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.
So, you've decided to log into your bank's website to figure out if you can afford the newest techno-bling shown at CES. Your bank gives you the nod, and you open up another browser tab (or window) to cruise over to your favorite tech reseller. After doing a few price and stock checks, a pop-up window appears: your bank session has timed out - and if you want to double-check your available credit or account balance, you need to log in again. Should you click and go?
To learn how it works, and to learn how to protect yourself, join us after the jump.
Despite a weakened economy, holiday shoppers didn't skip a beat this year, at least not at Amazon.com. The company reported it had never seen a better holiday shopping season in its 14-year history, which included 6.3 million items ordered on December 15th, or nearly 73 items every second. Between November 15 and December 10, Amazon sold a copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 about every 2.5 minutes. And in a particularly oddball statistic, Amazon.com says that the weight of all GPS devices sold from Black Friday through December was equal to that of 151 Mini Coopers. We don't know how many GPS units that breaks down to, but it sounds like an awful lot.
Nintendo's Wii console remained a hot seller, as did the Wii remote and Wii nunchuk controller. In consumer electronics, Samsung's 52" 120Hz LCD HDTV, the Apple iPod touch 8GB, and the Acer Aspire One 8.9" netbook with 160GB hard drive led the pack.
According to Comscore, heavy snowfall benefited online stores as shoppers chose to stay in rather than battle the weather and crowds.
"Online spending over the most recent weekend was clearly substantially heavier than the corresponding weekend nearest Christmas last year, which suggests that many consumers opted for the cozier confines of online shopping rather than having to brave the severe cold and snowstorms affecting much of the northern half of the country,” said ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.
But even though this was Amazon's best holiday shopping season ever, ComScore estimates that through December 21, online shoppers spent $24.71 billion on the internet, down 1 percent versus the same period in 2007.
This might not surprise anyone, but it turns out even the steep price cuts retailers used to entice consumers wasn’t enough to offset the sputtering North American economy. This holiday season – which typically accounts for around 30 to 50 per cent of a retailers total sales, was a bust that rippled across every retail sector. According to preliminary data released by SpendingPulse – a division of MasterCard, total retail sales slipped 2 to 4 per cent. While the electronics sector’s slip of 26.7% sounds substantial, it can’t even hold a torch to luxury item’s such as jewelry which sank almost 35%.
On a more positive note, online retailer Amazon.com said its 2008 holiday sales were its “best ever”. The retailer reportedly received orders for over 6.4 million items. This is good news for Amazon, and helps to back up claims from SpendingPulse’s which showed that more and more, consumers are making the switch to shopping online. Overall online sales declined a meager 2.3 percent from the previous year, however this is in stark contrast to 2007 when e-commerce grew almost 22.4 per cent. With big name brick and mortar retailers such as Circuit City already facing bankruptcy, weak holiday sales might see even more blood shed in the retail sector come January.
The clock is ticking, and the boxing week picture is not yet clear, but it remains to be seen what if anything will put retailers back in the black.
International management consulting firm Oliver Wyman released a survey last week painting a pretty grim outlook for technology and media sales, but that didn't stop shoppers from flocking online on Black Friday. According to comScore, consumers spent $534 million online on Black Friday, November 28th, up 1 percent from last year. Total online sales were up 2 percent for the combination of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, beating out expectations.
"Early reports suggest that Black Friday sales in retail stores were slightly better than anticipated in this depressed retail climate, and that performance apparently extended to the online channel, which saw sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday combined increase 2 percent versus year ago," said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. "It's probable that on Black Friday consumers responded positively to the very aggressive promotions and discounts being offered in retail stores."
Despite the 2-day sales boost, e-commerce spending for the first 28 days of November was down overall at $10.41 billion, 4 percent less than what it was in the same time frame one year ago.
It’s no secret that YouTube has yet to turn a profit. Despite steadily growing advertising revenue, the massive bandwidth costs required to stream a bazillion videos a day has kept the video giant out of the black. However, the company has announced an ambitious plan to monetize all those page-views by embedding their watch pages with “click-to-buy” links to retailers offering products related to the video.
YouTube is starting small, with iTunes and Amazon links on videos posted by certain record labels and trailers from Electronic Arts, but it plans to “slowly but surely expand the program to additional content and product partners.” They also plan to allow their advertising partners the opportunity to attach retail links to copyright-infringing videos posted by users, as long as they allow the video to remain on the site.
The program will initially only effect viewers in the United States, but if you live elsewhere and feel like you’re not seeing enough advertising in your daily life, don’t worry; YouTube plans to expand to other markets soon.
Microsoft’s quest for online dominance it would seem, will take more than just cash to realize. The aborted Yahoo deal was but a small part of a multifaceted approach towards capturing long term search engine market share, the most lucrative of which involves e-commerce. For those who can’t remember back that far,
on May 31st 2008
Microsoft announced plans to offer consumers cash back for transactions with select e-retailers which were found using the Live search engine. The comScore US market share results show a slight increase after the first month which represents a boost of about 0.7%. But July’s results saw the search engine give back 0.3% to its competitors. Even though the promotion has only been running for about two months, tech critics seem to think the idea is already running out of steam and express doubt that it will have any meaningful long term gains. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will continue the program as it may see any gain in market share to be a success. This seems even more likely when you consider how slowly search engine market share moves these days. To put it in perspective, during the same two month period Google’s market share rose only 0.1% to 61.8% and Yahoo dropped, but only by 0.1% to 20.5%. According to eMarketer Inc., U.S. online retail sales are projected to grow to about $335 billion by the year 2012. Even today, 68 percent of all online transactions began through a search engine.
Do you think Microsoft can make a comeback with cash back? Click the jump and let us know.
For many geeks, Newegg has become the de facto standard for shopping online for computer parts, and those of us living in the U.S. have had to endure the moans and groans from our brethren north of the border lamenting having to order PC peripherals elsewhere. Those cries will soon end as Newegg readies its Canadian website.
Having established itself as the "second-largest online-only retailer in the U.S.," Newegg will look to duplicate its success up north taking on the likes of NCIX.com and TigerDirect.ca, but the company isn't saying whether it plans to open warehouses in Canada or will simply ship across the border. Nor is it known exactly when Newegg.ca will officially open for business, only that it will take place sometime in 2008, and presumably sooner rather than later. In the meantime, when not chewing on delicious bacon or awaiting free health care, Canadians are encouraged to sign up for Newegg Canada's newsletter to "be the first to know about pre-launch sweepstakes, giveaways, and events."