Tag Archives: ECommerce

U.S. Supreme Court weighs South Dakota e-commerce sale tax fight
April 17, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether to let states force out-of-state online retailers to collect sales taxes on purchases in a fight potentially worth billions of dollars pitting South Dakota against e-commerce businesses.

FILE PHOTO: The South Dakota state capitol building is seen in Pierre, South Dakota, U.S., February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Lawrence Hurley/File Photo

South Dakota is asking the nine justices to overturn a 1992 Supreme Court precedent that states cannot require retailers to collect state sales taxes unless the businesses have a “physical presence” in the state.

The state, appealing a lower court decision that favored Wayfair Inc, Overstock.com Inc and Newegg Inc, is being supported by President Donald Trump’s administration.

A ruling favoring South Dakota could eventually lead to online customers paying more for many purchases.

Such a ruling could help small brick-and-mortar retailers compete with online rivals while delivering up to $ 18 billion into the coffers of the affected states, according to a 2017 federal report. The justices are due to decide the case by the end of June.

South Dakota depends more than most states on sales taxes because it is one of nine that do not have a state income tax. South Dakota projects its revenue losses because of online sales that do not collect state taxes at around $ 50 million annually, while its opponents in the case estimate it as less than half that figure.

FILE PHOTO: A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building is seen in Washington, DC, U.S., October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The justices will hear the case against a backdrop of Trump’s harsh criticism of Amazon.com Inc, the dominant player in online retail, on the issue of taxes and other matters. Trump has assailed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, a newspaper that the Republican president also has disparaged.

Amazon, which is not involved in the Supreme Court case, collects sales taxes on direct purchases on its site but does not collect taxes for items sold on its platform by third-party venders, amounting to about half of total sales.

South Dakota is supported by industry groups representing major retailers that have brick-and-mortar stores, and therefore already collect state sales taxes. The National Retail Federation, which supports the state, has a membership that includes Walmart Inc and Target Corp, as well as Amazon.

E-commerce companies supporting Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg include two that provide online platforms for individuals to sell online: eBay Inc and Etsy Inc.

The 2016 South Dakota law requires out-of-state online retailers to collect sales tax if they clear $ 100,000 in sales or 200 separate transactions. The state sued a group of online retailers to force them to collect the state sales taxes, with the aim of overturning the 1992 precedent.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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Exclusive: Amazon eyes new warehouse in Brazil e-commerce push – sources
February 9, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) is looking to lease a 50,000-square-meter warehouse just outside Sao Paulo, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, as it steps up its push into Latin America’s biggest retail market, Brazil.

The logistics investment, which would be four times the size of its current book-shipping operation in the country, is a sign the online retailer may soon handle distribution of electronics and other goods sold on its Brazilian website.

That would be the first step of its kind for Amazon in Latin America’s largest economy, where it currently relies on third parties to ship their own goods sold on its marketplace, and it underscores the seriousness of the e-commerce giant’s renewed push into Brazil.

Amazon declined to comment to questions about leasing a warehouse.

While an estimated two-thirds of Brazil’s 209 million people have internet access, online retail was slow to take off at first, amid concerns over security and complications with tax and logistics in the continent-sized country.

E-commerce accounts for around 5 percent of Brazil’s roughly $ 300 billion retail market — about half its share in the United States — but it has doubled in the past four years and is forecast to keep growing annually at a double-digit pace.

Now Amazon, which expanded its Brazil business from books to electronics in October, is gearing up to fight rivals such as Latin Ameria’s homegrown e-commerce champion Mercado Libre Inc (MELI.O) and B2w Cia Digital, (BTOW3.SA) which is indirectly controlled by partners of private equity group 3G Capital.

“You obviously can’t underestimate a company like Amazon,” said Pedro Guasti, CEO of Brazilian online consultancy Ebit. “It has huge capacity to invest and it’s obviously taking a bigger bite of the cake than it did last year.”

Mercado Libre Inc, B2w and local retailer Magazine Luiza SA (MGLU3.SA) have stolen a march on Amazon by storing and shipping goods appearing on their websites even when offered by third-party sellers, to ensure speed and customer satisfaction.

Amazon, by contrast, has been slow to tackle the challenges of shipping in a country where tricky logistics and tax issues have long made online retail an unprofitable venture.

MEXICAN CONTRAST

In Mexico, Amazon launched its third-party marketplace coupled with its own shipping service, called “Fulfillment by Amazon,” in 2015.

The contrast has been stark. Nearly 20 percent of reviews on Amazon’s Brazilian marketplace are negative, compared with 10 percent in Mexico and just 4 percent in the United States, according to e-commerce analytics firm Marketplace Pulse.

Complaints in Brazil often focus on delayed or canceled orders – a problem dramatically reduced in other countries when Amazon itself packs and posts orders of third-party goods stored at its warehouse facilities.

In an early sign of Amazon’s Brazilian logistics push, the company posted more than a dozen listings for distribution jobs in the country to LinkedIn last year, including “Site leader, Fulfillment Center”.

The new warehouse site outside of Sao Paulo, in the municipality of Cajamar, looks to be a step in that direction.

There San Francisco-based logistics company Prologis Inc (PLD.N) has offered a 50,000-square-meter space to Amazon in a new industrial park that hosts DHL and Samsung, according to sources, who said adaptation of the warehouse had not begun.

Prologis, which also partnered with Amazon on a mega-warehouse north of Mexico city last year, declined to comment.

The preparations in Brazil come as Luft, the local logistics operator for Amazon’s book business, readies a move into another Prologis site nearby in Cajamar, sources said, leaving its current 12,000-square-meter facility in the city of Barueri.

Amazon registered in October to conduct operations in Cajamar, according to municipal records seen by Reuters.

The new logistics investment could spell trouble for rivals.

Mercado Libre has been a success story among Latin America tech start ups: its shares have nearly tripled since 2014, bringing its market capitalization to more than $ 15 billion.

Magazine Luiza’s stock has risen sixfold in each of the past two years as it shifted its rolled out an ambitious e-commerce strategy built on its brick and mortar stores.

Reporting by Gabriela Mello; Writing and additional reporting by Brad Haynes; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alistair Bell

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Consumer goods firms harness online data to tap Southeast Asia e-commerce boom
October 23, 2017 12:00 am|Comments (0)

SINGAPORE/BANGKOK (Reuters) – When diaper maker DSG International (Thailand) wants to know what its customers are thinking, it often turns to Lazada, an e-commerce firm majority-owned by Alibaba Group Holding (BABA.N).

FILE PHOTO: The Singapore Lazada website is seen in this illustration photo June 20, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

“From (their) data, we know mothers sometimes browse at night, so we can offer flash sales when we know customers are browsing,” says Ambrose Chan, the Thai company’s CEO.

Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest-growing internet market, home to 600 million consumers from Vietnam to Indonesia via Singapore, many of them tech- and social media-savvy. They are rapidly spending more time and money online. A Nielsen study in 2015 estimated Southeast Asia’s middle-class will hit 400 million by 2020, doubling from 2012.

Gross merchandise value of ecommerce in Southeast Asia will balloon to $ 65.5 billion by 2021, from $ 14.3 billion last year, predicts consultancy Frost & Sullivan.

Research firm Euromonitor forecasts internet retailing in Indonesia, for example, will more than double to $ 6.2 billion by 2021, and Thailand will increase 85 percent to $ 2.8 billion.

(For a graphic on Southeast Asia internet sales click reut.rs/2l3qULe)

Consumer goods firms, such as Unilever (UNc.AS) and Japanese cosmetics firm Shiseido (4911.T), say the e-commerce boom allows them to push deeper into markets that can otherwise be difficult to understand and tough to penetrate due to poor retail networks and infrastructure.

“Data from Lazada has been used to position certain products where consumer preferences are different. For example, Thai customers like to buy diapers in special cartons, while Malaysians prefer multiple packs,” says Chan.

To reach more customers and get a better handle on their online behavior, consumer goods companies are forging partnerships with e-commerce firms like Lazada and fashion website Zalora.

POWERFUL, INSIGHTFUL

A customer who clicked on a 50 milliliter product may instead buy a smaller 30 ml product, said Pranay Mehra, vice president, digital and e-commerce at Shiseido Asia Pacific, noting that data and online selling experience can help firms bundle offers, decide on packaging and distribution, and influence where to set up a physical presence.

“This data is very powerful and very insightful, if used properly,” Mehra added.

Unilever, whose products range from Hellmann’s mayonnaise to Dove soap, said it is seeing more demand from rural consumers in developing markets like Indonesia and Vietnam.

RedMart’s President Vikram Rupani poses at their fulfillment centre in Singapore September 22, 2017. Picture taken September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Edgar Su

“With all our e-commerce partners, we’re using data to help us find innovative solutions to unlock key barriers of high cost delivery and poor credit card penetration in remote areas,” said Anusha Babbar, e-commerce director at Unilever Southeast Asia and Australasia.

The conglomerate, which works with the likes of Singapore online grocer RedMart, Indonesia’s Blibli and Vietnam’s Tiki, said it introduced its St Ives skincare brand on Lazada after seeing a trend towards natural products and shopper search data.

DATA AND LOGISTICS

“Traditional retailers will struggle to see customer behavior,” said Lazada Thailand’s CEO, Alessandro Piscini. “We can tell if a customer is pregnant from their search behavior.”

Slideshow (10 Images)

Lazada, he said, plans to use data science to help its merchants customize offers for specific customer groups based on age, gender and other preferences.

Zalora, which sells clothing and accessories online in markets including Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, said it was working on ad-hoc projects with some brands to help them understand their customers based on data.

Lazada and Zalora are among the few e-commerce platforms that operate in multiple Southeast Asian countries. But the region is becoming a new battleground as Amazon (AMZN.O) and JD.com (JD.O) make beachheads in Singapore and Thailand.

Lazada Thailand will focus on partnering with fast-moving consumer goods companies to maintain its lead, Piscini said, and is expanding its logistics footprint across a region that has poor roads, clogged cities and thousands of often remote islands.

To be sure, online still contributes a tiny portion to consumer goods companies’ sales, but some local firms are going beyond partnerships and investing in their own e-commerce capabilities.

Thailand’s top consumer goods manufacturer Saha Group (SPI.BK) (SPC.BK) has seen online sales of some of its brands rise tenfold since it began a partnership with Lazada in June, but online still represents just 1-2 percent of total sales.

Saha is using e-commerce data to customize offerings.

“We now make real-time offerings to customers. Before, promotions would be seasonal,” Chairman Boonsithi Chokwatana told Reuters.

The company, whose products include instant noodles, toothpaste and laundry detergent, is investing 2 billion baht ($ 60 million) in logistics to support its e-commerce ambitions, including a 21-storey warehouse and a big data team, he said.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE and Chayut Setboonsarng in BANGKOJK; Editing by Ian Geoghegan

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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The 1 Thing You Need to Do to Build a More Profitable E-Commerce Business
August 25, 2017 9:59 pm|Comments (0)

The business of e-commerce is booming. And considering how easy it is to build a website, starting an online business has become very competitive. Right from identifying a product with the right target audience, then analyzing its potential, and making a strategic business plan, it involves making many decisions.

A recent report on e-commerce trends revealed more about the growth of e-commerce sales, and insights into the behavior of online shoppers, including:

  • E-commerce is growing at a rate of 23 percent every year. Still, 46 percent of small businesses in America do not have a website
  • 51 percent of Americans shop online, while 49 percent prefer to shop at physical stores

  • Online orders increased 8.9 percent in the third quarter of 2016, while the average order value increased only 0.2 percent.

  • Of all online shoppers, only 23 percent are swayed by social media references.

Do you notice anything here? Although online sales are increasing, there are many people who still rely on offline shopping. And of those who do shop online, very few are influenced by social media.

So what does it take to convert your website into a highly profitable e-commerce business?

There is no denying the fact that starting an e-commerce business is easy. But scaling up, and making it more profitable than your competitors can be difficult. Here’s a multiple choice question: What do you think is needed to set up a highly profitable e-commerce store?

  • Directing more traffic to your site,

  • Improving your conversion rate,

  • Increasing customer loyalty.

An effective growth strategy actually includes all three of these. And so, that one thing you need to build a more profitable e-commerce business is an effective growth strategy. Let’s take a closer look.

Increase traffic to your website to get noticed.

In the ever-growing space of e-commerce, it can be difficult to get noticed. But there are a number of ways organic traffic techniques that can help drive traffic to your website, including:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) – increase your ranking in search engines like Google for more visibility.

  • Social media marketing – post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and create YouTube tutorials to reach a wider audience.

  • Email marketing – drive traffic to your website with email newsletters to keep your subscribers informed about new products and promotions.

Another option is paid ads, which may include:

  • Buying ads on Facebook
  • Marketing with influencers
  • Advertising on Instagram

Improve the conversion rate of your website to increase sales.

If you’ve used the above two techniques effectively, your conversion rate will automatically improve. However, there are some other easy things that you need to take care of in order to increase your e-commerce conversion rate, like:

  • Make your website mobile friendly and ensuring minimal loading time.

  • Stop making assumptions about your customer’s needs. Instead use A/B testing to know what they actually need.

  • Use high quality product images to attract more and more customers to convert them.

  • Build a user-friendly interface which should include an easy checkout and navigation system.

Use customer retention tools to boost your customer loyalty.

Building a positive user experience isn’t enough. You also need to retain your customers. Acquiring new customers is always a priority for brands. And yes, it is important. But can you afford to lose your existing customer base? No, right?

So once you have customers who have shopped on your website, concentrate on retaining them. No matter how awesome your product or service is, it is your job to make sure your customers are happy and satisfied so that they continue to choose you over your competitors.

A few customer retention strategies that can work for your e-commerce business include:

  • Introduce loyalty programs and give reward points for repeated sales.

  • Offer support systems to resolve customer issues and handle their grievances.

  • Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep a track of the entire journey of your customers.

Conclusion

An effective growth strategy is key to building a more profitable e-commerce business. In addition to the three main components above, you should keep a track of your performance data to help you make improvements when needed.

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