1. Walmart Opens Marketplace to Non-U.S. Vendors

Walmart has removed the rule that required sellers on its marketplace to be registered in the United States. Now, foreign sellers can sell their wares on Walmart’s website as well. The new move from Walmart is an attempt to close the e-commerce gap with Amazon.com Inc. and tap into China’s vast network of manufacturers.

Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon has said that Walmart’s marketplace business is a “huge opportunity” for the retailer, and in February told investors that Walmart would make a “greater push” to expand new services like fulfillment.

The vendors will still be carefully vetted, both locally and by Walmart’s global trust and safety team, to prevent the listing of unsavory items. The new sellers will make up just a fraction of Walmart’s total seller population, which is mainly based in the U.S.

For retailers, marketplaces are attractive because they provide revenue from fees without the cost of storing inventory. Last year, Walmart began offering fulfillment services for its marketplace sellers, a move that Amazon made 15 years ago. Sellers can also purchase advertising on Walmart’s websites, which supports the company’s new Walmart Connect media platform.

  1. 29% of German ecommerce generated by small businesses

29 percent of German ecommerce sales are generated by small businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Compared to the situation in the entire German economy, small ecommerce enterprises are much more important for the total turnover in their sector.

In 2018, small businesses (companies with up to 9 employees) accounted for just 6.6 percent of the non-financial commercial economy in Germany. But when we look at ecommerce in Germany, the situation is totally different. There, these small enterprises account for 29 percent of generated sales.

As Shopanbieter explains, this is because of the comparatively low initial investment that’s required to start an online store. “One-man entrepreneurs and start-ups don’t have to open a physical store. They hire only a few staff, if desired, they can even outsource the logistics from the start, and they still can develop a flourishing online business”.

  1. The state of UK retail one year after the first lockdown

March 23 marks one year since Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared the first UK-wide lockdown and stay-at-home order to control the rapid spread of Covid-19.

As non-essential retailers and other high street services and businesses were ordered to close during each of the lockdowns, essential retailers such as grocers witnessed a huge rise in demand as they were allowed to keep their shops open. In fact, in the early months of the pandemic demand was so high that grocers had to introduce rationing rules on essential items such as flour, toilet rolls, baked beans and pasta due to customers stockpiling out of fear.

Yet while essential retailers enjoyed a boom, it was still doom and gloom for UK retail as a whole. According to the ONS, total UK retail sales volumes in 2020 fell by 1.9 per cent compared with 2019, marking the largest annual fall on record.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson labelled 2020 as the “worst year on record” for retail sales growth, as physical non-food stores – including all of non-essential retail – saw sales drop by a quarter compared with 2019.

Meanwhile, Centre for Retail Research director Professor Joshua Bamfield said there were around 14,809 permanent retail store closures in the UK between March 2020 and February 2021. These were brought about by a wave of administrations, CVAs and restructures or rationalisations, and resulted in over 180,000 job losses.

These figures were also deeper than the 14,436 store closures and 127,884 job losses recorded in the prior year.

Meanwhile, according to research from PwC and the Local Data Company, 17,532 chain stores closed down over the last 12 months, while only 7655 opened up. This left a net deficit of 9877 permanent store closures – the highest on record – and equates to 48 stores closing every day, with just 21 opening.