Sep. 18, 2013, 6:55 PM
- Among the principles the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee thinks should guide the creation of a national online sales tax law: Internet companies shouldn't face "new or discriminatory taxes not faced in the offline world;" online and offline retailers should be "on equal footing;" laws should be simple and compliance costs low; businesses should have the right to protest unfair treatment, and state governments "should be encouraged to compete with one another to keep tax rates low ."
- EBAY, which hosts many merchants collecting little or no sales tax and has opposed national sales tax law efforts, says it's "very encouraged" by the principles. A trade group pushing for a national law calls the principles a "great first step."
- Though the Senate signed off on an online sales tax bill in May, the bill has been mired in the House since then.
- Amazon (AMZN), which collects tax from a large and growing portion of U.S. customers, has backed the bill. Other e-commerce-related names that stand to be directly or indirectly affected by the passage of a law: OSTK, NILE, ECOM, SALE.
Sep. 18, 2013, 1:02 PM
- eBay (EBAY -1.3%) is set to launch a Portuguese-language version of its eBay Fashion Android/iOS apps for Brazilian consumers. Though not a huge move in and of itself, the apps will be the first eBay-branded products to hit Brazil, and thus represent the e-commerce giant's entry into Latin America's largest market (population of 199M).
- MercadoLibre (MELI -1.9%) is selling off on the news. Brazil is the Latin American e-commerce leader's largest market, and one that delivered 22% Y/Y rev. growth in Q2. In the past, MercadoLibre has sold off on concerns Amazon is getting ready to enter Brazil.
- Meanwhile, in a note that seems to be pressuring eBay shares, ITG Research reports its checks indicate PayPal's payments growth is slowing. The firm estimates PayPal has grown to account for ~40% of eBay's earnings.
Sep. 17, 2013, 6:22 PM
- Google Wallet (GOOG) whose reliance on NFC radios has long been viewed as a handicap, will now be available on any Android phone running version 2.3 or higher (nearly all of them). Moreover, all major U.S. carriers will now be supported (instead of just Sprint), and a spokesperson suggests Google wants to bring Wallet to the iPhone.
- Wallet is also adding the ability to send money to anyone in the U.S. for free via e-mail. Like the Gmail money-attachment feature announced earlier this year, the feature serves as competition for PayPal (EBAY), though it shouldn't affect the payments giant's merchant transactions. Also added is a loyalty card/coupons feature a bit like Apple's Passbook.
- Bloomberg observed earlier this year Wallet had seen less than 10M downloads, even though Google had spent $300M to buy startups for it. The latest changes should lead to a pickup in downloads.
- As part of its efforts to be carbon-neutral, Google is buying 240MW of power from a Texas wind farm, with plans to sell the energy on wholesale markets and to retire the renewable credits obtained. Google is now committed to buying 570MW of wind power altogether.
- Jean-Baptiste Queru, the Google exec in charge of Android's source code, has left for a position at Yahoo. Queru is the third key Android exec to leave the team this year, after VP Hugo Barra and division chief Andy Rubin.
- On the other hand, Google has managed to poach Microsoft vet Christian Kleinerman to be YouTube's project management chief. The position puts Kleinerman in charge of YouTube's massive data center infrastructure.
Sep. 11, 2013, 11:46 AM
- ChannelAdvisor (ECOM +0.7%) reports its clients saw 18.9% Y/Y eBay (EBAY +1.6%) same-store sales growth in August. That's down a bit from July's 20.4%, but above May/June levels and better than expected.
- Surprisingly, eBay's auction sales rose 7.8% Y/Y after falling 23.3% in July and 17.2% in June. eBay's new Cassini search engine could be giving auction sales a lift. Fixed-price sales +20.2% vs. +20.3% in July, Motors growth decelerated to 18.5% from 26.6%. ChannelAdvisor thinks strong new car sales could be hurting used car sales.
- Client same-store sales growth for Amazon (AMZN -0.2%) edged lower to 24% from July's 24.9%. That's a 12-month low, but still well above the 16% growth comScore believes was seen in total Q2 U.S. e-commerce sales (exc. travel).
- Google's (GOOG +0.4%) numbers aren't great: search ad-driven same-store sales +0.2% vs. +0.6% in July, shopping engine-driven sales +7.7% vs. +12.9%.
- Search ad clicks for client sites fell 3% Y/Y, and cost per click fell 6% to $0.50 (is mobile a factor?). But the average order value for ads rose 8% to $111.27.
Sep. 9, 2013, 6:32 PM
- Beacon, a dongle that plugs into a standard electrical outlet, uses Bluetooth to communicate with retail point-of-sale systems from the likes of NCR and Micros (both of whom are PayPal partners), as well as to automatically check in store visitors who have downloaded a PayPal (EBAY) app on their smartphones and opted in to the system.
- PayPal foresees Beacon enabling in-store promotions, payments that require nothing more than verbal confirmation (a user is sent a receipt later), and the potential for retailers to act behind the scenes (one example: a drugstore filling a user's normal prescription after he/she walks in).
- To address privacy issues, PayPal users are able to decline a check-in immediately after walking in, in which case no info is shared.
- Square is trying to address this space via Pay With Square, but its solution isn't as seamless (yet).
- Beacon has the potential to address a frequent complaint levied at PayPal's current card-free offline payment solution, which requires typing in a phone # and PIN: that it simply isn't as convenient as swiping a credit/debit card. However, old habits often take a while to change.
- Last week, PayPal overhauled its mobile apps to give them a much stronger offline focus. And in May, the company revamped its PayPal Here mobile card reader/cash register solution.
Sep. 6, 2013, 12:22 PM
- Decide.com uses predictive analytics to guess the future prices of various goods, and thereby allow buyers to make more informed decisions. The startup says its standalone services will be shut down as it focuses on integrating its tech with eBay's (EBAY +2%) marketplaces.
- eBay has taken several steps to give Marketplaces users a better experience, and thereby prevent Amazon and its burgeoning 3rd-party merchant business (now responsible for 40% of its paid units) from gaining more ground. Recent changes include a new search engine (Cassini) and an image-heavy Web site redesign.
- Previous: PayPal reportedly held buyout talks with Braintree
Sep. 6, 2013, 12:03 PM
- TechCrunch reports online/mobile payments platform Braintreee is "currently shopping itself around to potential acquirers," and has held talks in the past with PayPal (EBAY +1.9%) and Square. Though the Square talks are said to have fallen through due to price differences - Braintree has reportedly been asking for $1B, a figure TechCrunch deems "unrealistic" - the site hears the PayPal talks "may still be ongoing."
- Like Stripe, another PayPal rival that has been well-hyped in startup circles, Braintree asserts it offers a simpler, more convenient way for online/mobile merchants to handle payment-processing than PayPal.
- Braintree has scored some high-profile clients, such as Uber, Fab, LivingSocial, and Airbnb, and is now handling $10B/year in transactions (PayPal handled $42.8B just in Q2). Last year, the company spent $26.2M to buy mobile payments/digital wallet platform Venmo.
- Yesterday: PayPal revamps apps, adds new payment tools
Sep. 5, 2013, 5:55 PM
- A major update to PayPal's (EBAY) popular Android/iOS apps adds a slew of new features.
- Among them: the ability to quickly place an order from a store's menu while waiting in line, and to view and pay a restaurant bill before a check arrives; a Shop tab that highlights nearby stores that accept PayPal, and allows users to "check in" and open tabs at them; offers from local businesses; and the ability to apply for Bill Me Later financing for purchases made through the app.
- PayPal exec Hill Ferguson: "That’s the thing that matters the most to [users]: if you can replace all the utility that a physical wallet has in the cloud … that’s the goal for us."
- "Powerful but baffling" is how The Verge's Casey Newton describes the new app. While granting it may be "the most fully featured payment app to date," he also criticizes UI inconsistencies and a confusing navigation bar.
- Newton: "Until the developers who are building digital wallets can make them simpler than physical ones, most of us will keep buying our smoothies the old-fashioned way."
- ReadWrite's Owen Thomas is more positive, arguing the app's offline payment tools have the potential to reinvent how PayPal is seen and used. "The point of the app is no longer to complete payment for an eBay auction on the go: It's to get you to walk into a store."
- PayPal is already a mobile payments giant: it expects to handle $20B in mobile transactions this year, up from $14B last year. But it faces offline payments competition from Square, Groupon, and others.
- Previous: NCR deal, PayPal Here registers
Aug. 29, 2013, 1:36 PM
- PayPal (EBAY +1.1%), no stranger to well-publicized complaints from disgruntled merchant partners and payers, has unveiled a multi-pronged initiative called Customer First it hopes will yield higher user satisfaction.
- Among other things, PayPal is adjusting its risk models to result in fewer payments to trustworthy merchants being held up - an exec refers to this as "[catching] more sharks and less dolphins" - and is implementing a "no fault construct" for small buyer complaints regarding counterfeit goods. The latter move will result in PayPal absorbing $2.5M/year in claims.
- PayPal also says it's giving employees more autonomy to tailor policies for individual customers, and is asking execs to "spend a week on the front lines at our call centers to hear and deal with issues first hand." PayPal claims its existing efforts have led to a 40M Y/Y drop in customer issues thus far in 2013.
- PayPal chief David Marcus has been busy shaking up how the online payments giant does business since taking its top job in March '12. The latest moves come with PayPal facing competition from upstarts such as Stripe, and perhaps soon Facebook.
Aug. 15, 2013, 5:45 PM
- Down as much as 4.7% earlier today, eBay (EBAY -2%) finished with losses only a little worse than the Nasdaq's after TechCrunch provided its own report about Facebook's (FB -0.3%) mobile payments product.
- Like AllThingsD, TechCrunch reports Facebook's product won't offer payment-processing for now, but will rather focus on auto-filling billing info using data already provided to Facebook (the new Google Wallet functions in a similar manner).
- But while AllThingsD argued Facebook's service amounts to a PayPal rival, TechCrunch argues this isn't the case, and that Facebook's primary goal is to collect data about user buying activity that could be used to improve ad sales/targeting. Facebook has already made some moves in this direction.
- The truth may be in between. Though a lack of payment-processing (for now) prevents Facebook's offering from being a soup-to-nuts PayPal alternative, a product that allows billing info to be quickly auto-filled could still lead to more mobile transactions being processed by PayPal rivals. That is, provided Facebook is more successful here than Google Checkout/Wallet.
Aug. 15, 2013, 9:45 AM
- Facebook (FB +0.4%) confirms to AllThingsD it's testing an online payments product. A launch is expected in the next month or so.
- Sources state the product, set to compete against 800-lb. gorilla PayPal (EBAY -2.4%), will "allow online shoppers to make purchases on mobile apps using their Facebook login information," and (like PayPal) will allow them to avoid having to constantly re-enter their billing info.
- However, for now, the test is focused on simply "creating a better mobile checkout experience," and doesn't tie in payment-processing (as PayPal does).
- Facebook already handles payments for in-app game purchases and its Gifts product (among other things), and the enormous reach of its social sharing tools could allow it to quickly reel in many 3rd-party apps and (if it chooses to expand further) Web sites.
- But PayPal has stared down competition from Internet giants before, and the network effects stemming from its 132M active users and many thousands of merchant partners make it a tough company to seriously disrupt. PayPal expects to handle $20B in mobile transactions this year, up from $14B last year.
Aug. 13, 2013, 6:54 PM
- ChannelAdvisor (ECOM) clients saw a 24.9% Y/Y increase in Amazon (AMZN) same-store sales, down from 30.6% in June and representing the lowest growth rate recorded over the last 12 months (though still above total e-commerce growth). Merchants have been upset over recent fee hikes.
- On the other hand, EBAY same-store sales growth rose to 20.4% from 17.7% in June and 16% in May. Auctions -23.3% vs. June's -17.2%, but fixed-price (now a majority of sales) +20.3% vs. +18.9% and Motors +26.6% vs. +27.8%. ChannelAdvisor thinks eBay's new search engine (Cassini) is helping out. Are recent fee changes also helping?
- Google's (GOOG) numbers were a mixed bag. Same-store sales tied to search ads grew only 0.6% Y/Y, down from June's 5.1%. But comparison shopping (inc. Google Shopping) rose 12.9% vs. June's 10%.
- Also, ChannelAdvisor predicts search ad prices (CPCs) will rise thanks to the launch of Enhanced Campaigns, as "advertisers are no longer able to bid lower for the lower converting mobile ads."
- ChannelAdvisor shares rose another 7.5% today, and are now up 52% since the company posted a Q2 beat last Wednesday (previous).
Aug. 11, 2013, 6:15 PM
- In a cover story on Jeff Bezos and Amazon (AMZN), FastCompany's J.J. McCorvey observes the company's new AmazonFresh grocery service (offered via its $299/year Prime Fresh free shipping plan) is a "Trojan horse" meant to give Amazon's broader same-day delivery efforts needed scale.
- Amazon is also hoping its same-day infrastructure (replete with Amazon trucks) will increase its appeal to 3rd-party sellers (now responsible for 40% of unit sales) by lowering delivery times. Merchants already cite access to Prime as a reason for outsourcing fulfillment to Amazon (and giving a ~20% cut).
- EBAY could prove a formidable same-day rival. Instead of building its own soup-to-nuts infrastructure, eBay is relying on dozens of offline retailers (inc. major national chains) to help handle fulfillment. Google is also dipping its toes into same-day.
- Currently available in L.A. and Seattle, AmazonFresh is expected to expand to 20 more markets, including some international ones. SunTrust recently predicted an NYC launch will happen in 2014.
- Also mentioned by McCorvey: Amazon is now able to ship items less than 2.5 hours after an order is placed; and wants to further lower than number; Prime now covers 15M+ items (up from 1M in '05); and Amazon is still "evaluating" how to use Kiva's robots.
Aug. 6, 2013, 8:01 AM| Comment!
Jul. 24, 2013, 2:15 PMAngie's List (ANGI -2.6%) falls ahead of today's Q2 report after TechCrunch observes eBay (EBAY +0.8%) is testing a local services marketplace in the U.K. Like Angie's List, eBay's marketplace, known as eBayHire, gives consumers the chance to contact individuals advertising their services on the site. It remains to be seen whether eBay will do a full commercial U.S. launch, and whether it can build the critical mass of users and service providers needed to become a serious threat to Angie's List. Yelp (YELP -1.4%), whose local listings/reviews serve as indirect competition to marketplaces, is off moderately. | Comment!
Jul. 22, 2013, 12:46 PMeBay's (EBAY -0.1%) Now same-day delivery service has arrived on PCs (it launched as mobile-only), and is set to expand to Brooklyn, Queens, Chicago, Dallas, and the Bay Area peninsula (Manhattan and SF have been its first two markets). eBay has lofty ambitions for Now, foreseeing it as a same-day infrastructure for local retailers that can leverage existing retailer stores and warehouses. This is something Amazon (AMZN -0.7%), which just launched its $299/year Prime Fresh same-day service in L.A., could be hard-pressed to replicate, since it competes with many of those retailers. Initial partners for Now include Target, Home Depot, Best Buy, Macy's, and Walgreen. | 2 Comments
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