Tag Archive for eCommerce

Groupon bashing unleashed

Only two weeks ago, local-deal start-up Groupon was acclaimed as an unprecedented eCommerce success and its IPO was as hotly anticipated as Facebook‘s. Since then, however, Groupon’s S1-Filing disclosed a cumulated $540 million loss on a cumulated $1.4 billion Gross Transaction Value. Suddenly, all love for the eCommerce posterchild seems lost and every aspect of the business is slashed. I believe critics should have been wiser earlier and the investment bankers who hyped up Groupon are to blame.

Bertolt Brecht Picture from Bundesarchiv Source Wikipedia

Bertolt Brecht Picture from Bundesarchiv Source Wikipedia

“Do not let anybody put you on a pedestal because once people realize you’re just human, it’s you that they destroy, not the image they created”. Groupon’s CEO Andrew Mason should probably meditate this thought from German author Bertolt Brecht.

Andrew Mason and Groupon, the company he co-founded in 2008, became the talk of the town after the company raised $135 million in April 2010 and, even more so, after it raised a whopping $950 million in January this year. With over 80 million online subscribers in more than 40 countries, Groupon dominates the booming local deal market it has contributed to create. Until recently, most observers were in awe. To name but one example of the Groupon-groupies: Last August Groupon was described by Forbes as the “fastest-growing company in Web history” and “what the dot-com boom was supposed to be all about“.

Well, now it seems that Groupon is rather exactly was the dot-com bust was about: a completely inflated valuation. Since Groupon has released its S1-Filing and revealed a cumulated loss of $540 million, criticism is raining on every aspect of the business. Worse, the critics are among the most influential voices in finance and eCommerce: Bloomberg, The Street, Marketwatch, The Economist, the FT, the Wall Street Journal, thisismoney.co.uk, Huffington Post, TechCrunch and more.

Below I review the 5 most critical points why Groupon is overvalued: 1) Inflated revenue and income; 2) Lack of merchant and customer lock-in; 3) Bad deal for private IPO investors; 4) Leadership flaws; and, most importantly, 5) Lack of financial value multiplier Read more

Amazon: the empire hidden in plain sight

faberNovel Presentation about Amazon

faberNovel Slidedeck: Amazon the Hidden Empire

Innovation agency faberNovel has published a great presentation about Amazon which is prominently featured on slideshare.

This comprehensive 72 slide long deck called “Amazon.com: the Hidden Empire” reviews Amazon’s history and analyzes what faberNovel calls Amazon’s “three digital engines”:

1. CEO Jeff Bezos’ perfect understanding of the limitless nature of the Internet.
2. Amazon’s efforts to gain customers via multiple entry points and “own” them.
3. The seamlessly integrated ecosystem built by Amazon to create customer lock-in.

Over the years Amazon has remained my eCommerce beacon, a company I’ve admired both as an observer and as a customer. Read more

Putting the “push” back into online retail

The success of flash sales, private sales and local deals reminds us that online distribution is about pushing products and services to customers.

The advent of eCommerce may for some time have created the illusion that, in a Web of unlimited choices, perfectly informed online consumers would magically be able to pull the right product from the right store at the right price.

In reality, consumers can’t easily find what they need in the Web’s clutter unless Google and Bing readily show it to them. In addition, consumers don’t necessarily want to buy what shops have to sell.

End of the delusion. eCommerce puts the “push” function back into online marketing and distribution. Get those unsold inventory moving out the door! Let those addicted bargain hunters fall for the “deals one can’t refuse”… but never needed.

Selling $1 bills for 99 cents

During the first Internet bubble, many dot.com companies were spending their funds on advertising in the hope to quickly inflate the number of their users and, hence, their company value. It was called “selling $1 bills for 99 cents”.
Now (in the second Internet bubble?), selling $1 bills for 50 cents has become a popular business model, it’s called Group Buying or Local Deals and it consists in
55% discount on Groupon

55% discount on Groupon

offering online coupons for heavily discounted (at least -50%) deals at local restaurants, spas and other services.
Group buying provides a touch of social shopping: the discount is granted only if there are enough buyers.
The concept meets strong demand from both local merchants who want more foot traffic and from shoppers who can’t resist a good bargain. I wonder how far it can go. Some claim that discount coupons don’t create customer loyalty (on the contrary, consumers switch to the next coupon supplier). Others that there is an organic ceiling to what is essentially a loss leader business.