Welcome to our new E-Commerce Insider newsletter, a morning email with the top news and analysis on the e-commerce industry, produced by BI Intelligence.
TARGET TAKES ON AMAZON: Target is significantly expanding its subscription-based e-commerce service, bringing the retailer in closer competition with Amazon. The number of items that shoppers can purchase on a recurring basis through Target Subscriptions will increase from 200 to roughly 1,500. Customers can order items to be delivered in four, six, eight, ten, or twelve-week intervals. Target said it decided to expand the program after seeing it perform so well after an initial launch last fall. (TechCrunch)
FASHION MAGS PARTNER WITH E-COMMERCE: Women’s lifestyle magazine Real Simple is teaming up with e-commerce site Cuyana to launch a new fashion collection. Partnerships between publishers and retailers are becoming more common so that together they can vie for consumers’ attention. Magazines can provide a highly visible platform to expose shoppers to new products and fashion ideas, while e-commerce companies bring to the table their experience in transactions and fulfillment. Over time, we will likely see more of these types of partnerships as well as new companies that try to merge media and commerce. (Fashionista)
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WAL-MART LAUNCHES MONEY-TRANSFER SERVICE: Wal-Mart is showing signs that it’s getting more serious about banking and payments. The retailer launched a new service that allows customers to transfer money to and from more than 4,000 stores around the globe. The service will compete with Western Union, Moneygram, and other money-transfer services. “We’ve removed the complex and costly fees that come with each transaction, and because 95% of Americans have a Wal-Mart store within 15 miles of their home, convenience is another benefit this service provides,” the company said on its blog. Although the new service will not compete with online payments providers such as PayPal and Amazon Payments, it is a sign that Wal-Mart is getting more serious about that space. (eCommerce Bytes)
GAP INVESTS IN DIGITAL: The retailer Gap is investing $US300 million over the next three years to improve its digital sales operation. The investment will go towards a website that uses responsive design, an in-store pickup program, and new mobile point-of-sale technology, among other things. Gap executives said they are committed to omni-channel, or selling via multiple channels, such as online, via apps, and in stores. Its new investment will help tie all these platforms together for one cohesive shopping experience. (Mobile Commerce Daily)
iBEACON GAINS TRACTION, WITH POTENTIAL TO DISRUPT. Slowly but surely, Apple’s iBeacon appears to be gaining traction, a development with disruptive potential for the payments ecosystem. The technology, which uses battery-friendly Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and geofencing to detect nearby devices and exchange data with them, got a major boost with iOS 7.1, which quietly upgraded iBeacon to allow it to communicate with apps even when they’re closed. Last week, chip maker Texas Instruments announced that it would integrate iBeacon compatibility across its BLE product line, “enabling manufacturers to quickly add micro-locationing capabilities to their products.” By the end of 2014, over 30,000 retailers will have beacons installed, one study predicts.
Beacons have the potential to disrupt on several fronts, and iBeacon is in pole position. We’ve estimated that there are over 200 million currently deployed iPhones and iPads capable of acting as or receiving signals from iBeacons. That kind of infrastructure could pave the way for a much-anticipated mobile payment app from Apple, which as we reported last week, could be based on a combination of near-field communication (NFC) and BLE. But PayPal is also racing to get its own beacons in the field. As PayPal CEO David Marcus noted on the company’s blog last week: “The proliferation of BLE chips in devices will enable the industry to create very precise, fast, and secure shopping and payment experiences.” (BI Intelligence)
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