R|T: The Retail Times – Washington prepares for war with Amazon

Plus: Rewind cuts staff as Shopify growth slows.

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Proptech startup Operto raises $34.4 million CAD to open the door to new markets, literally (BETAKIT)

Operto provides property automation and Internet of Things operating system software for the hotel, multi-family, vacation and short-term rental industries designed to manage the check-in and check-out process for hotel guests.

Centana Growth Partners led the Series B financing round with participation from Thayer Ventures, FUSE, Blackpines Capital Partners, and Derive Ventures. The funding prompts Operto to expand in the global short-term rental and hotel markets.

Washington prepares for war with Amazon (POLITICO)

The Biden administration is planning to take action soon on at least three of its half-dozen investigations of Amazon — moves that could lead to a blitz of litigation to rein in the iconic tech-industry giant.

The FTC has been investigating the internet titan on multiple fronts dating at least back to 2019, looking into its abuse of power within its online marketplace, as well as potential consumer-privacy violations connected to its Ring cameras and Alexa digital assistant.

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Rewind cuts 27 percent of staff as its growth slows in parallel to Shopify (BETAKIT)

Rewind, which derives the majority of its revenue from Shopify merchants, saw demand for its backup tech boom amid the pandemic-fuelled rise of Shopify and e-commerce. Like Shopify, Rewind has seen its growth slow as the pandemic and demand for online shopping has waned and has cut 37 of its 135-person staff in response.

Amazon, other retailers revamp 'free' shipping as costs soar (REUTERS)

There is no such thing as free shipping. Even so, Amazon and other online retailers who use so-called free delivery to cultivate customer loyalty are scrambling to keep it from draining profits as costs climb and e-commerce contracts.

BC suffered biggest year-over-year venture funding drop among all Canadian ecosystems in 2022 (BETAKIT)

According to a new report from briefed.in, startups in BC raised a total of $1.3 billion in 2022 down by 67.5 percent from 2021, but up by 34 percent from 2020. Of all the Canadian tech regions tracked by briefed.in, BC saw the most significant year-over-year decline in funding.

Just Eat to lay off 1,700 delivery staff as takeaway boom ends

The £3.5B food delivery company, which is listed in London and Amsterdam, has been seeking to slash spending as takeaway order numbers plunge post-pandemic and families grapple with the cost-of-living crisis.

Bosses are understood to have informed impacted workers on Tuesday morning, with delivery drivers being offered six weeks’ notice with pay. The shake-up will also affect 170 full time Just Eat staff within its operations team.

Canada Drives undergoing restructuring as it files for creditor protection (BETAKIT)

The restructuring follows existing struggles at Canada Drives, which made staff cuts earlier this year, citing macroeconomic conditions. Canada Drives will continue to run its marketplace, but plans to facilitate vehicle inventory and financing options through automotive dealerships throughout Canada.

E-scooter firm Bird Global launches in Hamilton, Brampton and Oshawa — but Toronto is still saying ‘no’ (TORONTO STAR)

E-scooter rental firm Bird Global announced Thursday that it’s expanding to the Greater Toronto Area, with launches in Brampton and Oshawa, plus Hamilton in the next few weeks. Much to Bird's frustration, the City of Toronto itself is staying out of the conversation after rejecting an e-scooter pilot in 2021.

Québec budget aimed at stimulating the economy with investments in tech sectors, skilled labour (BETAKIT)

Québec Finance Minister Eric Girard released the 2023-2024 budget, making clear that the provincial government is betting on economic growth. The plan earmarks $900 million towards new initiatives intended to stimulate economic productivity and innovation, and $615 million to address the labour shortage.

Zellers relaunches 12 stores across Canada today — and nostalgia is the door crasher (CBC)

From the throwback logo to the presence of "Zellers diner"-branded food trucks outside launch locations — a nod to the restaurants that used to be inside Zellers stores — the entire launch is playing on a sense of nostalgia for something consumers have lost. And that's very much by design.

Amazon won’t confirm how many Canadians impacted by forthcoming 9,000 employee layoffs (BETAKIT)

Initial business re-evaluations led the Seattle-headquartered Amazon to shed 18,000 positions, which the company first announced in January. The second phase of the firm’s planning is now resulting in the aforementioned additional 9,000 layoffs.

Amazon Canada declined a request to comment on how many of those would include Canadian positions.

Chinese food delivery giant Meituan beats Q4 estimates with 21.4% revenue jump (REUTERS)

Meituan – whose so-called super app provides services ranging from bike-sharing, movie ticketing, mapping, to food delivery and restaurant bookings – said its total revenue rose to 60.13 billion yuan ($8.76 billion) for the three months ended December, from 49.52 billion yuan a year earlier.

Shopify enterprise merchants can now use Google’s AI tools to improve searchability (BETAKIT)

In response to the costly problem of potential customers abandoning their cart after an unsuccessful trip to the search bar, Shopify announced a partnership with Google Cloud to use the latter’s advanced search and browsing technologies for retail.

With this integration, enterprise merchants using Commerce Components—Shopify’s enterprise retail solution—can use Google Cloud’s Discovery AI tools to produce “better” results even from broad queries.

Xiaohongshu is teaching young Chinese women how to buy the perfect life (REST OF WORLD)

Founded in 2013 as a Hong Kong shopping guide, Xiaohongshu has since expanded into a platform with 200 million users, who use the app to share tips on everything from dieting to dating.

While fans describe the app as a women-friendly community with shared aspirations, critics say it suffocates the young generation with unrealistic expectations.

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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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