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Category Archives: eCommerce

Consumer engagement key to e-commerce growth

DEVELOPMENTS in digital technology and a higher penetration of smartphones are enabling merchants to better engage their customers. This will give them a greater opportunity to build brand loyalty.

In a panel discussion at the recent Alibaba Business School Asian reunion, Lazada Malaysia chief operating officer Kevin Lee urges merchants to make use of relevant tools to enhance their interaction with consumers.

“Penetration of smartphone in Malaysia is skyrocketing and that is such a huge opportunity for engagement. For us, this is important because we are creating reasons for customers to think about lazada,” says Lee.

In recent times, the e-commerce platform has launched several programmes such as games and live shows to engage with customers. And Lee notes the success of some of these programmes in building interaction with the market.

With more and more tools coming on stream, retail stores are no longer just about transacting goods and services for money. In China, for example, live streams have become a key component to engage with customers and build a following and have been credited for increased sales for merchants.

“There’s so much interaction now from something that was transactional before,” Lee says.

Additionally, the use of data enables merchants to engage specifically with audience in certain sub-segments. This targeted engagement will help drive success for marketing efforts and build a stronger relationship with customers.

“We are driving opportunities for merchants with engagement tools on our platform. This is a new way of thinking about it. Maybe in China and more developed markets, these efforts have become very obvious. The Malaysian market is very transactional. But we are moving more towards engagement,” he adds.

However, he notes that there is also a need to further educate consumers and merchants to tap into this new trend.

While awareness efforts have previously focused on educating consumers and merchants on how to go about doing e-commerce, they need to now

move towards getting people

to understand the impact of

content engagement.

“While you can’t teach people the specific steps to be creative, you can tell them why it’s important. But people need to jump on this and see how they can increase engagement and interaction of content and how to monetise that,” he adds.

Notably, Alibaba Group has been crucial in the growth of e-commerce in China. And the group has been trying to duplicate its success in other countries. It has been investing in building relevant ecosystems to further support the growth of e-commerce in the region.

But it notes that customers’ shopping behaviours have been different across markets, making it a challenge to directly duplicate its success in China. Also, merchants have not been able to effectively use the tools provided by the e-commerce giant.

“So without a suitable ecosystem, it will be hard to reach the full potential of the Alibaba platform. We need many of the entrepreneurs in the region to be a part of the ecosystem. Only with strong support from partners and by getting feedback, can we finetune operations in different markets,” it says.

The Alibaba Business School Asian reunion brought together

its eFounders fellowship and Alibaba Netpreneur Training Programs graduates over a time of sharing and networking. The

event saw the participation of over 200 entrepreneurs and industry personnel from across South-East Asia.

The training programmes are part of the Alibaba Group’s education effort to empower entrepreneurs from emerging markets to leverage the power of digital economy to create economic development.

“Through our initiatives, our aim is to inspire entrepreneurs to create inclusive and sustainable digital ecosystems in their home countries and encourage collaborations across the region, while sharing the ecosystem’s benefits of bringing small businesses, entrepreneurs and other previously disadvantaged groups into the mainstream economy,” says Alibaba Group vice president Brian Wong.

Malaysian agency picks Synagie as partner to help firms accelerate e-commerce adoption

SYNAGIE Corporation subsidiary Synagie Sdn Bhd has been appointed by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) as a cross-border e-commerce initiative partner for its seller adoption programme under the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap.

MDEC is a government agency which falls under Malaysia’s Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. It is responsible for driving Malaysia’s digital economy and manages initiatives like the Digital Free Trade Zone.

The National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap is a government initiative created to increase e-commerce adoption amongst Malaysian businesses. This is with the goal of doubling Malaysia’s e-commerce growth, and reaching RM211 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) contributions by 2020.

Synagie said on Monday that the appointment is with immediate effect until Dec 31, 2020, and will see the e-commerce solutions vendor helping Malaysia businesses speed up their e-commerce adoption through its enablement solutions.

This will also allow the businesses to sell their products online in South-east Asia and China markets in Synagie’s network. Synagie will also leverage MDEC’s nationwide network in Malaysia.

Clement Lee, chief executive officer and executive director of Synagie said: “It is our privilege to be able to work closely with MDEC, who is leading Malaysia’s digital transformation to provide Malaysian businesses with an integrated cross-border e-commerce solution to sell their products to the region.”

Google vs. Amazon: The Battle for Ecommerce Dominance

Nothing gets people going like a good rivalry. Jason Varitek planting his catcher’s mitt directly on Alex Rodriguez’ face is an iconic moment in professional baseball history. Pusha T setting Twitter on fire with the news of Drake’s secret child was the most memorable hip-hop moment of 2018. John Wick dethroning Mission: Impossible as this decade’s coolest, most incredibly unrealistic action film franchise is more important to me than I’d care to admit.

But the intensifying rivalry we’ll be looking at today has nothing to do with sports teams, rappers, or indestructible men who—much to my disappointment—don’t actually exist. Instead, we’re here to talk about tech companies—Google and Amazon, to be more specific.

During last month’s Google Marketing Live keynote, Google’s VP of Engineering for Shopping and Travel, Oliver Heckmann, announced two big changes coming to Google Shopping this year:
  • A bigger, better Google Shopping experience
  • The expansion of showcase shopping ads

Although the majority of this post will be dedicated to breaking down these announcements, we think it’s important to frame them within their broader context: As Amazon continues to improve its rapidly growing ad business, Google means to dominate ecommerce.

Google vs. Amazon: Setting the scene

The digital advertising market has been a duopoly for a while now. At the time of this writing, roughly 60% of digital ad spend goes to Google and Facebook. Although Microsoft (which owns Bing and LinkedIn) and Verizon (which owns AOL and Yahoo) hold steady market shares, neither of them has struck experts as legitimate contenders to become the industry’s third giant.


Via Statista.

Enter: Amazon. As of 2018, it’s the most popular place to search for a product online—a title formerly held by Google. Although millions of consumers are beginning new product searches on Google every day—indeed, this alone is reason to run Shopping ads—Amazon now reigns as the go-to ecommerce marketplace. Accordingly, advertisers are shifting more and more dollars to Amazon, thus driving the company’s ad sales through the roof. In Q1 of 2019, their advertising revenue spiked to nearly $3 billion—a far cry from Google’s quarterly mark of $30 billion, but potentially significant of an industry sea change nonetheless.

As is the case with all good rivalries, one party’s zig is met with the other party’s zag. Google isn’t going to sit idly by while Amazon takes bigger and bigger chunks of its ad revenue. That would be the tech equivalent of Drake failing to clap back after Pusha T exposed his—oh, right.

So, how does Google respond? By improving Google Shopping and delivering more value to their ecommerce advertisers. That’s exactly what they’ve done with these changes unveiled at Google Marketing Live. Let’s take a look at each one in turn.

Change #1: A bigger, better Google Shopping experience

Amazon’s comprehensiveness makes it appealing. No matter what you’re using the platform to look for, you’ll probably find a wealth of information about it. This is crucial, of course, because a lot goes into online shopping. As much as we’d like it to be the case, consumers don’t simply head to Google, do a quick search, and pick one of the options presented to them. Along the path from inspiration to purchase, they like to answer quite a few questions:

  • Brands: Who’s offering what I’m looking for?
  • Prices: How much should I expect to pay?
  • Locations: Is this available in any stores near me?
  • Features: Which option best meets my unique needs?
  • Reviews: What are other people saying about each option?

Although some of these questions are more important than others—too high of a price can be prohibitive, for example—each of them plays a role in influencing purchase decisions. The less work consumers have to do to find this information, the less frustrating their online shopping experiences. Amazon has proven this, and Google has taken note—and their vision for the new Google Shopping experience proves it. Let’s take a look at its major value propositions.

1. Easily find and purchase the most relevant products

Rolling out this year, the new Shopping experience enables users to browse millions of products and find all the information they need to make informed purchase decisions. When someone searches for a product (e.g., running sneakers), they’ll be able to filter the results according to their personal needs and preferences. Whether they’re looking for a specific brand, color, size, feature, price, or any other attribute you can think of, Google Shopping will deliver them the most relevant results.

Once the shopper has found the perfect pair of running sneakers, they’ll have their pick of buying options: from the seller’s website, from a nearby brick-and-mortar store, or—in certain cases—directly from Google within the Shopping interface. The latter option signifies the effort to incorporate the best parts of Google Express—Google’s less-than-thriving shopping cart and delivery solution—into the new Shopping experience. If a shopper does decide to purchase directly from Google, they’ll enjoy the comfort of guaranteed returns and customer support.



In other words, the reimagined Google Shopping is a full-fledged ecommerce marketplace—a direct competitor to Amazon. The key advantage, of course, is that it enables sellers with brick-and-mortar locations to drive foot traffic to local stores. So, whereas Amazon is a fantastic way to sell products online, Google Shopping is a fantastic way to sell both online and offline.

2. Browse personalized recommendations

After our runner friend (let’s call him Ron) has made a few more purchases—a couple pairs of shorts and a water bottle, let’s say—he’ll notice something new about the Shopping homepage: It’s personalized with recommendations based on his past searches and purchases. From here, Ron can browse all kinds of relevant items and start thinking about what he wants to buy next.



This is a particularly strong feature, in my opinion, not only because it borrows directly from the Amazon homepage, but also because it taps into the logic at the heart of another rapidly emerging ecommerce platform: Instagram. Instagram’s successful transition from a fun social media network to an honest-to-goodness ecommerce platform is due, in large part, to the personalized nature of the browsing experience. Because users have full control over which brands they follow on Instagram, they’re able to curate their own digital shopping experiences.

By using machine learning to personalize users’ Shopping homepages, Google is effectively replicating the Instagram experience. In fact, they’re improving the Instagram experience. Google can use the data it collects not only to show users the brands and products they want to see, but also to predict the brands and products users may want to see. We’re no longer talking about a channel designed to simply capture commercial intent; we’re talking about a channel designed to inspire commercial intent.

3. Shop wherever you please

Despite the seamlessness and comprehensiveness of the new Shopping interface, you can’t expect your prospects to use it whenever they feel inspired to make a purchase. No matter how badly someone wants or needs your product, the fact of the matter is that it takes effort to open up Google Shopping, apply the necessary filters, and buy something.

That conversion-killing friction is precisely why the new Shopping experience will extend beyond the Shopping interface itself and into the realms of Images and YouTube. At the time of this writing, certain search queries are triggering shoppable results under the Google Images tab. Starting July 15, users will see shoppable results on YouTube as well.



The reasoning behind this extension of Google Shopping into new properties is simple. Across devices and platforms, consumers make tons of touchpoints with their favorite brands every day. Although different consumers are at different points in their respective customer journeys, each of those touchpoints—in theory—is an opportunity for you to make a sale. By eliminating the need for in-market consumers to actively search for your products, the new (and broader) Shopping experience enables you to turn those opportunities into revenue.

As an example, let’s say you’re advertising athletic t-shirts and Ron the runner is one of your prospects. Previously, you’ve served him ads as he scrolls through YouTube videos related to running. Although he’s been enticed by your products, he hasn’t bothered to search for your brand on Google. In just a few weeks, he’ll no longer have to. Thanks to shoppable YouTube ads, going from inspiration to purchase will barely require lifting a finger.

In a nutshell: Whereas Amazon advertisers can only reach consumers on Amazon, Google Shopping advertisers can reach consumers across relevant Google properties.

How to get in on the action

If you’re as excited as I am about the new Shopping experience and you want to take advantage of all the opportunities it has to offer, you’ll have to join Google’s Shopping Actions program. Available only to sellers in the US and France, Shopping Actions is essentially a tool that enables you to connect with and sell to consumers across Google’s properties.

To join the Shopping Actions program in the US, you need to be a Shopping advertiser with systems for fulfillment, returns, and customer support already in place. Get started here.

Change #2: The expansion of showcase shopping ads

As I mentioned when discussing the personalized Shopping homepage, Google doesn’t want to simply create another marketplace that consumers visit when they already know which products they want to buy (cough, cough, Amazon, cough, cough). To borrow the words of Search Engine Land’s Ginny Marvin, Google wants to “own the whole funnel”—and that means inspiring consumers with relevant content when they’re in the mood for discovery.



That was the motivation behind the introduction of showcase shopping ads back in 2017. The idea was straightforward enough: When a user does a broad product search, invite them to browse a collection of relevant offerings. Effectively, the showcase shopping ad type has been a way to assist consumers who turn to Google Search to discover new products.

But regular ol’ Search isn’t the only way people discover new products, is it? Nope. Google Images, for example, is an awesome way to find new ideas for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle purchases (which is why, as mentioned before, shoppable images results are now live). Elsewhere, users turn to Google Discover (long live the news feed) when they need to catch up on the stuff they care about—thus giving you, as an advertiser, a golden opportunity to introduce them to your business. And then, of course, there’s YouTube—arguably Google’s greatest asset. Two-thirds of users have watched a video to help them make a purchase decision. Of those users, 80% say they watched that video at the beginning of their customer journey. Translation: YouTube is a phenomenal place to help consumers discover new products.



Given alllll of that, it was only a matter of time until Google expanded showcase shopping ads beyond Search and into the other properties people turn to for discovery. Once these additional placements are fully rolled out, you’ll be able to bring consumers to the top of your marketing funnel no matter where they are.

How to get in on the action

The only requirements for running showcase shopping ads are (1) that you’re a Shopping advertiser and (2) that you have an active Shopping campaign. If you check both of those boxes, here’s what you’ll have to do.

Open up your Google Ads account and select Ad groups from the left-hand menu. Click the blue plus button and then Select a campaign. Once you’ve found the Shopping campaign you want your showcase shopping ad to live in, select Create ad group. When you’re prompted to select an ad group type, pick Showcase Shopping. From there, you’ll need to name your ad group and set a bid. Keep in mind that the bid you’re setting is on a cost-per-engagement basis (CPE). This means that you’ll pay every time someone expands your ad and spends at least 10 seconds browsing or whenever someone clicks a link within your ad.

Once you’ve named your ad group, set a bid, and selected the products you’d like to display, it’s time to create your ad! All this requires is a header image (which will appear at the top of your ad when a user expands it) and a couple items of ad copy. Make sure everything looks good in the preview window, click Save and continue, and you’re ready to go!

Google vs. Amazon: Why the new Google Shopping matters

Amazon dominates ecommerce. There’s no getting around that. Although it’s as much a cloud computing company as anything else, the terms “Amazon” and “online shopping” have become virtually one in the same. Google is the gatekeeper to everything online—except products.

The company can’t do much about consumers’ increasing preference for beginning their product searches on Amazon. What it can do is worry less about connecting advertisers to consumers when they’re actively searching for products and focus more on turning key touchpoints into opportunities for both discovery (top of funnel) and sales (bottom of funnel).



You’ll notice that creating a one-stop marketplace (read: Amazon) is only a single aspect of the new Google Shopping experience. While the personalized homepage serves as a data-driven hub for introducing users to relevant brands and products, the shoppable placements on Images and YouTube serve as friction-reducing tools for turning prospects into customers. Plus, with the expansion of showcase shopping ads to those same platforms as well as Google Discover, advertisers can fill their funnels and drive conversions all in the same place.

So—why does this matter to you, the ecommerce advertiser? Because your prospective customers are everywhere. They’re consulting Google Images for new ideas. They’re scrolling through Google Discover to find engaging, relevant content. They’re watching YouTube videos to find out what other people think about the products they might buy. As loyalty to particular businesses becomes, frankly, a thing of the past, initiating impactful touchpoints at meaningful moments makes all the difference.

Amazon boasts two crucial strengths: a huge user base and high commercial intent. Though Google Shopping has a smaller user base (for now), it’s certainly not lacking in commercial intent. And now, with the reimagination unveiled at Google Marketing Live, Google Shopping will give ecommerce advertisers the marketing tools they need to supplement that low-funnel magic with tons of high- and mid-funnel potential.


Amazon’s online market share may be smaller than previously thought

Amazon’sOpens a New Window. dominance of the U.S. e-commerceOpens a New Window.landscape may not be as significant as previous estimates suggested, according to a top research firm.

The Seattle-based retail giant is projected to generate about 38 percent of all U.S. retail e-commerce sales in 2019, according to second-quarter estimates by eMarketer. That figure marks a significant downgrade from the firm’s first-quarter estimates that Amazon would control about 47 percent of the overall market.

An eMarketer representative said the adjustment stemmed from data provided by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in his April letter to shareholders regarding third-party sellers on its platform. The data allowed eMarketer to “update a key input” in its forecast model to more accurately reflect Amazon’s position.

Ticker Security Last Change %Chg
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 1,869.67 -0.63 -0.03%

“Third-party sales have grown from $0.1 billion to $160 billion – a compound annual growth rate of 52%. To provide an external benchmark, eBay’s gross merchandise sales in that period have grown at a compound rate of 20%, from $2.8 billion to $95 billion,” Bezos wrote in the letterOpens a New Window., adding that “third-party sellers are kicking our first-party butt.”

While Amazon’s market share may be smaller than previously thought, the e-commerce giant still holds a commanding lead over rivals. EBay ranked second with a 6.1 percent share of U.S. e-commerce sales, followed by Walmart at 4.7 percent and Apple at 3.8 percent.

Whether Amazon Is Under Threat From Walmart And Target’s Online Growth

Amazon (AMZN) has shown a slowdown in revenue growth rate while its main competitor in US, Walmart (WMT), has reported 37% growth in the ecommerce segment. Target (TGT) has also announced a good online sales growth of 42%. This has led some analysts to give a cautious note on Amazon’s future revenue growth ability. But we need to dig deeper into the numbers to find the relative strengths and weaknesses of these giants.

Amazon’s online store growth was only 12% which ended up pulling down the overall revenue growth. This segment has a very low margin which is the reason why Amazon’s management is focusing on growth in other segments. At the same time, Walmart’s growth in e-commerce was largely due to its store pickup facility. Amazon’s ability to rapidly grow its more profitable segments gives the company an upper hand against other retailers.

Amazon’s intentional slowdown

Fig: Slowdown in online store sales and third-party sales. Source: Amazon Filings

We can see from the above chart that Amazon’s online store sales growth have been very modest in the last few quarters. The growth in physical stores would be marginal at best as the company does not plan to expand the store base. The third-party seller services have also seen a big slowdown in the recent quarter. This segment reported a growth of 23% against 39% in the year-ago quarter.

Leveraging the Tools That Fuel E-Commerce Growth

E-commerce technologies have been innovating fast. It’s no surprise, considering e-commerce in North America grew by 15 percent in 2018, to reach a market value of more than US$500 billion.

Today’s e-commerce businesses need to stay ahead of the curve if they want to be the consumer’s choice, as convenience and relevance remain king.

Companies can stand out in this competitive environment by deploying some of the latest technologies that assure their customers receive the highest-quality products and services possible. These include artificial intelligence-driven personalized experiences, augmented reality try-it-out tools, and last mile delivery innovations.

Here’s a look at how brands have been leveraging these technologies to keep their customers happy — and drive growth.

AI-Driven Shopping
Online shoppers’ data is invaluable to e-commerce companies, and it should be treated as such. Online retailers can gain important insights about consumer affinities, trends and preferences — shedding light on what can be marketed to them, and what is not likely to interest them.

Leveraging AI to analyze the browsing behavior of consumers and then forming segments of the customer base can power some seriously effective marketing strategies for e-commerce businesses.

For example, a consumer insights platform can help brands uncover the audiences they should be targeting through data analysis of thousands of social media users’ psychographic, demographic and behavioral attributes. This type of analysis gives light to crucial consumer insights and trends that e-commerce brands can leverage to better connect with their customers.

Consumers who have been targeted with personalized marketing and products are more likely to buy, and their relationship with the brand is likely to deepen as they perceive it as more relevant to them. In fact, businesses that adopt personalized marketing experience an average 19 percent boost in sales , and 34 percent of online shoppers are most likely to recommend a brand that shows them the things that are relevant to their interests.

There’s nothing stopping online retailers getting creative with this data. For example, Adidas has a strategy of offering customers discounts on personalized product ranges, while ASOS automatically presents its site browsers with the section relevant to them when they land on the homepage.

E-commerce brands can explore the possibilities that AI can bring them by deploying an AI-powered chatbot to provide answers to customer queries. By opting for an AI-driven chatbot over a traditional rule-based chatbot, brands can deepen their relationship with their consumers and increase the likelihood of sales by ensuring the chatbot can understand requests made in conversational language and provide the relevant answer.

AI-based technologies thus increase both the top line and bottom line for online retailers.

Augmented and Virtual Reality
Most e-commerce businesses are familiar with the gargantuan cost of returns. In the U.S., it is estimated that return deliveries alone will cost $550 billion by 2020 — 75.2 percent more than in 2016. However, augmented and virtual reality are here to drive down those return rates significantly for many e-commerce businesses.

While not yet widespread, tools now exist that allow shoppers to visualize what items look like in real life. Google recently added 3D augmented reality models to its search results, allowing users to check out an item in the “real world” before deciding to buy. It already has begun working with New Balance, Samsung and Target.

Similarly, Ikea has launched an app that allows their shoppers to visualize what pieces of furniture look like in their homes.

E-commerce brands that sell accessories and clothes now have the option to deploy a “virtual mirror” on their website, so shoppers can try on before they buy, getting as close as possible to a brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Being able to picture what items look like in person promises to reduce return rates and drive revenue for e-commerce brands.

Virtual reality for e-commerce brands is set to spread into other territories, including cosmetics. Along with the fashion industry, online retailers should expect virtual mirrors to become a reality for their businesses very soon.

Last Mile Delivery Technologies
Consumers want faster fulfillment and convenience, and demand has risen for fast — even same-day — delivery, facilitated by last mile technologies.

For example, Amazon has partnered with supermarkets to expand its “click and collect” service — the courier drops the package off at a specific location and the customer later comes to pick it up — making it easier for customers to get their orders quickly and when it suits them.

In Europe, online retailers have joined forces with car manufacturer Skoda on a system that allows customers to pick up their orders in the trunk of their own car. Couriers simply have to unlock the trunk within a specific time slot, using the app to drop off the order.

Thinking outside the box about how to get orders to customers in the fastest and most convenient way possible holds great promise for e-commerce businesses that want to stay one step ahead.

The future is ripe for innovation in last mile delivery. In the short term, McKinsey expects electric vehicles to flourish, along with an increased presence of unattended delivery technology, which promises to deliver on cost-effectiveness for businesses and convenience for customers. For example, robot delivery is being tested in San Francisco. However, it needs to be accompanied by a human in case something goes wrong, which somewhat diminishes the point.

Further, Wired recently reported that the technology for drone delivery services is “finally almost here.” An offshoot company of Google, Wing Aviation just secured government approval as an airline, legally giving it the authority to begin dropping products to customers.

While some of these technologies may seem out of reach for many small e-commerce businesses, there are ways to leverage them economically. Rather than taking on the responsibility of developing AI-driven data analysis, cognitive chatbots, or virtual reality technologies to drive business growth, e-commerce companies should turn to experienced yet cost-effective partners. Subscription-based companies are offering online retailers the opportunity to make use of these innovations, to ultimately improve customer experience and drive business growth.

eCommerce Sizzle Boosts Brick-and-Mortar Comp Sales

In this week’s sizzles, Walmart digital sales increase, Visa says contactless checkout is on the rise and Buffett’s Berkshire invests in Amazon. Fizzles include SoftBank shares sliding, retail sales fluctuating and the Supreme Court green-lighting the lawsuit against Apple.

Call it the eCommerce wind beneath brick-and-mortar wings.

For Walmart, U.S. digital sales were up 37 percent. For Macy’s, mobile was up double digits, too.

And thus, comp store sales were better than the Street had expected.

Walmart said the eCommerce numbers were buoyed by grocery, home and fashion, which drove comp sales up 3.4 percent, its strongest showing in almost a decade and 10 basis points better than had been expected. The 70-basis-point gain seen by Macy’s was less spectacular, perhaps, but still leagues better than the 20-basis-point drop the Street had been expecting.

So against that backdrop, Walmart’s adjusted revenues beat the Street, where sales ex-currency headwinds topped the $125 billion consensus. Macy’s, after rough sledding through the holiday season, saw revenues roughly in line with the Street at $5.5 billion.

“We’re continuing our transformation to become more of a digital enterprise,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon noted on the results.

Amid Walmart’s recent initiatives, too, it has announced plans to roll out next-day delivery across the country for more than 200,000 items. It’s a game of leapfrog, seemingly, in an effort to counter Amazon’s recent announcement that Prime shipping is moving its target from two-day shipping to one-day.

One quarter and earnings beat is more snapshot than trend. For Walmart, online sales growth of 37 percent represents a pickup over the 34 percent digital growth seen last year, but also represents a step down from the 43 percent seen in the fourth quarter (which, of course, was boosted by holiday spending). But for the week, it’s a sizzle indeed.


Contactless checkout: It’s gathering steam, as Visa says that 80 out of 100 merchants offer the tap-to-pay option in the U.S. That’s on top of 11 out of 25 of the top issuers in the U.S. offering contactless cards. The company has a bit of roadmap in place, as half of all payments made outside the U.S. are done through contactless means.

Chinese consumer spending: It proves resilient, as growth rebounds for Alibaba’s core eCommerce operations, north of 50 percent, and management says consumers in “lower-tier” cities are underpinning momentum.

Amazon: The eCommerce giant gets the thumbs-up from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which has bought more than 480,000 shares, worth as much as $900 million as calculated per Amazon’s recent closing price.


SoftBank: Shares slide as the investment firm has heavy exposure to the ride-hailing industry. Into the middle of the week, shares in the company lost a collective $16 billion in market cap amid the busted Uber IPO.

Retail sales: They’re up, they’re down, they’re bouncing around and now they’re down again, according to the April numbers. This time, it’s right into the teeth of a ramped-up trade war and a boost to consumers amid higher prices for any number of Chinese goods. In the latest reading, consumers pulled back on spending and retail sales were off 20 basis points.

Apple: The Supreme Court rules that a suit over the tech giant’s App Store can proceed. The Court’s 5-4 opinion rejected the tech giant’s argument that consumers can’t sue the company for escalated prices because the prices are set by developers and not the tech firm.

Paraguay prepares for eCommerce Startup Competion 2019

Contxto – Next month, digital entrepreneurs and startups in Paraguay will participate in the local eCommerce startup competition. To showcase the country’s talent, the goal is to attract development and investment into the country’s various projects.

In Summary
Although this is part of eCommerce Day in the capital city of Asunción taking place on June 13, it’s also part of a larger regional competition, the eCommerce Startup Competition of Latin America. This means that whoever succeeds in Paraguay will move on to the regional finals with fellow winners.

Applications will remain open until June 6, according to the eCommerce Institute statement from May 13. Soon after, the chosen participants will present their projects and defend their cases in front of a panel of industry experts.

In the previous Paraguay edition, mobile app Truekepar took first prize. The platform allows users to exchange products without having to handle cash. It has since proven itself as the strong e-commerce contender in Paraguay.

Another winning firm from 2018 was Rapdsodia that specializes in clothing and fashion for electronic commercial audiences.

The eCommerce Institute collaborated with the Paraguayan Chamber of Electronic Commerce (Capace) to put on the 2019 event. Sponsors expect leading local and international leaders to convene and analyze new trends or challenges in the industry.

eCommerce is a very promising sector in Latin America. In terms of global revenue, some expect e-commerce sales to go up to US$94 billion by 2022. There are plenty of young tech-literate consumers accustomed to purchasing goods or services on their mobile phones.

Other sources like Worldpay’s annual Global Payments Report said that online sales would grow by 19 percent over the next five years with 155.5 estimated Latin Americans using e-commerce by 2019.

Brazil continues to be the biggest e-commerce market in Latin America, followed by Mexico and emerging ones in Argentina, Colombia, and even Paraguay.

Walmart Brasil to ditch e-commerce, focus on brick and mortar

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Walmart Brasil will close down its e-commerce operation in Latin America’s biggest retail market to focus on brick and mortar locations, converting underperforming hypermarkets into wholesale stores.

Wholesale has become increasingly popular in Brazil as the country slowly exits from a harsh recession.

“The company is working in a new omnichannel strategy which will be later announced”, Walmart Brasil said in a statement on Friday, without giving details. News of the decision was first reported by newspaper Valor Economico.

The move is likely to open room to local and international retailers currently focused on exploring still incipient e-commerce in Brazil.

Walmart’s decision caps years of efforts that never really took off. It precedes the long-awaited launch of Amazon’s fulfillment center, which will enable it to sell directly to consumers in Brazil.

Part of Walmart’s struggles, had to do with tough competition from local players in the e-commerce segment, including B2W, Via Varejo and Magazine Luiza SA.

Walmart launched an e-commerce division in Brazil in 2011, selling directly to consumers. But by 2017, the retailer discontinued direct sales, focusing only on running as a marketplace for third-party sellers, which it had launched in 2015.

Walmart never disclosed how much online sales contributed to its top line in Brazil.

In mid-2018, buyout firm Advent International acquired an 80% stake in the Brazilian operation, unfolding a broad revamp.

By then, the e-commerce division was already in decline.

As part of the decision to exit e-commerce, the company laid off 70 of its 90 employees working for the marketplace platform, with the remaining 20 fully dedicated to manage ongoing orders.

Walmart’s decision could be a boom for its competitors.

“Walmart’s (e-commerce) operation has been shrinking for a while now, but we are prepared to direct their consumer traffic to Carrefour”, Chief Executive Officer of Carrefour eBusiness Brasil, Paula Cardoso, told journalists on Friday in a call to discuss quarterly results.

In a separate statement, Walmart Brasil said it plans to convert 10 underperforming hypermarkets into wholesale stores Maxxi Atacado by the end of 2020. The first one was opened on May 9 in the city of Diadema, near Sao Paulo.

Another 10 hypermarkets will be converted into Sam’s Club stores, the company said.

COAI approaches DoT to stop sale of mobile signal boosters on e-commerce sites

After making a direct appeal to e-tailers, industry body COAI has now sought Telecom Department’s intervention to stop the rampant sale of mobile signal boosters and repeaters on certain e-commerce sites despite restrictions.

Mobile operators’ association COAI has approached the Department of Telecom (DoT) saying sale of such illegal items not only violates norms but also hampers service quality for subscribers.

After its ‘cease and desist’ appeal to e-tailers to stop the sale of telecom signal boosters met with partial success, Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) has informed DoT that while a few e-commerce companies have removed the items, “some are still selling it”.

COAI said it had previously pointed out to e-commerce companies the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) Wing’s directive of May 2016 on online sale of wireless sets and equipment.

In particular, COAI has mentioned Amazon’s stance on the matter — that the onus of complying with laws in this regard rests with sellers.

COAI has further asked DoT’s WPC wing to firmly put on record its past position of 2016 that in event of such sale, the responsibility lies not only with sellers and buyers but also with the e-commerce site which acts as the platform/intermediary.

COAI noted that Amazon replied to it saying they have responded to WPC on the issue.

When contacted, an Amazon spokesperson said, “Amazon operates an online marketplace in India. Sellers selling their products through the marketplace are solely responsible for all necessary product compliance and are required to sell products which are legally allowed to be sold in India.”

“Whenever concerns about the listed products get raised, we review the case with the sellers,” the Amazon spokesperson added.

In its letter to DoT, COAI said, “We therefore request DoT/WPC to kindly intervene in the matter and take up the issue of ban of sale of these illegal repeaters and boosters on the e-commerce websites/platforms with these e-commerce companies.”

“Further, the import of repeaters is under restricted category wherein they are required to obtain due licence from WPC wing and it appears that these repeaters are being imported in contravention to the specified norms by ineligible person/ companies,” it added.

COAI suggested that as a second step, DoT should apprise the Department of Customs of the said issue so that the import of such repeaters by unauthorised person/companies is completely stopped.


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