in NYC called Starbucks Pickup with Amazon Go. Consumers can order drinks ahead of time and also sign into the store with their Amazon app to pick up food items and then just walk out, with the items being charged to the user’s Amazon account. (link)



Meta expanding shopping capabilites:  Meta continues to build shopping capabilities on Facebook to protect its advertising business. The company launched Shops in Groups to help groups sell item directly to their members, along with introducing Top Product Mentions in the news feed. The company is also expanding ratings and reviews via Bazaarvoice and Yatpo and making it easier for brands to incorporate UGC into their shop’s product detail pages. (link)



Instacart pushing back plans to IPO: After undergoing a major executive shakeup, dealing with increased competition from DoorDash, Uber Eats, and even Gopuff, along with a substantial deceleration in its growth trajectory (mostly because difficult comps), Instacart is reportedly planning to pause its IPO plans until 2022. While the company tripled sales in 2020 vs. 2019, growth this year has been in the 10-20% Y-o-Y range, not dissimilar from its pureplay eCommerce peers. (link)



New marketplaces

  1. Macy’s announced it will be launching a marketplace powered by Mirakl.  The goal is to expand assortment in a low cost way, helping the retailer better capitalize on trends. There does not appear to be a logistics service attached to the offering, creating a major gap for would be sellers. (link)
  2. Shopify is reportedly testing a feature in its Shop app that would surface relevant results from different merchants when a user searches for a particular product (like "sweatpants"). Some merchants are concerned this will heighten competition on the platform and move the company away from the app’s original purpose to drive brand loyalty and local shopping. Shopify employees indicated a broader roll out of this feature will face intense scrutiny as the company’s north star is to avoid becoming like Amazon’s intensely competitive marketplace, even if that comes at the expense of discovery. (link)