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Welcome to Friday, futurists. 

If you’ve been paying attention for the past few months, you’ll know that we believe the future of commerce is collaborative. This week, Amazon announced a new feature that brings a brand new modality of shopping out of the real world, online, for the first time.

I’ll unpack my thoughts on that glorious multiplayer experience in just a bit. 

This week, Amazon announced a new in-app feature allowing users to “consult” friends about potential purchases, enhancing the decision-making process. After reviewing the data of “share” behavior, Amazon’s new feature keeps sharing with its own walls, rather than preferring customers to share deep links to product outside of the platform.

This makes sense, both for the customer, and for Amazon. As a shopper, I regularly peer into others’ shopping carts, to compare their purchases to mine. I’ll even ask others “where’d you get that?” — or affirm them — “oh I love that brand!”

Now, that form of shopping is making its way into the digital commerce space. The multiplayer modality of gaining social proof of your purchase has untapped potential when shopping online. 

Window-shopping as a pastime just got an upgrade, especially for retailers who thrive on the snap-judgment decisions that Instagram ads bring to us. The data around a conversation in a purchase could be a gold mine for brands needing to up their personalization and contextual understanding of how customers make decisions. 

Our mantra as of late has been “the future is multiplayer.” There’s a modality in shopping that is missing online; the ability to shop with a friend, or even a stranger. Amazon’s announcement is just the beginning of this new mode of shopping.

It also unlocks a future era of communication for Amazon outside of the Alexa experience. While Alexa has had messaging for some time, a deeper integration of chat could unify a number of Amazon properties, including Prime Video, and Amazon Fresh. Group chat with my delivery guy? Yes. Please.

— Phillip

P.S. Have you ever wondered “wth is a Magic Quadrant”? Wonder no longer. We’ve “decoded” and demystified the famed market research report in exacting detail on this week’s podcast. Listen now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

P.P.S. Learn more about the “multiplayer future” with our newest Zine. Out now from Future Commerce, The Multiplayer Brand is 100 pages of deep insights about a coming shift in consumer expectations. $20 with free shipping in the lower 48, and flat rate shipping to 200+ countries worldwide. Buy the zine today.

UPS Set to Acquire Happy Returns. This week, UPS announced its acquisition of Happy Returns, expanding its reverse logistics operations and improving the eCommerce returns experience. Paypal’s brief ownership of Happy Returns (a mere twenty-seven months) is a rare about-face for the company, which banked on the pandemic-era eCommerce boom for broadening services.

I Owned My Data Once But Then I Got Tired. New eCommerce startup 'I Own My Data' prioritizes consumer data privacy by giving customers nerd-like fine-grained control over their profile and privacy information. According to the press release, they will be “revolutionizing online shopping interactions and security” by giving customers a “node-like” panel to manage where, and how, their data is delivered to providers like eCom stores. We’re calling this DOA, because it’s solving a problem that Apple already solved through APP and ATT.

The Crytpo Scam is Coming From Inside The Xeets. If you ever wanted to have a long, romantic conversation with a crypto scammer or sex bot on Twitter, now’s your chance. Subscribers to X Premium’s service can receive DM calls from within the app, provided they’ve enabled the feature.

The Next Cycle is Ludditerrorism. A new tool gives a powerful weapon against AI that corrupts training data meant for art-based algorithms. Nightshade, a new tool for artists, disrupts AI by corrupting training data, challenging the ethics of unsanctioned data use, turning creators into Luddites. Ted Kaczynski would be so proud.

Peek-a-Boob. Just in time for Halloween, SKIMS by Kim Kardashian just announced the “SKIMS Ultimate Nipple Bra”, a new bra with built-in false nipples. “No matter how hot it is, you'll always look cold,” quipped Kim in the announcement video. “Some days are hard, but, these nipples are harder.”

Pot Committed. In a new report by the Wall Street Journal, users of medical marijuana seeking therapeutic relief from anxiety may be experiencing the opposite effect.

ZIRP: oZempic-Inspired Reset of Policies. A number of stories this week are worth your time to review, futurists. First, there was a thread by Corry Wang based on an article in The Atlantic about addiction and Ozempic. The implication is that, by solving addiction issues, we may harm the economy. What’s more, nearly 33% of discretionary spending comes from the top decile of consumers. Victoria’s Secret made waves this week when it announced it was ditching its “woke” policies of inclusivity to return to its “sexy” roots.

Our Take: I believe this is a defensive, and strategic decision, that is being cleverly marketed as political positioning.

In my opinion, the Columbus retailer is the first in a wave of brands preparing for an Ozempic-induced cultural reset. By getting out ahead of other brands, which created a cultural norm of ‘inclusive’, VS
positions themselves as counter-cultural. What happens when a magic medicine allows anyone to look however they want? Victoria’s Secret believes they’’ll choose sexy.

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