A blog on eCommerce, Social Commerce, Comparative Shopping Engines & Business

By Hendrik Laubscher

Search Results for: "souq"

Souq raises $75M, a United eBay, Birchbox to open physical store – eCommerce stories of the week

Thoughts on ecommerce scaling from a VC, Flipkart to allow advertising ala Amazon, Amazon to add advertising into mobile search results, Souq raises $75M, a United eBay, Birchbox to open physical store, The death of flash sales and much more

Revenue generation for ecommerce businesses is currently a hot topic as business models are being re-looked as venture capital is flowing into ecommerce. Amazon and Flipkart announces new channels to make revenue from merchants (advertisements inside mobile search results and adding advertising from merchants on the website of the marketplace) in the same week cant be seen as a coincidence. Why is there this current topic making its way thorough the industry? Clearly this is a topic that needs a long post but to summarise, I believe that investors are looking at strategies to protect themselves against market forces such as the impending Alibaba IPO, global economic changes and most importantly more efficient usage of capital.

Clearly Amazon is a force that will not be ever redone but lessons from them are slowly being seen in the ecommerce market. Are we in a bubble? Marc Andreessen, Fred Wilson and other VC’s are not willing to say “yes we are” or “no we are not”. Simple question is ridiculous  valuations of ecommerce businesses such as Zalando, Fab.com and others not a sign that the market is in a critical phase?

Suchurita Mulpuru from Forrester wrote a great post on the need for a United eBay (one that contains PayPal) and I must say I agree. eBay has gone thorough one of the most interesting business re-organisations seen in the Internet space but the ecommerce industry needs a company that can compete against Amazon in the US market. PayPal outside the US in developing markets like Russia and Brazil ensure that customers can purchase products cross border. John Donahoe and his management needs to be commended for getting Skype off the books of eBay. This is a developing story and one which I think will be getting quite a bit of coverage in the month of April.

Continue Reading

Noon.com is going to struggle in MENA ecommerce

Noon.com is going to battle to grow market share in the Middle East ecommerce market. Amazon purchasing Souq.com might be one of their more prudent acquisitions and have huge long term upside for Amazon and Middle East customers. Noon.com is yet to launch and seemingly are going to struggle to catch up to Souq.com.

Troubles at Noon.com

In hindsight one can now understand why Emaar Malls bid $800 million to acquire Souq in the midst of the Amazon acquisition talks. As a mall operator that has a dominant business in the Middle East and online platform like Souq could have negative future impact for eMaar Malls. What Emaar Malls did not bargain on is that the shareholders of Souq.com would ultimately sell to Amazon for $580 million. One of the most underrated elements of Amazon’s impact on global ecommerce is their ability to negotiate fair pricing for the businesses they acquire.

Souq, led by its founder, Syrian entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar, fills an important geographic gap for Amazon. The e-commerce company sells nearly 2 million products — books, electronics, toys, home products, and more — to customers in countries such as United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

The domain experience that the Souq team has is not to be undervalued and thus it is obvious to see why eMaar Malls would want to purchase the business at a significantly higher price.


Joining the Amazon family will enable us to drive further growth, benefit from their technological investment, offer an even wider product selection through worldwide sourcing, deliver an enhanced customer service experience, as well as continue Amazon’s great track record of empowering sellers locally and globally.


Continue Reading

The eBay Turnaround that Never Had to Be, Zalora to IPO?, Amazon rejected in Czech Republic – eCommerce stories of the week

Modnique Launches into Four More Countries, Amazon hikes the price of Prime in Europe, The eBay Turnaround that Never Had to Be, Zalora to IPO?, Amazon rejected in Czech Republic, Snapdeal to be a the most interesting IPO in Indian ecommerce?, The phases of commerce and much more

It has been an interesting week in ecommerce to say the least. Lots of interesting news on acquisitions, businesses planning to IPO and strategic changes made by businesses. The changes are almost all related to Amazon which clearly is going to be increasing the price of their Prime shipping product. The sign that kind of gives that indication is the change in pricing seen in the UK and Germany. Amazon will lessen the change by offering additional services to customers in the various markets in which prime operates. In the US, I suspect that the addition of a TV Box will be seen as a reason to pay for the price increase. They have already added Lovefilm in Europe to lessen the price change in the mind of their customers. Amazon has also added Kindle coins to their businesses as a further sign of the importance of their appstore which is primarily aimed at Kindle Fire owner.  Gaming, video and book content is the target purchases for users of Kindle coins inside apps.

Continue Reading

Alibaba goes public – eCommerce news of the week

The long awaited Alibaba IPO has come and gone. The Chinese behemoth went public amid a huge amount of PR and celebration. Needless to say – I believe that it is a line in the sand moment. We will most probably look back at the past week in years to come as a watershed moment for Chinese technology companies.

Alibaba – a Chinese company now has billions of opportunities to disrupt regions, single markets or competitors. The major story that broke on the day of the IPO was that Alibaba was supposedly looking into funding Snapdeal. If that is the case then Indian ecommerce is the first market in which all of the heavy weights are seen competing. Alibaba will be looking at going into India, the Middle East and Latin America as currently they have little or no presence there. I cant help but feel that a lot of the investment into Alibaba is more an investment into China than in the company itself..

In the next 6 months we will get an idea on how profitable Alibaba really is. I believe strongly that in the last 12 months they did a lot of promotional events to ensure that their IPO prospectus have a lot of amazing numbers.

Secondly – I also think that a fair comparison to Amazon is still in order – are they really that profitable? I understand that they don’t have logistics and last mile delivery like Amazon does, but with the exclusion of the massive Chinese scale – this business does seem to be to good to be true.

Continue Reading

Why Facebook should buy eBay

I have been thinking about an article I read on PYMNTS regarding Facebook  and its Bay Area almnus eBay. There are a few things at play here which needs to be unpacked – who can acquire eBay, eBay’s decline and does Facebook make sense for eBay’s shareholders.

Pierre Omidyar started AuctionWeb that would become eBay and be a shareholder darling in the early 2000’s. eBay was an catalyst that put online auctions in front of millions of customers who looked for long tail items. Items such as Omidyar’s well documented broken PEZ holders (which turned out to be a myth), stamps, baseball cards and more was the items that drove eBay’s growth. The eBay alumni are found all over the ecommerce ecosystem in various senior roles and some have become investors into ecommerce.


Investors have been unhappy with eBay since John Donahoe took over from Meg Whitman but eBay as a commerce giant died the day they split from PayPal. Donahoe joined the PayPal board and Devin Wenig has been trying to grow a business that has lost its identity and key staff.


Continue Reading

Amazon to reach $100 billion in 2014?, Car buying revolutionized, Price Machine Offers Unbiased Shopping Insight – eCommerce news for the week

Amazon to reach $100 billion in 2014?, Car buying revolutionized, Price Machine Offers Unbiased Shopping Insight, E-retailers join the marketplace race and much more.

It is the first week of 2014 in the record books, the week contained some references to issues experienced over the festive season by Amazon etc but in terms of news it was a slow week. Call it the calm before the storm (the year) or just that most businesses were either closed or running skeleton staff.

I think the coming year is going to contain a theme that will most probably be getting a lot of attention by the big ecommerce businesses, logistics. If Amazon and eBay really want to disrupt retail as they claim then they will need to invest into logistics. Call me crazy, but I think there is a lot more behind Amazon’s partnership with USPS than what people are talking about.. For Amazon to grow and become completely dominant in the US they will need to own the last mile in terms of delivery. UPS, I suspect will be doing a lot more planning for festive 2014 than that was seen in last few weeks of 2013.

Continue Reading

UPS fails to deliver, Jingdong has 16 billion reasons to celebrate 2013 and the hidden side of ecommerce returns – eCommerce stories of the week

UPS fails to deliver, Jingdong has 16 billion reasons to celebrate 2013, the hidden side of ecommerce returns, Alipay flexes its financial muscles, Line partners with Rakuten’s Tarad.com and much more

The festive season is over and one company got badly burnt by the bad weather and lateness of orders – UPS. UPS has been getting quite a bit of press over their inability to deliver all Christmas packages by Christmas day. A few things need to be kept in mind – global economics ensured that customers shopped until the last minute for Christmas in the hope of better deals. Amazon gained a million customers for their Prime membership which I am guessing leads to 20 million customers paying for expedited shopping. I cant believe that UPS did not plan for this – in actual fact I think the last minute shopping lead to a surge in packages that nobody took into consideration.

UPS ships 40% of Amazon’s deliveries annually but I wonder whether this issue will lead to a strained relationship in 2014? The one company that gained from UPS’s misfortune – Target.

Continue Reading

The 10 e-commerce stories for the week ending 23 November 2012

Black Friday stories, Tiger Direct consolidates, A virtual measuring tape, E-commerce industry insights from Turkey, India, South Africa and Brazil.

What a week, that is the first thing that I can think of when reflecting about the last 5 working days. Today is Black Friday in the United States and my inbox looks in pretty bad shape, the intensity of this years marketing by eretailers feels to have gone up a notch. Black Friday made in appearance in South Africa as eretailers try to get on the bandwagon (Expect a post on this topic in the coming days) of a phenomenal day for retail in the US.

Amazon this week did something I was expecting. It threw down the gauntlet to Google with a very clever concept called Amazon pages. It is a Pinterest like execution designed to draw more content around Amazon’s rubik’s cube. Bezos in my opinion never does anything for free and there is always a strategy around everything done by Amazon.com. The pages concept to me feels like a challenge to Google as this product will have content that is not found in the Google index. This topic is going to be one that is to be revisited as Amazon is in a mode I have never seen before. Bezos has been calculated and slowly making moves in publishing, advertising and technology; the difference is that this is being managed by Amazon with how much is shown to the world controlled by them.

E-commerce in developing nations is pretty close to home for me. I live in a developing economy, have it as my occupation and it is something I am pretty interested in. The next phase of ecommerce in my mind is a shift towards new battle grounds which will see the eBays, Amazons of the developed ecommerce markets going into regions where a Buscape, MercadoLibre, Alibaba, Flipkart, Souq, Trendyol or Ozon is found. In my mind platforms, resources and execution is going to be what determines who survives..

Continue Reading

Alipay and Stripe make a deal, Amazon to become a publisher? – eCommerce stories of the week

The week for ecommerce was a quiet one in terms of news but some news stories are going to be driving the ecommerce landscape in the next 18 months. The one company not involved with the Alibaba IPO, Alipay struck a deal with Stripe, the new hot payments startup. Alipay is the company that is going to drive the Alibaba behemoth long term and this partnership with Stripe is massive. It is the first time that I can think of a Chinese payments company makinga deal with a US focused payments startup. This story validates something that I have been thinking about – PayPal is no longer the hot digital payments business. I am fully aware of the past history between eBay and Alibaba but the fact that Alipay has partnered with Stripe speaks volumes.

What is the real story behind the Amazon vs Hachette fight? Amazon supposedly wants better pricing for ebooks and wants to charge publishers for services related to special, ebooks etc. There has been a lot of stories around this but I think that is not the real battle that Amazon is fighting. In the UK, Amazon wants to be able to print books that are no longer available from publishers. Holistically, this makes sense as in the UK and US markets Amazon is one of the biggest book sellers. If Amazon will be able to do this (long term I think it it will happen) right now is another question, it seems unlikely but the process has started and Amazon has placed the book industry on notice again.

Continue Reading

The 10 ecommerce stories for the week of 30 March 2013

Google unveils Shopping express in San Francisco, Amazon acquires Goodreads, Walmart does Lockers as well and much more.

It is April fools day which leads to a complete lack of trust in news today. Readers, my post today is what was news last week and no funny stuff. Last week was an interesting week and I think is a precursor to where the rest of the year is leading to. Google has unveiled their Shopping Express service in San Francisco and surprise surprise the first merchants listed are all retailers that have been burned by Amazon. I think this is a stake in the ground moment for ecommerce. North American ecommerce is clearly Amazon vs Google but the interesting tidbit is that Jeff Bezos was an early investor in Google.  Amazon Prime is the gold standard in terms of logistics and I wonder how many millions of dollars Amazon has spent on it over the years? Yes, I think Google is now a player but they still have considerable work to do to catch up to Amazon.

Talking about Amazon, the Seattle business has acquired Goodreads for $150 million if AllthingsD has it correct. The question is why did it take so long? I think Amazon will continue to buy businesses that can compliment their Kindle ecosystem. I have a feeling that this was also done as a defensive move to ensure that none of the competitors could acquire Goodreads. I always come back to the fact that books and content is key to Amazon’s future. Readmill, you better be ready, Amazon may come knocking soon.

It seems eBay is looking more at the emerging ecommerce markets. Today’s news that they have played a role in the new round of funding in Snapdeal does not surprise me one bit. The BRICS will play a very big role in ecommerce over the coming years. I wonder how eBay is going to approach Russia as that seems their next target.

Continue Reading

The 10 e-commerce stories for the week ending 15 February 2013

Google shutters commerce search and wants do retail, eBay not keen on the new The Marketplace Fairness Act and ecommerce news from Africa, France and Russia

We have gone past the middle of February and this past week was a historic one. It flew below the radar but Amazon this week got the wheels moving on their “tax problem”.  Most ecommerce businesses fear 2 businesses – Google and Amazon (outside North America, Rocket Internet is added to the conversation) and both have a considerable say in what happens in ecommerce. I  believe Jeff Bezos is a master negotiator and many people have said that tax collection was going to become a problem for Amazon.com. However, if you are skating where the puck going is to be then this supposed liability becomes a huge asset. Let me explain.

Amazon has had the advantage of not collecting sales tax in a large part of the company’s history. That tax was never collected as Amazon found ways to ensure that they pay the lowest taxes to ensure their sustainability. Needless to say, that tax money was never collected but that was given to users when they bought via the Internet. Wait what? The money was never given to the user but the fact that Amazon was cheaper than retailers or competitors was and is in some cases a competitive advantage. This is one of the big pillars of the Bezos mantra and something that most business executives don’t understand (the only person that does was Sam Walton). Lower prices is a huge asset for any retail business and Bezos has ensured that his company is seen as being pro-consumer. Low prices and a great experience is one of the big things that drives Amazon. In the last few years tax collection has become something that many thought would cripple Amazon, yet it is becoming increasingly clear that it is becoming asset.Why?

Continue Reading

Design and development by Kevan Stuart