Tag: e-commerce

People regret boozy online buys

boozebeltAccording to a new OnePoll study, nearly a quarter of British consumers have bought products online while under the influence of happy juice. Needless to say, they regret their purchases, like most other things we do while inebriated. 

Two thousand consumers took part in the survey and the results indicate that the convenience offered by e-commerce services is a double edged sword. It is not like e-commerce outfits are targeting drunk consumers, but the ease of spending hard earned cash with just a few clicks seems to be a bit too much for some jolly consumers to miss out on. Spending too much money while drunk tends to be a bad idea, whether you do it online or out on the town.

In addition, the interfaces of e-commerce sites are susceptible to all kinds of shopping mistakes. A total of 56 per cent of consumers admitted that they regretted buying clothing items online, while 22 per cent felt buyer’s remorse after getting a gadget, reports shopsafe.co.uk.

It is estimated that British consumers spend over £1,000 online a year on average. It seems that a good chunk of that is spent after a few glasses behind the laptop.

Metro.co.uk reports the case of a 22-year-old man, who somehow managed to order 22 tickets to an Oasis concert after a drinking session. The drunken shopping spree cost him over £2,000. It is not clear whether he enjoyed the gig.

Google tests same-day delivery online

google-ICGoogle is not content with dominating the search and mobile OS space. Now it wants to deliver our groceries, too. The company is about to roll out a new same-day delivery service in San Francisco and several suburbs south of the city, AP reports. 

Google Shopping Express will provide same-day delivery of food and other products bought online. If it takes off, Google will expand the service to other markets.

“We hope this will help users explore the benefits of a local, same-day delivery service, and help us kick the tires on the new service,” Google said in a statement.

It is an interesting twist in Google’s cunning plot to take over the world. Google wants to increase consumer reliance on the internet, even when it comes to mundane chores. The hope is that Google’s shopping push will attract even more merchants to buy online ads.

The biggest drawback of most online shopping outfits is that they cannot guarantee same-day delivery, which means their services can’t be used for perishable goods. Besides, you can already get a week-old salad at Tesco.

Several major merchants have already signed up for Google’s new service, including Target and Walgreen. The merchants will sell some items through a central website, run by Google. Google will then hire courier services to pick up and deliver the items to shoppers. The couriers will be driving Google trucks, in Google uniforms.

E-commerce generates demand for mega-warehouses

warehouse-openOnline shoppers are not just killing main street, they seem to be taking creating a lot of demand for oversized commercial storage units suitable for logistics and delivery outfits. In other words, small warehouses are going out of style, fast.

Property Magazine International reports that 25 million square meters of retail space will be needed over the next five years to keep up with e-commerce trends. That is the equivalent of 3,300 football pitches and some developers might end up driving white Bentleys, just like Premiership footballers.

It is estimated that online outfits will also need an additional three million square meters of specially equipped e-fulfilment space over the next five years. Another 22 million square meters is needed to keep retail stores and satellite warehouses stocked.

The growth of e-commerce will also drive further development of so-called dark stores, which is basically a fancy name for huge warehouses where goods are packed and shipped to consumers.
Jones Lang LaSalle executive Paul Betts argued that many retailers have simply outgrown their supply chain infrastructure and they have to work out new logistics models for multi-channel retail.

M-commerce to double in next 12 months

google-walletMobile shopping is the new black and a recent survey carried out by Conlumino indicates that it will continue to grow at an impressive rate for the foreseeable future. M-commerce has already risen 55 percent compared to a year ago and it is now estimated that it will grow another 115 percent over the next 12 months. 

European Commission cracks down on e-commerce scams

european-commissionThe European Commission is planning to crack down on aggressive e-commerce practices which are apparently discouraging consumers from shopping across union borders online.

The commission has announced plans to promote coordinated enforcement efforts and help member states share best practices in light of a review of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The directive introduced standardised rules across the EU five years ago, including bans on unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices, bans on misleading consumers, fake free offers, consumer baiting, hidden advertising and direct marketing to children. However, the European Commission found that consumers and businesses are still uncertain about how the new rules need to be applied by national authorities., reports Out-Law.com.

“Consumer spending accounts for 56% of EU GDP, but a lack of consumer confidence in shopping across EU borders means we are still not tapping into the full potential of the Single Market,” said EU Justice Commissioner Vivienne Reding. “We have good rules in place to protect consumers, but we need to make sure they are better enforced, especially in cross-border cases.”

Reding stressed that rogue traders should not be tolerated and that consumers have to know exactly what they are buying. Consumers must be sure they are not getting ripped off in the process, especially when they are spending across the border. The EC found that only 40 percent of EU consumers shop across EU borders online. British retailers are leading the cross-border e-commerce charge, so this should be good news for them, provided the EC doesn’t botch it.

The commission said that consumers are a lot more interested in making cross-border purchases now than they were in 2006, before the Directive came into force. However, plenty of other factors contributed to growth and the Directive was just a small piece of the puzzle.

Target gobbles up two e-commerce culinary chains

tagtet-ecommerceDiscount retail chain Target is expanding its e-commerce operation with a couple of tender and juicy acquisitions. 

Reuters reports that the company has agreed to buy Chefs Catalog and Cooking.com.

The acquisitions should boost Target’s ability to sell cooking products and kitchenware online and fancy ceramic knives will only be a click away.

Target did not disclose the financial terms, but both deals should be closed in 30 days and they will not affect the chain’s financial results.

Chefs Catalog sells kitchen utensils and tools directly to customers through its website, while Cooking.com sells more than 30,000 various products, including recipes and other member-submitted cooking content.

Thanks to Jamie Oliver and other celebrity chefs, an increasing number of people are turning to home cooking as a healthier and cheaper alternative to eating out. The fact that quite a few people are broke and can’t afford to dine out also helps.

Brits lag behind US in mobile commerce

us-revolutionary-warAlthough British retailers seem to have an upper hand in European mobile commerce, a new report indicates that they are lagging behind their American counterparts in m-commerce.

The study was carried out by multi-touch retail technology provided Skava, and it found that only half of Britain’s top 100 retailers have optimized their websites for mobile devices. In contrast, all of the top US retailers have already done so.

The study found that revenue from mobile accounts for about one percent of all online sales in Europe. However, it is growing at a compound rate of 43.1 percent. Forrester estimated mobile revenue will account for 6.8 percent of European online revenue by 2017. That amounts to 19 billion euro.

Forrester analyst Martin Gill stressed that UK retailers have to adopt mobile tech if they hope to move forward. However, he also believes they will face plenty of challenges.

“A number of factors encourage and inhibit the adoption of mobile commerce… consumer trust, the convenience and value proposition of mobile shopping, the ease of payment and the availability of products at the right price,” said Gill. “European eBusiness executives in many countries have been slow to provide mobile-optimized experiences and these factors — both supply and demand — will continue to limit the opportunities.”

The study found that smartphone and tablet users tend to interact with their devices quite a bit differently than PC users. Hence, retailers’ websites must be optimized to cater to new platforms. They also need to respond quickly to new market trends and devices, which is easier said than done due to the mind boggling pace of progress in the mobile industry.

Industry thinks digi-wallets and NFC are overhyped

google-walletThe payments industry is slowly starting to adopt new mobile payments technologies, but industry leaders believe that the digital wallet concept is overhyped, along with NFC.

The Payments Innovation Jury, an anonymous group of 25 industry leaders gathered in a hollowed out volcano, reckons the next wave of e-payment innovation will come from Asia rather than Europe.

The secretive Payment Innovation Jury features members from 14 different countries whose names are kept private, so they can speak freely. Most members are or have been high level execs in companies such as MasterCard, PayPal and Visa, reports Venture Beat

In their latest report, the jury concluded that NFC and digital wallets are overhyped, and we tend to agree. Most members don’t believe NFC will live up to its hype and many reckon there is no demonstrable need for contactless payments from consumers. However, it is worth noting that NFC has plenty of applications other than mobile payments. More than half of the group believe digital wallets will replace credit and debit card payments, but a sizable number don’t agree.

“The Jury offered their views on which payments innovation has the greatest hype rating and therefore the biggest risk that the business case will not be achieved,” the report said. “Hype is particularly prevalent in payments, with many organizations trying very hard to talk up their chosen innovation in order to achieve the necessary critical mass.”

In other words it is beast to tread carefully, just in case. Many outfits are indeed trying to talk up their solutions, but we are still a long way from widespread adoption and standardization. One jury member argued that progress in Europe is hampered by standardization initiatives such as SEPA, but a lot of innovation is expected from Asia and Africa.

Interestingly, the group found that cross-border remittance services have a lot of potential. Sending money abroad via mobile payment solutions could be the most profitable niche over the next five years. It is a rather big market. Plenty of countries in Eastern Europe, North Africa and practically the entire third world have sizable expat communities who send money back home on a regular basis.

PayPal launches iOS SDK

paypal-logoPayPal has released a new SDK for Apple’s iOS platform and the new kit is expected to speed up development, open up a host of new possibilities and make life easier for developers.

At the moment, iOS apps using PayPal have to redirect traffic to web based gateway systems, making the whole process more complicated, time consuming and slower. However, the new SDK should help integrate services in apps themselves, greatly reducing developers’ workloads.

PayPal CTO James Barrese hopes the new SDK will give developers more freedom to focus on innovating rather than handling the complex task of sorting out mobile payments.

“We listened when our developers said they wanted better capabilities from us, and now we’re doubling down on our developer programs to deliver the best tools in the industry,” he said.

Since the PayPal payment service will not be integrated into apps, consumer will be able to complete their transactions without leaving the app, greatly streamlining the process. PayPal also released a new API that should enable developers to integrate a clever card digitization feature. The new approach will let users simply take a picture of their cards, letting the app scoop up all the details from the photo, which is much easier than typing them in.

Best of all, PayPal claims its new Java Script PayPal button can be integrated into apps with just five lines of code, which is roughly a fortnight in developer parlance.

Vietnamese outfit uses sex to sell flowers

vn-flower-shopA Vietnamese e-commerce startup has come up with an innovative, yet rather tasteless way to sell flowers. It sounds surprisingly liberal for a socialist state, but HappyEndings.vn is using sex appeal to sell flowers, with a ridiculous intro. Sex sells, even though the approach seems a bit upside down. Flowers shouldn’t be sold using sex – it should be the other way around.

Mind you, despite the cheeky name and tacky approach, HappyEndings.vn is a legitimate and serious e-commerce outfit. “Happy ending” doesn’t really have a lot to do with sex, it is a term used to describe a pleasurable ending to a massage in some parts of Asia. However, the site intro has a lot to do with sex.

The site takes a provocative angle when it comes to product categories as well. They are named cheap bastard collection, playboy collection and sugar daddy collection. The last is aimed at big spenders, while the “cheap bastard” one is clearly not.

Better yet, the consumers seem to be loving the in-your-face approach, with plenty of humorous and dirty comments, reports InsideRetail.Asia.

UK retailers to net £10 billion on cross-border sales

berlin-borderOnline sales are booming and taking their toll on brick and mortar shops, but another interesting trend is starting to emerge. Cross-border sales in Europe are expected to hit £36 billion this year. As much as 10.6 per cent of all online purchases will be cross-border affairs.

It might be a worrying trend for some, but not for British retailers, as they are the most successful in doing business across borders.

According to IMRG data, international consumers dropped as much as £7.4 billion on British online retail sites and the figure is expected to hit £10 billion in 2013. The UK online retail market is second only to the US in terms of overall value. IMRG concluded that cross-border markets are becoming increasingly attractive for UK retailers, as they offer multiple opportunities for sustained growth.

Andrew McClelland, Chief Operations & Policy Officer at IMRG, commented: “Cross-border is the future of e-commerce, and the opportunity is particularly strong for UK retailers due to the advanced state and sophistication of the market here.”

However McClelland warns that expanding internationally is a complex business and retailers need to carefully identify markets that are appropriate to them rather than just attractive in terms of value and growth. Basically, they have to do their homework.

“Research is everything when it comes to cross-border; there have been several instances of retail brands finding success by selling product ranges that they are not well-known for by consumers in the UK,” he said.

In order to facilitate cross-border growth across Europe, Trusted Shops and IMRG came up with ‘Internet Shopping is Safe (ISIS)’ schemes in 2012. Their goal is to create a standard European trustmark that supports UK retailers in their international expansion strategies.

Kelway buys Dixons’ Equanet

thenorthUK IT services provider Kelway is picking up the IT business, Equanet, from Dixons Retail.

Equanet, Kelway says, has an established presence in the North of England and the buy will help it expand its customer base. At first, Equanet will operate as its own brand within the larger group, though will trade on integrated systems.

Dixons will carry on operating the PC World Business service for small businesses.

Kelway says that Equanet is noted for its e commerce platform, which will now fit in with Kelway’s ServiceTrack offering for online order management. By combining both, Kelway hopes that it can offer a unique experience towards its customers.

Kelway will also offer its ServiceWorks cloud services to Equanet’s clients.

In a statement, Sebastian James, chief exec of Dixons Retail, said that the two complement each other “extremely well” and he expects the transaction will help “Equanet to flourish in the specialist B2B market”.

Towns look to NFC to attract high street shoppers

google-walletHigh street shops are under a lot of pressure from tech savvier e-commerce outfits, but a group of town and city managers believes they can help reverse the trend by enlisting the help of NFC technology.

It is not a case of fighting fire with fire, though.

The Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), which represents close to seven hundred shopping locations, has teamed up with NFC loyalty programme supplier MoLo Rewards. They aim to enhance the town centre offer by integrating NFC support in a more traditional setting.

The goal is to provide local, independent shops some of the same capabilities used by major retail players, allowing them to compete with internet based competitors. The programme offers establishments in town centres to better integrate their services, combine reward programmes with free parking , access to leisure centres or events.

ATCM manager Guy Douglas told NFC World that the association decided to use MoLo’s approach after the outfit made the case for NFC and elaborated its ideas.

“It just made sense to us,” he said. “A town and city centre is only vibrant and thriving if people find a reason to go there. NFC is a way of delivering an enhanced town centre offer, which can only be a good thing especially when the high street is hugely challenged by e-commerce.”

ATCM chief exec Martin Blackwell said the association will use its two decades worth of experience to enhance the high street shopping experience, with support from MoLo Rewards. He added that the association is organising meeting with mobile network operators, card issuers and retail groups in an effort to shape the adoption of NFC technology.

ATCM and MoLo believe they could bring their integrated NFC system to town and city centres later this year.

Heavyweights hug mobile payments, but more work ahead

google-walletA series of optimistic reports and forecasts on e-commerce seems to indicate that mobile payments are becoming increasingly commonplace and that we could soon ditch our trusty leather wallets in favour of smartphones. Sadly though, we won’t, at least not anytime soon.

The trend is positive and we are seeing a lot of growth, especially in m-commerce. In addition, a number of big players have made significant announcements in recent months. Last week Visa expanded its Visa Ready Partner Programme in an effort to get more vendors, developers and retailers on board. Samsung followed up with a service of its own, the Samsung Wallet, which bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple’s Passbook app. Samsung already managed to attract several partners for its new service, including Visa.

Then there is MasterCard’s MasterPass service, which allows retailers come up with their own applications and services, based on MasterCard’s infrastructure. PayPal is no newcomer to the market, but its PayPal Here service is. Launched in the US last year, it finally found its way across the pond to European shores. It offers a comprehensive solution, with a hardware dongle and cross-platform app support, and it allows users to pay using credit cards, cash, PayPall wallet or checks.

What about the elephant in the room? Well, there’s actually two elephants. Google Wallet has been around for quite a while, but it failed to take off. It was supposed to demonstrate NFC capabilities on Nexus gear, dating back to the Nexus S, which it did. However, much like NFC, Google Wallet never made much of a name for itself.

It might have something to do with the second elephant, Apple, as it never embraced NFC technology and it is still unclear whether the next iPhone will feature it. Apple has not made much noise on the mobile payment front, which doesn’t mean it is not looking into it. To the contrary, Apple has already filed several patents for NFC enabled devices and services. Cupertino doesn’t like spilling the beans on upcoming products and services, and unlike some companies, it tends to have excellent execution. It is also worth noting that Apple bought AuthenTec, a maker of fingerprint sensors and security solutions, for $356 million last year.

With all that in mind, nobody should be surprised by soaring m-commerce and mobile payments statistics. In fact, we should be seeing even more services, from brick and mortar shops to pubs, but we aren’t. Mobile payments and are still geeky turf, with little traction among mainstream consumers. The sheer lack of widespread support for m-commerce platforms and the fast pace of development means that many consumers don’t even know it exists. What’s more, many of those that do still have some reservations.

Privacy and security are valid concerns, but a recent survey by Intela revealed that the majority of smartphone users in the UK now feel comfortable with mobile payments. It is hardly surprising, as most smartphone users have grown accustomed to making micro transactions in app stores or through in-app payments. The difference between spending a few pence on an app and a few pounds in a retail shop is philosophical and not technical in nature. In fact, it appears that humble micro transactions have already done more for m-commerce confidence than all the fancy services rolled out by credit card companies and tech outfits.

In spite of that, smartphones will not replace wallets, at least not entirely and certainly not anytime soon. Cash can’t be hacked, it can’t be rendered useless by a flat battery or a few drops of lager. In some cases it is just more practical. The same pretty much goes for credit cards. Smartphones have their own set of advantages. Motorway tolls, public transportation, congestion charges and parking based on GPS information are some that come to mind. Phones are an excellent payment platform, but they will complement cash and cards, not replace them.