Shopify and Kroger Apps, Private Label Marketing, Self Publishing Matures, Starbucks and Alibaba

Shopify is continuing to grow not just as an e-commerce website platform, but also as a hq style hub for a business selling online. Their new app, PING, is a one-stop messaging solution. So if a customer emails in Amazon, eBay or sends a Facebook Message, those will all go to the PING app for the store owner to respond rather than having to check each platform for customer requests. This makes it easier to focus on overall business operations and deepening customer relationships.

Kroger also has a new app, OPTUP. They say it makes “better for you” shopping simple. It integrates with buying records so that users can see how healthy their shopping habits are and and it will suggest small changes to improve a health score. People love digitally tracking their progress as the explosion of fitbits and other fitness watches has proven. So now Kroger is hoping their app will become your shopping “fit bit” with a combination of data and information to both help families be healthier but also make them more likely to shop at Kroger.

Kroger is also launching a new program called, SHIP. It’s in 4 cities now but they plan to expand quickly. Customers can shop from a selection of Kroger branded products, which are not available anywhere else online, as well as additional products. These will ship for free with a $35 order or for $4.99 if it’s less. Their Simple Truth line, clothing line and other store brand products are very popular. Between this and Click List they will continue to be one of the top US retailers and grow. They have a huge advantage because they already have a lot private label and data on what’s popular that they can leverage. For private labelers, an opportunity might be to see which of their products that are popular but aren’t widely available, can be manufactured and brought to Amazon and other marketplaces.

Private label or small business manufacturing is continuing to make inroads into previously inaccessible areas. Marketing top shopping lists used to be the domain of big brands. This list of alternatives to the pricey and popular Yeti Coolers, on the Retail me Not blog, includes 1 poorly named and obviously imported copy cat, the F40C4TMP. To me, this gives us all hope. If they can achieve those sales numbers and that notoriety, so can we.

There is more good news for independent creators. The popular Romance Writers of America or RITA awards for the 2018 Best Romance Books had almost as many self published authors as by those from big publishing houses. 5 of the 13 winners are SELF PUBLISHED and they beat out or kept pace with those from publishers like Harlequin and Harper Collins. Authors and other creators have the ability to directly reach their customers without a middle man. These authors used Kindle Direct and Createspace publishing to sell their books. The only up front costs are in sales and marketing, all fulfillment is print and delivery on demand. While this does not mean everyone who writes their great American novel will be a bestseller, it does empower anyone to give it a try and work at it.

Today’s final story is about a partnership in China that could have global ramifications. Starbucks and Alibaba have joined forces to allow Chinese customers to buy everything from freshly made lattes to their pre packaged products, seamlessly online.

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