This week’s news: Groupon, Facebook, same day delivery

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

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Groupon, the famous (or infamous) coupon giant, is eyeing at a more traditional e-commerce business. The company has started to directly sell products a while ago, unlike what it has become known for, only providing discounts to goods and services provided by other retailers. Because this new approach is working pretty well with a revenue of $186 million in the most recent quarter, Groupon is now planning to open its own warehouses to reduce shipping times. Currently, most products are shipped through third-party companies, which can lead to up to 7 days until items arrive at the customers’ houses. With own warehouses Groupon would become somewhat of a Amazon competitor, although the main difference remains: Groupon only sells a selection of products and doesn’t plan to change that.

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Last year Facebook launched an e-commerce initiative, allowing users to send physical gifts – real products to their contacts. Turns out, demand was rather weak, which is why the social network has decided to ramp down its physical gifting service. Going forward, available gifts will only comprise of digital goods and gift cards. According to the company, 80 percent of gifts sent on Facebook were digital, so the move makes sense. What works for Groupon doesn’t seem to work for Facebook.

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Same day delivery is en vogue, even though some observers claim that customers do not care enough about getting something they bought online at the same day to pay extra for it. But startup executive and former Amazon employee Michael Hart argues that the potential of same day delivery is not only huge, it also could help brick and mortar retailers regain some market share due to the physical proximity to the customers.

This week’s news: ShoeDazzle & JustFab, mobile image recognition, Tictail

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

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The purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has put the unconventional entrepreneur (once again) into the spotlight. But who is he, what motives and drives him, and why is he willing to invest 250 million dollar into a ageing newspaper? This New York Times portrait is trying to give answers.

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ShoeDazzle and JustFab, two Los Angeles based fashion websites selling women shoes, have announced a merger, creating the “world’s largest fashion subscription e-commerce company”. Together, both sites have 33 million members and generate more than $400 million in annual revenue. Both brands will continue to exist, because “no woman shops at one fashion retailer”, as JustFab co-CEO Adam Goldenberg put it.

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What would happen if people had the option to take a photo of products or clothes they see somewhere “in the wild” and instantly getting the chance to purchasing them from their smartphones? Clearly, mobile image recognition could revolutionize e-commerce. Practical Ecommerce explains that this kind of technology will become possible in the next years.

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Stockholm-based Tictail is one of the most outstanding and prominent e-commerce startups right now. The company enables everybody to set up an online shop within minutes, for free. More than 20.000 stores have been created until now. Venture Village has met the Tictail-team and asked a couple of questions.

This week’s news: Facebook, Jeff Bezos, online motivation

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

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There is an interesting news floating around about an upcoming payment feature to be launched by Facebook. AllThingsD first wrote that the social network is testing something like a “PayPal competitor” for mobile purchases. Later, TechCrunch published a piece confirming that it had heard similar rumours, but that the feature in fact would play well with PayPal and all other payment solutions currently being used by online retailers.

According to TechCrunch, what Facebook is testing is a solution which would enable users to fill out credit card and billing address information on e-commerce websites based on what they have stored on Facebook. So instead of having to enter all this data manually every time they buy something from an online retailer through their smartphone, they would be able to use a function saying something like “Let Facebook Input My Billing Info” to skip that effort. The payment would then be processed as usually through PayPal or whatever other payment provider is being used. The goal would be to improve the efficiency of ads on Facebook and to be able to tell retailers what advertising investments led to which revenues.

Interesting stuff for sure.

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It’s unlikely that you haven’t heard yet, but Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has bought the renowned Washington Post for $250 million. Not through Amazon but as a private person. There is a lot of speculation out there what his goals are, and whether Bezos will try to use the Post to sell more stuff on Amazon, or whether he’ll use Amazon to sell more newspapers (or if maybe the Post stops to print news). To get a better understand about Bezos possible motives, read MG Siegler’s great analysis.

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The global media agency Mindshare has released the results of a study looking at the motivations for the use of digital media by 33 nations across the globe. 14 nations were above “normal” in their use of digital communications across the four motivation areas self –expression / entertainment / information gathering and transacting. Self-expression of course is what drives many bloggers, whereas information gathering could be what drives readers to blogs. Twingly motherland Sweden turned out to be second most advanced in Europe in regards to those motivation areas. Globally, Singapore, Portugal and China are leading the motivations table.

This week’s news: Amazon, mobile card readers, Austrian blogosphere

As we have shown last week, Pinterest is growing rapidly and having an increasing impact on e-commerce sales. Even the world biggest e-commerce retailer, Amazon, can’t ignore that. And it doesn’t. This week, the Seattle-based company has launched what seems to be its very own Pinterest competitor: On “Amazon Collections”, users can see what other customers like, want or recommend – presented in the typical Pinterest layout with lots of rectangle-boxed showing photos of products which users can add to their own collections. Of course, all items presented can be purchased directly on Amazon. That can be both an advantage or a disadvantage for the service, since users will already be logged in to Amazon while browsing through collections, but will be limited to what’s available on Amazon.

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In the past years, a host of startups and companies has followed Square in offering mobile card readers for smartphones, making it easier and cheaper for local retailers to accept card payments. Now an astonishing report from BIA/Kelsey finds that 40 % of small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. already accept payments with mobile credit card readers. Another 16% of the businesses plan to add capability within the next year. If true, that means that smartphone card readers have reached mass market appeal and cannot be considered a niche business anymore.

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Austrian newspaper derStandard.at has published some facts about the local blogosphere, based on a survey among 236 persons. The results are being presented in an infographic. If you understand German you might want to read them.

This week’s news: Pinterest, mobile coupons

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

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Pinterest, the popular and steadily growing visual bookmarking site, has an increasing impact on e-commerce sales. ReadWrite published a nice piece explaining in detail why it is worth to have an eye on Pinterest and its future development. Already 70 million users strong, the site now sends more people to e-commerce sites than Facebook. Also, an average shopper visiting an online shop coming from Pinterest spends on average twice the amount of money than a user referred to a shop via Facebook. Have a look at the original article to learn more about the startup’s rapid growth.

This week, Pinterest also announced a new approach to improve personal recommendations for existing and new users coming to the site: The company now tracks visits of people to websites that have embedded the Pinterest button to understand their fields of interests and personal preferences. This data is then analyzed and will lead to improved recommendations within Pinterest. It remains to be seen whether this potentially sensitive feature that is set to be launched within the next weeks will lead to any protests among users.

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A survey showed: At least in the U.S., shoppers like to receive coupons on their mobile phones from stores near their current location. But most merchants seem to ignore this potentially effective instrument to attract new customers and increase sales. That is a bit odd considering that the technology needed exists. But terms like geo-fencing, geo-targeting, and indoor positioning are likely to confuse the average merchant. Streetfight.com has compiled a handy list of 8 tools that local retailers can use to satisfy consumer demand and drum up additional sales with mobile coupons.