Best Buy is no longer playing favorites with Apple. The end of that monogamous relationship began when Samsung started installing "Experience Shops" inside the electronics chain, and now Best Buy is giving Microsoft the same opportunity to sell its wares by opening up Windows Stores at over 600 of its locations this summer. The store-within-a-store format will include 500 Best Buy locations across the U.S. and more than 100 Best Buy and Future Shop locations in Canada, Microsoft announced today.
Paypal might not be the only online e-commerce game in town, but if you frequently buy and sell items online, the Ebay-owned payment system might as well be. Other payment systems have come and gone, and some, like Google Checkout, still remain, but none have been able to duplicate the success and widespread acceptance that Paypal has. But what if Apple were to enter the fray?
According to chatter on Wall Street, Apple executives can barely restrain themselves from spilling the beans on a new service that would allow iTunes Store account holders to use those accounts to make purchases on participating third-party sites, Silicon Alley Insider says.
If such a service would ever come to fruition, Apple would become a competitor to Paypal overnight, bringing with it a huge existing install-base of potential users. And it wouldn't be as much of a leap as some might think. iPhone owners can already use their iTunes accounts to purchase virtual and subscription goods in third-party iPhone applications, albeit at 30 percent per transaction.
There are a few things you can count on happening every Thanksgiving holiday. Eating too much turkey and pumpkin pie? That's a given. Arguing with the in-laws? Only if they're invited. Watching the Detroit Lions lose to ____ (fill in the blank, as the opposing team is irrelevant to the outcome)? You can count on it. And finally, should you decide to venture out on Black Friday, encountering a horde of shoppers more frightening than anything you're likely to encounter in Left 4 Dead? That's an understatement.
But while the pushing and shoving and the sheer number of shoppers isn't likely to let up, the spending just might. According to a new survey by international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, the outlook for technology and media sales looks pretty grim as six out of ten U.S. consumers plan to cut back spending (PDF).
Desktop PCs, notebooks, media players ,and digital cameras look to the take the biggest hit, with over half of the survey's respondents saying they plan to spend less on such devices in the next year, resulting in a 10 percent drop in sales. Oliver Wyman notes that promotional pricing would increase unit sales, but it wouldn't be enough to justify broad discounts.
"Price discounts should be used cautiously and targeted at on-the-fence purchaser segments when used," Wyman analyst Mark Teitell said. "There's a risk of cannibalizing revenue from consumers already intending to make the purchase, without drawing sufficient new buyers to increase revenues overall."
The survey warns that consumers are being selective in where they pull back, such as delaying the purchase of an electronic device rather than downgrading a subscription service, such as broadband internet or a mobile phone data plan. With that in mind, those tantalizing sale prices might not come as often next year. That almost makes you want to brave the crowds on Black Friday. Almost.
Between raising the fee scale to censoring sellers from leaving anything less than positive feedback, Ebay has found itself under an increasing amount of scrutiny this past year. The online auction site is also finding that e-tailers are starting to offer more competitive pricing, a move Ebay believes is responsible for driving potential customers away from its auction format as buyers look for instant gratification.
"Buying online has changed," said Scot Wingo, chief executive of the market research firm ChannelAdvisor. "Retail sites no longer make customers choose between convenience and price."
To win customers back and prevent others from leaving, Ebay will once again change its fee structure, this time to the advantage of sellers looking to unload goods at a set price. Starting in mid-September, sellers will pay just 35 cents to list a fixed price "Buy It Now" auction, representing a 70 percent reduction in upfront fees.
While the new pricing scale might not be met with a warm welcome by sellers who prefer the auction format, Ebay is quick to note that "sellers can still choose to list items in Ebay's auction-style-format, which, with a low start price, remains the most cost-effective way to offer many kids of items."