R|T: The Retail Times – Shopify’s Black Friday-Cyber Monday breaks records

Shopify LV Sphere BFCM 2023
Plus: Shein officially files for US IPO.

The Retail Times is a weekly newsletter covering retail tech news from Canada and around the globe.

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BetaKit partners with Good Future

BetaKit has announced a new strategic partnership with Good Future to fuel the growth of Canada’s leading startup and technology publication.

Good Future, the family office of Canadian entrepreneurs Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar, will support the advancement of BetaKit’s business and inject capital as the new majority shareholder. Good Future’s investment will accelerate the growth of BetaKit’s editorial and business teams from coast to coast, with new hires already on the way!


Shein files for U.S. IPO, as fast-fashion giant looks to resolve forced labor, climate concerns

Shein has confidentially filed to go public in the U.S. as the Chinese-founded fast-fashion juggernaut looks to expand its global reach with a long-rumored initial public offering, CNBC has learned.

The retailer was last valued at $66 billion and could be ready to start trading on the public markets as soon as 2024, people familiar with the matter said Monday.


Shopify merchants set $9.3-billion sales record over Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Defying industry forecasts of a slowdown in retail purchases, Shopify merchants hit a new sales record this Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend.

According to a report released by Shopify Tuesday, the e-commerce giant’s merchants generated a cumulative $9.3 billion in sales over Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. This marks a 24 percent increase from the same period 2022, which was itself a record-setting Black Friday-Cyber Monday for the company.



What is generative AI and will it provide the ROI that executive leadership is looking for?

Global retail giants are seeking cost-efficient solutions to improving their customer experience, and AI is the answer.

Did you know 85% of execs say generative AI will be interacting directly with customers in the next two years? As a result, 63% say that they will have invested in generative AI use cases that serve their agents by the end of 2023.

From reducing customer support response times to guiding consumers to new products, AI is poised to transform eCommerce. Become an expert on generative AI and separate the buzz from reality with the ultimate guide to generative AI for customer service.

Read our expert guide today.

Blackstone to Buy Pet-Care Company Rover for $2.3 Billion

Rover Group Inc., an online marketplace in the fast-growing market for pet-care services, soared after agreeing to be acquired by Blackstone Inc. in a $2.3 billion all-cash deal, the companies said Wednesday.

Valued at about $1.35 billion, Rover was among a flood of companies to list through the so-called de-SPAC process at a time when venture capitalists and hedge funds sought quick returns amid low interest rates.


With $2 million raised to date, Omnicart aims to serve hyperlocal last-mile delivery

Vancouver-based last-mile delivery platform Omnicart has secured $1 million CAD in fresh funding from sole participant Foodhub, a United Kingdom-based company that provides online food ordering and management software to restaurants.

Omnicart describes itself as a hyperlocal “plug and play delivery platform,” claiming it sets itself apart from other last-mile services by providing the technology for local businesses in small towns to address the last-mile gap themselves.


Second-hand shopping a $1-billion-plus business for Amazon in Europe

Consumer demand for refurbished and pre-owned goods in Britain and across Europe has created a billion pound ($1.3 billion) business for Amazon, its UK boss said.

Many retailers and manufacturers expect that trend to continue as shoppers, hit by rising prices and borrowing costs, look to save cash and buy more sustainably.


Two years after Graphite Ventures spinout, MaRS IAF is ready to invest again

Since its launch in 2008, the Toronto-based MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) has grown into one of the country’s most active early-stage venture capital (VC) firms. But after Graphite Ventures was spun out from IAF in late 2021 as a private sector fund, IAF lost nearly all of its employees. Emil Savov was hired and tasked with rebuilding the IAF team.

His work is now getting closer to completion.

“We’re ramping up,” Savov, IAF’s managing director, told BetaKit in an exclusive interview. “The idea is to bring [IAF] to the strength that it was before the [Graphite] spinoff, and maybe even go beyond that.”


Alibaba’s reversal from online superstar is so serious that it briefly lost its crown as China’s second-most valuable e-commerce player

Alibaba briefly lost its position as China’s most valuable e-commerce firm to eight-year-old upstart PDD on Thursday, a watershed moment for an internet industry that Jack Ma’s iconic firm dominated for more than a decade.

The once-inconceivable shift reflects the turmoil that engulfed Alibaba after Beijing in 2020 targeted the company and its once-outspoken co-founder, kicking off a sweeping crackdown on the powerful tech sector. It also signals the rise of a generation of upstarts from PDD to ByteDance Ltd., which are disrupting the traditional arenas of social media and e-commerce.


How talent across Canada can break into tech

Despite layoffs and economic uncertainty, Canada still faces a tech talent shortage. Yet many viable candidates who could help fill the gap often struggle to build the networks and skills necessary to break into the industry.

Speaking with BetaKit, Pablo Listingart, Executive Director of ComIT, explained more about how Team-UP’s programming and structure help people successfully break into tech.


Hudson’s Bay shakeup: Former Bay executive Liz Rodbell returns as president and CEO

Liz Rodbell is back in charge at Hudson’s Bay — and analysts say she faces a tough time turning around Canada’s oldest retailer.

Hudson’s Bay announced earlier this week that it’s bringing back the company’s former top executive as president and CEO to replace Sophia Hwang-Judiesch, who stepped down Tuesday.

The news comes just a week after the retailer’s parent company HBC announced it had raised $340 million USD by “monetizing” some of its real estate portfolio including a portion which was sold off, amidst reports that the retailer and its U.S. sister company Saks Fifth Avenue had fallen behind on payments to suppliers.


Getting hybrid work right requires building a long-term plan

The future came early for Canadian businesses, as hybrid work shifted from a COVID-19 emergency response to a permanent reality. Now, some sixty-five percent of Canadian knowledge workers work in a remote or hybrid format.

In a recent BetaKit Live, three experts—Denis Gaudreault, the country manager for Intel Canada, Michael Almeida, a business unit leader at Softchoice, and John Trougakos, a professor at the University of Toronto—all shared their perspectives on how other companies of all sizes can get hybrid work right.


Why super apps have yet to take off in the U.S.

Despite the best efforts of multiple tech and e-commerce giants, no one company has yet to crack the code for building a successful super app in the U.S. Super apps offer multiple services through a single, easy-to-use interface. In some markets like China, they have become multi-billion dollar businesses that are heavily embedded into everyday life.


Vancouver, Toronto-Waterloo, Calgary among the top 50 global cleantech ecosystems

Startup Genome released its climate tech-focused startup ecosystem report Thursday, which ranks global ecosystems based on the current state of startup activity in cleantech and the “blue economy,” which the report defines as technologies specific to ocean innovation.

The report ranked Atlantic Canada eighth in the top blue economy startup ecosystem rankings, and an impressive third-place in the top five blue economy startup ecosystems in North America.

As for Startup Genome’s cleantech ecosystem rankings, three Canadian regions cracked the top 50 list: Vancouver, Toronto-Waterloo, and Calgary.


Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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