This week’s news: Card payments special

Welcome to the new edition of “This week’s news”, a selection of links to interesting articles and news from the worlds of blogs and ecommerce.

Today, by coincidence, with a little card payment special – a hot topic for most online retailers.

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Transaction fees can be a major obstacle in retail, both offline and online. Now the European Commission has announced plans to set a ceiling on the transaction fees that banks charge retailers for purchases with credit and debit cards. The move might save retailers 6 billion euros a year according to estimations by EU officials.

Whether consumers will benefit from such a step is far from clear though. The New York Times points out that while the change might motivate retailers to reduce prices, there is a likelihood that banks would try to generate the lost revenue through other channels, such as higher bank and credit card fees or reduced quality in access.

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While we are at it: TechCrunch reported this week that the payment company iZettle – like Twingly based in Sweden – plans to slash transaction prices for card payments from 2.75 % to 1.5 %. To start with only in the UK and only if a small business that uses iZettle’s Smartphone-based card reader to receive card payments generates a revenue of more than £2000 per month. Interesting is the background on this move: The article quotes an iZettle executive saying that the 2.75 % rate which has been widely adopted by most of iZettle’s competitors is a “hangover from the U.S.”, introduced by mobile payment pioneer Square based on local cost structure. That is quite different from Europe though.

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Something that online retailers don’t have to deal with: The question of whether customers authorize their payments by PIN or signature. In most of Europe, PIN has become the prevalent method, whereas in the US signature is being used above certain amounts. Meanwhile, in Australia the two major credit card companies Visa and MasterCard want to see signatures banned by June 30 next year.

PIN authorization requires cards to be equipped with an EMV chip storing that and other information. It’s widely considered being much more secure than the basic magnetic strip. The European Central Bank has just released figures stating that card fraud has been declining steadily since 2007, referring to widespread use of EMV chip-based payments as one reason.

This week’s news: Package delivery, in-store tracking, local commerce

Welcome to the new edition of “This week’s news”, a selection of links to interesting articles and news from the worlds of blogs and ecommerce.

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Until now, package delivery services were seen as the winners of e-commerce, since they are being used to send products bought online to customers worldwide. But in the U.S. major retailers have now started to experiment with new package delivery strategies that threaten the business of the likes of UPS and FedEx. For Amazon for example, the solution to lower shipping costs is to build warehouses closer to the customers as well as to actually have own delivery trucks which compete with the established delivery services. Major retailers like Wal-Mart on the other hand increasingly ship products purchased by online customers from stores instead from warehouses, removing the need for long-distance delivery.

You can read the full story here.

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But shipping is not the only area where retailers try new things: The New York Times describes the ongoing movement by retailers to gather data about in-store shopper’s behaviour and moods, using video surveillance and signals from customer’s cell phone and apps. With those measures the stores learn how many minutes customers spend in specific sections of the store and how long they browse before they buy something.

It doesn’t come as a big surprise that this leads to a variety of privacy questions, and some customers are pretty irritated about the methods being used.

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Mobile is taking over the shopping experience, now that more than half of the customers own smartphones. Thanks to that trend, commerce is changing, making use of location-enabled smartphones that replace an outdated infrastructure with a digital foundation that finds its roots in e-commerce. Read why local is the future of commerce at streetfight.com.

This week’s news: Traffic boost, conscious consumption

Welcome to the new edition of “This week’s news”, a selection of links to interesting articles and news from the worlds of blogs and ecommerce.

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No online retailer would say not to additional traffic. But getting it is not trivial, especially since all stores, major and smaller ones, are heavily focusing on search engine optimization. In the end, the top 10 results will always only include 10 results – even if thousands of shops trying to get in there.

Practicalecommerce.com has compiled a handy list of 5 less conventional and less obvious ways to get more visitors to come to e-commerce sites. The article suggests to give away stuff for free to create customer loyalty which will pay off in the long run. It’s also pointing out that there are now a host of sites other than the usual search engines where shops can purchase pay per click advertisement, such as Twitter or YouTube. Two more approaches would be to host contests involving social media channels or actually purchasing traditional advertising. And last but not least, creating entertaining content can lead to a huge influx of new visitors. The best example: the “Will it blend” videos by Blendtec.

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The tech scene is buzzing about a new e-commerce venture by Foodspotting co-founder Soraya Darabi. The site, called Zady, which is scheduled to launch in late August targets consumers who care about sustainability. The goal is to provide users with detailed information about where products come from, who designed/made them, about raw materials and ingredients. The plan is to have every product personally vetted by the Zady crew, in order to only sell products that pass high ethical standards.

Consumers are getting more conscious about what they buy, how products were manufactured and whether they were produced under sustainable, human and fair conditions. It might not be a bad time to jump on the “conscious consumer movement”.

This week’s news: Germany’s blogosphere, Andrew Mason

Welcome to the new edition of “This week’s news”, a selection of links to interesting articles and news from the worlds of blogs and e-commerce.

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The German blog marketing platform rankseller has conducted a big survey among Bloggers in Germany. It managed to get responses from 2.344 bloggers to a variety of questions. It is unlcear how representative the results are, but due to the significant number of participants they for sure give a clear glimpse into the German blogosphere. Below we are listing a selection of the results:

  • 45,8 percent of the bloggers have been writing on a blog for a maximum of 3 years. That is a clear sign that blogging is growing not only in the Nordics but also in the German speaking region.
  • 71 percent earn money with their blog, but only 38,2 percent planned to from the beginning. Just recently we mentioned how an increasing number of bloggers in Sweden managed to turn their blogs into real revenue machines.
  • 51,3 percent invest less than 20 Euro per month into their blog, e.g. for hosting, themes etc.
  • 15,1 percent have a formal journalism education
  • The most common topics blogged about are “home & gardening” (7 percent), “erotic & love” (6,4 percent) and “health and nutrition” (5,6 percent).
  • 22,4 percent publish only 1 to 4 posts per month. On the other side of the scale, 11,2 percent publish more than 50 articles a month.
  • The most commons ways for bloggers to increase their visibility and reach are SEO (35,4 percent) followed by social media (35 percent).
  • 71,1 percent expect blogging to have an even bigger impact on the media landscape in the future.

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You might remember Andrew Mason, the founder and former CEO of group buying platform Groupon. After having been fired from the Chicago-based company, he now has released a music album of motivational rock tracks. The Verge sums it up like this: “The result is a competent and unremarkable 80s rock record that gains a fair bit of individuality from Mason’s unusual lyrical approach”. “Hardly workin’” is available on iTunes and on-demand streaming services such as Spotify.

If you are founder/CEO of an e-commerce company you now know what your next career step could be.