1) PayPal bought Honey for $4 billion, an expensive purchase that doesn’t guarantee long-term gains for the payment platform.

WHAT HAPPENED: PayPal purchased Honey Science, a technology startup launched in 2012, which connects shoppers with digital coupons. Honey currently has 17 million users and offers discounts from 30,000 online retailers. This is PayPal’s biggest acquisition to date.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • As more checkout options continue to surface, Honey’s technology and consumer data enable PayPal to stay relevant and ahead of its competitors. While many shoppers view PayPal as a trusted payment partner, they don’t interact with PayPal until they select a payment option during checkout. But if Honey’s technology integrates with PayPal, the payment platform is now relevant during browsing and buying, transforming itself into a shopping companion rather than simply a payment tool. Although Honey’s user base is only a fraction of PayPal’s, the former has grown with minimal investment in advertising and with PayPal’s support, Honey could become a household name.
  • However, the digital coupon industry is crowded and lacks a clear future. Honey has a built-in following and unique technology that is widely known for being user-friendly. Still, the low barrier of entry is fueling more competition. Honey’s competitors include coupon platforms that offer cashback and customer rewards themselves like the mobile coupon app Ibotta, and Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates), which gives users cashback rewards and even a $10 credit for signing up. Google also offers a similar technology through its Chrome browser. While the digital coupon industry is nearing saturation, Honey’s partnership with PayPal could enable the technology platform to stay ahead of the pack.

2) Jet.com ended its New York City grocery delivery service, signaling Walmart’s further deprioritization of the ecommerce platform.

WHAT HAPPENED: Walmart’s subsidiary Jet.com will end its fresh-food delivery service in New York City one year after introducing the service. Jet will continue to sell dry grocery items that are available through its traditional delivery services.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • While New Yorkers have plenty of fresh food delivery options, Jet.com’s high prices contributed to its demise. The presence of grocery delivery services like Instacart, Fresh Direct and Amazon’s Prime Now prove that there is a need for fresh grocery delivery, especially in urban markets. But Jet’s solution to the high cost of logistics was to increase its pricing, which backfired in an era of venture capital-subsidized growth. While Jet’s fresh grocery delivery proved to be more expensive than the company anticipated, one year wasn’t enough time to identify the hurdles and to subsequently overcome them efficiently.
  • The decision is further proof that Jet.com’s future is bleak. With Jet.com’s president exiting this summer and founder Marc Lore focusing on Walmart’s U.S. ecommerce business, Jet is becoming an afterthought. Walmart is shifting its attention away from Jet.com and focusing on strengthening its own ecommerce business. The world’s largest retailer is seeing success with its curbside pick-up available at its 3,000 stores and says that it will continue to focus on this channel revenue. While Walmart is falling back on its time-tested delivery, leaving Jet behind means that succeeding in urban areas and with younger customers will have to wait.

3) Charlotte Russe’s plan to open an even larger fleet of stores in 2020 overlooks the brand’s underlying problems.

WHAT HAPPENED: After filing for bankruptcy in February and liquidating its 512 stores in March, YM Inc., the apparel company that purchased the teen brand’s intellectual property, announced plans to open a fleet of Charlotte Russe stores in 2020. The parent company has opened 135 Charlotte Russe stores since the brand’s liquidation.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • New stores don’t solve Charlotte Russe’s biggest problem: a weak digital presence. Charlotte Russe has yet to disclose the locations of its future stores, but many of the stores YM Inc. has opened thus far are inside of malls—a move surprisingly close to its previous strategy. The company attributed its bankruptcy to falling store traffic and ineffective social media campaigns, which both indicate its target customer wants to shop online. Instead, Charlotte Russe should focus on its social media presence and how it gets shoppers to buy online and in-store. Without a clearly defined ecommerce strategy, its physical stores will suffer and the brand’s revival will be increasingly difficult.
  • As consumers shift away from fast-fashion, Charlotte Russe needs to revamp its brand positioning for long-term success. As young shoppers are increasingly concerned about the environment and are dedicated to making more sustainable fashion choices, Charlotte Russe needs to be presenting solutions, not furthering the problem. Forever 21’s recent bankruptcy is further proof of the growing aversion toward buying low-quality clothing. Charlotte Russe should revamp its product assortment, offer fewer SKUs, and produce less. Opening a fleet of stores requires a lot of inventory and positions the retailer further away from where it needs to be—profitable and sustainable.

4) Airbnb launched Cooking Experiences, which proves consumers are still eager to participate in the sharing economy.

WHAT HAPPENED: Airbnb’s Cooking Experiences offer more than 3,000 cooking and travel opportunities worldwide, with local hosts sharing recipes and teaching travelers how to cook them. Airbnb launched this initiative as a response to the growth of its Food & Drink experiences. The platform also launched a contest to find the “World’s best home cooks” where the winner will publish a recipe in Airbnb’s first cookbook.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Cooking Experiences capitalize on Airbnb’s command of the sharing economy and will entice more users to book their full trip through its platform. Travelers are eager to engage in specialized experiences while traveling, but cooking classes or tours led by locals are often complicated to arrange (due to language constraints) and costly. Airbnb’s curated experiences could make local culinary excursions more accessible and authentic. Learning to cook directly from a local host enables travelers to prepare their own meals throughout their stay—an attractive proposition for those who are hungry to eat like a local.
  • Cooking Experiences is beneficial to both travelers and existing hosts. With listings in 191 countries and over 150 million active users, Airbnb is focused on ways for hosts to increase their earnings so they stay with the platform. Cooking Experiences are an important and lucrative upsell that will allow both Airbnb and its hosts to earn more from existing guests (many of the participants in Cooking Experiences are existing hosts) while improving the guest’s experience at the same time. As Airbnb moves more towards a traditional booking platform—and away from the very personal touch that early hosts were known for—reintroducing humanity is an important endeavor.