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

By Hendrik Laubscher

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The Great Technology War between Giants

2012 was a year in which a bigger picture formed inside my thinking. Ecommerce is my day job and I think we are in a great period for commerce. Let us be clear about one thing, retail and ecommerce is no longer 2 channels. It is one massive opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to assist customers buying items whether it be online or in-store.

Mobile commerce in its current format is not the endgame in my mind. We are only scratching the surface on what mobile devices can do. Augmented reality, location and a variety of other things will play a role in commerce in the coming years.

Regular readers will be aware of my thinking regarding the big five. It is not the animals found in the game park but rather the big five technology businesses. I have written about it in the past when I looked at the Amazon effect but these companies drive the technology used by us on a daily basis.

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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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The 10 e-commerce stories for the week ending 12 July 2012

Phew, what a week. It feels like the headlines were dominated by one ecommerce company this past week. The problem is that this company is a Rubik’s cube and plays in a variety of verticals. Amazon.com is what I am talking about. The Financial Times had a great amount of coverage this week (all behind a paywall) but the truth is that no-one except the Emperor Bezos knows what the kingdom has in store for the ecommerce market.

Let me be blunt, if you don’t keep an eye on Amazon then you are ignorant. I am tempted to say you that you are destined for something like a Black Swan (which is far from something of beauty). I am expecting an Amazon smartphone as Bezos wants to ensure that he owns the customer journey.. whether it happens is another story. I have a confession to make as well. Yes, facebook commerce is on my mind and I think Thefind.com through their Glimpse product is on to something…

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Why Kiva + Payment On Delivery May Equal 1 Day Prime for Amazon

There are two ways to extend a business. Take inventory of what you’re good at and extend out from your skills. Or determine what your customers need and work backward, even if it requires learning new skills.
Jeff Bezos

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Design and development by Kevan Stuart