About Gavin Donnelly
Gavin Donnelly has written 31 articles so far, you can find them below.
Gavin is a graduate of Washington State University where he studied Communication with a public relations emphasis. He left Pullman behind and currently resides in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle where you might run into him at happy hour. When he is not writing something for ZippyCart he enjoys travelling. His favorite film is Pulp Fiction (Say what again. Say what again, I dare you, I double dare you...! ) and his favorite movie genre is zombies. Follow him on Twitter: @_gdonnelly
October 13, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
L2 recently released its third annual Digital IQ Index for fashion, which ranks the digital competence of 49 prestigious fashion brands.
The index ranks the brands based on the effectiveness of their digital strategies across four categories: site, digital marketing, social media, and mobile. Brands were given digital IQ scores that fall into one of five rankings: genius, gifted, average, challenged, or feeble.
According to the index’s methodology, a brand’s website accounts for 35 percent of its overall digital IQ score. Nine sites of the 49 brands studied did not have an ecommerce solution, which significantly lowered their score. Brands that did have ecommerce-enabled websites averaged 19 percent more visits per user. The U.S. has the most brands selling online, at 79 percent, with the U.K. coming in second at 61 percent, while other European countries came in third at 41 percent.
The top two brands studied, falling into the genius ranking category, were Burberry and Kate Spade. Factors that led to Burberry’s number one spot are its high quality ecommerce-enabled site, Facebook page with more than 8.6 million fans, Twitter handle with 565,790 followers, and Instagram account with more than 86,000 followers. Kate Spade is doing some innovative things with social media and on the brand’s ecommerce solution. For example, an automatic email is sent to customers who abandon their shopping carts, offering them free shipping as an incentive to complete their order.
Social media presence, and the ability for customers to share information about fashion items via social media, are other big contributors to brands’ overall digital IQ scores. Fifty-seven percent of consumers surveyed reported that information they get through social media influences their luxury purchases. Only 57 percent of the brands studied allow users to Tweet products from their product pages, and only 53 percent allow users to share products on Facebook. According to the study, social media accounts for more than 14 percent of traffic going to a fashion brand’s website, and the majority of this traffic is from Facebook.
The mobile category was the least influential of L2’s four digital competence categories, but still accounted for 15 percent of a brand’s overall digital IQ score. Forty percent of consumers likely to buy luxury fashion products access the Internet from a smartphone daily, but only 18 percent of the brands studied provide mobile sites with ecommerce solutions. The majority of the 49 brands’ mobile sites have limited functionality, although some of the brands do offer mobile commerce apps.
Other interesting key findings from the study include that 10 of the top 15 brands are based in the U.S., compared to 6 in 2010. U.S.-based brands have the highest overall digital IQ rankings, followed closely by the U.K., Italy, and France. According to the study, a higher digital IQ translates to a higher shareholder value, so brands should take a close look at what they are doing across the four digital competence categories to see what they can improve on.
October 12, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Kiwi Crate is a new service for parents who want their kids to do more hands-on type activities, but need a little help providing such activities.
Parents who sign up for the subscription service will get a new crate containing a specially designed hands-on craft or activity for their children delivered to their door each month. Kiwi Crate is designed for parents with children from ages three to six. These parents want their kids to do crafts and projects as an alternative to video games or TV, but may not know how to go about getting their kids started on these things. The projects that Kiwi Crate supplies range from artistic to scientific and are all designed to teach creativity and motor skills to children during their early years. Kiwi Crate’s founder, Sandra Oh Lin, had this to say:
“With increased demands on parents’ time and decreased emphasis on the arts in schools, it’s more important than ever to ensure that kids have hands-on activities that are going to encourage their natural creativity and curiosity.”
Oh Lin was formerly general manager of eBay Fashion and, before that, launched PayPal Mobile and led product marketing for PayPal’s Merchant Services business. Other co-founders include Yu Pan, a PayPal co-founder and early YouTube employee, and Yael Pasternak Valek, a former Yahoo! product manager who was also on the founding team at Maya’s Mom, a company acquired by BabyCenter. Oh Lin is a mother of two children in Kiwi Crate’s target age group; she came up with the idea for the company because she realized that it is not always easy for parents to get ideas and materials for unique projects for their kids.
The U.S. crafts industry generates approximately $29.2 billion in sales annually and 20-25 percent of those sales are from materials and projects going into shopping carts for kids. Kiwi Crate announced Tuesday that it has raised $2 million in funding from a variety of investors led by First Round Capital. Josh Kopelman, Managing Director of First Round Capital, had this to say:
“As an investor, I was attracted to the fact that Kiwi Crate is solving a real pain point for millions of busy but well-intentioned parents. As a father myself, I immediately ‘got it’ when I first saw the concept.”
A Kiwi Crate subscription will cost $19.95 a month or $220 a year. The price includes all materials and directions needed for the monthly projects, as well as shipping costs. The service is an affordable option for parents who are looking for fun and educational projects for their kids. Kiwi Crate’s website will allow parents to upload pictures of completed projects and will feature a forum where parents can discuss their own ideas and experiences relating to hands-on activities and crafts.
October 8, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
CouponTrade may just seem like one site in the constantly growing category of sites offering daily deals and discounts, but there’s a twist.
The unique thing about CouponTrade’s business model is that it provides a marketplace for people to sell deals that they may have hastily put in their shopping carts on other daily deal sites, such as Groupon, and no longer want. Maybe they bought a great deal on a getaway to Mexico for two and then broke up with their significant other, or maybe they bought that one that was $25 for $50 worth of wine tasting and realized that none of their friends like wine. There are plenty of scenarios where a buying a deal seems like a great idea at the time but no longer makes sense, and it is likely to go unused.
CouponTrade is the place to get rid of these unused deals and discounts before they expire, and also provides an outlet to sell unwanted gift cards. The seller simply has to post whatever they are trying to get rid of for slightly less than they paid for it. It’s a win-win situation for everyone because sellers at least make some of the money that they originally spent back, and buyers get a discounted discount.
The company announced Wednesday that it has received an undisclosed amount of funding from Listen, LLC, bringing its total funding to date up to $2.4 million. Listen, LLC is a Chicago-based consulting firm founded by Jeff Cantalupo. George Bousis, CEO and co-founder of CouponTrade, had this to say about the funding:
“With such a comprehensive background in technology and advertising, we look forward to working with Mr. Cantalupo in expanding our outreach and continuing to thrive as a testament to our prior success.”
CouponTrade will use the additional funding to continue expanding its business to compete with other ecommerce solutions in the coupon re-selling space. Such competitors include DealsGoRound, CoupRecoup, and Coupons.com, which recently secured a $30 million round of funding. Another significant investor in CouponTrade is the Bousis’ family, owners and operators of the leading Chicago grocery chain Cermak Fresh Market.
The ecommerce solution provided by CouponTrade has a lot of similar competition, but the fact that it also focuses on the sale of gift cards in addition to daily deals and discounts sets it apart from other similar sites a bit. The website is simple and straightforward to use; visitors have easy options to either start buying or start selling. Once browsing the buying section, users can look at all deals or narrow it down to either daily deals only or gift cards only. With the new round of funding, CouponTrade will be able to expand on its marketing efforts and attract more discount hunters on the look-out for deals to add to their shopping carts, or those with buyer’s remorse looking to get rid of unwanted purchases.
October 6, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
StyleOwner is a new site that allows fashion bloggers to create a virtual storefront and sell products from partner retail stores.
Fashionistas who dream of opening their own store can become part of the virtual mall that StyleOwner creates and start selling items from more than 2,000 retail partners like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. Not only do bloggers get to display their writing and recommendations, but they also make a 10 percent commission on all items that get purchased through their storefront. StyleOwner provides the full ecommerce solution from shopping cart to shipping.
StyleOwner aims to increase growth of online fashion sales by creating a social and personalized marketplace. The site benefits both fashion enthusiasts, who want to curate their own virtual storefront, and retailers, who want their items to be recommended and purchased online. Fashion bloggers have been getting retailers online sales for a long time by posting “recommended looks” on their blogs with links to places that the items can be bought. Now, with StyleOwner, there is the 10 percent commission as a benefit for bloggers recommending items for shopping carts.
30 well-known fashion bloggers have already become a part of StyleOwner and the site hopes that this will attract fans of their blogs. The site is currently still private and has just 1,000 storefronts; new users need an invite to join. However, users don’t need to be among the top ranks of fashion bloggers to get a virtual storefront–StyleOwner hopes that average fashion enthusiasts will become part of the site and bring members of their social network with them. StyleOwner creates a collaborative experience where trendsetters get to do what they are passionate about and get compensated for it, and retailers know that their products are being seen by the right audience.
The company has attracted investors such as Forerunner Ventures and Andy Dunn, CEO and founder of Bonobos. Dunn had this to say about the ecommerce solution:
“It puts power in the hands of tastemakers and individuals and gives brands an authentic audience in the process. Bloggers and individuals add a lot to brands already but rarely get compensated for it in transparent and authentic ways.”
StyleOwner is committed to creating a trusted and authentic marketplace and will be encouraging storefront owners to attend forums, meetups, and webinars to get educated about aspects of marketing. Currently, ecommerce only accounts for about 10 percent of fashion sales annually, but it is growing quickly due to the rise in popularity of social selling and flash sales sites such as Rue La La. Shoppers are becoming more Web-oriented and increasingly engaging in ecommerce as an alternative to shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
September 29, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
These days tablet devices are hot items for the holiday season, here is a roundup of some of the top contenders on the market for the remainder of 2011.
Apple iPad 2
The iPad is currently dominating all other tablet competitors with a 73 percent market share. iPad users get access to millions of songs, TV shows, movies, and other content available through iTunes as well as more than 90,000 apps available from Apple’s App Store. The iPad 2 has the most rugged specs of any tablet on the market with an A5 processor and up to 64GB of internal storage space. The tablet also has built-in front and rear cameras, a nearly 10-inch touchscreen display, and optional 3G functionality.
Apple’s iPad 2 is priced from $499-$799 based on the amount of storage space, 16GB-64GB, and Internet capability, Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi with 3G. There is no doubt that the iPad is the most versatile and most highly desired tablet on the market. Customers willing to spend a little more for a tablet with high storage space and 3G functionality will think Apple is the way to go when choosing a tablet for their shopping cart this holiday season.
Amazon Kindle Fire
Amazon’s highly anticipated entry into the tablet market, the Kindle Fire, was unveiled Wednesday. Don’t be fooled by the name, the Fire is much more than just an ereader. The tablet allows access to all Amazon content including books, music, movies, TV shows, apps, and games. The current model, shipping November 15, uses Wi-Fi for Internet access and a 3G version has not been announced. A new Fire will come with a free 30-day of Amazon Prime, the subscription that allows access to 11,000 titles of video streaming content and unlimited two-day shipping on all shopping cart orders.
The Fire runs on Android but has a highly customized interface unique to the device. It features a seven-inch touchscreen display with a battery life of up to eight hours for steadily streaming content as well as 8GB of internal storage. There is no camera or microphone built into the device, so no video calls from the Fire. What the Kindle Fire lacks in features, it makes up for with its affordable price, launching at just $199. Users looking for less bang for less buck will likely consider the Kindle Fire, with its access to endless hours of Amazon content, a reasonable choice over Apple’s iPad 2 for their holiday wish lists.
At first glance the BlackBerry Playbook looks a lot like the new Kindle Fire, and there are some definite similarities like the seven-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi only Internet access. The Playbook also shares some features with the iPad 2 such as built-in front and rear cameras and storage options from 16GB-64GB. The tablet runs on the BlackBerry Tablet OS and has very limited apps available. Research in Motion, the Playbook’s developer, has said that an Android app player will become available for the tablet, allowing access to some Android apps.
The BlackBerry Playbook is available on ecommerce solutions for around $350-$600, depending on the model, but many retailers are slashing the price due to lack of popularity. The Playbook is a nice device for viewing multimedia or browsing the Internet but has very limited access to apps and content. At the current prices, shoppers will most likely bypass this product and opt for the higher utility of the iPad 2 or the affordability of the Kindle Fire.
Barnes & Noble Nook Color
The Nook Color is Barnes & Noble’s tablet and the most upgraded version of the Nook ereader. Like the Kindle Fire, it has a seven-inch touchscreen, 8GB storage, and built-in Wi-Fi. It also has access to Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook store for access to ebooks but doesn’t have the same availability of audio or video content that the Fire or iPad have. The Nook Color only runs its own apps, of which there are less than 1000.
One feature that the tablet has that others don’t is expandable storage in the form of micro SD cards up to 32GB. The Nook Color runs on an Android operating system and uses a customized Android browser. The tablet retails on ecommerce solutions for $249, making it a cheap alternative to an iPad. However, with less functionality and access to multimedia content than its closest competitor in price, the Kindle Fire, it remains to be seen how well the Nook Color does against the competition over the next few months.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 is Samsung’s latest Android tablet running on the Honeycomb OS and is set to ship at the beginning of October. It is similar in size and appearance to Apple’s iPad with an 8.9-inch touchscreen that has plenty of potential for video watching and Web browsing via Wi-Fi. The tablet also allows users access to all of the apps available through the Android Marketplace.
The Galaxy Tab 8.9 has front and back cameras and comes with either 16GB or 32GB of built-in storage as well as expandable storage with an up to 32GB micro SD card. The battery life lasts up to 10 hours of continuous playback time. Samsung’s newest Android tablet will mainly be competing with the iPad for space in shopping carts this holiday season and is priced at $469 and $569 for the 16GB and 32GB models respectively.
September 27, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Amazon announced Monday that it has partnered with Fox to add new streaming content for Amazon Prime members.
The deal will add a wide variety of popular Fox movies and TV series to Amazon Prime’s streaming library, including favorites such as 24, The X-Files, Arrested Development, and The Wonder Years. With the new additions, the number of titles available for streaming from Amazon will hit 11,000, more than double the number available back in February. The video library currently has content from CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony, and Warner Bros, and the Fox content will become available later this fall. An Amazon Prime membership costs $79 a year and includes access to the video streaming service as well as unlimited two-day shipping on all shopping cart orders.
Netflix, Amazon’s main competitor, also has a new partnership with Dreamworks Animation. The deal will make new releases from Dreamworks available to Netflix customers starting in 2013. Netflix has also recently lost a partnership with content provider Starz that will mean the removal of approximately 1,000 titles from its streaming library. The Netflix streaming library currently still has almost double the content of Amazon Prime’s, at approximately 20,000 titles.
Netflix has recently received a lot of negative attention for its decision to separate its streaming and DVD-by-mail services and charge for each. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote an apologetic blog post last week detailing the direction that the company is heading in. The company has suffered a significant loss of customers who no longer want to pay for separate subscriptions. Many former Netflix subscribers are jumping ship to competitors such as Amazon, Blockbuster, and Hulu.
Amazon will hold a press conference in New York on Wednesday, where the company’s CEO Jeff Brezos is expected to unveil a new tablet computer that will compete with Apple’s iPad. Amazon Prime’s streaming service is not currently available on Apple devices, Windows Phones, or video game consoles, making Netflix a more accessible option. With the upcoming release of a new tablet device from Amazon, it is likely that access to the streaming library will be part of the marketing strategy for the device. It is projected that the ecommerce solution will price its tablet computer at $249, significantly cheaper than the iPad.
The fight for video streaming superiority will rage on as Amazon Prime and Netflix both have their successes. Despite Netflix’s subscription losses, the company recently launched its streaming service in 43 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and is expected to begin expanding into Europe as well. Amazon Prime has less streaming content than Netflix, but the deal with Fox is another step towards closing the gap. The bonus of free two-day shipping for members’ shopping cart items is an added incentive for customers deciding on the right streaming service for themselves.
September 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Offering the right online deals to shoppers will be critical for retailers to attract customers this holiday shopping season.
A recent survey by SteelHouse revealed that 82 percent of respondents will change the way they shop this year. Of those respondents, 62 percent plan to spend less money on holiday shopping in a variety of ways. That number doesn’t bode well for retailers but with the right offers customers may still flock to ecommerce solutions. Almost one third of those surveyed said that they plan to spend more time browsing products online rather than going to the mall and that they will not buy anything without a discount or at least free shipping.
Retailers should consider the option of using daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial to attract customers who will be using the Internet to do their holiday shopping more than ever this season. 12 percent of survey respondents said that they will use social media such as Twitter to find deals or let their friends know about deals. Word of mouth about discounts and offers may have a big influence on what items customers are putting in their shopping carts throughout the remaining months of 2011.
Coupons will also be a bigger factor this year, 11 percent of respondents said that they will use coupons for the first time. Retailers should consider sending out coupons by email to get an edge over the competition. 50 percent of respondents said that they will comparison shop more than usual in order to find the best price, an e-coupon could determine what ecommerce solution shoppers will turn to for desired items.
Women and shoppers with families will be the ones making the most changes to their shopping habits and looking harder for deals over the holidays. Women are more likely than men to both spend more time shopping online and to require a discount or free shipping before making a purchase. Interestingly, men are more likely to use coupons for the first time this holiday season, perhaps because women are traditionally more likely to use coupons on a regular basis. Respondents with families also plan to change their shopping habits more drastically and are more likely to comparison shop and browse items online instead of at brick-and-mortar stores.
Although the survey results don’t look good for retailers when it comes to overall holiday spending, ecommerce sales have been going up steadily over the past two years and are expected to at least remain the same and likely to increase further. Retailers just need to keep in mind the types of things that shoppers are on the lookout for and provide the right offers on ecommerce solutions. A little flexibility when it comes to shipping and pricing this holiday shopping season could go a long way.
September 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya has partnered with ecommerce software provider Cellulant to grow its mobile ecommerce clients.
The new mobile banking platform, called Release 3.0, will allow the bank to create applications that will allow clients to do their banking and make online bill payments or other transactions from their smartphones. Release 3.0 integrates into various core banking systems and combines ATM and Internet banking channels. The platform is versatile enough that Standard Chartered Bank will be able to custom-design products for different markets throughout Africa.
Standard Chartered Bank has been quick to jump into the mobile commerce market and has launched its own Apple app store for its clients and employees. Mobile commerce is finding a strong foothold in Africa and quickly gaining popularity. The bank has already doubled its number of mobile banking clients and won an award within its global network. Kariuki Ngari, Standard Charter Bank Kenya’s Consumer Banking Director, had this to say:
“The bank’s aim is to more than triple mobile commerce usage as an alternative delivery channel for our range of services as part of our strategic commitment to meet our discerning customers’ needs more conveniently. Cellulant has managed to meet our international demands to provide a technically superior, robust and scalable solution and we are proud to continue this journey with them.”
Cellulant is responsible for providing mobile ecommerce solutions in more than 30 mobile networks throughout Africa. It has a presence in a variety of industries including banking, utilities, insurance, retail, manufacturing, and music. Its presence also extends across twelve countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique. Paul Ndichu, Cellulant’s Chief Business Officer, had this to say:
“We have built a mobile commerce network that is connected to different platforms across different value chains in Africa such as MNO wallets, banks, merchant bill payment gateways and content delivery channels to deliver a transformational experience on mobile.”
Cellulant is at the forefront of mobile commerce in developing countries in Africa. Ndichu also stated that the company invests 15 percent of its annual revenue towards research and development to create innovative mobile ecommerce software for its variety of markets.
The partnership between Standard Chartered Bank and Cellulant will allow clients to use ecommerce software created with the Release 3.0 platform in order to do everything from card-less withdrawals to receiving SMS alerts regarding their bank accounts. The platform utilizes encryption and monitoring features for secure online payments and transactions. Ngari stated that the bank is eager to see its clients begin using the new technology as it begins to release a variety of new services.
September 21, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The credit card scanning technology that Card.io provided for iOS back in June is now available for Android.
Card.io is a software development kit that developers can integrate into their apps to aid payment processes. The San Francisco based company was founded by former Admob employees Mike Mettler and Josh Bleecher Snyder. The tool allows users to simply place their credit card in front of their smartphone’s camera to scan it and upload the data, rather than manually entering it all in. 80 iOS apps have integrated the ecommerce solution since its recent release and Card.io says more than 750 additonal developers have signed up to start using the platform.
The hassle of entering payment information on a relatively small device is one of the biggest challenges to mobile commerce. The type of technology offered by Card.io makes the process much easier for smartphone users who wish to quickly purchase items in their shopping carts. Anytime credit card information is involved, there are obvious issues with security that become a concern. Card.io uses 128-bit SSL encryption to protect consumers’ data and doesn’t save an image of the credit card on users’ phones.
Major competitors in the field of mobile commerce and mobile payments are Google and Square. There are however some key differences between the types of tools that these companies offer and what Card.io provides with its SDK. The major difference between Card.io and Square is that users have to plug in an additional piece of hardware to their smartphones in order to use Square to accept credit card payments. Card.io targets the developers rather than the consumers and is actually integrated into apps to allow for easy payment options.
The newly released Google Wallet is a bigger threat to credit card scanning technology because it replaces the physical credit card itself. However, Card.io is more specifically targeted for use as a mobile ecommerce solution rather than as a replacement for an actual wallet to be used in everyday transactions. The launch of Google Wallet and impending release of other mobile payment technology from companies such as PayPal may make plastic credit cards obsolete sometime in the next several years. If this happens, ecommerce software like that offered by Card.io will no longer serve a purpose, but for now the company shows no sign of losing steam as developers sign-up to integrate the platform into their apps.
September 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Millions of Netflix subscribers received an apologetic email early Monday morning from Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of the company.
The email is a slightly briefer version of a post from Hastings on Netflix’s blog that provides a lengthy apology for the lack of communication to subscribers about changes that the company is making to its services and pricing. Netflix recently made the decision to separate its DVD and streaming services and charge for both, leading to a significant backlash from customers and a fall in subscriptions.
Hastings explained the reasoning behind Netflix’s decisions and describes where the company is headed with its split services. The CEO ensured users that both the DVD-by-mail service and streaming ecommerce software will get better as a result of their separation. Hastings had this to say:
“So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently. It’s hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to ‘Qwikster’.”
The re-named DVD service will remain essentially the same, even down to the red envelope, but will now have its own website. One improvement to Qwikster is that users will have the option of upgrading their subscription to include video games for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii in their shopping carts, a feature that has been a long time coming. Hastings and Andy Redich, the new Qwikster CEO, made a short YouTube video describing the new service.
There are a couple downsides for customers who want to subscribe to both the DVD and streaming services, the obvious one being that they will have to pay separately for each subscription. The other is that since the services will now have separate websites some things will have to be done twice, such as rating movies. In other words if customers rent a DVD and rate it on Qwikster, their rating will not automatically show up on Netflix. Other minor things like entering payment information or changing contact details will also have to be done twice.
It is evident from comments left on Hastings’ blog post that many subscribers (or former subscribers) still believe that the company’s decision to split its services is greatly misguided. A quick read-through of the first page of comments reveals a varying degree of criticism, from mere disappointment to outright rage directed at the company and its CEO. Many users feel that the whole appeal of Netflix was the convenience of having two integrated services under one roof.
Hastings acknowledges at one point in his post that the DVD-by-mail service may not be around forever and that the streaming market is growing much more rapidly. He writes that Netflix will continue to improve and grow, with the addition of substantial new streaming material in coming months. Netflix is clearly gearing up to expand globally, the service recently launched its ecommerce software in 43 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
September 20, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
CrowdTwist is a new tool that allows brands to track and measure audience interaction across all online social channels.
The CrowdTwist platform integrates itself into a brands website and connects to all of the brand’s social media channels to provide data about consumer engagement and ROI. It keeps track of all online interactions and mentions by the public. Brands can use this information to determine the most influential or loyal followers and customize future marketing strategies based on the types of interaction that they are receiving.
The ecommerce solution benefits the customers as well as the brand, giving them points for all interactions that can then be used towards real rewards. Brands can choose to provide any type of reward that they want, from experiences to discounts or free shwag.
Data that CrowdTwist provides allows brands to understand what types of customer actions on various social media channels are most valuable. The recent explosion of so many new outlets for consumers online has fragmented brand-consumer interactions and made it more difficult for marketers to structure both their online and offline campaign strategies. CrowdTwist brings together metrics from all these scattered outlets and provides custom campaign tools for brands to reach different target markets.
Brands such as JCPenney, LiveNation, and TheFanHub are among those currently using CrowdTwist’s ecommerce software. The platform has already demonstrated its effectiveness; increasing average time-on-site by 250 percent, average page views per visit by 450 percent, and average purchase size by more than 30 percent.
CrowdTwist announced Monday that it has secured $6 million in a round of Series A funding led by SoftBank Capital and Fairhaven Capital. The company will use the funding to reinforce its rapid growth as it expands and forms new partnerships with brands. Irving Fain, CEO and co-founder, had this to say:
“Brands that take steps now to connect all of their online and offline audiences and enrich the overall customer experience are well positioned to discover, activate and retain their highest-value customers. Today’s funding by a fantastic roster of investors is an affirmation of this vision, and we look forward to continuing to build a world class team and product.”
Next week, the tool will begin powering the brand loyalty program for Simon Cowell’s X-Factor. The new talent competition TV show will use CrowdTwist’s ecommerce software to track viewer engagement and interaction with the brand across multiple channels. The show will be able to use the platform to track and analyze how viewers are interacting with their online, social, and mobile presences.
September 16, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an official federal investigation into Craigslist’s allegations that eBay employees stole confidential information about the company and used it to launch a competing site.
A California court issued a grand jury subpoena last week outlining the allegations against the ecommerce giant. Craigslist claims that eBay executives, who also held a seat on Craigslist’s board of directors, unfairly and illegally used their position to steal classified information about the company. Craigslist alleges that eBay then used the information to start its own competing classifieds ecommerce solution, Kijiji.
eBay has held a seat on Craigslist’s board of directors since 2004 when it bought a 28 percent minority stake in the company. The grand jury subpoena states that the department of justice will investigate:
“Incidents where eBay employees engaged in alleged criminal activities and misconduct focused around the misappropriation of proprietary/confidential information from Craigslist.”
Those being accused of stealing trade secrets include Pierre Omidyar, eBay’s founder and chairman, who allegedly requested information about Craigslist’s finances and strategies in 2005 and then passed it on to other eBay employees.
Craigslist and eBay have been in conflict since eBay launched its own Internet classifieds site, Kijiji, in 2007. The company later renamed the site eBayClassifieds.com. Allegations also state that after the launch of its online classifieds site, eBay began buying Internet ad space that would steer users away from Craigslist and onto eBay’s site.
eBay representatives deny the validity of allegations that the ecommerce solution used any of the information to benefit its own classifieds site. The company is countering with claims that Craigslist breached terms of a shareholders’ agreement. Amanda Miller, an eBay spokeswoman, had this to say:
“We will cooperate with any inquiry related to the disputes between eBay and Craigslist. eBay believes that Craigslist’s allegations against eBay are without merit. We will continue to vigorously defend ourselves, and we will aggressively pursue our claims against Craigslist.”
This newest investigation is just the latest in a series of legal battles between the two ecommerce solutions. Last year Craigslist owners James Buckmaster and Craig Newmark attempted to relinquish eBay of its board seat. The owners believed that having a shareholding member of eBay seated on the board posed a serious threat to their company. eBay won the ruling however and retained its rights as a minority stakeholder in Craigslist.
Back in May a similar case occurred when Paypal sued Google over the launch of its mobile payments ecommerce solution, Google Wallet. Paypal alleged that Google obtained trade secrets from a former employee who switched from one company to the other.
September 15, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Red Robot Labs, creators of the Life is Crime app, is a start-up devoted to developing games that realize the potential of location-based mobile gaming.
Players in “Life is Crime” can fight each other at real locations on their city’s map for control of properties in battles where the winner is determined by weapons and stats. Players can also pick up and drop off virtual “goods” from each other around the city, a mutually beneficial action. The game launched at Seattle’s Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) back in August and quickly gained a following. For the duration of the convention alone there were more than 20,000 virtual “crimes” committed, including 4000 fights for control of the Convention Center and $1 million in contraband trafficked through the Convention Center.
Seattle is one of the first fully developed and mapped cities to be released for the game. Users can add the Life is Crime app to their shopping carts for free but it is currently only available on the Android. An iPhone version is set to be released soon and there is talk of allowing gang fights between iPhone and Android users to battle it out for supremacy of their cities.
Toronto based developers Massive Damage, Inc. created another example of location-based gaming, called Please Stay Calm, in which players battle hordes of flesh eating zombies at locations that they check-in at. Players can earn credits to purchase new weapons in order to better combat the undead. Location-based, or real-world, mobile gaming is still in its early stages but games like Life is Crime and Please Stay Calm provide a glimpse into the future potential of location-based gaming to change how people interact with their Smartphones and with each other at popular locations. Massive Damage’s Garry Seto had this to say:
“Our game is just scratching the surface of the emergent gameplay possible by implementing features like implicit teamplay and ad hoc group missions that occur when multiple players are in the same location.”
Please Stay Calm is currently only available through ecommerce solutions in Canada and only for the iPhone. The game will be released in the United States sometime next month and for the Android later this year.
Red Robot Labs announced Wednesday that it has raised $8.5 million in Series A funding. The funding was led by Benchmark Capital with participation from Shasta Ventures, Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson, and Chamath Palihapitiya, a former Facebook executive. Red Robot Labs will use the new funding to work on developing its location-based gaming platform, create new games in-studio, as well as forge partnerships with third-party developers. Mike Ouye, CEO and co-founder, had this to say:
“We recognized the enormous opportunity presented by location gameplay on mobile devices — location games are very sticky. We’ve developed a significant game and platform strategy that appeals to both core gamers and casual audiences seeking a high quality social gaming experience built around their daily routines.”
Smartphone users can expect to see more and more location-based mobile gaming apps available for their shopping carts in the near future. Red Robot Labs hopes to have three more games out by then end of the year.
September 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
On Tuesday, Microsoft Windows president Steven Sinofsky demonstrated how to create apps in the new “Metro” style for the Windows 8 operating system at Microsoft’s Build conference.
Sinofsky also announced that there will be a new app store that Microsoft is currently calling the Windows Store, or just “store”. The store will include an ecommerce software platform that allows third-party software developers to publish and distribute Metro apps for profit. Microsoft has not yet announced what the company’s financial cut of app sales will be.
Developers will be able to use the platform to fill in details about the app that they wish to upload and sell. Microsoft will then put the apps through a certification process to determine whether they are high-quality, safe, and secure. Developers will be able to check on the status of their app in the certification process, which Microsoft is claiming will take only 24 hours. Sinofsky had this to say:
“It’s like ordering pizza, you know where your app is at all the steps along the way.”
The new style of apps will use tiles on the Start Screen and the store itself is a Metro app that will be a main tile of the new Windows 8 Start Screen as well. The ecommerce solution will be arranged in pages for different departments of apps such as “Games”. The store has a built-in trial mode that will allow customers to sample an app before purchasing it. This is a feature that Apple’s App Store does not currently have.
Once developers have started actual sales of an app they will have the option of including multiple licenses for customers to choose from such as a 7-day free trial followed by a prompt to purchase the app. Developers will also have access to detailed information about their customers including purchase details, market segments, and other information pulled from Windows Live IDs.
Classic Windows Desktop apps will be listed in the store in addition to the new Metro style apps. Sinofsky stated that Microsoft will not be making any licensing adjustments to existing Desktop apps. The difference between Metro apps and Desktop apps is that Metros are designed specifically for touch controls whereas Desktops are more geared towards mouse and keyboard and have difficulties with a touch-based interface, on a tablet for example.
There is no official launch date for Windows 8, but a preview version was distributed to attendees at the Build conference. However there is no active version of the new ecommerce software for developers to preview. The Metro apps that are available for preview were all developed in a 10-week timeframe by a group of college sophomores and juniors studying programming.