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February 26 2014

February 12 2014

Parcel Delivers Packages After Hours, When You're Actually Home

Online shopping gives us a new level of convenience. With just a couple of clicks, anything can be delivered to your doorstep — that is, as long as someone's home between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to answer the door.

But for working city dwellers without doormen, this poses a bit of a problemParcel, the first delivery service specifically designed for New Yorkers, wants to make sure you never have to see a "missed delivery" sticky note again. It promises to deliver your online purchases at a time when you'll actually be home.

Here's how it works: You go to Parcel's website and sign up for a free account, which is tied to a unique shipping address at Parcel's facilities. Whenever you purchase from an online retailer, you enter the Parcel address instead of your own. When your package arrives at Parcel, you'll receive a text to set up a convenient drop-off time between the hours of 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on any day of the work week. Read more...

More about Online Shopping, Features, Ecommerce, Delivery, and Apps Software
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February 04 2014

China Is Dominating Global Ecommerce Sales, Study Says

China's ecommerce sales are set to grow nearly 64% in 2014 — leaps and bounds higher than any other country in the world.

Global business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales will hit $1.5 trillion this year, which is a 20.1% increase from 2013, according to eMarketer's latest forecast.

Created by Statista, the following chart shows 10 selected countries and their ecommerce sales growth. It shows that China's sales are expected to grow twice as much as India, and more than five times as much as the U.S.

China Ecommerce Sales Growth

Image: Statista

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more...

More about China, Business, Ecommerce, Sales, and World

February 01 2014

Syrian Electronic Army: We Hacked eBay and PayPal

The Syrian Electronic Army, a notorious hacking group, says it claimed two big-name victims Saturday: eBay and PayPal.

While a hack on PayPal could put millions of peoples' bank information at risk, the hackers said this attack was a "hacktivist operation," and that they did not target account information. Instead, the SEA claimed it was able to replace the homepages of eBay and PayPal in France, Israel and the UK with its own logo

"We didn't do it to hack people accounts," SEA member Th3 Pr0 told Mashable. Th3 Pr0 said the SEA compromised eBay's domains manager, which allowed the hackers to shut down the website or redirect it another server. Th3 Pr0 added that the SEA was able to display its logo on various eBay and PayPal homepages for about 30 minutes. Read more...

More about Ebay, Hacking, Paypal, Ecommerce, and Syria

January 17 2014

Boost Your Small Business With These 12 Free Ecommerce Tools

The second quarter of 2013 saw U.S. online sales grow nearly 16%, marking the 15th consecutive quarter of positive year-on-year growth. Later in the year, in the UK, there was a record-breaking holiday season for many online retailers.

With trends predicting ecommerce sales to take an ever bigger portion of retail sales in 2014, it isn't surprising to see many small businesses move toward online operations. As a small business owner, you don't have a big budget to work with, but you still want a reliable, professional online platform that you can set up and maintain with ease.

More about Small Business, Startups, Features, Ecommerce, and E Commerce

December 20 2013

7 Tips for Improving Your Ecommerce Strategy

As customers increasingly turn to the Internet and smartphones for purchasing decisions, economies are seeing brick and mortar evolve into "click and order," and ecommerce become intertwined with m-commerce

More and more businesses are expanding online — from grocery stores to "beer grams," almost any product or service is available via the click of a button or the swipe of a finger. What's more, studies show [PDF] online customers are exceedingly loyal — perhaps even more so than customers who shop in-store.

For businesses breaking into the ecommerce space, the process can be a bit of a whirlwind. Ecommerce presents countless opportunities for retailers and brands, so businesses seeking to take advantage of the benefits must also address some tough decisions — site design, mobile and social media strategies, customer service and product pricing, to name a few. Read more...

More about Marketing, Ecommerce, Business, Small Business, and Startups

December 18 2013

Speed: The Secret Weapon for BaubleBar's Ecommerce Empire

Don't let the cutesy name fool you — BaubleBar is one ambitious brand. The popular purveyor of trendy, affordable jewelry has become a staple in the fashion world in just under three years. That’s no small feat.

Back then, co-founders Daniella Yacobovsky and Amy Jain were just investment bank colleagues and friends who indulged in lunchtime retail therapy sessions.

"We started BaubleBar because we were really frustrated consumers," Yacobovsky says. "We felt like there wasn't one trusted, go-to location where we could find really great, on-trend jewelry at a palatable price point, so we decided to build our own." Read more...

More about Fashion, Ecommerce, Business, Marketing, and Startups

December 15 2013

Blue Nile Goes Responsive, Pop-Up to Sell More Bling

If you get married, you're taking part in an ancient tradition that's been around for more than 4,000 years, historians say.

If you're buying the bling that goes with it these days, you could be using a technologically sophisticated, of-the-moment process that just joined the love-struck party in 2013, says online jewelry retailer Blue Nile.

Seattle-based Blue Nile, a low-overhead business known for undercutting traditional bricks-and-mortar jewelry stores founded in 1999, knew it needed to update its digital shopping experience. Executives at the retailer had noticed a trend among the target Millennial audience: Most of these men, between 25 and 35 years old, were browsing Blue Nile on their mobile phones, iPads and other gadgets. Read more...

More about Marketing, Ecommerce, Business, Responsive Design, and Supported

December 14 2013

Under Armour Used Real-Time Data, Display Ads to Drive Holiday Sales

Under Armour has become a sports apparel giant over much of the past two decades. The Baltimore-based company, which has sponsored some of the world’s biggest athletes, including New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, has tapped into data — and display media — to promote winter sales leading up to Christmas.

Jason LaRose, Under Armour’s new senior vice president of ecommerce, wanted to generate excitement for its product lines by creating “highly relevant and engaging” holiday advertisements that reached far beyond UnderArmour.com.

Days before Black Friday, Under Armour launched an 18-day promotion for its full holiday gift guide using Google’s lightbox ad format — a type of unit that expands into a full-page takeover ad — to attract interest in the brand. Read more...

More about Ecommerce, Data, Under Armour, Business, and Advertising

December 12 2013

Shopify Raises $100 Million to Tackle Offline Commerce

Shopify, an ecommerce platform that helps small merchants set up stores online, announced Thursday that it has raised $100 million in a Series C round of funding to expand into the world of offline retail

Seven years after launching, Shopify now serves as a platform for 80,000 active online stores, which collectively have processed more than $1.5 billion in payments in the year to date. Revenues and customers have doubled year-over-year for the past four years, according to the company. But it's another statistic that is driving the company's direction now: Shopify has found that 30% of its merchants sell items offline as well through pop-up shops, farmers markets and other options. Read more...

More about Startups, Ecommerce, Shopify, and Business

December 09 2013

Pinterest Is Gaining Ground on Facebook and Twitter for News

When it comes to sharing news online, Facebook and Twitter get most of the attentionPinterest, a platform more traditionally known for retail, food and travel-related postings, is gaining ground in the news category as well

A new study from Gigya, a social login provider for many media companies, including ABC, NBC, and FOX, found that 20% of all "media/publishing"-related content shared to social networks in Q3 was shared on Pinterest. Facebook (40%) and Twitter (30%) maintained leads in the category, but Pinterest gained some ground after accounting for 18% of media and publishing shares in Q2 Read more...

More about Facebook, Twitter, Ecommerce, Gigya, and Pinterest

December 03 2013

How The Visual Web Is Changing Holiday Shopping

ReadWrite Shop is an occasional series about the intersection of technology and commerce.

Online holiday shopping begins long before Cyber Monday—and that's all thanks to the Visual Web. Since image-based networks like Polyvore and Pinterest focus on things, not social connections, potential gifts pop up on user feeds all year long. 

Visual Web sites like these—or Instagram, or Tumblr—are characterized by layouts that emphasize images over text. It's a hot area, flush with billion-dollar valuations and acquisitions. And it turns out that the Visual Web picks up even more steam than usual around this time of year. 

As a Pinterest spokesperson told me in early November: "In the months leading up to the holidays, we see a 25 percent increase in boards related to gifts and wishlists. 'Christmas gifts' is already in our top 25 search terms.” 

Sharad Verma, CEO and founder of Piqora, said it all makes sense when you realize human beings process images 60,000 times faster than they process text. Piqora, which provides analytics for Visual Web networks, has noted an analytical spike in Q4. 

“Images simplify and speed up the process of how we receive information,” said Verma. “And we have an unlimited appetite for simplification.” 

Here are three of the ways Verma believes the Visual Web is changing ecommerce:

The Visual Web Is Public

There’s a reason Pinterest only lets you create up to three secret boards. With the advent of the Visual Web, networks are swapping out user privacy for the communal convenience of a fully accessible, open database.

 “A fundamental attribute of the Visual Web is that it’s public in nature,” said Verma. “It’s unlike Facebook, which is a closed, private graph. Or even Twitter, which lets you keep your tweets private.”

While many people care deeply about their privacy on Facebook and Twitter, where they’re sharing personal thoughts, these same concerns haven’t passed on to image-based networks. That’s because the Visual Web revolves around objects. Users choose to follow one another based on content, not on real world connections. 

As a result, nobody’s contributions to the Visual Web are off limits for your Christmas list. You could get shopping ideas from a Polyvore set created in India or from a perfect stranger’s pinboard, and there aren’t any cultural or language barriers to slow you down. 

The Visual Web Is A Two-Way Street

Verma said it’s a mistake for marketers and retail companies to only pay attention to which images people are pinning and Tumblr-ing. They need to be contributing their own images too, and that doesn’t mean repeatedly spamming their own products. 

“We’re living on a two-way Web now, where marketers can be part of the conversation,” said Verma. “Marketers need to not just understand which images are driving clicks, but become publishers of that content themselves.”

For example, New York City’s holiday shoppers always look forward to the elaborate displays in department store windows. So this year, Barneys decided to bring the big reveal to Instagram first. 

The Visual Web is like a testing ground for retailers’ big ideas. Since it’s inexpensive, there’s little risk.

“Since it’s interest based, it’s almost like a large scale automated focus group except marketers can also participate,” said Verma. “The holy grail of the two way marketing approach comes to fruition on the Visual Web.”

The Visual Web Is Positive  

According to Verma, there’s also something to be said about the environment the Visual Web provides. Since there’s not really a space for text, the image-based communities see far less bullying, heated discussions about politics and religion, and similar common Internet turn-offs.

“I talked to a lot of users about what their fascination with Pinterest was,” he said. “For them, it’s a way to escape the drama of Facebook. Facebook is a necessary evil like a relative you have to visit. There’s a lot of cognitive psychological stress from using Facebook. Meanwhile, Pinterest is an active, life-improving type of escape.”

When it comes down to it, much of the Visual Web is about shopping, and much has been made of “retail therapy” and studies that show shopping really does cheer people up. That doesn’t explain why Facebook still leads the e-commerce numbers, but it might explain why the average Polyvore session leads to nearly $400 in purchases

Granted, all of these purchases take place off site at places like Amazon, but getting the product is only half of the process. Retail has always been about the shop creating a positive experience for the customer. But on the Visual Web, people customize their own experiences. With online shopping set to exceed in-person purchases for the first time in America this year, it’s clear which experience buyers prefer. 

Public, positive, and crawling with marketers—welcome to the Visual Web. It may center around transactions, but at least it’s not hiding that. And according to Verma, that’s why people like it. It isn’t multipurpose, but it’s the right tool for the job.

“The Visual Web is growing rapidly because people are using it to conduct real life transactions,” he said.

It’s not going to replace your Facebook, but it just might help you get your holiday shopping finished before Halloween decorations are even up.

Photo by JD Hancock

Tags: ecommerce

November 26 2013

6 Hot Sites to Find Sweet Shopping Deals

It's the time of year when you should be shopping for other people, but with all the shiny department store displays and sale signs, you can't help but think of yourself

After all, what other time of year can you give your winter wardrobe the oomph it needs to carry you through March without completely breaking the bank? Your cold January self will thank you later

Lucky for you, some of the latest apps on your smartphone and on the web aim to help you snag deep discounts without needing to walk by the store every day to check on the price of those jeans. Instead of doing complex Google searches in hopes of finding a deal, some of these sites bring the deals to you — after you've indicated your favorite brands, stores and size information. Other apps allow you to buy in bulk or organize the promotional emails you're already getting. No matter your discount of choice, you can now find shopping deals from the comfort of your couch; no shopping 'til you drop required Read more...

More about Apps, Shopping, Ecommerce, Lifestyle, and Work Play

November 11 2013

Flipboard Embraces Ecommerce With Shoppable Magazines

Flipboard is tip-toeing into the ecommerce space with the launch of a new feature on Monday: shoppable catalogs.

In March, Flipboard introduced the option for users to create their own magazines full of articles for others to browse. Nearly eight months and more than 4.5 million user-created magazines later, Flipboard is building on this option by letting brands and individual users curate products in their magazines as well.

Brands, including early Flipboard partners like Banana Republic, Fab and eBay, will be able to create their own shoppable catalogs to promote their products. These catalogs, along with those curated by Flipboard staff, will be featured in a new shopping category on the platform. Users will be able to add items from this magazines in this category as well as from other ecommerce sites into their own magazines. Perhaps more importantly to brands, they will be able to make purchases directly through these Flipboard magazines. Read more...

More about Apps, Online Shopping, Ecommerce, Flipboard, and Business

September 27 2013

Ashton Kutcher-Backed Startup Fashism Shuts Down

Fashism, a website and mobile app that lets users solicit community feedback on style, announced that it is officially closing down on Friday, making it the latest casualty in a tough year for social media-focused fashion startups.

The New York-based company was founded in 2009 and attracted a community of fashion-interested American teenagers looking for feedback on the outfits they were putting together for school. In late 2010, it raised $1 million in Series A funding from a number of high-profile investors, including actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, Project Runway judge Nina Garcia and Highline Venture Partners Read more...

More about Fashion, Startups, Ecommerce, Fashism, and Business

September 19 2013

5 Surprising Places Where Ecommerce Is Taking Off

What characterizes a market that's primed for ecommerce growth? It's not a country's population size, income per capita, nor even the amount its residents are spending on retail goods every year — though those all play a role. Rather, a complex variety of factors signal immediate to near-term ecommerce opportunity in a given region, a new study from Forrester Research shows.

Take South Korea for example, which ranked fourth on Forrester's list of countries positioned for ecommerce expansion. Compared to others on the list, it has a fairly average income per capita of $22,000. But its consumers are ready to spend: It ranked third on the number of debit/credit cards per capita, fourth in market activity and intensity (stock values relative to GDP), and has a tech-savvy population. Government support is another positive indicator: The country has been regulating the growth of discount megastores, banning for example free shuttle services to shoppers in remote areas, which opens the way for smaller ecommerce businesses. Read more...

More about China, Retail, Ecommerce, South Korea, and Business

September 17 2013

Home Decor: E-commerce's Unsolved Problem

Starting Tuesday, Polyvore expands its expertise from just fashion to home goods, too. But this deceptively simple announcement reveals nothing about the technical acrobatics Polyvore’s developers have had to jump through to make this happen. 

Polyvore is best known as a shopping discovery site where users can make collages, or “sets,” out of their fashionable finds. The 20-million user community certainly isn’t the only fashion discovery site out there, joined by the likes of Wanelo, Wish, Fancy and others. 

But while the e-commerce sphere has clearly nailed down fashion, home decor has proved to be a difficult beast to tame. Pinterest, while not self-defined as a shopping site, has shown just how popular home goods curation can be. Why do competitors like Wanelo only dabble in home decorations and why is Polyvore only just committing to it now?

“It turns out home is a lot more complicated than fashion,” said Jess Lee, Polyvore CEO

According to Lee, Polyvore’s had to revamp its search algorithms, which previously were fitted only for fashion. For example, the algorithms realized that there is only one use for a clothing item like a shirt—it goes on your body. But a lamp? That could go in a bedroom, bathroom, any room in the house. And that’s to say nothing of home items’ collisions with fashion.

“Because Polyvore supports both fashion & home, we often have to disambiguate queries and usage. For example, if you search for ‘glasses,’ do you mean drinking glasses or eyeglasses?” Or if you search for ‘floral,’ did you want floral dresses or floral throw pillows?” said Lee. 

“We had to build separate search indexes for fashion and home, and then try to figure out which one you meant.”

Originally, when Polyvore began in 2007, founder Pasha Sadri used it to create mood boards while remodeling his home. But while users have technically been able to work with home goods since the beginning, the search robustness simply wasn’t there. Polyvore’s search could only tell if you were looking at a lamp, and suggest other lamps. Starting today, it can categorize and add recommendations for stylistically similar lamps by popularity and taste. 

“Training our machine learning classifiers and categorizers took more work because there was more ground to cover,” said Lee. “Generating product recommendations required a deep understanding of the product features that matter. For example, chevron prints on pillows and modern stylings for beds.”

Polyvore gains points for ambition, but don’t expect the service to be perfect. Unlike fashion, which shopping discovery sites have had years to perfect, home is just gaining traction. The more data Polyvore algorithms learn from users, the more accurate it will eventually become. 

“Data quality is one of those areas where it’s impossible to achieve perfection and you can only asymptotically get closer,” said Lee. “Users always notice if results are bad, however they won’t applaud you for ‘not’ screwing up your search results and recommendations because it just feels like part of a natural and delightful user experience.”

Tags: ecommerce

September 16 2013

10% of American Internet Users Shop on Smartphones

Americans lag behind Chinese Internet users when it comes to mobile shopping. Nearly twice as many Chinese Internet users (18%) shop via their mobile phones as Americans (10%).

Statista's chart, below, uses data from RetailMeNot and Ipsos to show the prevalence of online shopping in 10 countries.

In France, for example, just 2% of adult Internet users shop on their mobiles. It's a similar story in Canada and Italy, where just 4% engage in mobile shopping


Do you primarily shop on your smartphone, or do you prefer sitting down at your laptop? Tell us in the comments below. Read more...

More about Business, Ecommerce, Mobile Shopping, Mobile, and Chart Of The Day

September 06 2013

Must Reads: How 3D Printing Saves Lives, Smart Watch Fails and More

During the week, we consume words in snackable, tweetable bites. But on the weekends, we have the time to take a dive into the murkier, lengthier depths of the Internet and expand our attention spans beyond 140 characters. We can brew a cup of coffee and lie back with our iPads, laptops, smartphones and Kindles.

Since you're bound to miss a few things during the daily grind, we present to you, in our weekly installation of Mashable Must Reads, a curated collection of can't-miss stories to read and reflect on. (You can find last week's must reads here.) Read more...

3D Printing Is a Matter of Life and Death

More about Ecommerce, 3d Printing, Tech, Gadgets, and World

August 16 2013

Where Do You Fit in the New Retail Web?

Ecommerce has been around in one form or another for nearly two decades. It began when retailers first put their offline catalogs on the web — and, while there have been many advances in areas such as technology, payments and fulfillment since that time, the basic rules of selling have remained surprisingly static

However, the retail web is now changing, as new types of online stores emerge to challenge the dominant paradigms of internet retailing.

With the rise of a new wave of online retailers, there are two clear models emerging in the online retail space:

More about Online Shopping, Features, Business, Retail, and Ecommerce
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