As Amazon closes in on estimates it will account for half of all online retail sales by 2021, networks that forge alliances among non-Amazon players have sprung up. I'm really curious how many more there will be and the extent to which Amazon-indoctrinated consumers will adopt them.
ShopRunner was the first on my radar screen and I was a fan of it, joining the network on behalf of Sole Society when I was CEO there and supporting the partnership when I led e-commerce for Lord & Taylor. Membership provides access to free two-day shipping and returns at a group of national brands and retailers. In the past couple of years, I've heard very little about ShopRunner, though I just noticed merchandising improvements on the home page. I'd love to know if you're using it, and for what.
Happy Returns got press last week for improving the return process for online-only brands that aren't Amazon. As the article says, about half of online shoppers actually prefer to make returns in person. And with Amazon returns now to be accepted not only at their own destinations, but also at Kohl's and Whole Foods, it makes sense other brands would want to provide a similar option. Happy Returns allows this at their mall-based stations that accept items from a network of brands, including Everlane, ELOQUII, and Tradesy. I've been surprised not to see more and bigger brands sign on so far.
The biggest and newest network - and an obvious case of an enemy of your enemy becoming your friend - is Google Home's team-up with Walmart and Target in its voice commerce defense against Amazon's Alexa. The headline says it all: Google is essentially building an anti-Amazon alliance.
Given the investment Walmart is making to compete with Amazon, this is the network foundation that seems to have the most horsepower of the three. My questions are how Google's and Amazon's technology ultimately will compare, whether Google or Amazon ends up better positioned to be a total and highly-networked platform for home, and the extent to which the Echo has a first-mover advantage.
What other "anti-Amazon" networks exist?