Virtual gifts -- tiny icons displayed on user profiles, pioneered by Facebook as the intangible present of choice -- are being employed by several major companies this season.
Unfortunately, a lot of dealerships subscribe to the old-school philosophy: if research starts online, consideration and choice still happen in the showroom. Clayton Stanfield, senior manager of dealer training at eBay Motors and a former dealership Internet sales manager himself, says things are changing when it comes to how dealerships are handling prospects.
What’s caused U.S. firms to lose the most shareholder value in the last 10 years? A new Booz study — actually, a repeat of one it did in 2004 — once again came up with the same result. The culprit wasn’t external shocks like the Great Recession.
A fascinating trend is consuming Silicon Valley and beginning to eat away at rest of the world: the radical simplification of everything. Want to spot the next great technology or business opportunity? Just look for any market that lacks a minimally complex solution to a sufficiently large problem.
There are legitimate reasons why naming companies is a bit more challenging than it used to be. Marketers must contend with instant backlash from critics on social media and the global reality that one phrase in English might take on a completely different meaning overseas (see Kraft). And they must ensure the moniker is not already trademarked.
PayPal is expected to launch a mobile payment dongle that would allow small businesses to process credit card transactions with a smartphone, according to a GigaOm report.
"Happy chic" designer Jonathan Adler took some time away from whatever he's doing now to help put together eBay's first storefront. It's located in New York City, naturally. Each item in the storefront has a QR code; if you scan a code with your eBay phone app, you're directed to a special purchasing page within the app. What's that, you say? No, it's not a slightly more complicated version of browsing the site on your computer. Shut up. It's a dynamic and totally new 24-hour shopping experience.
Since Roula Ghalayini, an advertising and television industry executive in Dubai, started a second career as a handbag designer three years ago, her creations have found their way into stores across the Arab world. Until a few weeks ago, however, Ms. Ghalayini had not managed to develop a presence for her brand, Poupée Couture, outside the region. That changed when she started selling her bags online through a new Web site called Boticca.com that was introduced this autumn. Now she has customers in countries like France and Britain, and the Internet accounts for about a quarter of her sales, which total about 60 bags a month.
Leaders from the tech and finance sectors are having an ever greater impact on the nonprofit world. Nowhere is this most apparent than at the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Considering that most people would rather lose their wallet than misplace their cell phone, it’s fitting that the mobile world is quickly becoming a new hub for business. For many of us, our cell phone never leaves our side. It holds a place at the dinner table, is easily accessible in your bag’s front pocket, and often, somehow it even manages to end up sharing your pillow at night. Busy schedules mean people are often on the move and when marketers and companies can’t reach consumers at their computers, on TV, before the previews at the movies, with billboards, or magazine and newspaper ads, they must feel assured that they can still reach them on their cell phones.
PayPal, the online payments service, lifted the fortunes of Ebay in its latest quarter as the US e-commerce company continued to struggle to turn round its core marketplace operations, according to figures released on Wednesday. PayPal’s strong growth was reflected in a 43 per cent increase in the volume of payments in its merchant services business, the company said – an indication of how quickly it is being taken up by other websites.
eBay is on a mission to make itself an online destination for fashion-conscious shoppers, first with the launch of fashion.ebay.com in April, and furthered today by the launch of its eBay Fashion iPhone app. As one would expect, the app gives users access to eBay’s listings in the fashion category, as well as the “Fashion Vault,” eBay’s version of Gilt Groupe, a site that offers a mix of designer luxury goods for up to 70% off retail prices beginning at noon ET every weekday (incidentally, one of Gilt Groupe’s founders was a former eBay employee).
eBay has made it fairly clear that mobile is the future for e-commerce. And the numbers only reinforce this strategy- mobile payments are poised to reach $200 billion by 2012, according to Juniper Research. So, of course, eBay is wants to make its crown jewel, PayPal, the leader in the mobile payments space. In fact, PayPal’s mobile transactions have grown as smartphone usage has increased, from $25 million in 2008 to $141 million in 2009. In 2010, PayPal expects more than half a billion dollars in mobile payment volume with more than 5 million members regularly using PayPal from their mobile devices. Today, PayPal is making it easier for merchants and consumers to pay for goods on their smartphones with the launch of Mobile Express Checkout.
In the first weeks of the iPad launch, retailers have been largely left out of the conversation. But industry executives believe the device could have a major impact on everything from retailers' catalogs to e-commerce to enhancing the in-store experience. So far, few retailers have embraced the new Apple device even though many already have iPhone apps. Gap, Gilt.com and eBay are among the retail brands that have created iPad applications, while Puma is expected to add iPads to its stores late this year.
When people want to transfer money safely and directly to one another in the Europe, they go through their banks. But in the United States, they're more likely to use PayPal. This is good news for eBay, which phased out a competing payment system and bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion. eBay's revenues were up 16% in the last quarter of 2009, in good measure due to PayPal, which PC Magazine reports processed $20 billion worth of transactions for 81 million customers in that quarter alone. But it's bad news for U.S. banks, which it might be argued, should have been reaping the benefits eBay is now enjoying.
Birds of a feather flock together. Or, in the Internet age, a customer's friend is a potential customer. Embracing those truisms, some big marketers, including Sprint and eBay, are turning to small start-ups to help them tap social-networking data to find would-be clients among the friends and acquaintances of existing customers, to the dismay of some privacy advocates.
Some of the most exciting new ideas in organizations are based on harnessing the collective intelligence of crowds and communities. Think of user-generated content platforms, open source software, crowdsourcing, and knowledge markets — just a few examples of ways that large numbers of loosely networked users are invited to create or evaluate products, content or ideas. This is the “social web,” the interlinked virtual universe that to so many executives seems to offer the irresistible promise of providing something — ideas, work, decisions — for (almost) nothing, if only they could manage it right.
To attract price-conscious customers who crave designer labels, the site will rely on "flash" sales lasting from 48 to 72 hours. Rather than bid for the clothes in a typical eBay auction, interested shoppers will use the Buy Now option. Shipping is thrown in for free. eBay said it assures that all the items in the Fashion Vault come from sellers authorized by designers. So buyers apparently won't have to worry about the potential for counterfeit goods.
This morning, eBay introduced two new iPhone applications, designed to make sellers’ lives easier when it comes to listing items on the giant online marketplace from their Apple phones. The ecommerce juggernaut also casually mentioned that it is on pace to reach a whopping $1.5 billion worth of goods sold via mobile phones in 2010 – more than double the mobile GMV (gross merchandise value) it registered in 2009 ($600 million).
EBay Inc. will launch "flash sales" of high-end fashion brands Monday in its latest bid to revive its giant online marketplace. On a portion of its Web site dubbed Fashion Vault, the company will offer discounts starting at 50% off retail for a limited time, beginning with offerings from French Connection Group PLC. The business model, which follows a trial in the fall featuring Hugo Boss, DKNY and Max Mara, takes a page from such Web sites as Gilt Groupe Inc. and GSI Commerce Inc.'s Rue La La. Those sites have carved out a fast-growing niche in e-commerce by offering the online equivalent of one-off sample sales. The move is a departure for eBay, which has generally billed itself as a neutral third-party marketplace that anyone can join.
Facebook's virtual currency, "Facebook Credits," is getting very close to its full launch: a post on the Facebook developer blog explains some of the full terms of the system and what developers can expect as the currency continues to roll out slowly.
A holiday season of Web price wars and aggressive online promotions by store-based retailers is leaving e-commerce a larger force in American retail. While sales conducted at brick-and mortar stores are about flat this season compared with 2008, online retailing grew 4% from the beginning of November through Dec. 18 to $24.8 billion, according to Web tracking company comScore Inc. Online sales on Dec. 15 totaled $913 million, marking a one-day record for the industry.
EBay is a Web pioneer, having built a multibillion dollar business out of allowing people to essentially put garage sales on the Internet. That simple idea led to fast growth more than a decade ago and helped define what was possible online for other companies that followed. The company's IPO in 1998 turned founder Pierre Omidyar and eBay President Jeffrey Skoll into instant billionaires. Fast-forward to 2009, and the 1990s Internet darling is steering through turbulence. EBay seems to be want to be more an online retailer and less an online auction site. If it makes such a move, if will have to fight online retailers such as Amazon.com and Zappos and their impeccable customer service. It will also have to take on formidable brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart and Target, which are focusing more on online sales. Why does eBay want to join a battle it's not likely to win?
The Web is shaping up to be one of retail's bright spots this holiday season, thanks in part to a new take on an old-fashioned retail idea: good service. At a time when traditional retailers are being ultra conservative, many Web sites have been spending to make shipping times faster, consumer-generated reviews better, and to offer new features such as online layaways. Amazon.com Inc. is rolling out more "frustration-free" packages that replace hard-to-open plastic clamshells; eBay Inc. is highlighting merchants with the best ratings; and Sears Holdings Corp. is launching online layaway. In contrast, many traditional retailers have cut way back on inventory levels and holiday staffing, hoping to avoid the massive profit-eroding discounts of last holiday season.
In the 11 years since the dot-com darling went public, the e-commerce world grew up -- but eBay looked stuck in its 1.0 past. Unlike Zappos, which built a name using customer service as marketing, and Amazon, where shoppers can log on and find virtually anything at a clear, set price, eBay didn't control the fulfillment chain. That often leaves its customer service, a component key to branding, at the mercy of its sellers. Moreover, it was riddled with auctions, a type of transaction that has garnered less and less interest from the mainstream consumers who account for much of the $130 billion in annual online-shopping sales.
With luxury stores laid low by the recession, eBay is making another bid for style-savvy shoppers. The online-auction giant is close to inking a partnership with top fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez to create its first clothing line. The collection, "Narciso Rodriguez for eBay," will be sold exclusively on eBay starting next spring. The pact with Rodriguez -- who recently has won notoriety as a favorite designer of First Lady Michelle Obama -- is a victory for eBay, which has long battled its reputation in the fashion world as a venue for cheap knockoffs and deeply discounted, off-season or out-of-style clothing.
eBay announced it was selling Skype, while Disney announced it was buying Marvel this week. Meanwhile, thieves cleared out an Apple store and aliens descended on Google. The People of Walmart discovered their friends were Facebook quitters, and we all got ready to ride the Google Wave. Without further ado, here are the highlights of a topsy-turvy week in social media.
Skype's new owners — Silver Lake Partners, Marc Andreessen, and company — are getting a company valued at $2.75 billion (according to former owner eBay) with 405 million users. That's $6.79 per registered user, and a little over five times Skype's 2008 revenue of $511 million. Skype grew by 44% in 2008. So did the sale — in which eBay retains a 35% stake in the company — come cheap or dear? My guess is that the buyers got a good deal because the human voice is our most fundamental communication medium.
A few years ago, when cheap real estate was scarce, pop-up stores were a major investment for marketers. Now temporary stores have emerged as a perfect solution for cash-strapped brands, commission-hungry brokers and landlords faced with a glut of commercial real-estate space. Brands are using these interim spaces as a means to create buzz, test new concepts or even evaluate a new neighborhood or city. While temporary stores first began popping up with some regularity in 2003, sky-high rents and a lack of available space made them a massive undertaking for brands. Now, in the midst of the recession, the shops are being viewed as a logical, and even inexpensive, marketing tool.
In 2005 Fortune magazine published a piece by Adam Lashinsky called Burning Sensation, which described the threat craigslist posed to newspapers. But it didn’t ignore the threat that other tech companies posed to craigslist: “Even as Craigslist flexes its considerable muscles, the disruptor is facing the challenge of disruption… eBay has started Kijiji, a classified business for non-U.S. markets that can only be described as Craigslist-like. Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen is behind a company called Ning, whose software includes an application called Anytown Marketplace that can build online classified sites. The biggest threat, as usual, is Google. It has introduced Google Base, where users can upload anything — e.g., “49ers tickets for sale” — into its searchable database… Google’s technological prowess — and money — mean it can add features in weeks that Craigslist has contemplated for years.” Three years later the story was still the same.
An effort to sell General Motors Co. cars through eBay Inc.'s online market is generating some leads for participating auto dealers but hasn't yet sparked a spurt in sales, dealers said. The companies rolled out the four-week pilot program for California customers Aug. 11. Under it, shoppers using special eBay sites can purchase GM cars at a "buy it now" price, or bargain online with a dealer. GM and eBay said they would measure success based on the degree of customer interaction with the sites and the program's ability to generate leads, but also said they expected customers to "complete quite a few transactions."
Much of the innovation we’ve seen lately hasn’t led to growth but instead to efficiency - that is, shrinkage. I’ve been mulling over Mike Mandel’s cover story in last week’s BusinessWeek, in which he tried to puncture another bubble: the belief that we’ve had a rich decade of American innovation. He argues that there’s actually an “innovation shortfall” and he uses economic stagnation to plead his case. Now I’m not economist (that’s a straight line) and so I won’t argue about the impact of other events on growth - starting with the so-called financial crisis.
Oprah Winfrey may already be the Queen of All Media, but lately she’s been gunning for another title: Queen of All Tech. Thursday’s episode of the show (taped earlier this month) is entirely dedicated to Skype, eBay’s soon-to-be-spun-off Internet communications service.
The sound of marketers excitedly scrawling the word 'Twitter' on whiteboards and flipcharts up and down the UK is now almost deafening. But, while some have succeeded, others offer a step-by-step guide of what not to do.
Now that eBay has put Skype up for sale, it's an intriguing question to ponder whether an IPO or acquisition makes the most sense. I think a better question would be to reconsider what's going on.
EBay Inc.'s Skype unit plans to release a version of its Internet-based phone software for Apple Inc.'s iPhone. The move, set to be announced Tuesday, puts Skype more directly in competition for wireless voice services with network operators such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.
EBay Inc.'s Skype Internet phone unit, on the hunt for new sources of revenue, is making a push into the corporate market. On Monday, Skype plans to announce a version of its Internet calling software that connects to corporate phone systems.
EBay has finally admitted it. It doesn't have a grand plan to fit its online calling service, Skype, into its e-commerce business. That's OK though, because Skype is starting to look a lot like what eBay used to be.
In a new program centered on Earth Day, eBay is becoming the latest company to promote its green credentials.
Comments from eBay's CEO have sparked speculation that the online marketplace may be looking to unload Skype. But any suitor that comes knocking on eBay's door will likely have to pay a hefty price tag for the Internet phone service.
The brands consumers feel are on the move and gaining in popularity can be construed as change agents - brands breaking the mold and offering the promise to affect our lives in a significant way. Here is a look at the top 15 "gaining in popularity brands" of 2002 and 2008.
The effort lets consumers find Toyota Certified Used Vehicles in classified listings at dealerships in a shopper's area. Toyota has branded information sites on its certified pre-owned program and also lets site visitors connect to dealer Web sites.