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

By Hendrik Laubscher

Search Results for: "Amazon"

Amazon Coins come to UK & Germany, Magento Becomes Part of eBay Enterprise – eCommerce Stories Of The Week

Amazon Coins come to UK & Germany, Magento becomes part of eBay enterprise, Microsoft closes Bing Shopping , eBay has not given up on China and much more

eBay has finally done what everyone expected when they acquired Magento. They have made it part of eBay enterprise which is the old GSI Commerce. Magento for me has been something of a Pandora’s box regarding the future of this open source shopping cart. eBay is clearly trying to become a platform company that has a dominant platform for users globally and in select markets. A few interesting tidbits to consider – why did eBay wait almost 2 years to announce this? Will Roy Rubin and co stick around and what now happens to the GSI commerce assets? Magento is a shopping cart that has made massive steps forward for small to medium size ecommerce businesses but what happens now? Are they becoming an enterprise solution that no longer focuses on their core business?

eBay are also looking at re-entering China after getting humiliated by Alibaba in the early 2000’s. It is pretty clear to me that eBay wants to be a player in emerging market ecommerce. However, entering markets with clear market leaders is gonna be tough. Consider that with a marketplace that is not eBay’s strength is now seen as asset in India, China and other regions one has to wonder if this is a case of long term thinking or ignorance..

The other big story for the past week is the arrival of Amazon coins in the UK and Germany. The coins is aimed at Kindle Fire owners in the UK or Germany. Virtual Currency is a huge potential revenue maker for Amazon as it will get users to splurge on Amazon content (Games and eBooks) which Amazon already has paid for. The revenue made on the sale of the digital goods is clean profit.

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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.

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Rakuten to enter India, Google acquires Rangespan & Amazon working on computer chips – eCommerce stories of the week

Ozon raises $150M capital, Rakuten to enter India?, Google acquires Rangespan, Amazon working on a computer chips, Mobile users contribute 50% of Snapdeal’s sales, Rakuten Taiwan and Google join forces in e-commerce market, Looks Like Groupon Wants to Take on Costco (And Amazon Pantry, Too) and much more..

Rakuten is talking about entering the Indian ecommerce market. It seems that they are interested in entering the market via a travel business. The Japanese company has global ambitions but I cant help feeling that they are entering the market to late. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon have pretty much sown up the market and entering the market for Rakuten this late will cost millions of Dollars. The travel market is also competitive and thus this concept is one that Rakuten already executes well in Japan. Time will tell what Rakuten wants to do in India but it will be spending lots of money by entering a very competitive landscape.

Groupon has also shown its hand with Groupon Basics. The daily deals business that grew at an astonishing rate has been pivoting over the last 12 months to a combination of local and now pure play ecommerce. The problem that Groupon will face with this vertical is selection. Currently they have a 100 products for sale and the competition (Costco, Amazon Pantry and Sam’s Club) has a much bigger selection. Can Groupon really afford the battle with these grocery behemoths? I think not..

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Alibaba breaks records on Singles day, Amazon partners USPS and a conversation with Sina Afra – Ecommerce stories of the week

Alibaba smashes records on Singles day, the most fraudulent ecommerce countries, Amazon partners USPS,  a conversation with Sina Afra and much more
Folks, I am aware that I am a bit late but I wanted to wait until the end of this day to post anything. Why? Simple today is Singles day in China which has become a statement for Alibaba. If you wanted a sign of the power and the ability to disrupt that Alibaba has then 11 November is that sign. I understand that deep discounts impacted this day but to put it into perspective this is 2.5x Cyber Monday and according to Bloomberg:

The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said transactions on its websites yesterday topped 35 billion yuan ($5.75 billion), surpassing last year’s single-day sales of 19.1 billion yuan.

Amazon then did something that no-one saw coming. It unveiled USPS as its delivery partner for Sunday deliveries. It is not using it’s longstanding logistics partner UPS or FedEx but rather the US Postal Services. Increasingly it looks like Amazon is adding more reasons for users to select Prime as their preferred way to interact with Amazon.

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) is working with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages on Sunday, starting in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas. Amazon Prime members, who receive unlimited, free two-day shipping on millions of items, can now receive their packages on Sunday in these areas. Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service plan to roll out this service to a large portion of the U.S. population in 2014 including Dallas, Houston, New Orleans and Phoenix, to name a few.

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Amazon launches the Fire phone, Alibaba provides more detail – eCommerce stories of the week

The week was one that featured a major story from Amazon and the realities and impact surrounding Alibaba became real. That is the summary of the past week. The Fire phone release was not unexpected but Amazon did cause some head scratching with costs of the device. I am writing a larger post of the Fire phone as the implications of it – is not to be underestimated.

Alibaba’s impact on Asian and global commerce is now in the public domain. The updated SEC filing contained a variety of details about Tmall and Taobao. Every ecommerce executive should take a look at the impact of this Chinese behemoth has had in its home market and consider the impact it can have on your market. The next set of questions relates to their IPO – how much money is Alibaba looking to raise? What are the strategic next steps for Alibaba?

Snapdeal seems to be starting the road to an IPO as well. The Indian marketplace is part of Indian ecommerce, which is a hotbed and a capital hungry industry at the moment. The Snapdeal story is one that is interesting – they started as a daily deals business which pivoted to a full price ecommerce business. The business has evolved into a marketplace and has also raised significant capital. The question that both Flipkart and Snapdeal raises for me – on what basis will investors be contributing to their potential IPO’s? Potential of the market, size of the opportunity or long term investment into a new emerging ecommerce market. This will be interesting to follow.

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Amazon to enter Korea?, Apple opens a Tmall store, LivingSocial’s CEO is out – eCommerce stories of the week

Amazon to enter Korea?, Apple opens a Tmall store, LivingSocial’s CEO is out, Google to unveil a new flight comparison service in Europe and much more.

Readers, normal service will now return as the news in the ecommerce space is back to normality. I did not want to write a post in the second week of year as the news section was a bit bare.

If you look at my highlighted stories above you will notice that the stories focus on a trend that I believe we will see a lot of in 2014 – the move to global brands in ecommerce. Amazon is moving into new markets, Apple has opened a store on Tmall and the move towards global ecommerce brands continues. It is clear to me that currently there is a land grab battle going on between the big international ecommerce businesses and the battles are all happening either behind closed doors (funding rounds) or in the public domain (new markets that are being entered).  Add to this the pending IPO of Alibaba, then one can conclude that we are in for an interesting year.

Something else, that I am beginning to see in a variety of markets is consolidation. This is a natural by product of market maturation for me or it could be a case of new businesses looking to become big players in a market. A prime example of this is Groupon, the company that just never wants to become quiet. They have been investing and buying heavily in a wide variety of businesses. Their acquisition of ideeli is a simple case of a distressed platform that needed a buyer. Add to that the acquisition of Ticket Monster then you realise that Groupon is going to be around for a long time. Where does leave LivingSocial?

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Amazon acquires GoPago, MTN enters the commerce race and eBay wants to help retailers – eCommerce news of the week

Amazon acquires GoPago, MTN enters the commerce race, eBay wants to help retailers, Social Network Odnoklassniki Shuts Down E-commerce Marketplace, Alibaba to enter Brazil and much more

It is the second last week of 2013 and on reflection it has been a massive year for ecommerce. Amazon continued to show the lead for all ecommerce but in 2014 will be facing a new competitor indirectly, Alibaba. If I can summarize 2013 into a few thoughts – the globalisation of ecommerce. The ecommerce industry saw significant growth in all markets (Africa, Asia, Europe and both North and South America) and it will continue to grow more speedily in certain markets in 2014.

If I look at the stories of the last week then Amazon acquiring the GoPago technology is one that raises a few questions. It literally is all about the technology and the details from Seattle has been sketchy on this acquisition. I think it is interesting that Amazon will acquire a business only for its technology and then not be able to retain the founder of the business. It is supposedly for an ambitious project – and if I guess it has something to do with collection of bought items.

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Why Alibaba Is a Big Deal, Zalora launches marketplace business in 3 countries, Amazon to buy Sears? – eCommerce stories of the week

High expectations for eBay to prove tech prowessAmazon Launches New Twist on Product Reviews, Pickie Acquired By Digital Coupon Giant RetailMeNot, Snapdeal Buys Product Discovery Portal Doozton, Why Alibaba Is a Big Deal, Zalora launches fashion marketplace in 3 countries, Czech e-commerce giant says Google ‘concessions’ would worsen conditions on local market, Alibaba to Offer Mobile Phone Service in China From June and much more

If you look closely at the stories above then you will notice that ecommerce has become a global business. The global business that in my opinion is getting closer to a major moment (The Alibaba IPO).  We are currently seeing IPO’s at an astonishing rate especially in ecommerce. I have been trying to not think about it, but does everything change when Alibaba becomes a public company? Think about the following – Alibaba was invested and bought at least 5 companies since January 2014. Earlier this week they also announced that from June they will become a mobile network in China (Amazon is an MVNO in the US) but as far as I know no other ecommerce business has gone down the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator). The similarities between Amazon and Alibaba are increasing.

Robin Lewis, whom I respect as a visionary in terms of retail, wrote an opinion piece on his own blog in which Amazon acquires Sears. Initially I thought this was a giant news story but after a few google searches I realised that Lewis was speculating on this acquisition. Why would Amazon spend billions on Sears? The only reason I can see is that Amazon will refactor the Sears retail shops into logistics centers. Bezos has had ample opportunity to invest into retailers such as Borders and more recently Barnes & Noble but I doubt if Amazon will spend the massive amounts of capital to purchase mountains of debt from a retailer which is under stress. Secondly, this is completely against the type of companies which Amazon buys (generally they are entrepreneurial, are small and have books or market leading capabilities in which Amazon has been unable to become market leader..).

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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.

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The Ecommerce Briefing – Snapdeal, Amazon.com

Vani Kola resigns from Snapdeal board – The Economic Times

Snapdeal is a cautionary lesson for ecommerce investors and the Indian ecommerce market. Snapdeal was until Amazon entered India in position 2 in the market and through pivots and lack of focus ultimately lost market position. Snapdeal never innovated to provide Indian customers with something that was not seen on Flipkart and Amazon India. The investor lesson is simple – when you have a large investor (Softbank who also went through changes in leadership) earlier investors had little say about their investment. Kalaari Capital was an early supporter of Snapdeal yet this sudden resignation leads to questions. Flipkart gains an investor, Snapdeal founders get more cash and Indian ecommerce loses a competitor for Flipkart and Amazon.

 

Amazon’s epic 20-year run as a public company, explained in five charts – Recode

Soaring revenue and cash flow, plus intentionally tiny profits is the summary of this once in a generation business. Amazon has consistently disrupted itself to stay relevant and ensured that it remained a customer champion through investment into logistics.

 

 

The 10 ecommerce stories for the week of 06 September 2013

Amazon powers ebook market in Japan, Rakuten acquires Viki, eBay acquires decide.com and much more..

I have had a busy September thus far – travelled to an undisclosed location, thinking about some ecommerce related posts and digesting all the ecommerce news that is hitting my inbox and RSS feeds. Thus you are not seeing things – I am writing catch-up posts that should have been written earlier in September.

Rakuten must feel like they can’t win. They are the dominant ecommerce business in Japan and they have expanded to other markets (UK, Germany and Brazil) but in most cases they end up against one business Amazon.com. Amazon has also not been shy in competing in Rakuten’s backyard and cleaning out certain verticals. I must confess I read Marketplace 3.0 written by the CEO of Rakuten and am left unsure whether Rakuten has the foresight to be able to compete against Amazon, Alibaba and others. Rakuten has also bought business to equip itself against competitors (Kobo etc) but in the greater scheme of things are these businesses scalable to compete against the heavyweights?

Rakuten acquired Viki which can be seen as an entry into the streaming of digital content and also will play a great role in validating Singapore’s startup community. I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot more startups being acquired out of Singapore.

On a sad note – one of my favorite ecommerce businesses will be shutting down at the end of September. Decide.com has been acquired by eBay and will be used in the seller side of the marketplace. I cant help but notice the irony in eBay acquiring a Seattle company to beef up its marketplace business. Decide.com I believe is going to be seen as a mark in the sand as I don’t think this is the last time we will see machine learning and data orientated ecommerce startups flying below the radar. eBay is essentially doing a acquihire of some of the smartest people in ecommerce. eBay will need to ensure that they leverage the decide.com IP as they will add massive value to eBay sellers tools in order to price better etc.

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The Secrets of Bezos, ShopRunner gets funding from Alibaba – Ecommerce stories of the week

The Secrets of Bezos, Shoprunner gets funding from Alibaba, Flipkart raises more capital, Google being investigated in Brazil and Zulily wants to IPO

Readers – don’t stress this is the 10 ecommerce stories for the week of 10 October just with some changes. Moving forward the week ending post will contain the headline stories in the title as the old title was not doing it for me.

We had a bumper week of ecommerce news – Amazon’s secret sauce got into the public eye for the first time. I for one cannot wait for Brad Stone’s book on Amazon. I have a feeling it will become mandatory reading for any ecommerce executive who wants to understand Amazon’s business. I read One Click – the last book on Amazon and felt it was a regurgitation of known news. I think anyone could have guessed that the difference maker at Amazon is its founder Jeff P Bezos. There are 3 people in the ecommerce industry that I view in the same sentence as Bezos – obviously Bezos as the father of ecommerce, Jack Ma from Alibaba whom created a juggernaut. Lastly, the chairman of Naspers Koos Bekker is also in this conversation. All 3 are visionaries, skate where the puck is going to be and speak very seldom to the press. When the speak to the press they always mention the core of their business as the driver of their thinking.  I will be tackling this topic in some more depth in the coming months..

The Story of the week for me is ShopRunner raising $200 million which was lead by Alibaba. It is becoming clear that same day / 2 day shipping business is now where every ecommerce business in North America wants to be in. Amazon started the arms race but ShopRunner is a big story. Why? One – Alibaba leading the round of an potential bolt on is new (I think we will see this occurring a bit more until Alibaba does their IPO). Secondly, ShopRunner is part of the Kynetic stable which is a business I keep reading about. Kynetic was formed by Michael Rubin when eBay acquired GSI commerce and then they spun Fanatics, ShopRunner and Rue La La off into a new entity (Kynetic). ShopRunner is lead by Scott Thompson who was Yahoo!’s CEO until his qualifications got questions. Thompson is playing coy about what the funding will be used for but I think it could be a variety of things (international, additional partners etc).

Flipkart raised an additional $160 million for logistics and investment into payments and ebooks. I have seen this before and the Flipkart story is a beginning to a long journey. A few things stood out for me – only one existing investor took part in this round (Tiger Global Management) and that the round in total was $360 million. That makes the total investment into Flipkart a giant $550 million.

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The 10 e-commerce stories for the week ending 08 February 2013

Amazon unveils Amazon Coins, Google acquires Channel Intelligence, eCommerce industry news from Turkey, Poland and much more

It is Sunday night (which became Monday Night) and if I look back at the past week then the stories from this week is the calm before the storm. The storm refers to the ongoing battles seen in the ecommerce industry across the globe.

Let me be clear, 2013 is slowly becoming a fight between Amazon and Google in the US. Amazon Coins is to be available from early May and is a genius move from Amazon. Virtual currency is huge business in China and something that been lacking in Amazon’s arsenal.  It seems that the currency is to drive usage on the Kindle Fire and also closes the loop in terms of transactions that are to be done on the Amazon appstore. This announcement highlights the fact that apps and ebooks are now a bigger focus for the Seattle behemoth.

The other big story this past week is the Channel Intelligence acquisition by Google. Google is spending millions of dollars on ecommerce and acquisitions to bolster its Google Shopping product. Channel Intelligence is a commerce enabler that has some of the biggest retailers (Target, Best Buy and Staples) in the US as clients. The acquisition poses some interesting questions. One, does all the current clients stay with Channel Intelligence after the Google acquisition? What is the gain from the acquisition for Google Shopping? Also does Channel Intelligence become an autonomous business inside Google? The one thing that this acquisition highlights for me is that data is an important part of Google strategy at regaining market share back from Amazon in ecommerce.

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The 10 ecommerce stories for the week of 2 August 2013

Pinterest shows it’s ecommerce aspirations, Amazon does an experiment with Collections, Insights into rural China ecommerce and much more.

The week that ended on Friday can just as well be called the “week of competitors”. Across the ecommerce landscape competitors had Mexican stand offs with one another. The eBooks saga with Apple has taken a very interesting turn with the judge ordering that Apple should allow outward links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s online bookstores. Apple have already said that they will contest the recommendation from the judge but I wonder how Amazon has kept below the radar on this matter over the years?

Pinterest has finally shown their commerce play but price alerts and extra pin types, really? Well they have been placed on notice by Amazon. Amazon debuted Collections which looks a lot like Pinterest but no-one noticed something else. The facebook like buttons on Amazon product pages have disappeared. Increasingly, I am thinking that Amazon is placing greater emphasis on their own platforms.. I am still not convinced over Pinterest and their future.

Then in China, Alibaba revoked the usage of WeChat by their users. WeChat is a Tencent property (a very large competitor to Alibaba in China but not directly competitive in ecommerce). Increasingly, Alibaba is also becoming more restrictive on their platform which is understandable, yet I cannot wonder whether this is is a platform battle as well?

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Best Buy Launches Its Own Marketplace

The Marketplace concept is one that both intrigues me but it also scares the living daylights out of me. Call it an oxymoron but its greatest strength could be it biggest challenge. Let me explain.

So yesterday when Best Buy announced that is adding a marketplace to its offering..  The first problem that this creates for me is that this is not a unique offering. There are many other online retailers that does it and while it provides additional content to your offering for the long tail it may cause harm.

Best Buy is following Amazon.com, eBay, Mastercard, Sears, Walmart and others in opening an online marketplace that gives consumers access to products from other merchants in addition to its own. According to a Financial Times report, Best Buy is responding to the development of its unintended role as “Amazon’s showroom”, the situation where consumers visit the chain’s stores with smartphones to comparison shop and eventually make their purchases online. CEO Brian Dunn, in a statement, called the Best Buy Marketplace “a key development to our multi-channel platform … that enables consumers to shop how they want and encourages additional reasons to visit and purchase at BestBuy.com.” ANT Online, BeachAudio.com, Buy.com, Mambate, SF Planet and Wayfair are third-party sellers that are participating in the launch of the Best Buy Marketplace.

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The 10 ecommerce stories for the week of 19 July 2013

PLA’s are a direct threat to Amazon, Wayfair to make a billion in revenue by year end, Shopzilla buying Zappli and moving their advertising network across the Atlantic.

Google posted their results this past week and it was reasonable to say the least. However, a few things stood out – Product Listing Ads is now a big revenue driver (not surprising) and it is clear that the move to optimised Adwords ala PLA’s is aimed at Amazon. The other thing that is becoming also more visible is that Google has a mobile problem in terms of revenue. Google is clearly concerned over the impact that Amazon has in ecommerce thus PLA’s are being used as an offense against the Seattle giant.  They have been testing a few things the last few weeks but while mobile is a revenue concern companies have an opportunity to compete with Google.

The most interesting story for me this past week is Shopzilla. This company is in my view the most forward thinking regarding comparison shopping. First, they acquire a mobile commerce business called Zappli which has lead to talent getting bigger roles inside Shopzilla. On a side note here, I wondered why Jody Mulkey left Shopzilla for Ticketmaster and it now makes sense. His position has since been taken by a Zappli executive. Secondly, Shopzilla moving their advertising business to Europe is also indicative of a company trying to leverage their assets in markets that are not as competitive as those seen in the US.

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The Marketplace model is not for every ecommerce business

Earlier this week Crate and Barrel announced that they have added a marketplace to their business.

Home furnishings retailer Crate and Barrel today announced the launch of its new “Crate and Barrel Exclusive Marketplace”, a highly curated marketplace offering consumers a broader selection of products based on Crate and Barrel’s merchandising expertise. Available via the company’s e-commerce site, crateandbarrel.com, the marketplace now offers customers an extended aisle of unique product. Source

I understand the reasoning for adding a marketplace to any ecommerce business. It provides greater selection to customers. The sourcing of select brands can be done at a lower cost in comparison sourcing it directly from brands / manufacturers. Opportunities to create more revenue are created as your selection is increased.

This makes me think back to what Brian Walker mentioned about Amazon’s decision to add the marketplace:

When Jeff Bezos announced to his Amazon staff his concept for the Amazon Marketplace in November 2000, many people — inside and outside Amazon — thought he was crazy. Amazon was inviting in other sellers — individuals and merchants — to compete against Amazon’s owned inventory on Amazon.com.  As full price merchants were added in categories such as consumer electronics, apparel, and baby products in the early 2000s, the head shaking continued. To paraphrase, Jeff Bezos claimed this was about “the world of perfect information.” Customers are going to find the lowest price online if they really want to, and they should be trained to find it on Amazon. Maybe Amazon could grab a piece of the pie along the way. Forrester

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The 10 e-commerce stories for the week ending 25 January 2013

Will Google Shopping Become a Marketplace? Google exceeds expected financial results, Amazon invests in a  text to speech service and much more.

The past week contained quarterly results for Google.  Google exceeded the market expectations primarily due to its advertising business. Google’s results were very interesting as international revenue was 54% of  Q4 revenue generated. The Motorola acquisition is in my mind a long term financial disaster for both companies. Google will continue to sell assets that Motorola Mobility business had until they are left with almost nothing. Did anyone else notice the lack of facts about Google Plus during the results presentation?

One idea that continually raises its head is the thought that Google Shopping might become a marketplace. It makes sense as Google has a lot of services that can be used to create the commerce value chain. Google Wallet, Merchant feeds, Google Trusted Stores, Bufferbox which can be used as a logistics solutions and an advertising platform that be used to build a solid competitor against Amazon. Whether Google wants to play in the marketplace space is another question for another post.

I missed mentioning eBay’s results from the 16th for some unknown reason. I think eBay is no longer a company that can be seen as a commerce nobody. Yes, I know their search is broken and that they are not seen a traditional ecommerce businesses. I must confess, eBay has flown below the radar for a while and I think 2013 is a year in which they make their case for being an Amazon competitor. Yes, I said it. Amazon competitor. Disrupt the disruptor and John Donahoe has done that with his mobile play. In my own mind, eBay is the furthest advanced in terms of of mobile commerce than any of the big players. Thus the lessons they have learned is going to benefit them greatly in the long run..

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Alibaba invests in Haier, Jack Ma named FT’s person of the year, Zalando getting their house in order for an IPO – eCommerce stories of the week

Alibaba invests in Haier, Jack Ma named FT’s person of the year, Zalando getting their house in order for an IPO, Amazon to launch “Pantry”,  Jason Goldberg  tries to provide context on Fab’s problems and much more

Phew what a week, having a look at the highlights – it is becoming more difficult to pick stories to highlight every week. A few major stories happened in the last 10 days which I believe will have a significant impact on ecommerce in 2014. Alibaba is going to be a massive story that will impact everyone in ecommerce, Amazon seems to have grocery shopping on their mind and Zalando will IPO in 2014.

Alibaba and Amazon are known quantities in their respective regions and both businesses have scale that can crush smaller businesses. Alibaba is also an unknown regards to their investments and long term plans. It seems that the one part of their business that they are investing heavily is logistics. The $364 million investment into Haier is in my mind a dual sided strategy – it gives Alibaba access to another logistics network that will be a stop gap until their logistics network is completed. It also provides Alibaba with a partner whom it able to install the items bought on Tmall and Taobao.
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The 10 ecommerce stories for the week of 4 October 2013

Amazon interested in Europe, WeChat disrupts the shopping experience, Netshoes builds a mobile empire, Fab downsizes their New York operation and much more.

The first week of October is in the record books and it contained a lot of ecommerce news. In weeks gone by, I have had time to think and it is pretty clear ecommerce is now a global business. The competition might no longer be corner store but rather a very large venture backed business that can influence your customers . I have a suspicion that the visitors to this past weeks Shop.org Annual Summit was more international than in years past. (For the record, that is one event I still want to attend..).

If I look into the news of the past week – then it is pretty clear that mobile and logistics is the new differentiators. Mobile is still the one part of ecommerce that is still in its infancy (yes, I know it is important) but best practices etc is still very much kept inside businesses. Logistics on the other hand is the reason why venture capital and investors are putting their Dollars / Euros for the long haul ROI. Take the news that Amazon is looking at Distribution centres in the Czech Republic and Poland. Is that a reaction to the labour issues the business has faced in Germany or a case of getting closer to their customers? I tend to think it is a bit of both.

Netshoes is arguably one of the biggest ecommerce businesses in Latin America. Generally, there are few times in the year in which businesses like Netshoes provide detail. I found their mobile business as discussed at Shop.org interesting. Why? They are firmly aware of when users use their mobile app (hello football broadcasts) and have done specific features to leverage their own catalog. Geo-location and mobile remarketing via a partnership with Google. I have a feeling we are going to see businesses doing a lot of predictive analysis and personalisation to bolster their mobile products.

Well, Fab.com has laid of 101 of their staff members. They have since beginning of the year downsized their operation by 37%. AllThingsD had an article over the downsizing due to a bad bet over flash sales. I dont particularly agree with that as being the cause for their retrenchments nor is the answer a faster road to profitability. I am not going to go in detail as I am going to write a post on it as soon as this weekly recap is done.
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