News Cart + Planning Tips for 2020

Merry Thursday, ECFers!

Have you noticed an uptick in abandoned shopping carts this holiday season? You’re not alone: A study found that roughly two-thirds of online shoppers during Black Friday and Cyber Monday were actually “jingle bots.” Ho ho … oh.

It may lift your spirits to learn that Amazon has opened its Vine program to third-party sellers, and the U.S. and China struck a preliminary trade deal halting 15% tariffs set to hit many consumer goods before the holidays. Get the details below or in this week’s podcast.

In shipping news, Amazon blocked sellers from using FedEx ground for Prime shipments, and UPS expanded its express services across 40 countries. Craigslist boasted some growth of its own, launching its first official mobile app. (Seriously, Craigslist, where have you been since the mid-’90s?)

In the podcast I also get into how I’m prepping for 2020, as well as a few tax strategies you may not be familiar with that can save you some coin.

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday and a Merry Christmas!

– Andrew

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In the News

Amazon Vine Rolls Out to Third-Party Sellers (membership required; hat tip to Judah Bergman)

  • Many 3P sellers have been able to add products to the Vine program
  • It’s currently free for up to five products at a time, each of which must have fewer than 30 reviews

‘Jingle Bots’ Jam Online Shopping Carts to Use Up Stock and Frustrate Customers

  • An in-depth study found that only one-third of Black Friday/Cyber Monday online shoppers were real people
  • The rest were so-called “jingle bots” designed to disrupt e-commerce operations so that genuine shoppers give up or shop elsewhere
  • Study also found that 45 percent of traffic on product pages was made up of bots

What Is Actually in the U.S.-China ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal? 

  • The phase-one deal temporarily suspends planned 15% tariffs on nearly $160 billion of Chinese-made goods such as smartphones, clothing and toys just ahead of the holidays
  • In return, China canceled retaliatory tariffs and purportedly promised to buy large quantities of U.S. soybeans, poultry and other agricultural products
  • The U.S. maintains 25% tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports, and halved the tariff rate on $120 billion worth of Chinese goods to 7.5%

Amazon Blocks Sellers From Using FedEx Ground for Prime Shipments

  • Amazon cited a decline in performance heading into the final stretch of the holiday shopping season
  • FedEx and other shippers face weather difficulties and fewer shipping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year
  • Ban starts this week and will last “until the delivery performances of these ship methods improves,” according to an email Amazon sent merchants

Craigslist Launches App for iPhone 

  • Craigslist joins the tech age with its first official mobile app!

Interesting Reads

Imitating Amazon: E-Commerce Battle Bolstered by Companies Mimicking the Market Leader – “From shipping startups to warehouse providers, a virtual network aimed at competing with Amazon is growing in the company’s long shadow”

Lessons From Spending a Quarter Billion on Facebook (Tweetstorm) – Faheem Siddiqi shares the commonalities he sees among successful DTC brands from his time advertising on Facebook.  Hat tip to Drew Sanocki.

Individual Coverage HRA (ICHRA) vs. QSEHRA: How Do They Compare? – Struggling to figure out the best way to reimburse your employees for their own healthcare without worrying about the IRS coming a’ knocking?  A HRA is probably the answer but the introduction of a new type (ICHRA) makes the decision a bit more complex.  And here are full details on what a standard QSEHRA is from Take Command Health which offers 20% off plans to eCommerceFuel Community members.

Cool Stuff My Friends Are Doing

Live Your Mission Podcast — My friend Peter Awad recently launched a podcast about living out your mission intentionally.  He was kind enough to invite me on for an episode where, among other things, you can watch me nearly pass out eating insanely hot jerky.

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