This week’s news: Fab.com, Dwolla, Twitter and more

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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After an impressive growth period, the design e-commerce retailer Fab.com was struggling a bit in the recent month, laying off staff and trying to find a new focus after the flash sales concept turned out to have a less lucrative future than what initially was expected. But now, the New York-based company seems to push forward again, having announced that it has acquired assets from myFab, a French home decor and designer furniture portal. In total, Fab.com has raised an impressive $336 million in outside funding so far.

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Dwolla is an interesting US startup that allows individuals and businesses to move money at very low fees. Now the company has launched a feature called “Dwolla Credit”, which enables merchants using Dwolla to offer customers an option to purchase now but pay later – without the need of a credit card. Retailers on the other hand receive the paid amount in real-time, instead of days or weeks later.

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Customers abandoning a purchase in the final stages is both a huge loss and a huge chance for retailers. On the one hand, it is missed revenue. On the other hand, with the right approach, those users can be brought back to the shop in order to complete the purchase. It all depends on the strategy. PowerRetail analyzes the effectiveness of a personalized approach that makes use of individual reminder emails.

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Twitter has launched a new feature that shows pictures from different photo platforms inside the stream without that the user has to click to see them. While some users complain about the increased noise and loss of focus caused by the change, Forbes sees big potential for online shops. Photos can convey a lot of information quickly – something that Twitter with its 140 character limited has been not that suitable for. By selectively publishing photos to specific items available online, retailers can leverage the new Twitter function to drive sales.

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Medium, the publishing platform started by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, is now open for everybody who wants to publish content. Previously, only those who had gotten hold of an invite did have writing privileges.

This week’s news: Amazon, 10Centuries, Blogging police officer

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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These days, it’s hard to publish an edition of “This week’s news” without mentioning Amazon. The New York Times debates the issue of the online giant’s incapability of making profit. Despite exploding revenue and confidence among shareholders, the company is still focusing on growth over profit. Some observers actually are questioning whether Amazon will be able to “change its business model from selling other people’s products at a razor-thin margin to selling other people’s products at a large margin”. Still, the extraordinary long-term strategy of the company seems to have a lot of support within the industry. The idea that one day everyone will buy everything from Amazon simply is too intriguing.

But as a little sign of change, Amazon just raised the free shipping limit for deliveries in the U.S. from 25 to 35 Dollar.

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eBay wants to get rid of its image as auction site. The strategy: Becoming more like Pinterest, the booming visual bookmarking site that generates a lot of referral traffic to other online shops. This week the company also announced the acquisition of the UK delivery startup Shutl.

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10Centuries is the name of a new bloggging service for users of App.net (the company trying to establish a better Twitter) and Evernote. The idea is pretty neat: Instead of having to use a dedicated admin interface and blog editor, users can simply send a private message to @10centures from their favourite App.net client. The first time they do that, a new website will be created and a link is being sent back to them to share. Also, 10Centures lets users publish Evernote notes to their blog. Content is hosted at either App.net or Evernote, meaning that users of 10Centures own their content.

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All kinds of people blog. At least in Sweden, even police officers do. Martin Marmgren works for the police in Stockholm and publishes reflections and opinions about his work as police on a dedicated, personal blog. He is not afraid to discuss highly controversial cases that have gotten a lot of media attention and doesn’t hesitate to criticise specific police operations either. His blog is in Swedish but a version automatically translated to English should be ok to read: konstapelbastian.blogspot.se (translated).

This week’s news: Pierre Omidyar, WordPress, Blogging for money

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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Some weeks ago it was announced that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos personally has acquired the Washington Post. Now, another e-commerce billionaire is getting serious about journalism: Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, plans to launch a new online media outlet, focusing on independent, investigative journalism. One of the first members of his team is Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald, who is widely known for having helped the Whistleblower Edward Snowden to leak his stories.

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Speaking about Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone is about to publish a book titled “The everything store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon”, describing in detail how the e-commerce giant became one of the most powerful companies in the world, and how Bezos made all this happen. Businessweek has published a (lengthy) excerpt from the book describing how Bezos forced diapers.com to sell to Amazon.

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The US startup Square, run by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has become known for its smartphone credit card dongles and payment processing tools available for small and medium retailers. Now users in the U.S. can use the newly launched Square Cash service to send money to each other in the most simple way: by email.

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WordPress is a great blogging system. But it also can be used to set up a neat online store. Practical Ecommerce shows 4 popular e-commerce plugins for WordPress: WooCommerce, WP e-Commerce, Jigoshop and Cart66 Lite.

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To make a living with blogging – that’s a dream of many. Swedish blogger Emma Sundh has managed to do that. For the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter she explains what’s needed to turn a blog into a part- or even full-time business. Here is the Swedish version and here one automatically translated into English.

This week’s news: Card payments, Amazon, Huffington Post and more

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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Having to enter credit card details into online forms on e-commerce sites involves always security risks. Now the three big card giants Visa, MasterCard and American Express plan to get rid of those numbers all together, at least for online customers. Instead of the numbers digital tokens would be processed, making payments more secure. Currently a framework and standard is being developed.

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Meanwhile, mobile payments are finding increasing acceptance among online shoppers. According to global payments solution specialist Adyen, mobile-payment transactions have increased by 27 percent worldwide from May to August. And iOS devices accounted for nearly 3 out of 4 mobile transactions.

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Amazon is trying to compete with PayPal in getting online retailers to implement a button that allows their customers to pay for goods with Amazon. The “Login and Pay” button works similar to the ubiquitous PayPal buttons, making use of previously stored customer and payment details at Amazon. For retailers, the transaction fees are 2.9 percent + $0.30 per transaction or less, based on volume.

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The Seattle-based discount e-commerce site Zulily is the first deal site to go public since Groupon. It aims to generate about $100 million with the IPO.

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The famous US blog and journalism portal The Huffington Post, one of the first blog sites that became a big media entity, has launched a German version. As in its mother land, huffingtonpost.de will offer a mix of news written by professional journalists and of opinion pieces and blog posts by independent and community authors.

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Some people don’t want to blog. Other would like to but don’t really know how to start. And especially, where to start. Digital Trends has compiled a nice overview about the best free, freemium and premium blog services, describing who they are optimized for and what to expect.

This week’s news: Showrooming, China, Ghost

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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Showrooming is one of the side-effects of the rise of e-commerce. The terms refers to a scenario during which customers walk into local stores to choose products to buy, but then go online with their smartphone to get the items at lower prices from an e-commerce site. The local store becomes a “showroom”, losing out on revenue and risking its own existence.

A study released by Columbia Business School and the loyalty management company Aimia might be able to calm down concerned store managers a bit: According to the research, only 6 percent of people try to purchase products with their smartphones after having seen them in a store. Many use their smartphone instead to find reviews and customers feedback to make a qualified buying decision.

A possible conclusion could be that stores actually should encourage customers to find reviews about the products sold, or even enable them, by providing in-store web access. If they realize that other customers like the specific item, the likelihood for an in-store purchases increases.

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Ever visited a Chinese online shop and got a shock about the amount of clutter, colours, banners and massive link lists? It has to be that way: “Our consumers like a page that is very crowded, busy with a lot of links so they can open lots of windows at the same time”. That’s a quote from a Chinese e-commerce entrepreneur published in a CNN piece about the “mad, mad world of China e-commerce”. It’s a world where the rules of the West simply don’t apply – an important fact that every online shop that plans to expand to China has to keep in mind.

And the differences don’t stop with the customers’ expectations on the “shopping experience”. Logistics and the integration of social media into the buying process are following different patterns than in Europe and the U.S as well. And there is one more point to consider: Competition is extremely fierce. Or how CNN describes it: “In China, e-commerce is a bloodsport.

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There is a new blogging tool in town called Ghost. At least almost, because it gives limited access for now. Humbly billed “Just a Blogging Platform”, Ghost follows a minimalistic approach, removing many of the elements found at increasingly bloated content-management systems and blog services.

The founder, John O’Nolan, targets slightly more tech-savvy people with his free open source service, since users have to take care of hosting for themselves – at least for now.

Wired has a write-up about Ghost, its features and main differentiation points to competitors.

This week’s news: Fashion blogs, subscription commerce, e-commerce growth and more

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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Last week we mentioned Germany’s most popular fashion blogger Jessica Weiss. A couple of days ago The Hyperland blog of Germany’s public television station ZDF published an overview about the country’s fashion blogger scene, that grew quickly after Weiss had proved that you don’t need to be a major publishing company to launch a successful site covering fashion. In case you want to dive more into the German fashion scene, here are the blogs mentioned in the piece: Stil in Berlin, Modepilot, LesMads, Journelles, Two for Fashion, Styleproofed, Dandy Diary.

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At Twingly we are obviously convinced about the many pros of blogging. But for everybody who has doubts, The Huffington Post has a list of 6 things that you get better at while blogging.

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Now back to e-commerce: Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is said to be preparing an IPO in the U.S.. According to Forbes, it would be the most anticipated U.S. tech debut since Facebook.

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Subcription commerce has lately become a pretty popular niche within e-commerce. Instead of ordering items online when customers need them, they “subscribe” on an ongoing basis, getting the specific product(s) delivered straight to their door on an ongoing basis. Now Target, one of the U.S.’ major “offline” retailers, is jumping on the subscription trend, offering about 150 items that can be ordered on a subscription basis.

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Forrester has analyzed the e-commerce growth opportunities for a couple of countries. The result: The U.S. offers the biggest potential to retailers, with a score of 73.4, compared to the runner-up China (51.1 score). Also in the top 10: Japan, South Korea, Uk, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore and Sweden.

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PayPal-owner eBay is acquiring Chicago-based PayPal competitor Baintree for $800 million.

This week’s news: iPhone, Groupon, Medium and more

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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Apple has presented two new iPhones – the 5S and a little bit cheaper model made out of plastic, the 5C. The main feature-addition is a fingerprint scanner that is able to recognize the user with a quick scan of his or her fingerprint. For now, the fingerprints are stored on the phone and can’t be used by 3rd parties, thus won’t be available for websites or apps as an authentication tool. For now. That will likely change in the future and open up possibilities for online retailers to implement frictionless payment methods, as described by Businessweek. Another improvement relevant for the retail industry is a new iOS 7 feature called iBeacon, which lets the phone communicate with sensors nearby. One obvious use case would be to let stores enable coupons or mobile payments when customers with an iPhone walk in.

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Groupon has news again: The coupon giant has acquired the last-minute hotel-booking app Blink, making clear it does want to keep diversifying its business.

In other, a bit more entertaining Groupon news, the company’s Indian website recently offered a discount on onions – which apparently is a very popular vegetable in the country: The demand was so high that the Website went offline for a while. Within 44 minutes, 3,000 kilograms of onions were purchased.

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At the end of last week, a rumour appeared saying that Amazon would launch its own smartphone and providing it to people for free! Even if nothing seems to be impossible in the world of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, that story turned out to be incorrect – at least according to a statement issued by the company explaining that if it would offer its own smartphone, it would not give it away for free.

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Meanwhile, PayPal continues its foray into the retail sector, testing a hardware gadget for retailers that would auto-recognize when customers walk into the store, letting them pay via their PayPal accounts without having to pull out their phones or wallets.

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A little more than a year ago, the Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone launched the blogging platform Medium, focusing on longform writing. While the site that gives publishing rights only to selected users has caught the attention of many bloggers and tech pundits, questions about monetization and the status of the site (platform or publication) still wait for answers.

This week’s news: PayPal, Drones, Pixmania, BuzzFeed

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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PayPal is not finished trying to change the way commerce and payments are done: The company, known for its tools to process payments between people and online merchants or eBay sellers, has launched a new mobile app including features to see nearby stores that accept PayPal payments as well as to pay in restaurants. PayPal, owned by eBay, seems to be serious about “offline” payments.

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Here is a completely new approach for delivery of goods bought online: Drones! At least that’s what a Chinese delivery company experiments with, making use of Drones that can carry as much as 6.6 pounds and fly 330 feet in the air (via).

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The online electronics shop Pixmania has been sold by its previous owner, the British retail chain Dixons, to the German company Mutares. The latter paid about 69 million Euro for the online retailer that has making losses for a while.

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BuzzFeed, the growing blog/media outlet known for its compilations of cute animal pictures, is growing strongly, forcing lots of media observers to change their assumption that online publishing and successful business models don’t go well together. Then again, some might not see the often rather short-lived, rather cheaply produced content as the saviour of journalisms in the digital age.

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.