Twitter Launches Mobile Payments Before Facebook (but Apple May Have the Last Laugh)

Twitter may be much smaller than Facebook, but its ability to innovate in payments is allowing it to outgun its much larger competitor, at least for the time being.

Both Twitter and Facebook are competing with other tech giants, including Apple, Google, PayPal and the leading credit card companies to own the emerging mobile payment sector, which is immensely popular with consumers and has proven fertile territory for startups. More specifically, the leading technology companies are seeking an advantage in so-called peer-to-peer payments, which are typically smaller payments sent from one person to another. Individuals could use such payments, for example, when they are splitting a bill or to wire money.

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With the Arrival of Twitter’s ‘Buy’ Button, Is It Time to Move Into Social Commerce?

Sales on Mobile Are Booming, So It's Time to Think Small Screen First

Twitter now joins other companies like Facebook that are trying to prove that a return on investment can be achieved through social commerce.

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Why Entrepreneurs Should Listen to Alibaba’s Jack Ma

The two options for Internet startups, all entrepreneurs know, have long been B2C (business to consumer) or B2B (business to business). But in his speech at Softbank World 2014, Jack Ma, Alibaba’s self-made founder and CEO, declared open the era of C2B, or consumer to business, an era in which customers will soon completely dictate to companies what they need and only companies that accommodate them will thrive.

Ma’s notion is so on-target that it would be worth heeding even if his company wasn’t launching a record-breaking IPO. Currently, seven major trends back his paradigm-shifting vision.

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Bigbasket gets $32 million funding ahead of India’s online grocery shopping boom

Bigbasket-gets-32-million-funding-ahead-of-Indias-online-grocery-shopping-boom

India’s ecommerce boom is at high velocity, but the nation’s online groceries sector has been a lot slower to take off. But today’s US$32 million funding round for Bigbasket seems to indicate that this niche area is now gaining traction.

Bigbasket’s series B round comes from Helion Ventures and Zodius Capital, reports NextBigWhat. It comes a surprising two-and-a-half years after the startup’s US$10 million round.

Bigbasket currently operates in three Indian cities – Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai. The new VC money will be used to expand its reach to 10 cities by the end of next year, says CEO VS Sudhakar. The online grocer is handling 5,000 orders per day at present.

The startup is up against local rivals such as Zopnow and Ekstop. However, Zopnow only covers Bangalore, while Ekstop is restricted to Mumbai.

All these startups will get a shock soon when local retail giant Reliance starts its long-anticipated ecommerce business.

Alibaba could raise $21.1B in largest US IPO ever

Alibaba could raise $21.1B in largest US IPO ever

According to various press reports, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has set the range for its initial public offering: between $60 and $66 per share.

Bloomberg calculates the company would raise as much as $21.1 billion at the high end of that range — which would make it the biggest U.S. IPO ever.

The Wall Street Journal stated that the massive company would give its employees, investors, and insiders the option to purchase their own shares at the IPO price before it begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange this fall.

Alibaba president Jack Ma, who will become a billionaire, at least on paper, will embark on a trip across select American cities to drum up hype before the launch. That odyssey will end September 18 in New York City, various press reports stated. Banking giant Barclay’s has been tasked by Alibaba to handle the IPO. Goldman Sachs will also help chaperone the offering.

Alibaba’s IPO has been widely expected and anticipated and is being touted by the American and Chinese press as one of the biggest pending IPOs in history. For its part, Yahoo owns a 24 percent stake in Alibaba. The Economist last year valued the China-based Internet portal at between $55 billion all of the way up to $120 billion.

3 Innovations From Ecommerce Market Leaders Ready for You to Adopt

How to Sharpen Your Team's Professionalism Without Dulling Creativity

With versatile, yet exceedingly simple DIY ecommerce platforms available online, setting up and rolling out your own ecommerce store has never been easier. All-in-one retail platforms such as Prestashopare providing merchants a simple and cost effective way to create their ecommerce store and start selling online in no time.

From humble beginnings in the mid-90’s, global ecommerce nowaccounts for $1.5 trillion in sales on an annual basis. Ecommerce companies show robust double digit growth with an average global growth rate pegged at about 20 percent year on year.

However, not everyone has tasted the same level of success with ecommerce. According to various studies, nearly 90 percent of all ecommerce businesses bite the dust within no time of launching operations.

Here we discuss four unconventional moves made by some of the best online retailers in the business to keep their customers happy and have them coming back over and over again to their sites.

1. ‘Add to cart’ through social media.  Amazon, the global ecommerce leader, consistently garners a disproportionate share of users’ loyalty and spending. Its innovations, from one-click purchases to Amazon Prime to now Amazon Cart, keep this innovation machine from Seattle chugging full steam ahead.

Amazon Cart is firmly in the realm of social commerce. Amazon now allows users to add items to their Amazon shopping list by simply replying to any Amazon product tweet and tagging it with the “#AmazonCart” hashtag. The item is automatically added to the user’s cart. The next time they log into Amazon, they waste no time hunting for the product that caught their eye on Twitter.

This feature works by linking users’ Amazon account to their Twitter accounts, then proceeding with the backend fulfillment. This feature, launched in early May 2014, has gained a lot of interest with more than 157,000 tweets containing #AmazonCart sent out in under two weeks.

2. Ship-to-store. Shipping costs are one of the nastiest aspects of online shopping. According to research by ComScore, nearly 61 percent of online shoppers “are at least somewhat likely” to cancel their online orders if free shipping is not offered.

A good alternative is to eliminate shipping entirely. With exactly 50 percent of the top 10 retailers in the US having a brick-and-mortar presence, ship-to-store is an increasingly popular option that allows the user to browse and pay for an item from the convenience of their homes, then pick it up the same day (no wait times for shipping!) from their nearest store. Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com and numerous other ‘brick and click’ ecommerce brands offer this option to users.

Nordstrom pioneered this idea in 2008. They have seen an 8 percent growth in in-store sales and a 42 percent growth in revenues since then.

3. Content-based ecommerce sites. Most ecommerce retailers take the beaten path of showcasing their products on their websites exactly how they would showcase them inside a real store. Trouble is, the way users behave online is very different from how they behave while shopping in traditional stores.

For one thing, users don’t have the option of getting product reviews while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Nor can they hop from one store to another in the same time that it takes an online shopper to switch from one browser tab to another for comparison shopping.

Ecommerce sites like Net-a-porter and Joyus have caught on to this fundamental difference and offer a completely different online shopping experience to users. Both sites offer a content-driven approach to ecommerce. Instead of creating marketing content and promoting it on third party sites, they create lush, beautiful and useful content that users are drawn to automatically on their own websites.

Net-a-porter has its original magazine styling for showcasing its products. It also offers videos and how-to guides to cater to more interactive tastes. It sells by recommending product ‘looks’ that would suit different types of users, instead of simply rattling off the price and manufacturer specifications and delivery details like most other ecommerce sites.

Today, Net-a-porter is one of the largest luxury fashion retailers online in terms of sales, with operations across three continents and more than 3,000 employees.

Ecommerce is a fertile field for innovations. The flexibility and speed-to-market allows you to test new ideas and strategies. The upside is a brand new revenue stream, while the downside is some lost time and effort, at worst.

To get results that are different from everyone else, you need to do stuff that is different from the beaten path. Dare to be different. Dare to succeed with ecommerce.

Frank & Oak, Personalized Men’s Fashion Brand, Nabs $15 Million In Series B

Frank & Oak, a menswear ecommerce brand, has just raised a $15 million Series B round led by Goodwater Capital with participation from Green Oaks Capital, Investment Quebec, John Currie (of Lululemon), alongside existing investors such as Rho Canada Ventures, Real Ventures, Version One Ventures, Lightbank and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.

Frank & Oak is a personalized clothing retailer for men, offering lower price points by designing its own clothing and working directly with manufacturers. Tis cuts out he middle man and avoids exorbitant markups.

But where Frank & Oak really shines is its personalization features. The service sends a totally curated newsletter to you each month with designs that fit what you like to wear. Users can choose up to five items they like to be shipped free of charge, and the user can then return anything that doesn’t fit or they don’t like, paying only for what they keep.

Frank & Oak raised a $5 million Series A round back in October of 2012 and has now added quite a bit more runway to the mix with this latest investment. Founder Ethan Song says that the company isn’t yet profitable, but that the money from this round will be focused almost exclusively on growth and expansion for the company. This includes opening a new NYC office.

Within the last year, Frank & Oak has hit the 1 million member mark and experimented with brick-and-mortar options. This round only opens up even more possibilities for the menswear ecommerce company.

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