TWITTER ROLLS OUT PRODUCT PAGES: Last Friday, Twitter announced its new product pages, a platform through which users connect with online retailers via Twitter. Separate from users' timelines, these pages will have images and videos of products from partnered retailers.

Users will also be able to see information related to the products, such as tweets, user reviews, and prices. Some products will also include a "buy" button, which will allow users to make purchases through Twitter, and others will include links to outside websites. Retailers can choose whether they want to include a "buy" button or third-party link in their tweets.

Twitter also announced Collections, a way for brands and people to share collections of products. Users can browse content curated by celebrities or companies they like and purchase the items listed.

Currently, Twitter has invited a select few to create Collections: Celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Ellen DeGeneres, and companies like HBO and Nike, have their own Collections pages. Users can browse products featured on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show and items from HBO's popular series "Game of Thrones." At this point, Twitter is not taking a portion of the proceeds earned through product pages or Collections, according to Recode.

While this may change in the future, we expect retailers to also want to take advantage of Twitter's large amount of user data. This would enable retailers to not only understand their shopper base more accurately, but to apply the information toward targeted ads.

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AMAZON ADDS GROCERY DELIVERY TO AMAZON PRIME BENEFITS: Amazon is making its grocery delivery service, called AmazonFresh, available to Prime members, according to TechCrunch.

As with standard AmazonFresh orders, customers can select either same- or next-day delivery, but Prime members have to pay $7.99 with each delivery on top of the $99 they already pay annually for Prime membership. 

The added benefit is currently only available to Prime members who live in California. However, the standard AmazonFresh service is available in New York, Philadelphia, and Seattle, which suggests Prime members living in those areas will soon be able to order groceries as well. 

By adding grocery delivery to the list of benefits for Prime members, Amazon is hoping to capture a larger share of their customers' spending. Groceries are the largest retail category by far, with Americans spending $600 billion a year on food and beverage products, according to the US Census. 

RETAIL AUDIENCES GROWING ON INSTAGRAM: There are currently more people following retail brands on Facebook than there are on Instagram, but that could change within a few years, according to a new study released by marketing firm Yesmail. 

The average retailer on Instagram has 300,000 followers, which is more than on Twitter (250,000 followers per retailer), but still far less than on Facebook (2.8 million followers per retailer). That said, the number of consumers following retailers on Instagram is growing at a far faster rate than on other social platforms.

The number of people following retailers on Instagram grew 237% between 2013 and 2014. Compare that to 71% growth on Twitter and 83% growth on Facebook. While all retail categories saw large increases in their Instagram followings last year, apparel brands saw the highest growth at nearly 420%, followed by home goods (274%), and beauty (209%). 

The natural growth of Instagram's user base is helping retailers attract followers organically, but so too are the marketing tools that help retailers increase their visibility on the image-focused social platform. Last year Instagram ramped up efforts to work closer with brands on ad creative and just recently began rolling out a suite of call-to-action buttons for posts, such as "Buy Now," which makes the social platform much more oriented towards shopping and retail.

ALIBABA EXPANDS FOREIGN LISTINGS ON TMALL GLOBAL PLATFORM: The Alibaba Group announced that it has added 11 countries to its third-party retail site Tmall Global, reports The Wall Street Journal. Tmall Global is Alibabas site for third-party retailers to advertise and sell products to customers in China, and will now showcase new country pavilions. Eleven countries have signed on to participate in these pavilions, including the US, France, Britain, and Spain. Every pavilion will offer products from each country, as well as travel information. Additionally, Alibaba also announced that its daily-deals site Juhuasuan has partnered with 26 foreign embassies across China. The group-buying platform (similar to Groupon and Living Social) will promote products from these 26 countries. 

These partnerships mark a significant step towards global expansion, something that Alibaba has vocally been working towards. At the end of Q4 2014, Alibaba had about 330 million worldwide customers, far above both Amazon and eBay. As it continuously expands its platforms, the e-commerce company is connecting sellers and consumers across the world. And as we reported last week, the global e-commerce market is expected to reach $1 trillion in 2020, up from $230 billion in 2014. The Alibaba Group is at the forefront of this growth as it continues building global marketplaces.

SUPERMARKET COMPANIES AHOLD AND DELHAIZE ANNOUNCE MERGER: Belgium-based food retailer The Delhaize Group and Dutch supermarket operator Ahold announced that the two companies have reached a merger agreement, according to The New York Times. Delhaize owns grocery chains Food Lion and Hannaford, which will be coupled with Aholds Stop & Shop and Giant. Together, the two companies own more than 6,500 stores in the US and Europe, with roughly two-thirds of their total sales coming from the US. 

However, both groups have seen significant competition from companies like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Costco, as well as from the growing market for online grocery shopping. The merger could act as a boost for Stop & Shops own online grocery service Peapod. A major resource from Delhaize would be its low-cost distribution centers along the east coast of the US that could help Peapod fend off rivals AmazonFresh and Instacart, reports Reuters. In 2014, Peapod accounted for 11% of the total market for online food, grocery, and drug sales, compared to AmazonFresh that made up 3% of the market, according to Conlumino Research.

As we reported last month, the majority of consumers worldwide say they would be open to buying their groceries online. More and more companies are also focused on providing the fastest delivery speeds, especially in the grocery sector. Both Instacart and AmazonFresh offer same-day delivery in select markets, while Peapod offers next-day delivery at the earliest. But the combined resources of the newly formed Ahold Delhaize could mean that Peapod will see growth in both expansion and revenue.

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