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

By Hendrik Laubscher

Search Results for: "Amazon"

Google and Product Search

I have been reading and thinking about the latest edition of the ecommerce cold war between Google and Amazon.

Google Inc. plans to push deeper into online commerce by enhancing its Google Shopping service with features that more directly challenge Amazon.com Inc.

Google has approached retailers about creating a “buy” button for its online shopping site that would be similar to Amazon’s popular “one-click ordering” feature, according to people familiar with the discussions.

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that Google has serious concerns over the ambitions and dominance of Amazon in product search.  Bill Gurley made a very interesting point in a recent interview on Bloomberg (video) where he said that Eric Schmidt said the following when asked about their biggest competitor:

If you are looking to buy something, perhaps a tent for camping, you might go to Google or Bing or Yahoo or Qwant, the new French search engine. But more likely you’ll go directly to Zalando or Amazon, where you can research models and prices, get reviews, and pay for your purchase all at once. Research by the Forrester group found that last year almost a third of people looking to buy something started on Amazon — that’s more than twice the number who went straight to Google.

For one thing, these companies are each others’ biggest competitors, because in tech competition isn’t always like-for-like. Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don’t think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon. They are obviously more focused on the commerce side of the equation, but, at their roots, they are answering users’ questions and searches, just as we are.

The context is important here – Schmidt was talking to a European audience at a time when he was defending Google’s business to European legislators whom are currently looking at Antitrust cases for Google’s various businesses. The point is that Amazon was until this conversation never publicly mentioned as a search competitor for Google huge search index.

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The big battle for ecommerce domination

It is the month of February and  Q4 seems like a lifetime away. I am beginning to see one story develop in more detail as time goes by. Ecommerce in North America is becoming a battle between Amazon and Google. It is Jeff Bezos vs Larry Page, the State of Washington vs California and it all boils down to owning the commerce vertical online.

Background

Regular readers will be aware that I believe that Amazon is the gold standard for ecommerce. Their value proposition is attractive for customers and they control the entire ecommerce value chain when a customer acquires a product from them. The only thing that Amazon does not have a 100% control over is logistics, the final step to getting the product into the hands of the customer. I believe that Amazon is solving that problem by coming closer to their customer’s location through fulfillment centre’s.

Google on the other hand is a technology company not really sure what it’s core offering is. It is a media company (via Adwords, Product Listing Ads), a lobbying behemoth (they spent $18 million dollars in Washington, as seen in the graph below), a mobile operating system company (via Android and Motorola Mobility), provide analytics and software for business (Google apps). It is becoming clear that they have ambitions for retail which makes sense. Increasingly it is being shown that they also want to be part of ecommerce.

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The 10 e-commerce stories for the week ending 28 December 2012

Logistics is now a battleground, Apple and Google fighting over mobile, Amazon says a lot but it has no meaning and news from China, India and Malaysia.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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”.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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Direct to customer startups partnering with Target, Nordstrom and Amazon?

When I compiled my newsletter over the weekend – I added a new section to it. Direct to customer ecommerce is something that stumbled across and have over the last few months looked at in depth. However these direct to customer businesses are now using Target, Nordstrom and Amazon as a channel to reach new customers. This is a double sided agreement as the startups involved (Harry’s, Bevel and now Casper) are providing these older businesses with the opportunity to access a new customer base.

Ecommerce is at a cross roads

If your business is not called Amazon, ecommerce is increasingly becoming more complex as customers demand Amazon like experiences (shipping and customer service) and that requires investment both in people and capital. Investors are also more looking at these direct to customer startups as they are ultimately margin businesses at scale. Instead of spending X on a product and selling it via multiple channels that take their own commissions these business are going straight to the customer and passing on that savings directly to the customer.

After Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever for a billion dollars the signs were clear – niche specific startups with founders that have deep domain experience creating great products are reasonable prices are the future. There is only one giant that can slow down Amazon and that is Walmart due to its scale and potential to invest in providing customers with pricing similar to that seen on Amazon.

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Amazon launches the Kindle FireTV & Amazon Dash, Homeshop18 to IPO – eCommerce stories of the week

Flipkart and Mynta to merge?, Google licenses Room 77 software, Alibaba will impact e-tailing in the US, Online Fashion: A Venture Scale Opportunity That Silicon Valley Does Not Understand, Amazon launches the Kindle FireTV & Amazon Dash,  Homeshop18 to IPO , Amazon builds India business quietly, Fanatics announces Doug Mack as new CEO and much more

Last week was one of my favorite ecommerce weeks of the year. Amazon announced that they are to announce their results and Bezos’s typical shareholder letter contained a few nuggets. Let me say this, Amazon missed a huge marketing moment by not having Bezos unveil the new Kindle FireTV. If Amazon wants to play in the same ecosystems as Google, Alibaba and Apple then Bezos needs to be used more as a marketing angle. So where was Bezos, as seemingly not even Amazon staffers knew his location ( loved the New York times asking Bezos to call his office)? I suspect he was in Seattle ensuring that the AmazonDash launch goes without any hiccups, don’t tell me he was completing the ComiXology purchase, that was completed months ago by Jeff Blackburn (folks, trust me the Internet mergers and acquisitions space is one that is controlled by CEO’s, lawyers and secrecy).

Talking of mergers, in India the merger between Myntra and Flipkart is supposedly almost complete. India is clearly the current battle ground for ecommerce investors such as eBay, Amazon, Tiger Global, Naspers and Accel. The flipkart deal in my mind is another step in market consolidation in Indian ecommerce. Tiger Global and Accel got tired of doing investments in 2 companies that are battling eBay and Amazon. Rather invest into 1 powerhouse and move towards a point of market ownership. Flipkart, as much as their management will deny will buy businesses in verticals that they believe they are weak in.

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Alibaba & Amazon comparison; Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart are the big 3 in mobile, Meet Vipshop – eCommerce Stories Of The Week

Alibaba & Amazon comparison, Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart are the big 3 in mobile commerce, Meet Vipshop  and much more

It is Black Friday today in the US and having a look around the globe this marketing driven event is clearly now part of global ecommerce. Merchants worldwide have decided to latch on to the day in which buy, buy and more buy is the goal for shoppers. Walmart had major performance issues which lead to unhappy customers and in Nigeria, Konga was surprised by all the shoppers accessing their sales. I am going to be tackling this topic in the coming weeks as I believe the phenomenon could also be adversely effecting ecommerce businesses..

The Alibaba and Amazon comparisons have begun. I can honestly say that I think it will only be gaining more momentum as when Alibaba goes public I think the Yangtze crocodile will be swimming into North America. Let me state that I believe global commerce is in for a massive shake-up as Alibaba with capital is going to be a disruptor. Amazon has clearly accelerated their investment into logistics and one has to wonder if that was to counter the possible entry of Alibaba in North America? Alibaba has scale and they can directly compete with Amazon..

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Amazon acquires Twitch, Alibaba to IPO in September – eCommerce news of the week

Amazon has gone up a few gears and are moving at a speed I have not seen before. First they subtly tell the world that they are working on an advertising product to rival Google’s advertising monopoly and then the Seattle-based behemoth acquires Twitch. Currently it feels like Bezos is asking questions to the Google founders because they are trying to get into the vertical that Amazon dominates (ecommerce).

I think the Twitch purchase was based on a few factors: Twitch did not get the answers it desired from Youtube. Secondly – Amazon has always bought content based business – DPreview, IMDB, goodreads etc, so this is not a completely new thing. Twitch adds a few things to Amazon’s business – a community to are deeply connected with gaming (ads to a gamer will lead to conversions and sales while watching a video of someone playing). It adds another data source to Amazon enormous data-based business model and as VC, Mackey Craven points out this might be also for technology.

Alibaba is to IPO in September with trading of shares to begin from the 8th. This is the moment the entire ecommerce industry has been waiting for. It changes the entire industry as suddenly there is a new player that has a lot of cash that can go into underserved markets. I expect them to do something big in the US to rattle Amazon’s & eBay’s cages. I am speculating but believe they will acquire a few businesses in South East Asia and move aggressively in markets such as Latin America, the Middle East and India. Rocket Internet and Zalando’s IPO’s are also potentially affected by this IPO – if the market accepts it (unlike what happened to facebook) I suspect their IPO’s to be at the end of September.

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AmazonFresh to open in San Francisco, Amazon and Drones, Wayfair to hit $1 Billion after a massive year – eCommerce stories of the week

AmazonFresh to open in San FranciscoAmazon and Drones, Wayfair to hit $1 Billion after a massive year, Zalora raises more capital and much more

The week that contained Cyber Monday had a story that dominated the press for the entire week. Drones, drones and drone delivery by Amazon is the easiest summary after Jeff Bezos gave 60 Minutes an exclusive look at the future. It is clear that Bezos hit a nerve as Eric Schmidt said that drones must be banned. Funny how driver less cars are OK..eBay CEO John Donahoe called Amazon’s drone ambitions “long term fantasies”, funny how there is no mention of his own plan for shoppers to be delivery people..

The point is that Amazon is going to be pushing the envelope as they are willing to take risks. Lest we forget that Amazon already has an army of robots that will save them up to a billion dollars in warehouse inefficiencies. I would love to know how much free marketing this drone story got Amazon the evening before Cyber Monday.

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Flipkart raises a billion, Amazon has a bad quarter – eCommerce stories of the week

The week is in the record books and a few stories dominated the ecommerce industry. Unconfirmed reports that Flipkart is / has raised a billion dollar round. This round of capital is supposedly led by DST, Tiger Global and Accel Industries. Flipkart has me scratching my head – it is burning cash at astounding rates?  I get the feeling that investors are interested in the company due to the size of the opportunity in Indian ecommerce. Is this the last round of investment before an IPO? What will the company be doing with the fresh round of capital? I believe that Flipkart will be looking to augment their mobile commerce efforts – thus a mobile wallet / payment startup is a target. I suspect that some of the cash will be going to a new facility for the staff to work at (not to be confused with a distribution center). Is Flipkart going to be the Indian version of Alibaba?

The week also contained Amazon results and lots of blogposts and opinions have been made public about the companies poor performance. Lets recap what the company has done in 2014 – launched Kindle Fire TV, launched a Fire phone, invested heavily in Prime and grocery delivery. Then Amazon has been hiring new staff in all of their various businesses, spend millions on new content for their video platform and is facing pressure in their Webservices business which has lead to discounts for customers. Put all of that together and it is clear that Amazon is spending any profit back into their business which is what Bezos has been doing for the last 10 years. Is Bezos testing WallStreets patience or is WallStreet willing to continue to believe in Amazon and Bezos?

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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.

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Amazon Prime increases price, Tencent invests into JD.com – eCommerce stories of the week

Aramex streamlines Middle East deliveries with launch of My Address, Zulily to spend heavily to fill mid-level manager gap, sparked by insane growth rate, Alibaba resorts to mobile app platform to keep afloat, eBay M&A History and Trends, Central European ecommerce to grow to €93.3bn, Amazon raises the cost of Prime by $20, A pivotal moment in Chinese Internet history as Tencent-JD Tie-Up Takes Aim at Alibaba and much more

The last 2 weeks have been full of news and in most cases the news will have industry impact for a considerable amount of time. Amazon increasing the price of Prime is not unexpected as I believe Amazon has had no choice but to increase the price of the worlds best loyalty programme. The reality is that there is no other service for users to go to but in most cases the value exceeds the costs of Prime.

The biggest news without a doubt over the last 2 weeks is the investment of Tencent into JD.com. I see it as a defensive move on the part of Tencent prior to Alibaba going public. Alibaba is rumoured to be raising $15B and then will be in a position to invest aggressively into local and international businesses. If Tencent did not invest into JD.com then they were in a position to get seriously beaten in commerce in China and in Asia.

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Amazon vs Hachette, Alibaba updated IPO prospectus – eCommerce stories of the week

I have been ill and thus am still catching up on reading all the stories that have happened in the ecommerce industry over the last week. There are 2 major stories that has my attention at the moment – Amazon is currently in tough negotiations with Hachette and Warner Brothers.  Secondly, Alibaba has updated their IPO prospectus after the initial draft was deemed lacking of detail (critical detail I might add).

I wrote in 2012 that Amazon is potentially its biggest competitor and the happenings of the last 2 weeks have reinforced my belief that Amazon needs to be careful regarding supplier negotiation. Hachette’s books not being in search results or having buy buttons on their product pages only affect one company – Amazon. Remember that Amazon is the starting point for users looking to purchase products and if the products are not available, users will leave the Seattle based based and head off to Walmart, Google Shopping. What complicates this situation is that Amazon is the largest seller of books in the US (I would not be surprised if it was the same for DVD’s etc).  Clearly there is more this story but Amazon is having to play defence at a time in which ecommerce is changing due to a Chinese behemoth…

Alibaba on the other hand have filed an updated IPO filing with additional details such as key partners and more details about their 2 marketplaces (Tmall and Taobao). I find the timing of the unveiling of 11main also very interesting – it feels to me like it is almost a research and development business that will lead to a bigger acquisition. Alibaba is going to be controversial – the partnership structure as well as how the business is structured is going to pose questions for would be investors. As I said and keep saying – this will change ecommerce as an industry unlike any other IPO.

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Google to take on Amazon, Flipkart growing too fast? – eCommerce stories of the week

The week is in the history books and it contained news that will have significant impact on ecommerce over the next 12 – 18 months. Google is to increase their investment into same day delivery to the rumored amount of $500 million. Commerce is one of the few online industries in which Google is not the dominant first point of contact for Internet users. In terms of their core business (which is advertising) the fact that Amazon is the first place on which customers search for products means that Google is losing the opportunity to show ads and make revenue.

Flipkart is at the moment the market leader in ecommerce in India. They are raising money at astounding rates and will most probably IPO in the next 12 months. Flipkart is having to battle Amazon in India which is burning the cash they raised. They are supposedly looking to raise another $500 million before they go public but I keep wondering whether they are growing too fast – what Amazon took 20 years build, Flipkart has almost done in 25% of the time.

Alibaba is also on route to their IPO. The investment banks are all trying to get a piece of the action as the money they will make from this event is astonishing. Goldman Sachs was an early investor in Alibaba and then sold their stake way too early. Goldman Sachs invested  $3.5 million and then sold that stake for $22 million in 2004 – I wonder what that stake would be worth today?

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Etsy buys Grand St, Amazon test logistics network – eCommerce stories of the week

Target sees product subscriptions as a big push to counter the ‘Amazon Effect’, Birchbox announces $60M Series B investment, Wal-Mart will turn the electronic receipt into a sales tool, Russians flocking to Taobao, Etsy buys Grand St, Amazon test it’s own logistics network and much more

This past week is one that influences ecommerce greatly. Amazon posted its Q1 results and has in the process finally come clean about one of their great challenges. Shipping/ logistics costs are becoming increasingly seen as a large balance sheet problem. Let me be clear – for any ecommerce business – the costs for shipping items to customers is a large challenge. From a business point of view – businesses can either put the shipping costs into the profit margins on products or pass the shipping costs on to the customers. Amazon has for years taken the costs through its Amazon Prime business but clearly the Seattle based business is looking for a way in which they can distribute some of that costs to other sellers (marketplace) or platforms (owning the last mile).

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eBay acquires Shutl, same old Amazon seen in quarterly results, Fab redesigns – Ecommerce stories of the week

eBay acquires Shutl and is subject to an investigation, same old Amazon seen in quarterly results, Fab redesigns and much more.

It was a bumper news week for the ecommerce industry. Amazon announced a second quarter in which they made a loss but their stock price increased. I have been thinking about Amazon.com in some detail and think these quarterly results is only giving the world a partial look at the Seattle based business. Amazon has increased their free shipping amount for the first time in 10 years to $35 and then in the analyst call mentioned that “millions of Prime members were added in the last quarter.” Coincidence? I think not.

Google is increasingly using maps and local to compete with Amazon. For me the hypocrisy seen in the last few weeks regarding Hummingbird, Banner ads in Search and these new PLA managment campaigns are all designed to do one thing – make Google more money. I can honestly say – Google is no saint but their “we care about our users” line can be kept in Mountain view meetings. Anyone notice that since Marissa Mayer left all the things she stood for has been changed.

Alibaba has not yet decided where they want to do their IPO. First it was Hong Kong, then New York and now Hong Kong is seemingly back in the good books of Alibaba management. The bigger story is that Alibaba has unveiled an investment group that will be seen in the US. I personally think Alibaba is going to hard into the US. Why? Jack Ma wants to show Amazon, eBay and other that his company is the most powerful ecommerce business in the world. He will invest in startups like ShopRunner, Fanatics and others. Alibaba will be able to invest a few billion if they want to.

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Amazon starts ringing the cost changes, eBay upsets users – eCommerce news of the week

We are 2 weeks away from Christmas day which will be the crescendo of all online shopping globally. Did planning in earlier quarters return value? How many satisfied customers did your business have? The point is the month of November and December is when business weaknesses or strength are shown to the world. Amazon has been making changes all over the place – I suspect their change in pricing for AmazonFresh users in Seattle is going to lead to a lot of new subscribers for Instacart. Also Amazon seems to be taking a lot more control this year with regards to shipping than previous years. I wonder how UPS feels about that change? Bezos is at the moment showing that the Kiva purchase is adding a lot of speed and optimisation to the sorting and shipping at various Amazon warehouses.  However Amazon has made some uncharacteristic errors with fulfillment in the UK and I have to wonder whether the robots have anything to do with that.

On the otherside of the equation in ecommerce is eBay. First rumors first broke by the WSJ on a move to cut 3000 (10%) of the marketplace workforce. It seems that John Donahoe current eBay CEO will be leaving the marketplace board and only joining PayPal’s board in 2015. I am not buying the fact that he wants to provide Devin Wenig the room to do what he seems fit. Would this be case if eBay’s marketplace business was in a strong / dominant position? I tend to doubt that.

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Amazon to invest $2 Billion in India, Nordstrom buys Trunkclub – eCommerce news of the week

Amazon waited all of 24 hours for Flipkart to officially announce their $ 1 Billion fund raising amount to announce that they will be investing $2 billion into India. This is a big deal for a few reasons – it is clear that India is an important part of Amazon’s future thus they did not wait to announce this massive investment into Amazon.in. It clearly is an arms race between Flipkart and Amazon for market leadership in Indian ecommerce but I cant help but wonder this leaves Snapdeal. Does Snapdeal look for more investment? I am honest when I say Indian ecommerce has me thinking – is it the size of the opportunity that is leading to this investment race? Is it investor angst that India might become another China? Those not familiar with Chinese ecommerce – the market is dominated by one company (Alibaba) and international investors got shun by local investors. I don’t necessarily think that Indian ecommerce is at all similar to Chinese ecommerce but there are definitely similarities.

The other big news is the TrunkClub acquisition done by Nordstrom. I believe Nordstrom to be one of a handful of retailers that understands ecommerce; thus they continue to acquire ecommerce businesses that will provide them long term sustainability. Every acquisition that Nordstrom has done is to provide them with scale in a part of retailer that they were lacking. Their investment into Bonobos was to ensure that they have a front row seat at the men’s fashion industry. Hautelook was to ensure that they could provide their digital clients with a selection of deals. Trunkclub is in my opinion a combination of a lifestyle and business acquisition. Lifestyle is to be able to provide male clients with a stylist to help them solve a clothing situation. The business part is to add this on top of their own business to their clients. I am a Nordstrom fan (visit their stores when I am in the US) and believe that they will continue to acquire ecommerce companies that fit their needs).

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Newegg launches a Prime competitor, Alibaba valued at a $150 billion and Amazon enters Brazil – eCommerce stories of the week

Aramex shows good results from its emerging markets theory, Amazon adds Flow to its mobile app, Flash sales have to go mobile or they will die, Newegg launches a Prime competitor, Alibaba valued at a $153 billion, Amazon enters Brazil with the Kindle, Wayfair valued at $2 billion and much more.

I have a question which is bordering on being rhetorical but it is worth ponder over. What is the total amount of money spent in ecommerce to counter Amazons total domination of the business? In the 20 years of its existence there has been billions of dollars invested to counter the movements of the Seattle based online retailer. They are currently single-handily changing the ecommerce ecosystem through most competitors going to the marketplace model (longtime readers will be aware that I don’t think that is a good idea) and indirectly leading to competitors going out of business. Amazon is the only business that can make little or no profit and the financial world is fine with it. The current race to compete with Amazon Prime is another economic impact for Walmart, eBay and now Newegg. So with that as background how many billions has been spent on combating Amazon?

Alibaba has been valued at a $153 billion but the more I read the more I wonder what businesses will be part of the IPO? From an investor point of view I believe they will be hoping for Tmall. Taobao and Alibaba, Alipay and Aliexpress but I think it will be Tmall, Alibaba and Aliexpress. I would be surprised if any other businesses are floated but I am speculating at the moment…

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Amazon misunderstood, Fab buying and changing, China ecommerce grows – Ecommerce stories of the week

Amazon Misunderstood?, fab buys assets and announces a massive change, Chinese ecommerce continues to show no sign of slowing down and much more

Is Amazon misunderstood? Eugene Wei wrote a very insightful post on his previous employer. I understand what he says in terms of Amazon’s goals being out in the open but my question is what makes Amazon different? Customer centric is great, long term thinking is Bezos’s way of speaking to WallStreet but name me one other business that is so overvalued like Amazon? Take away Bezos and the Amazon.com name and I am willing to say that investors would call for the CEO’s head and investors will not be keen on investing. I am going to tackle the topic in the coming weeks as it is has been on my mind.

Fab.com continues to acquire assets and make radical changes. Bradford Shelhammer becoming an advisor is symptomatic of a company that needs a long look at itself. I initially liked the fab.com concept as I believe flash sales is not going to disappear from the ecommerce vertical model chart. Why? You are providing an win for both the brand can customer. Why can businesses like Vente-Privee, One Kings Lane and Markafoni continue to be successful? Simple, leadership and long term belief in the model. I am beginning to think Jason Goldberg is maybe on the similar road to what Andrew Mason was a year ago..

China and Chinese ecommerce has also been on my mind.  I believe that the ecommerce world is not giving Alibaba enough respect and as soon as they IPO the global ecommerce landscape is going to change. Consider the following hypothetical situation – Alibaba is valued at $150 billion dollars and have $15 billion dollars in the war chest to disrupt markets? Chinese Internet companies will always be black swans as they have scale not seen anywhere in the world. Suddenly – the whole ecosystem changes as top talent will be going to these companies, they will be able to acquire their way into markets and as they have billions in the bank they can crush companies. I have spent the last 6 months pondering about global ecommerce – spoken to a variety of thoughtleaders and have realised Chinese companies are about to start aggressively moving into markets. Alibaba and Tencent have already started the process and that should leave many of us to ponder our businesses.

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Amazon posts results, JD to IPO and leaked Twitter commerce screenshots – eCommerce stories of the week

One Kings Lane raises money (almost a billion dollar valuation), Gilt offers logistics to a competitor, PayPal pitching Apple on Payments, Walmart trying to gain ground from Amazon, Amazon posts results, JD.com to IPO, leaked Twitter commerce screenshots and much more.

Phew – what a week of ecommerce news with lots of permutations for the rest of the year. The big story was clearly Amazon’s Q4 report and it was a bumper festive season for the US’s biggest ecommerce business. “Net sales increased 20% to $25.59 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $21.27 billion in fourth quarter 2012. Excluding the $258 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales grew 22% compared with fourth quarter 2012.” The problem is that the company only made $238 million in profit or 51 cents per share on revenue of $25.59 billion. Amazon continues to make razor thin profits. Interestingly, the company mentioned that they will be increasing the price of Amazon Prime by either $20 – $40 per year for users. The increase in Prime pricing will not be a difficult value proposition for users in the US.

JD.com has filed for an IPO in the US and aims to raise $1.5 billion from the IPO. The irony in this is quite priceless as JD.com (360buy.com) has been playing second fiddle to Alibaba in China yet will be IPO’ing before the commerce behemoth. It will be interesting to see the appetite for shares from JD.com.

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