Google Ramps Up For Expansion of Home Delivery Service

“When Google started testing a free same-day shopping delivery service in San Francisco last year, industry observers were surprised by the company’s foray into a notoriously tricky and decidedly low-margin real-world business. Others raised their eyebrows when orders of one or two items, such as toothpaste or a can of soda, sometimes arrived in a bag big enough to hold a week’s worth of groceries. It was a rookie mistake, one that underscores how Google is wading into unfamiliar territory — a business, now contested by seasoned hands Amazon.com Inc and eBay Inc. that claimed many victims during the first dotcom boom.” [Source: Reuters]

Read More

Walmart’s New Online Tool Allows Shoppers to Compare Prices with Competition

“The ‘Every Day Low Price’ king is trying to shake up the world of pricing once again. Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that it has rolled out an online tool that allows shoppers to compare its prices on 80,000 food and household products to those of its competitors. The world’s largest retailer began offering the feature that’s called “Savings Catcher” on its website late last month in seven big markets that include Dallas, San Diego and Atlanta.” [Source: USA Today]

Read More

Ecommerce Leads VC-backed Exits

“Among the more than 450 venture-backed exits in the technology sector last year, 16% were e-commerce companies (more than any other industry). Advertising, sales and marketing companies accounted for the second-most VC-backed deals (14%), followed by database management, storage and document management (10%), and social media (8%). The fact that there has been so much deal activity in the e-commerce industry demonstrates the maturity of the online retail market. In other words, some e-commerce companies have grown so large that they are now publicly traded, while others are being acquired by larger companies or investors who think they can make a profit from e-commerce. Both exit scenarios are an indicator of how bullish investors and market participants are on the fast-growing e-commerce industry.” [Source: Business Insider]

Read More

FedEx CEO Takes Sloppy E-Tailers to Task

“FedEx Corp. Chief Executive Fred Smith took a tough line with e-commerce companies on Wednesday, saying they need to shape up sloppy shipping practices or risk losing customers. On Wednesday, FedEx said severe weather shaved $125 million off of its fiscal third-quarter profit, pushing earnings well below even scaled-back analyst estimates. But snow and ice weren’t the only things Mr. Smith blamed. A significant part of the industry’s Christmas-delivery mess, he said, stemmed from problems on the part of retailers.” [Source: Wall Street Journal]

Read More

Chinese Ecommerce Giant Alibaba Eyes U.S. IPO

“Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group said Sunday that it will go public on a U.S. stock exchange in a move analysts say might raise up to $15 billion in the year’s biggest initial public offering. The announcement confirming plans for a U.S. offering ended months of speculation over where the company would list its shares after talks for a Hong Kong stock sale fell apart last year. Alibaba is one of the world’s biggest Internet companies and says that more than $150 billion worth of merchandise changes hands on its online platforms each year, more than Amazon.com and eBay combined.” [Source: Washington Post]

Read More

A Case for Investors to Be Bullish on Ecommerce

“In the trend-driven world of venture capital, sentiment toward the ecommerce sector changes as often as the celebrity crush of a teenager. One minute, brick-and-mortar retail is going the way of the dodo and etailers are the hottest investment going. The next, investors have soured on the space, writing off as tired business model trends like flash sales, stuff-in-a-box, celebrity endorsement, and the like. At the same time, digital-first brands like Warby Parker, Bonobos, and JustFab are reversing course and opening physical retail locations under the guise of creating brand experience. So, which is it? Is ecommerce a hot category among VCs or not? And is there still an opportunity to build successful commerce businesses online, or has that ship sailed in the form of the destroyer known as Amazon?” [Source: Pando Daily]

Read More

Comcast CEO: We’re Making Our Customer Service Look Like Uber

“With its $45 billion proposal to acquire Time Warner Cable awaiting federal approval, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts vowed Tuesday to bring Uber-like quality to the company’s much-maligned customer service. Referring to the widely praised, consumer-friendly car-hire firm, Roberts acknowledged in a meeting with USA TODAY’s editorial board that the perception of Comcast’s poor customer service lingers. But he said the company is making fresh efforts to ease the headaches. Uber “is fantastic,” he said, wielding his iPhone to demonstrate a new Comcast app that lets customers schedule an appointment and troubleshoot set-top boxes remotely. ‘I need to (be able) to push the button and see where my truck is. We’re beginning to make our service look like Uber.’ ” [Source: USA Today]

Read More

Revenue-Obsessed Travel Companies Weigh the Costs of Great Service

“The basics of good customer service, like courtesy and attentiveness, may be free. But great service? That’s expensive. Consider what happened to Virginia Bibliowicz’ father, who rented a car from Budget recently. Shortly after he picked up the vehicle in Knoxville, Tenn., he suffered a heart attack and died. ‘When my sister and her husband returned the car later, Budget refused to let them pay the charges,’ she says. ‘I think Budget and this rep should be commended, and they will certainly always have our business.’ The car rental company didn’t accept a penny of the family’s money because it was the right thing to do, just as airlines offer no-questions-asked refunds when passengers pass away before their flight. These decisions make perfect sense to customers, but not always to a revenue-obsessed travel industry.” [Source: USA Today]

Read More

Social Media Causes Banks to Change Approach to Customer Service

“J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.’s pullback from certain cash deposits is sparking a flurry of protests from would-be depositors on social media. When Sheree Kirsch learned she no longer could deposit cash into her nephew’s J.P. Morgan account because of a new bank policy designed to root out money launderers, she sent a tweet Tuesday via Twitter Inc. to complain about it. “I was like, ‘Am I a crook? Are we all crooks?’” said Ms. Kirsch in an interview. The bank’s customer-service team responded the same day with suggestions for alternative ways to transfer funds and an explanation of the new rule meant to bolster controls. Ms. Kirsch eventually was able to make the deposit through a money order. The exchange highlights the changes big banks face in the era of social media. J.P. Morgan’s customer-service account alone has more than 26,000 followers on Twitter and has sent more than 90,000 tweets since its inception.” …

Read More

Betabrand Gets Smart With New Models

“Betabrand, an online retailer of crowdsourced clothing, just launched its spring line, and the company decided to take a different approach to marketing the new looks: Each of the models would have a Ph.D. “When you look beyond the ranks of the professionally beautiful, photography becomes a lot more fun,” Betabrand founder Chris Lindland said in a statement. “Our designers cooked up a collection of smart fashions for spring, so why not display them on the bodies of women with really big brains?” So they did just that. The new collection features women (yes, thin and attractive women, which some critics are sure to point out) with a Ph.D. or who are working toward a Ph.D.” [Source: Adweek]

Read More