As far as I am concerned 2012 is now in the record books. One working day left until 2013 and all the challenges it brings with it. Let me say this, I am looking forward to 2013 as I think we are in a bumper year of news. I am expecting a tough financial climate from April but in terms of ecommerce I think 2013 is a big year. Do Alibaba IPO? Is Groupon still around in 12 months time and does Rocket Internet have a plan for continued cloning or disruption (I think so, their businesses have raised big capital..).
If I look back over my posts in the last 12 months (yes, readers I know the content was not flowing the entire year), a few things stand out for me:
- Amazon is a freight train that is going into territories that makes a wide range of competitors concerned. I am honest, I think Google and Amazon is going to headline 2013. Bezos wont relent until his creation owns the retail online space. No one is standing between him and the end goal.
- eBay is standing at the door and the more I think about what they are doing, the more I think they have potential to be a story for 2013. Their mobile business is going into territories that not many have gone to.
- Developing markets are now where the innovation happens. I spent a few weeks outside South Africa that made me realise that there is businesses across the globe pushing boundaries. I cant go into specifics but all I can say, is that ecommerce is now global.
- 2012 was the year in which logistics finally made it into the strategy meetings. Yes, I know logistics is only spoken about when things go bad but this past year, it became a battleground for entrepreneurs, retailers and corporates. Investment is going to determine survivors and speedy delivery will become like search on ecommerce business. Same day delivery is going to be expected by default.
- Social commerce ended up being zilch. I got sucked into this and I must say social with commerce is either a pipe dream or is not being executed at the moment. ROI for facebook ads for ecommerce businesses most probably raises eyebrows at finance and nothing more. Vanity metrics is becoming commonplace in meetings. Building businesses on another non-owned platform is never a good thing.
- The ecommerce business that made 2012 for me is fab.com. I really think that they potentially can be a business to outgrow the pack in 2013. Oh and they get mobile commerce. Starbucks almost got this “award”.
- Readers there is a disruptor operating below the radar.. it is called Kickstarter. B2C just got turned upside down and in time I think the concept could be even more fine tuned.
- I have a challenge for 2013 and that is to try and spend more time with startups. I met 3 this year and by all accounts, I think they will have a good 2013. There is one in Seattle, that I think will be a disruptor in 2013.
- Mobile is and will continue to be the light at the end of the tunnel for ecommerce businesses. There is still lots of thinking to be done about mobile commerce.
Without any more babbling, here is the final 10 stories that got my attention in 2012:
- The Hell of Online Shopping – I read this article and I must say it was a difficult read. In ecommerce we sometimes forget that the package being shipped is one that potentially has emotional value for the owner. Gift wrapping a present should be done as it would be done in a retailers store. Convenience is one of the corner stones of ecommerce.. there is an opportunity for all ecommerce retailers to do this properly.
- Giving Mom’s Book Five Stars? Amazon May Cull Your Review – Amazon has a problem that will need speedy attention. Their reviews are being manipulated by paid for review operators. It is clear that they need to spend more time treating product reviews as an asset. Barry Ritzholtz has a few great suggestions on a few things to clean up the review issue.
- Asia’s Rising E-Commerce Nation: A Q&A With Rakuten Malaysia CEO Masaya Uen – South East Asia is a hot ecommerce market at the moment. Malaysia is one of the battlegrounds in which they compete with Rocket Internet, MIH etc. It is becoming a noticeable trend that Rakuten is entering markets with the marketplace concept via a partnership with a local ecommerce business. One thing that does concern me is the services offered to Rakuten’s merchants – surely best practice would be that a third party solution provider offer the services as I can see conflicts of interest making an appearance..
- 360buy’s Eight Profit Strategies – 360Buy is a Chinese company that fascinates me. They have the Alibaba group to contend with on a daily basis (I can only imagine how taxing battling Alibaba is) and have 8 things that they consider profit strategies. If you add them together then it seems like a version of Alibaba that will make profit for 360Buy.
- China E-Commerce in 2013: An Outlook – Chinese ecommerce is in for a bumpy ride in 2013 in my opinion. It literally looks like Alibaba vs Tencent vs 360Buy vs the Rest. After reading that article, it left me with one question – when does China become a mature ecommerce market?
- Amazon bigger than Microsoft? What to watch in 2013 from Jeff Bezos & Co. – Geekwire has a look at what Amazon might be in 2013. Amazon Phone, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime, Robots and more. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that there is only 1 person that knows where Amazon is headed and his name is Jeffrey Preston “Jeff” Bezos.
- Analysis: Amazon, Google on collision course in 2013 – Reuters have produced some seriously good content this past week. It is clear to me that Amazon vs Google is a reality. They need one another in certain cases (Android and Forked Android found on the Kindle Fire) and in other cases they are rivals. Bezos is going after industries that can be disrupted and Google is trying to stay relevant.
- Lack Of Online Reviews Hurts Apple’s Online Store [Infographic] – Apple’s retail efforts have been under the spotlight for the last few weeks and in all honesty, the lack of reviews for Apple online store is not in the same league as for any other retailer. Lets be honest, Apple caters for a different part of the market and they have their minds on Apple products many a minute. If you can’t find the reviews on Apple’s website then have a look at gdgt, The Wirecutter or the Verge, it really as is as simple as that..
- How US retailers are building up their online muscle – Retailers are being forced into upskilling their ecommerce operations as Amazon is their biggest concern for sustainability. Shipping / logistics is now the race to the top and if you are left behind, well it is not going to be pretty. Same day delivery is not making eBay a Dollar and it seems that shipping from their physical stores is also problematic. It may seem to be a good idea but it also has huge risks attached to it. Has everyone forgotten about Kozmo and Webvan? The rewards are massive but the risks attached to same day delivery is very large.
- 7 Themes for ecommerce in 2013 – I have been reading predictions for 2013 quite a bit this week and composed the 7 themes (which became 9) post to put words down for what I think 2013 will contain for ecommerce. It is several minutes, hours and a lot of work for folks all across the world. Kidding aside – Personalisation, Mobile, Loyalty programmes and 6 more themes.
- Daily Report: Online Retailers Push Same-Day Shipping – Amazon has a way to get an entire industry to do something without actually doing it themselves. Same day shipping is costly and a logistical nightmare, yet etailers are investing in it. It is great for consumers, but I am still not convinced over the sustainability of it.
- Sushil Choudhari, one of the co-founders of online music site Dhingana.com has teamed up with Madhur Khandelwal, formerly of US based shopping search engine TheFind.com, to launch Shoppingwish.in in India. Price Comparison engines / Comparison Shopping engines in developing markets make a lot of sense, as it helps both business plus consumers.
- “Content and commerce” is hardest for those who need it the most – Content discovery is moving away from traditional media to digital hybrids like online magazines. Content companies have no choice but to go into this head first..
- Click Fraud On Google Shopping? – Google Shopping is now a paid for product and click fraud is now a real possibility. When money is at stake, sock puppets, bots and IP tracing occurs. In house technology controls this process and it needs an attentive merchant and a attentive CSE team to resolve this.
- Fab is now a mobile commerce company: 56% of Christmas sales in the US came from its smartphone apps – Fab.com is one of my muses, I will admit that. It is clear to me that they get mobile commerce, 56% of sales in the US were from apps.. wow!
- As Shoppers Hop From Tablet to PC to Phone, Retailers Try to Adapt – When you browse a product on your mobile phone , tablet and then try and complete the purchase of the same item which is in your shopping cart, it is highly possible that the cart may be empty. These little things define the good from the great ecommerce companies…
- For the Eighth Consecutive Year, Amazon Ranks #1 in Customer Satisfaction During the Holiday Shopping Season – Amazon mentions a lot of great information but does not provide context to the numbers. 306 orders a second on its peak day, I can just imagine teams sitting and watching monitoring software and ensuring that peak service is provided.