Amazon launches standalone Kindle Store in India

Twenty-four percent of Indian adults with Internet access have bought an ebook. Now that group could get a lot bigger: Amazon has launched a standalone Kindle Store in India and is selling Kindle exclusively through Indian electronics chain Croma.

Kindle 1photo: Amazon

Amazon does not yet operate a general e-commerce site in India, but it is now selling ebooks there. On Wednesday the company launched the India Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestoreindia), which sells over a million titles priced in Indian Rupees.

Indian customers can’t buy a Kindle through the store, but they can get one at Indian electronics chain Croma for 6,999 Indian Rupees (USD $126). It looks as though Croma is selling the basic, non-touchscreen Kindle that retails for $79 (with ads) in the United States.

In June, I wrote about the ebook transition in India. In a presentation at Publishers Launch BEA, Bowker’s Kelly Gallagher said that 24 percent of Indian adults with Internet access have bought an ebook. It’s key to look at the size of the overall population combined with the Internet penetration rate: “Suddenly, India becomes the second largest potential market” after the United States. The transition is primarily led by professional, business and academic ebooks, he said — 80 percent of Indian ebook buyers have bought an ebook in one of those genres.

In February, Amazon launched the Junglee.com marketplace in India. The site aims to match sellers and buyers. Many Indian customers already use Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk offers free super saver shipping to India. Amazon is also building a fulfillment center in Mumbai.

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Retail Commerce Continues to Move to the Online Channel in the US

ecommerce, retail spending, dailydealmedia.comOnline retail spending touched $43.2 billion according to comScore’s U.S. retail e-commerce sales estimates for the second quarter.

This performance represents a growth of 15% over the last year. The company says e-commerce as a category remains strong, even though the second quarter performance couldn’t sustain the high growth rate as witnessed in the previous quarter.

Online retail spending was reported to be $44.3 billion in the first quarter. The second quarter performance is welcome news. When the first quarter estimates were out, comScore had mentioned that the industry the performance was marked by year-over-year growth rates in the high teens. And such growth hadn’t been registered since 2007.

At the same time, the company said owing to factors such as economic uncertainty and high unemployment rate, it would rather opt for a cautious route for its projections for the remainder of the year.

According to comScore, the main online product categories included Digital Content & Subscriptions, Consumer Electronics, Flowers, Greetings & Gifts, Computer Hardware and Apparel & Accessories.

Each of these product categories rose by at least 16% compared to the previous year. In the first quarter, each of the top categories grew by 17% over the previous year. As indicated earlier this year, e-commerce has already reached critical mass in several product categories.

The economic recovery hasn’t picked as desired. But commerce continues to move to the online channel, and savvy retailers need to identify ways to be part of this growth.

Source: http://www.dailydealmedia.com/78retail-commerce-continues-to-move-to-the-online-channel-in-the-us/ By 

Retail apps have fuelled mobile payments growth

The gross merchandise transaction value of mobile payments for physical goods will exceed $170 billion worldwide by 2015, according to a new report just released by Juniper Research Entitled ‘Mobile Payments for Digital & Physical Goods – Analysis, Markets & Vendor Strategies 2011-2015′, it forecasts that this will be nearly treble the $60 billion predicted for 2011. Significantly the report says that initial growth in mobile payments has been fuelled by a dramatic upsurge in retail apps in the wake of the consumer smartphone explosion. The sort of iPhone and Android apps plus mobile-friendly web sites that GoMo News has frequently covered in the past. The report cautions, however, that vendors still need to innovate unceasingly as the market develops and becomes more competitive.‘Our research for this report underlined the importance of mobile as an extra channel to market,” David Snow, a senior analyst with Juniper Research, observed.

“But Juniper believes that mobile campaigns must be tightly linked to print, online and store based campaigns to ensure consistency of customer experience.

Increasingly people will browse on one device such as a PC and then buy from another such as a smartphone,” he added.

The report found that there was an increasing awareness in the industry of the need to enable an integrated shopping experience within the wider context of a fast expanding e-commerce market.

Other key findings from the research are that the market will gain further momentum in the medium term following the increasing deployment of POS (point of sale) solutions to facilitate in-store [NFC-style] cashless transactions.

It also identified a major industry benefit – namely that retailers have discovered a marked uplift in average transaction value when cash is replaced by a mobile payment method.

In the report there are of some 17 mobile payments vendors and offers guidance for readers to pinpoint their strategies.

Web strategies vary for co-ops

The co-op model has always been focused on driving customers into dealer members’ stores. But as more consumers migrate their purchases online, the three largest hardware co-ops have taken different approaches to harnessing the power of the Web.

Do it Best Corp. launched its Web site and e-commerce department in 1999. Back then, it was simply a tool to help customers find their local store. But it didn’t take long for the co-op to realize there was a major selling advantage online.

In order to leverage all 4,100 Do it Best locations, the company made ordering online easy. Customers could log on to doitbest.com and have access to about 65,000 SKUs — the full line of merchandise from Do it Best — and the item would ship from one of eight distribution centers around the country. By entering the shipping information, the customer’s local Do it Best store would get the credit from the sale. In order to drive sales in the stores themselves, customers can choose to have the item shipped to the store, waiving shipping costs and get ting customers in the stores.

“We remind customers through out their online experience that they can avoid shipping charges by simply picking up the item at their local store through our ship-to store program. This drives customers into our stores, and many times converts that online shopper into an in-store customer as well,” said Joe Caldwell, e-commerce manager.

But members are fully capable of developing their own Web sites. Gillroy’s Got it Complete Hardware has found running its own site, gillroys.com, has helped drive the store name, while benefiting from the Do it Best e-commerce model. While the Flint, Mich.-based hardware chain hosts its own site, it still links to doitbest.com to complete purchases, eliminating the need to run its own warehouse.

“Even though we don’t handle it, we don’t stock it and we don’t have to inventory it, we get a significant amount of the profit margin from it,” said Kurt Zimmerman, of Gillroy’s e-commerce department. “You would need to have a massive warehouse to stock that many SKUs,” he added.

Zimmerman said that Do it Best provides all of the price updates, photos and product descriptions to them — all they need to do is update the server.

“It’s basically like having another store, but Do it Best makes it very easy,” he said.

Currently, 60% of Do it Best members participate in the e-commerce program to some degree, according to Tim Miller, VP marketing. “The key to our program is that flexibility, to let our members take an active or passive approach to e-commerce,” he said.

Ace Hardware’s e-commerce approach has some similarities to Do it Best. It too drives sales through the company Web site, acehardware.com. It also offers customers the same ship-to-store option to avoid paying shipping fees and gives the sale to the customer’s local Ace member store.

At Ace, the e-commerce system is intentionally kept as simple as possible, according to Mark Lowe, of the co-op’s digital interactive marketing team. According to Lowe, driving customers to one online site, and from there directing them to their local store has proven to be very successful. Lowe points to the growing trend of customers selecting the ship-to-store option.

“Overwhelmingly they choose to ship to store,” he said. From there, Ace has been able to track that 33% of ship-to-store customers make additional purchases once they are in the store.

According to Lowe, that drives to the heart of Ace’s e-commerce strategy: to capture the online sales that are out there while driving customers to the stores when ever possible.

In 2007, the company launched the My Local Ace feature on its Web site. “We took the store locator to the next level,” Lowe said. The feature not only gives customers a look at what local Ace dealers are near them, it provides contact information, store hours, current in-store promotions, a list of departments and a list of services the store provides. “We’re really trying to bring on a local feel,” he said.

True Value’s e-commerce model is currently in the works, said CEO Lyle Heidemann in a recent interview.

“We are seriously looking at an e-commerce site in 2010. This is something we believe we need to do to be competitive,” he told HCN in an interview at the co-op’s fall dealer conference in Salt Lake City.

Heidemann recognized that consumers are out there shopping on the Web, comparing prices, and ultimately “you have to be there,” he said.

At least one dealer member has been there for some time. Fusek’s Hardware, of Indianapolis, has its own Web site, fusekstruevalue.com, which it uses to drive customers into its store. But recently, it has expanded its online presence by launching an exclusively online store, Ron’s Home and Hardware (ronshomeandhardware.com).

For Steve Fusek, running an online business apart from the sister store was a necessity. For him, trying to run the brick and mortar while meeting online demands would have been a logistical nightmare. By separating the two businesses, he can run them exclusively — even warehousing his online stock at a different location — and still meet his customers’ demands.

And while Fusek was left to build his online business on his own, he said he does like the freedom that True Value grants its members to explore new ways of building their businesses.

“They aren’t necessarily helping me do it, but they’re not standing in my way either. Their attitude has always been ‘If you have a better way to do it, more power to you, do your thing,’” he said.

But as True Value looks to create Internet sales, it could easily find itself adopting Fusek’s online model.

“We’re blazing a bunch of new trails,” he said.

Build Your own Facebook Store

Shopping search engine Sortprice.com expanded its merchant store application on the Facebook Platform to help retailers expand their e-commerce capabilities that can be used by the social network’s audience.

The free application, available to any Sortprice.com enhanced merchant with an existing Facebook account, works hand-in-hand with their product listing on Sortprice itself and allows them to build a virtual store right on Facebook. Merchants can have their full inventory available to Facebook users for shoppers to peruse and compare prices on, complete with photos and direct links to their own Web sites, according to Sortprice.

The tools give retailers complete control over the ‘look and feel’ of their stores, with dozens of choices for color schemes, an option to upload category images, and the ability to add a slogan to their page as well. Sortprice also included an extensive FAQ section to guide merchants through the process of configuring their stores while offering tips for promoting the application to internal and external audiences.

On the user side, Sortprice’s unique Drag & Drop feature for the merchant pages is now compatible across all web browsers, facilitating each user’s visit. Shoppers can now quickly and easily compile a “wish list” of desired items from a particular merchant’s store. These lists are viewable to all users and are the foundation for a truly interactive shopping experience. Visitors can comment on other users’ wish lists, indicate particular items that they “like”, and even invite friends and family to check out wish lists or specific products.

To learn more about the Facebook store application, visit http://www.sortprice.com/facebook_store

Lenovo launches ThinkStation S20 and D20

Australia: Lenovo has unveiled two workstations, lenovo the                                              ThinkStation S20 and D20.

It also has an e-commerce platform, the Lenovo         eLounge, to give customers an interactive way to       experience computing solutions online.

“Designers, engineers, developers and scientists require the highest levels in computing performance to help them produce breakthrough innovations,” said, Matthew Steele director, Server and Workstation Sales, Lenovo A/NZ.

“The new ThinkStation workstations will deliver not only the utmost in performance, but also a user-centric design with an emphasis on quiet operation, even during heavy processing.”

The workstations include Xeon processors, NVIDIA Quadro line of graphics cards or optional ATI FirePro graphics and preloaded Windows Vista with support for RedHat Enterprise Linux 5.2.

Both workstations using 50 percent recycled content. In the ThinkStation D20, nearly 30 percent of the recycled content comes from post consumer recycled content.

They also meet the Energy Star 5.0 criteria taking effect in July.

The eLounge e-commerce platform merges customer service with online shopping.

For example, a father and son who live in different cities can shop for a PC together and receive answers in real-time from Lenovo representatives to pick the right technology.

Source: CRN

Asia: Online Shopping takes off as Internet access improves

SINGAPORE: From dresses to handbags, diamonds to music downloads, consumers in Asia are taking to Internet shopping as never before, making the region one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce markets.

“I like to shop for clothes online because no sales girls will pester me,” said Cecelia Wang, a 23-year-old university student in Taipei who said she spent about 1,500 Taiwan dollars, about $43, each month on Internet purchases. “For online shopping, all I need to do is sit in my room and shop, which is great.”

Internet retailing is increasingly making its presence felt in Asia because telecommunications infrastructure has improved and payment, a major obstacle to online shopping, is increasingly secure, analysts say.

Internet penetration rates, the percentage of the population that has Internet access, is about 17 percent in Asia versus 73 percent in North America and almost 50 percent in Europe, according to www.internetworldstats.com.

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