Hendrik's ecommerce Newsletter

This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in ecommerce and thought was interesting. See more or subscribe at

B2C (Business to customer) news

Kayak is following the move made by co-founder Paul English into messaging. I believe that English's product Lola will be a business to watch in 2016. In the wake of Kayak co-founder Paul English and several other former Kayakers getting ready to launch the Lola Travel app, replete with heavy involvement from flesh and blood travel agents, Kayak is signing up consumers for Kayak Snap, described as a text-based travel service. Skift

Any investment news into South African is always good to read. The Foschini Group was a late entrant to the market but they will be getting ROI from their investment into ecommerce in my mind. Even though South Africa’s ecommerce sector is estimated to estimated to make up only one percent of the total market for consumer goods, we’ve over the last few years seen many players bank on this figure to grow. Investors are confident to say the least. Ventureburn

Ecommerce was suppose to make retail redundant since 1999. Simple fact is that there is no market in which ecommerce is 30% of total retail. I continue to say that e & mcommerce are supplementary to retail. The holiday season is here. For many of us that means lots of shopping. Are you doing most of your shopping online or in stores? If you’re like most consumers, the answer is both, but with a significant bias toward physical stores. TechCrunch

Starbucks continues to be the retailer that is ahead of the pack in the US. Adding a store on Tmall will aid their efforts in China. Starbucks has launched an e-commerce site on Alibaba's  online retail site Tmall, the coffee giant said Sunday, extending its focus on digital purchases and international sales. Investor's Business Daily

Click and Collect has seen a huge negative wave this festive season. Is it a case of repurposing an asset that is difficult to use in a different manner? If it is a nightmare customers wont use it. Retailers this holiday season have been aggressively trumpeting “click-and-collect” shopping, a relatively new hybrid of digital and old-school buying that allows time-starved customers to place an order online and pick it up within hours at a counter in a store. But so far, many shoppers are finding it to be a big headache. Washington Post

Behind China’s runaway online-to-offline commerce - A flood of liquidity has produced huge subsidies and deep discounts in an app-driven marketplace. As many executives around the world have discovered, China’s e-commerce markets are perhaps the most dynamic—even frenetic—on the planet. Nowhere is this dynamism more evident than in the burgeoning online-to-offline sector, where start-ups use apps, email, and other digital tools to entice shoppers to buy from physical stores or to purchase real-world services. McKinsey

Marketplace news

This story was refuted by Flipkart later but I believe that Accel Partners have sold a partial stake in their shareholding of Flipkart. Accel have been divesting in some of their investments in the latter part of 2015. Accel Partners has sold a fractional stake in Flipkart to Qatar Investment Authority for $100 million (about Rs 650 crore), in a deal that values India's biggest online marketplace at $15 billion, according to two people aware of the transaction. Economic Times

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive officer, sent offers of Rs 200 gift cards to millions of Indians earlier this month as part of a marketing gimmick that did not go down well with the country's brick-and-mortar retailers who are crying foul. The Retailers Association of India has complained to the government and accused Amazon of violating foreign investment laws by offering gift vouchers to its customers. The email sent on December 14 to celebrate the company's journey in India was signed by none other than Bezos himself. Economic Times

Amazon is giving merchants in its marketplace more data to help lift their sales. Like many smartphone owners, Chris Boerner, a Seattle-based marketing executive who sells a line of pill holders, checks her phone far more frequently than she should. But she isn’t using it to post on Facebook or to text friends. Fortune

Amazon has been operating secret flights carrying thousands of packages in and out of the UK for the past six weeks as it trials setting up its own air freight business. The Evening Standard can reveal that since mid-November the online retail giant has chartered a Boeing 737 to fly between Poland, the UK and Germany.  Evening Standard, Business Insider

Verdi members have been on strike every Christmas season for 3 years in a row. In the US Bezos can negotiate favorable terms with States. I still believe that the Polish warehouses that Amazon built in late 2014 / early 2015 will be getting more work. Hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers are striking in Germany right ahead of the Christmas season... again. This is the third consecutive year that the German union Verdi has called on Amazon employees to strike before Christmas to pressure the company to give workers better pay and benefits. CNN Money

Alibaba hired an ex-Apple investigator to fix its knock-off / fake product problem. This will be a developing story in 2016.. Alibaba Hires Ex-Apple Investigator for Global Anti-Piracy Fight. Matthew Bassiur, who helped Apple Inc. root out fake iPhones and investigate copyright infringement, will lead Alibaba's international efforts to rid its e-commerce platforms of counterfeit goods. Bloomberg

AliExpress, the B2C subsidiary of Alibaba which last year became the number one online marketplace in Russia, has resumed delivery to Crimea. Just months ago, the Chinese platform had stopped serving this Black Sea peninsula, which is disputed between Ukraine and Russia. It was assumed that Alibaba was complying with western sanctions, which bar companies from working in this peninsula. EWDN

Overseas sellers have used Amazon and eBay to not pay VAT associated with their items in the UK. This will be an interesting story line in 2016, as European governments will seek solutions for this. Top tax officials are exploring whether Amazon and eBay can be forced to foot the bill for ballooning VAT fraud associated with an army of small overseas sellers who are rapidly coming to dominate sales of many popular items on Britain’s leading shopping websites. The Guardian

The difference in usage of customers in the UK using eBay and Amazon is quite telling.. eBay users will be taking to the site on Friday to sell unwanted Christmas presents while Amazon users will be busy shopping and downloading digital content on Christmas Day. Both companies issued press releases in the UK on Monday with very different messages about the Christmas and post-Christmas period. EcommerceBytes

Fashion ecommerce news

Rent the Runway’s supposedly exclusive private label dresses are showing up elsewhere online at discount prices, in some cases for hundreds of dollars less than the retail prices listed by the site. When one customer complained after seeing a Slate & Willow dress she ordered — which Rent the Runway said retailed for $595 — on sale at Nordstrom under a different label for $118, a customer service staffer gave her a refund. The representative did not make clear that the Slate & Willow brand she rented was a Rent the Runway creation. Buzzfeed

Primark is looking to social media to do a lot of heavy lifting as the brand expands into the U.S. market. Without an e-commerce arm, the dirt cheap Irish fast-fashion retailer needs a strong social media influence to drive awareness and in-store traffic. Digiday

Surprise - the Yoox Net-a-Porter merger was not easy. When the founder of Net-a-Porter left before the conclusion of the sale - it was obvious there were issues.  The two biggest names in the business of selling luxury fashion online, Yoox and Net-a-Porter, announced plans this spring to combine in a 936 million pound, or $1.4 billion, deal, creating an e-commerce powerhouse in an industry that has been slow to embrace the Internet. NY Times

Mobile commerce

Wayfair continues to be the leading furnishings seller on the Internet. All be it under pressure from Wall Street, 35% orders from mobile in Q3 is indicative of a shift in purchasing habits. Home furnishings online retailer Wayfair is bolstering its digital footprint thanks to the two million downloads its applications have received, with 35 percent of orders stemming from mobile in 2015’s third quarter. Mobile Commerce Daily

Alibaba wants to ensure that they are the most dominant ecommerce platform in China. Becoming the largest shareholder in will put pressure on fellow shareholder Tencent to look for another investment in this space. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has agreed to invest US$1.25 billion in Chinese online food delivery service, Chinese business and finance media publication, Caixin, reported today. e27

Americans are getting increasingly comfortable using mobile devices to shop. However America is still behind mobile adoption in comparison to Asia. New data from eMarketer shows that American consumers bought an estimated $48 billion worth of goods and services using mobile devices this year, a surge of 32 percent from year-ago levels. In 2015, mobile accounted for 22 percent of all retail e-commerce sales in the U.S., up 3 points since last year. CBS Moneywatch

60 Percent Of Mobile Shoppers Use A Store App At Least Once A Week. Retailers appear to have largely conquered the issue of “app abandonment” in 2015, as roughly two-out-of-three consumers say they keep their branded store apps for at least six months, according to a report by proximity marketing platform GPShopper and audience measurement firm comScore. GeoMarketing

Stats and other interesting news

Any solution that reduces friction for customers will gain rapid market share. PayPal One Touch has 8% usage by PayPal users in 8 months.. The feature only works at participating web and mobile retailer sites, but PayPal has about a million merchants signed up, giving customers plenty of places to shop. Still, it’s hard to say whether this represents rapid growth for PayPal. The number of One Touch users is just 6 percent of its overall user base. VentureBeat

Amazon is expected to account for more than half of all e-commerce growth in 2015, Macquarie Research said in a Tuesday note. The bank raised its price target for Amazon's shares to $760 from $740. Macquarie estimates that for every $1 of e-commerce growth, Amazon will take 51 cents, and for every $1 of adjusted retail growth, Amazon will take 24 cents. MarketWatch
This is issue 50, sent 27 December 2015.

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