Google's stores, Best Buy's online price match, Amazon's retail domination strategies, and Square's Business in a Box.
Google takes on brick-and-mortar; Best Buy takes on ecommerce
The Google retail store rumor ignited again this week. Seth Weintraub reported at 9to5Google that “[a]n extremely reliable source has confirmed to us that Google is in the process of building stand-alone retail stores in the U.S.” to be opened in time for the 2013 holiday season. The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati followed with confirmation from “people familiar with the matter,” though one of those people said it wouldn’t happen this year.
Across the board, analysts seem to think it’s a good idea. Alyson Shontell at Business Insider noted that as Google becomes more of a hardware company — with its Android devices, Google Glass, and self-driving cars — analysts say it’s time for Google to work on its brand image, which will require consumer interaction, something the company hasn’t done much of up to this point. Google executives seem to agree — Weintraub reported that retail store plans started to solidify along with plans to offer Google Glass to mainstream consumers. “The leadership thought consumers would need to try Google Glass first hand to make a purchase,” Weintraub wrote. “Without being able to use them first hand, few non-techies would be interested in buying Google’s glasses (which will retail from between $500 to $1,000).”
Google buys Channel Intelligence, digital wallets continue an uphill battle, and "social commerce" boosts ecommerce.
Google acquires Channel Intelligence, pursues Amazon shoppers
In a recent post at Wired, Marcus Wohlsen took a look at the success of Google’s switch last fall to all-paid product listings — such as the top result for a search for iPhone 5 — and how it fits in to Google’s plans to compete against Amazon on the shopping front.
Chris Lien, CEO of Marin Software, noted to Wohlsen that shoppers either start their searches at Amazon or at Google and that Amazon has been encroaching on Google’s turf as it becomes more of a “commerce search engine.”
In order to compete, Wohlsen writes, Google is establishing itself as a place not only to research products, but also to buy them. Lien says Google likely doesn’t intend to start its own warehouses, but rather to “package the sale from search to checkout” and let merchants take it from there. Marin Software marketing VP Matt Lawson told Wohlsen, “What you’re going to see [Google] do is do everything they can to enable marketers to sell through their platform.”
This week, Google took a major step in that direction with its acquisition of Channel Intelligence (CI) for $125 million. In a post at Forbes, TJ McCue describes CI as specializing in product ecommerce, offering data-driven services aimed at increasing online sales, and he highlights one of the company’s most successful products — the CI Where-to-Buy button.
Engadget’s Donald Melanson updated his report on the acquisition with a statement Google released regarding the purchase:
“We want to help consumers save time and money by improving the online shopping experience. We think Channel Intelligence will help create a better shopping experience for users and help merchants increase sales across the web.”
Marc Andreessen predicts the end of retail; expansion plans at Starbucks, Intuit; and Newegg takes down a patent troll.
Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the commerce space this week.
Death bells toll for brick-and-mortar retail
A recent report from mobile analytics startup Flurry looked at the growth in consumer use of shopping apps and concluded the “App & Mortar economy has arrived.” Flurry president and CEO Simon Khalaf reviewed their research results in a blog post on the company website, noting that “consumer time spent in Retailer Apps has skyrocketed by 525% from December 2011 to December 2012,” exceeding the shopping app growth of 274% as well as overall app growth of 132%.
Khalaf points out that it’s “mission critical” for retailers to start extending their reach to consumers beyond the brick-and-mortar walls and into connected devices such as smartphones and tablets. “In the App & Mortar economy, the battle for deeper consumer relationships is beginning,” he writes, “and there are already thousands of apps for that.”
Amazon's business strategy is showing, JC Penney CEO drops strategy bomb, and PayPal's strategy turns mobile.
Changes of heart in its war against state taxes illuminates Amazon’s next strategy, JC Penney will have mobile checkouts by the end of 2013, and PayPal acquires Card.io (Commerce Weekly is produced as part of a partnership between O’Reilly and PayPal.)
Connecting dots between the Sears supply chain and modern ecommerce. Plus: A look at mobile partnerships and NFC keychains.
An analyst says online commerce is a descendant (and a return) of the circa-1900s catalog model, Deutsche Telekom partners with MasterCard for its mobile wallet platform, and NFC keychains may spark technology solutions. (Commerce Weekly is produced as part of a partnership between O'Reilly and PayPal.)
TiVo and PayPal get into couch commerce, hints of Sprint's NFC wallet, and Apple's got a lot of credit cards.
TiVo and PayPal hope consumers will shop from the couch, Sprint wants its own wallet, and Apple has 400 million active accounts. (Commerce Weekly is produced as part of a partnership between O'Reilly and PayPal.)
Google's payment purchase, Visa's iPhone app, and FarmVille snubs ads.
In the first edition of ePayment Week: Is there a connection between Android 2.3 and Google's purchase of Zetawire? Plus: News on Visa's iPhone app and Zynga's disinterest in advertising.