If you give somebody constraints, it's easier to be creative.

The saddest week in search advertising, new Facebook limitations, Amazon's exploding products, and the longest Black Friday ever.

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With warehouses full of Spring inventory, Fall upon us, and the holiday season right around the corner, many companies are finding a new rhythm for promotions and discounts.

We have a few stories on the topic this week, but I also wanted to share a brief personal anecdote.

I have enjoyed seeing the online entrepreneurs exercise creativity over recent months, as they find new ways to adapt their business during the COVID season. I have seen virtual warehouse sales, mystery boxes, and bundling apparel by the outfit. Folks have found ways to increase their AOV’s and unlock capital tied up in inventory, all without training your customers to wait for another coupon code.

If you have been trying a new approach this summer, let me know what you have tried and how successful it has been.

Petition · Give Advertisers the Ability to Opt-Out of Non "Significant" Search Terms in Google Ads · Change.org

If Google Ads won't show advertisers keyword data for insignificant clicks, we ask for the ability to opt-out of showing ads on all queries not deemed to be "significant".

It is incredibly telling that this is the only notable ‘Search’ news this week.

It seems Google Ads is currently focused on all the wrong things.

🗣 Social

Breaking: Facebook to Impose Limits on Number of Ads

Facebook will start limiting the number of ads a Page can run in February of 2021. Limits will be based on the highest ad spend of a month in the previous year.

📈 Reporting & Revenue

DTC brands are rethinking their 'never-go-on-sale' rule - Digiday

Web Smith, founder of e-commerce newsletter 2pm Inc., predicts that customers could see more sales from direct-to-consumer brands in the lead up to Black Friday, as these startups try to get ahead of a crowded period when nearly every other traditional retailer will be offering huge discounts. He said that in the case of Away, he doesn’t think the brand will be hurt by having a one-time sale.

“If you were an industry that was depressed by covid, I don’t think consumers are going to hold it against you when you go back to full price,” he said.

🎄 Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Home Depot adapts Black Friday, holiday shopping season to pandemic era

Among the changes, the home improvement retailer said in a post on its website that Black Friday specials will stretch on for nearly two months, rather than take place on a single day. It will collaborate with Pinterest to inspire a different kind of DIY project: Making meaningful, homemade gifts. And it will nudge customers toward its mobile app by putting promotions there first.

Home Depot is joining Target and Best Buy in spreading out the holiday rush in an attempt to load-balance a likely enormous order fulfillment season.

🛍 Marketplace

The DTC Party’s Over. What Happens Next?

The next generation of DTC superstars will be known for their vertical integration and operational prowess.

AmazonBasics Is Not Thriving Amid COVID-19 - Marketplace Pulse

Generally, private label products do well in periods of recessions and pandemics. Amazon’s private label products did not.

Despite Amazon launching more products, continuing to experiment with ways to feature them in search, reports of accessing third-party sellers’ data to develop them, and many national brands running out of stock, the flat line of best-sellers indicates that those efforts have generally been unsuccessful. At least in terms of creating overall best-sellers.

You could argue this is because Amazon is not investing in these brands.  Instead, they are hoping their marketplace - which is not built to convey brand messages, rather push commodities - will do the work for them.

Of course, there are other issues with Amazon's private-label products...

Dozens of Amazon's own products have been reported as dangerous -- melting, exploding or even bursting into flames. Many are still on the market - CNN

Since 2016, at least 1,500 reviews, covering more than 70 items, have described products exploding, catching on fire, smoking, melting, causing electrical malfunctions or otherwise posing risks, according to an analysis of AmazonBasics electronics and appliances listed on its website.

Ikea's e-commerce has fallen apart during COVID-19

Ikea tells us its e-commerce business doubled over this time. But without the capacity to handle it, Ikea has fielded widespread customer complaints. We’ve seen stories of unfulfilled orders, inept customer service, and even, in one case, a 500-mile drive to pick up furniture that was marked “out of stock” 30 minutes before the customers arrived. Even now, as Ikeas have reopened around the United States, these problems haven’t been solved.

Hindsight is an obvious luxury. But there is so much we can learn from stories like these, where big brands failed to invest in online channels.

The running list of 2020 retail bankruptcies | Retail Dive

The following post will continue to be updated to reflect the current major retailers that have filed for bankruptcy protection in 2020.

🏬 Brick & Mortar

Bankrupt J.C. Penney Is Bought by Mall Operators in Need of Tenants

The next generation of DTC superstars will be known for their vertical integration and operational prowess.

Two weeks ago we speculated. This week it happened.

🔒 Security

🦠 Coronavirus

Retail is having a Darwin moment that will change it forever

I have seen the pandemic increase these pressures and force malls, retailers, and restaurants to evolve in ways they needed to to survive for the long haul. That’s meant providing better online services along with curbside pickup, patio dining, and cleaner interiors—things customers would appreciate in any environment. In short, the pandemic is cleaning out the old stock and forcing everyone else to transform in ways that will endure long after the crisis has passed.

How COVID-19 created the Generation N consumer in 90 days

Meet Generation Novel, a growing cross-generational psychographic of digital-first consumers galvanized by the disruptive effects of COVID-19. This emergent and significant customer segment isn’t just digital-centric. It’s also emotionally charged, as pandemic-fueled fear, anxiety, and worry take their toll. With the impact of the novel coronavirus likely to endure, companies must prioritize the study of Gen N. Doing so will help executives understand how consumers’ increased and accelerated use of technology affects their preferences, behaviors, and routines. These insights can guide brand, product, and market strategies to be more timely, relevant, and empathetic at a time when there is no pandemic playbook to follow.

🛠 Tips & Tools

Google binds no-code tools, API management and serverless computing into new development platform - SiliconANGLE

Placing a bet on the red-hot low-code/no-code market, Google LLC today debuted its new Business Application Platform category of software encompassing application programming interface management, no-code application development, process automation and business analytics.

Google said it aims to create more consistent ways for users to access services, data and functionality via APIs while disguising the complexity behind a no-code platform. No-code app development enables nontechnical users to build data-driven applications quickly without using a programming language.

The platform’s introduction came during Google’s nine-week Cloud Next OnAir that wraps up this week. In a briefing with journalists, Amit Zavery (pictured), the company’s general manager of platforms, stressed that the no-code development platform, which is based on technology it picked early this year with the acquisition of AppSheet Inc., is intended to “make it easy and simple to build applications without writing any code, which is different from low-code.”

Citing Gartner Inc. estimates that there will be four times as many “citizen developers” as professional coders in large enterprises by 2023. Zavery said Google’s objective is “deliver a comprehensive, open and integrated application platform that empowers line-of-business users to create and extend applications, build and automate business workflows and connect and modernize legacy applications.”

As we have discussed, Microsoft is betting big on developers and investing in every level of the tech stack.

Meanwhile, Google is building a suite of apps they hope will limit the need for developers altogether.

Bing Webmaster Tools makes it easy to edit and verify your robots.txt | Webmaster Blog

We at Bing understand that frustration of our users and hence have come up with our new and enhanced robots.txt tester tool. The robots.txt tester helps webmasters to not only analyse their robots.txt file and highlight the issues that would prevent them from getting optimally crawled by Bing and other robots; but, also guides them step-by-step from fetching the latest file to uploading the same file at the appropriate address.

👋 Holla!

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