Posts tagged with Ecommerce

Ebay bets with its head, not over it

ebayBack in the days when OffTrack Betting was popular in New York City, the ad tagline said "bet with your head, not over it." It may be uncool to say, but eBay's recent conservative retrenching is a solid strategy. A little boring, maybe, but at least the company is betting with its head.

CEO John Donahoe told a group of analysts Wednesday that the company is going to focus on its original mission, which is ecommerce auction. No more eBay Express. No more plans to compete with Amazon for the overall ecommerce business. Donahoe was roundly trashed in the blogosphere. While it might not spike its short term stock price, it's the right move. With Skype and PayPal in its tent, eBay is positioned to play very well in the most active markets. It has communication infrastructure, payment infrastructure, and auction infrastructure. Right now anyway, no one is a serious threat to that trifecta.

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Ecommerce missing from retail reporting

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The monthly ritual that encapsulates the failing retail results of everyone but WalMart were released yesterday. Retailers from  Abercrombie & Fitch to Zumiez got whacked in February, which is no surprise. But one thing is sorely missing from many retail reports:  the importance of online sales.

The metric known as same-store sales defines success or failure in the retail industry. They're measured year-over-year and are subject to random events and economic conditions more than they are attributable to good leadership or good strategy. But online sales rarely, if ever, take the lead in the conversation. Ecommerce for many retailers is just as indicative of their overall performance as same store sales.

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Shoppers RSVP to invite-only ecommerce

rue la la Turns out WalMart and Amazon aren't the only retailers finding shelter from the economic storm. A small group of invitation-only retail sites are establishing growth with high-end product and shrewd marketing.

The three attracting the most attention are Gilt.com, ideeli.com, and RueLaLa.com. Gilt has a high powered executive team including DoubleClick founder Kevin Ryan and former Martha Stewart Omnimedia CEO Susan Lyne. The three share a basic business model. You get an invitation from a member, you join, you get a preview of a designer boutique event, then you buy. First come, first served. Stores magazine reports that Gilt has added membership each month since its November 2007 launch. RueLaLa claims membership in the "hundreds of thousands." Ideeli also has "hundreds of thousands of members" and doubled its business during the fourth quarter of 2008 over 2007, according to fashion industry trade JC Report.

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Ecommerce can help save the planet

green ecommerceShop online and help end global warming? In this era of acute environmental awareness, that could be a powerful value proposition for etailers. Particularly with data to back up the claim.

Buy that gizmo online rather than drive to the all and you'll burn 35 percent less energy, finds a just-released Carnegie Mellon University Green Design Institute study.

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ComScore's State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy

ecommerce growth vs eyar agoIn chart after chart, the numbers kept falling off a cliff. In delivering ComScore's "State of the U.S. Online Retail Economy through January 2009" report today, Chairman Gian Fulgoni didn't mince words. His references kept returning to the fact that the numbers have never looked this bad.

But ecommerce could be worse. A lot worse. It could look like traditional retail.

ComScore's panel (rather than survey) data indicate a drop in year-over-year online shopping in the critical fourth quarter of 2008, "The first time we have seen a decline in the eight years that we have been tracking quarterly," noted Fulgoni grimly. Any bumps in spending he attributes to an increase in gift card redemption - rather than actual buying - over the holiday season.

Spending drops were greatest more or less where you'd expect. Luxury goods were hit hard, as was entertainment spending. But there was also a steep 30 percent decline in spending in sectors such as office supplies as businesses cut back their budgets.

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Recession collides with "Amazon Tax"

Since the dawn of US ecommerce, the question has been "to sales tax, or not to sales tax?"

Consumers and online retailers are squarely in the don't-tax camp, while state governments, which stand to reap the tax dollars, are of a differing opinion. New York state has been trying to get out of state sellers, such as Amazon, to collect and pay state sales tax on transactions, which could reap hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue for the cash-strapped government (particular now that once-lucrative Wall Street revenues are fading fast).

The rule of thumb has long been that if the online seller has a bricks and mortar local presence in the state, e.g. Apple.com has local Apple stores, state tax is levied on online transactions. Amazon, as well as other online-only retailers such as Overstock.com, challenged New York's attempt to get them to pony up 8.25 percent on all New York state transactions.

Yesterday, a NY State judge dismissed Amazon's suit as groundless.

Blame.....the affiliates?

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