business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Reuters reports that Amazon "said its online stores had returned to normal services after a global outage disrupted shopping on its country sites.

"According to outage monitoring website Downdetector, services were disrupted for nearly two hours and at the peak of the disruption, more than 38,000 user reports indicated issues with Amazon's online stores. They occurred on Sunday evening in the United States and Monday morning for much of the rest of the world."

No reason has yet been given for the outage.

•  CNBC reports on how "investors have poured billions of dollars into on-demand grocery delivery firms — some of which are barely a year old — after the coronavirus pandemic accelerated a shift toward online shopping.

"Venture-backed grocery companies have already raised over $10 billion so far in 2021, according to data from Pitchbook, eclipsing the $7 billion raised by such firms last year."

One of the points of the CNBC story is that there are mixed opinions about what's next, with some people believing that we'll start to see a wave of consolidation.  I tend to agree with that perspective;  it makes sense that we'll start seeing some mash-up of companies that have been around for a little bit with newer ones that may have some unique software platforms and business models but not enough traction to succeed on their own.

•  The New York Times had a piece the other day about how many in the restaurant industry believe that the delivery component, accelerated during the pandemic, is here to stay as a significant force in the business.

From the Times story:

"Delivery services like DoorDash and Uber Eats became a lifeline for businesses during the pandemic. Restaurants learned the logistics of dealing with them — rearranging kitchens and stockpiling takeout containers in abandoned dining rooms — and reluctantly accepted delivery fees that cut into their already thin profit margins.

"Some of those changes are beginning to look like they may become permanent, because consumers aren’t letting go of their newfound fondness for getting food delivered to their front doors. In a recent JD Power survey, 71 percent of consumers said they would continue to order delivery as much as or more than they had during the pandemic."

However, "if delivery is here to stay, restaurant groups are pressing for ways to deal with it financially."  The Times writes that in California, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association "has lobbied to cap the fees charged by delivery companies, while allowing them to charge additional fees for marketing services. Early in the pandemic, many cities placed emergency caps on the fees that delivery companies could charge restaurants. But many of those orders are set to expire. If fees return to pre-pandemic levels, delivery will become unaffordable, business owners said."

•  Bloomberg reports that online membership-based retailer Thrive Market, which says it offers "guaranteed savings on your favorite organic brands, delivered to your door," is considering an initial public offering that would value the company at $2 billion.

According to the story, Thrive is working with Goldman Sachs, but is not commenting on the report.

•  CNBC reports that Nordstrom "has acquired a minority stake in four apparel brands owned by the online U.K. fashion house Asos.

"The brands — Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and the activewear label HIIT — all target younger consumers in their 20s. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed."

According to the story, "Nordstrom President and Chief Brand Officer Pete Nordstrom said he views the collaboration as a way to redefine the business model of a wholesaler, such as Nordstrom, working with a retailer. He also expects it to open up the possibility of further strategic partnerships in the future."