Fire TV Sticks Lead Record Amazon Black Friday, Cyber Weekend Sales

Amazon Nov. 30 announced that its branded Fire TV Stick streaming media device, along with third-party branded Fire TV devices, helped drive record online sales on Black Friday (Nov. 26) through the Cyber Monday (Nov. 29).

The e-commerce behemoth did not disclose actual revenue data, but did share that smart-TVs from Insignia, Toshiba and Pioneer using Fire TV, as well as all-new standalone Amazon Fire TV Omni and 4-Series HDTVs debuted No. 1 in sales on the website thus far in the holiday retail season.

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Analytics company Profitero said Amazon topped Best Buy, Target and Walmart, among 12 online retailers, for lowest prices across 15,530 products and 15 categories.

Among top-selling video game discs: Mojang’s Minecraft for Sony PlayStation 4, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s Bakugan Champions Vestroia for the Nintendo Switch console.

Amazon is extending through Dec. 5 price discounts on all Fire TV devices, including $12 off the Fire TV Stick Lite; $20 off the Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen.); $25 off the Fire TV Stick with 4K; $20 off the Fire TV Stick 4K Max; $40 off the Fire TV Cube; and $100 off the Fire TV Recast.

Analyst: Black Friday No Longer a Single-Day Event

With one initial report (Adobe) suggesting the Black Friday retail weekend saw a slowdown in total sales, official data across the long holiday weekend remains forthcoming.

One analyst contends the annual post-Thanksgiving event has expanded beyond a few days to encompass weeks, before and after the third Thursday in November. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter made a return to in-store surveillance following last year’s pandemic and found consumers increasingly shop online while still frequenting stores.

Indeed, the Black Friday weekend concludes following today’s Cyber Monday event, so coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005 as a way of promoting e-commerce. The day has now become an industry record-setter. Last year’s Cyber Monday (Nov. 30, 2020) was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history with more than $10.7 billion spent on e-commerce. 

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“Consumers still come out on Black Friday, but they are increasingly
shopping online, particularly for consumer electronics,” Pachter wrote in a Nov. 29 note.

That said, Pachter and his team still found value assessing inventory levels ahead of Black Friday at retail, while continuing to track the depth of Black Friday deals vs. prior years both online and in stores.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retail store chain, took precautions against supply chain issues to keep stores well-stocked with video games, connected TVs, and streaming media devices heading into Black Friday, according to Pachter.

“We were surprised at the how little appeared to have sold through
at big box retailers within gaming and PC peripherals this year,” he wrote.

The analyst contends that as consumers increasingly shop online, retail store inventories of select CE items remained slim compared to previous years.

“Sellthrough appeared strong for CTVs and Roku players,” Pachter wrote. “In the stores we checked, Roku players were in high demand, particularly the lower-end models and particularly the discounted 4K streaming stick.”

Roku sells its players at a steep discount in order to drive user growth, especially on its platform and The Roku Channel ad-supported streaming service. Indeed, the company marketed a $15 streaming device on Black Friday.

“We think the pandemic era accelerated direct-to-consumer selling,” Pachter wrote. “Our covered companies are all in the early stages of this, but may benefit as the gross margin upside from direct sales offsets some of the pressure from higher shipping costs this year.”

Best Buy Q3 Entertainment Revenue Growth Slows

What a difference a pandemic makes.

Best Buy Nov. 23 reported third-quarter (ended Oct. 30) comparable domestic store entertainment revenue of $549.2 million, which included a $22.5 million increase in same-store sales. That was down from a same-store sales increase of $95 million on revenue of $542.5 million in the previous-year period. The segment result, which includes products such as DVD/Blu-ray Disc movies, video game hardware and software, books, music CDs and computer software, underscores the impact prior-year stay-at-home mandates had on the consumption of home entertainment.

Indeed, e-commerce revenue dropped more than 10% to $3.44 billion. As a percentage of total domestic revenue, online revenue decreased to approximately 31.3% of Best Buy’s $10.98 billion in revenue, compared with 35.2% of $10.85 billion in revenue last year.

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CEO Corie Barry said that despite customers returning to stores, digital sales in the quarter were still more than double pre-pandemic levels, and phone, chat and in-home sales continued to grow. She said the consumer electronics retail giant remains well positioned to sell and deliver products in the current business environment and in the future.

“During the third quarter, we reached our fastest small-package online shipping times ever as our same-day delivery was up 400% and we nearly doubled the percent of products delivered within one day compared to last year,” Barry said in a statement.

CFO Matt Bilunis said the retailer has perfected delivering CE products however the consumer wants them.

“We are committed to driving initiatives that will deliver future growth and our Q4 outlook reflects continued investments in our new membership program, technology, advertising and our health strategy,” Bilunis said.

Hulu Bows Online Shopping Platform Featuring Ugly Holiday Sweaters

Taking a page from Netflix’s consumer products playbook, Disney’s co-owned (with Comcast) streaming service Hulu has launched an online shopping platform featuring memorabilia, products and gifts related to the streamer’s original programming.

Dubbed “Shop Hulu,” the platform is debuting this month with the streamer’s annual collection of ugly holiday sweaters inspired by original series such as “Love, Victor,” animation show “Solar Opposites,” “The Great,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and “Wu-Tang: An American Saga.”

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The sweaters will be available for purchase beginning Nov. 30, with 100% of the purchase price through Dec. 31 donated to charity organization Feeding America. Shop Hulu visitors receive a discount when signing up for the newsletter. Additional discounts will be available on Black Friday (Nov. 26) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 29).

In addition to sweaters, the platform is selling apparel, stickers and glassware associated with the show “Solar Opposites,” with merchandise going on sales Nov. 22. Hulu is also selling merchandise related to licensed TV shows, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “American Horror Story” and “What We Do In The Shadows,” among others.

Netflix earlier this year launched an e-commerce platform selling merchandise related to original programs, in addition to in-store point-of-purchase displays in Target and Walmart stores.

Netflix Launching More Collectibles, International Shipping

When Netflix in June launched a branded website to facilitate consumer products marketing and e-commerce options, the platform was limited to domestic shopping. Now, Netflix.shop is shipping products worldwide as it begins (on Nov. 12) marketing the “Chilleez!,” a 12-inch pillow-like collectible available in four colors.

Chilleez!

The pillows are aimed to replicate the default profile picture Netflix subscribers encounter when logging onto the service. The SVOD pioneer’s e-commerce site also markets merchandise related original programs such as “Squid Game,” “Sex Education” and “The Witcher,” and branded logo wear from BEAMS, among other brands.

The move comes as Netflix looks to expand beyond streaming into consumer products and video games. The streamer recently partnered with Walmart for brick-and-mortar merchandise sales, in addition to e-commerce.

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“We have an insatiable appetite for streaming, so come master the art of chill with us. And be sure to check out Netflix.shop for more updates — we can’t wait for you to see what else we have in the works 😎,” the streamer wrote in a blog post.

Sports Streamer FuboTV Launches E-commerce Platform

Online sports streaming platform FuboTV Sept. 28 announced the launch of its first e-commerce venture: Fubo Shop, an online store selling branded merchandise marketing the service and its forthcoming Fubo Sportsbook gambling venture.

Fubo Shop offers a large assortment of clothing and accessories from sweatshirts, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and vests, to baseball caps and hats, all customized with logos from FuboTV and Fubo Sportsbook.

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“Since our public offering on the New York Stock Exchange one year ago, consumers and retail investors have inundated us with requests for more personal ways to connect with our brand,” co-founder/CEO David Gandler said in self-serving statement. “We’re grateful for their ongoing support, and hope they enjoy the variety of new clothing and accessories options to help them show their Fubo pride.”

After launching in 2015 as a $6.99 monthly channel largely streaming soccer matches, FuboTV currently offers 90 channels for $64.99 per month, which includes 250 hours on a cloud-based DVR. The company, like the NFL, is embracing sports wagering as a significant legal revenue source. Now sports gamblers can bet on games wearing FuboTV merchandise.

Walmart Ups Q2 Revenue, Online Sales to Reach $75 Billion by End of Year

July retail sales may have slipped due to Delta variant concerns, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, but don’t tell that to Walmart.

The world’s largest retail chain Aug. 17 reported a 5.3% increase in U.S. store revenue to $98.2 billion in the second quarter, ended July 31, compared with $93.2 billion in the previous-year period. Online sales increased 6%, and are projected to reach $75 billion by the end of the year. Overall net income fell 34% to $4.28 billion, from $6.48 billion a year earlier.

One of the nation’s largest sellers of movie DVDs and Blu-ray Discs, Walmart does not break out packaged-media sales data. The company last year sold the Vudu transactional VOD platform to Comcast-owned Fandango — the latter melding it with FandangoNow under the Vudu brand name.

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“We had another strong quarter in every part of our business,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We grew market share … we’re finding innovative ways to commercialize our data and build technology. We have a unique ecosystem of products and services designed to serve customers in broader, deeper ways.”

NPD: Online Represented 61% of Consumer Electronics Sales During Pandemic

Accelerated by temporary store closures and consumer hesitancy to shop in-store during the pandemic, online U.S. consumer technology hardware revenue share rose to 61% during the 12 months through March — up from 48% in the previous-year period, according to new data from The NPD Group.

The Port Washington, N.Y.-based research company said online revenue grew 62%, up more than $36 billion. Online technology revenue share peaked at 68% in Q2 2020, during the height of lockdowns, and despite declining since then, remained above the long-term trend at 57% in Q1 2021. This was 7% above Q1 2020, and 14% above the pre-pandemic share in Q1 2019.

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Notebooks, TVs, tablets and headphones made up 43% of in-store sales, the same as the previous 12 months. Online sales of those categories saw a revenue share increase from 33% to 37%. NPD said online sales of notebooks, tablets, and headphones saw a dramatic shift from in-store, resulting in higher category e-commerce sales than in-store. TVs were the outlier, with the majority of revenue remaining in-store despite lockdowns and growth in online sales.

“While technology hardware sales have moved online at a more rapid pace than other general merchandise categories, the acceleration of this change, and the passing of the 50% milestone as a consequence of the pandemic, represents an important shift,” Stephen Baker, VP and industry advisor for the NPD Group, said in a statement.

The analyst said there remains substantial opportunity for in-store retailing and growth in buy-online-pick-up-in-store activities that need to be fulfilled by retailers at the local level.

“As evidenced by the continued dominance of TV buying in-store, physical presence benefits categories where product features cannot be demonstrated as effectively online,” Baker said in a statement.

While the growth in online sales presents challenges to physical retailers, much of the online revenue increase was actually a result of retailers selling through online channels or using their stores for e-commerce transactions.

In-store pick-ups accounted for 12% of all online consumer tech revenue through March, an increase of two percentage points from the previous period. In fact, NPD reported that when combining in-store pick-up transactions and normal product deliveries, sellers with a retail store presence saw their overall share of online sales increase 10% during the pandemic.

Report: Global E-commerce Reached $4 Trillion in 2020

Despite a challenging 2020 for retail during the pandemic, new data from eMarketer suggests that worldwide retail e-commerce sales posted a 27.6% growth rate for the year, with sales reaching well over $4 trillion. That tally is projected to reach $5 trillion in 2022.

This represents a substantial uptick from the research firm’s mid-pandemic assessment that global e-commerce would decelerate to 16.5% growth and demonstrates the remarkable extent to which consumers have transitioned to e-commerce.

Even as total worldwide retail sales declined by 3% and recessionary conditions set in around the world, e-commerce managed to perform above pre-pandemic expectations in 2020.

eMarketer forecasts that worldwide growth in 2021 will be 14.3%, which is a relatively low number compared with 20.2% growth in 2019 and last year’s 27.6%, but it still represents $611 billion in additional e-commerce sales. Even as total worldwide retail sales declined and recessionary conditions set in around the world, e-commerce managed to perform above pre-pandemic expectations in 2020.

As recently as 2018, worldwide e-commerce sales had not yet topped $3 trillion. The report estimates that $4 trillion was easily breached in 2020, $5 trillion will be achieved by 2022, and $6 trillion will be reached by 2024. In 2020, 18% of all retail sales took place via e-commerce. In 2024, that figure will reach 21.8%.

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“We anticipate that consumers will maintain many of their newfound digital behaviors in 2021,” Ethan Cramer-Flood, analyst at Insider Intelligence, said in a statement.

Cramer-Flood contends that with so much e-commerce growth fast-tracked in 2020 — and with a full year of relatively normalized brick-and-mortar commerce — 2021’s e-commerce growth rate will decelerate to some degree, despite enduring consumer enthusiasm.

 

Report: Online Shopping, Curbside Pickup Boomed in 2020

Merchants that offered the “buy online, pick up in store” delivery channel pre-pandemic experienced 70% increase in volume in 2020 compared to 2019, according to new data from ACI Worldwide.

The data revealed a 24% increase in ecommerce transactions globally in December 2020 compared to December 2019. In particular, online transactions in the retail sector increased 31% and the gaming sector increased 90%, comparing December 2020 with December 2019.

While many merchants initially implemented the buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) delivery channel during the pandemic, those that already had this option available pre-COVID-19 experienced an increase of 70% by volume and 58% by value in 2020. However, BOPIS fraud has also seen a significant increase, with a 7% fraud attempt rate compared to 4.6% with other delivery channels.

“In 2020, we saw the pandemic drive the highest number of merchants implementing the BOPIS delivery channel for the first time in one year,” Debbie Guerra, EVP of ACI Worldwide, said in a statement. “We expect this channel to increase as more consumers get used to the convenience of shopping at home and the speed of in-store pickup. However, this is also a channel to watch closely for fraud, as these same benefits appeal to fraudsters.”

ACI’s data also showed that non-fraud chargebacks increased 26% in December 2020 compared to December 2019, driven by shipment delays over the holiday period. Non-fraud chargebacks include product received was not what the customer ordered, not delivered on time, damaged upon delivery, poor customer service, etc.

“Non-fraud chargebacks continue to rise since the low that was experienced in April 2020,” Guerra said.

She added that “porch pirates” were active in 2020, which impacted the increase in non-fraud chargebacks as fraudsters follow delivery trucks. In addition, shipment delays consumers experienced over the holiday period as well as a backlog of returns processing and product back orders have also contributed to the increase in non-fraud chargebacks.

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Online purchasing trends December 2020: Travel and ticketing continued to see a significant dip in December due to the pandemic, declining 27% and 76%, respectively. Transactions in the gaming sector increased 90%.

In Q4 2020, global eCommerce transactions increased 22% compared to Q4 2019. Through January to December 2020, global e-commerce transactions increased by 19% compared to 2019. The U.K. saw an increase in transactions of 28% and the U.S. of 14% from January through December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The gaming sector increased 84% January to December 2020 compared with 2019. The retail sector increased 48% January to December 2020 compared with 2019.

Fraudulent attempt purchase value decreased by $10 in 2020 compared with 2019; this was the impact of airline, sporting event and concert ticket purchase declines, which have a high average ticket price. Average value of genuine purchases decreased by $18​.

Fraud attempt rates by value increased slightly by 0.2% to 3.4%, similar to prior holiday seasons, as a result of increased genuine consumer spending outpacing fraud.