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An Amazon.com fulfillment center. The rate of domestic growth in e-commerce is declining.
An Amazon.com fulfillment center. The rate of domestic growth in e-commerce is declining.Credit Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

For all of the noise and hype — drones! one-hour delivery! get more toilet paper painlessly! — e-commerce is showing the first signs of maturing as a business. Figures from the research firm eMarketer show the rate of domestic growth falling from 16.5 percent in 2013 to 14.2 percent this year to 11.6 percent in 2018. By that point, e-commerce in the United States will still be less than 10 percent of all retail. The death of the physical store, so widely anticipated in the last few years, is nowhere in sight.

“Not a lot of new e-commerce users in the U.S. these days,” said Dan Marcec, a spokesman for eMarketer. “Plus, we still love to shop and buy in stores. Retailers are trying to leverage mobile usage not only to push mobile commerce, but also (and maybe even more aggressively) to get people information to encourage buying in-store.”

That was one theme of the 11th annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, held in Chicago this week. People who make stuff were once content to let someone else sell it for them online. Now they increasingly realize they will be much better off capturing the customer themselves. The benefits: They retain more margin without a middleman. They have tighter control over packaging and shipping — the box promotes them, not the retailer. And, most important, they have the name and email address of someone who likes their stuff.

The problem, of course, is how to get that customer coming to the brand’s site in the first place. The whole point of Amazon or Overstock or eBay is that one account means one-stop shopping. Amazon Prime, which has tens of millions of customers for its $100-a-year shipping program, is doing all it can to build an ecosystem where the exit doors are impossible to find.

“Amazon is driving more people to buy online,” said Amy Heidersbach of Needle, a customer engagement platform with a big exhibit at IRCE. “That’s good for everyone selling online. But the problem is how do you compete, and not just be a showroom for Amazon?”

Amazon is not only the dominant figure in e-commerce but probably the most aggressive. It does not exhibit at IRCE, but it is never far from the mind of attendees — even those who did not attend the full-day convention workshop, “Amazon & Me.” Among the panels: “What all retailers need to know to compete against or cooperate with Amazon.”

“Sellers want to feed from every pond, and Amazon is not just a pond, it’s an ocean. Leaving it would not be a good idea,” said Eitan Zimerman of Act Bold Media Group, a consultant shop. “But developing some alternatives is.”

The alternatives begin at home. Amazon or another web merchant might charge a 15 percent fee for selling something. That gives the brand a few dollars to potentially pass on to the customer. One increasingly popular technique: allowing the customer to name his price.

Under a Coffee and Bacon Station sign, members of PriceWaiter, a Chattanooga, Tenn., start-up, were doling out snacks and explaining how letting customers of a website decide how much they are willing to pay (within, to be sure, a narrow range) works out for both parties. “The merchants win by keeping the sale, and the customer gets a psychological victory — it feels like a win,” said Brian Sibley.

Another customer retention method, this one somewhat more fraught with peril: Put reviews on your site. This, of course, is an attempt to take away or at least neutralize one of the features that drove Amazon’s initial success. “Reviews instill trust in your brand and keep the customer coming back,” said Alex Rosen of PowerReviews, a back-end platform to making reviewing easier. He added that brands like to know, must know, when they are getting bad reviews. But strong indeed is the brand that will keep bad reviews on its own site.

If many of the exhibitors at IRCE were trying to avoid Amazon, a few were taking it on directly. Justin Singletary said he spent $500,000 a few years ago to buy the Fulfillment.com web domain from eBay. “We saw a void in the marketplace — an opening to take care of the merchants themselves rather than the merchant’s customers,” he said. Asked who the merchants were, he demurred, saying they operated under nondisclosure agreements.With about 60 employees and one domestic warehouse, Fulfillment.com is still an early-stage start-up.

Newegg, founded way back in 2001, is by comparison practically an institution. It says it is the second-largest online retailer in North America, with 28 million registered customers, about a tenth of Amazon’s. “Amazon wants to do everything,” said a spokeswoman, Claire Lin. “We want to be really good at one thing: selling tech products.”

Amazon and Overstock and eBay and Google would presumably answer that they want to be good at selling everything. Which leads to the final realization of the convention, an inescapable lesson for the Age of Twitter and Facebook: Big or small, you gotta blow your own horn these days.

“Look at Apple,” said Mr. Zimerman, the consultant. “Everything about them is bold. It has the most aggressive marketing. It is always in the news. Brands are constantly pushing, constantly revealing. No one just sits back and watches anymore. Take Blackberry. They had the business mobile market and sat back and got swallowed up.”

source:http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/05/selling-e-commerce-while-avoiding-amazon/?ref=technology&_r=0

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Business

ONEPLUS IS GOING TO START MAKING TVS

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OnePlus is is getting into a new line of business: making TVs. Best known for its phones, China’s OnePlus also has a small catalog of really good accessories like wireless earphonesand surprisingly awesome backpacks, though nothing as complex or expensive as a television set. In announcing the news on the OnePlus online forums, company chief Pete Lau describes it as “the first step in building a connected human experience.”

Every hardware manufacturer is now looking intently at ways to monetize the smart home space. Samsung and Huawei recently announced smart speakers, Apple and Google already have the HomePod and Google Home, respectively, and Microsoft and Sony are old incumbents with their Xbox and PlayStation consoles. OnePlus has decided to make its entry point into this market the TV itself, which has always been at the center of home entertainment, though often with the help of other connected devices. Reading Lau’s teaser announcement, the OnePlus TV — which so far only has a project name, no timeline or specs have been revealed — will serve as the connectivity hub for OnePlus’ future vision of the smart home.

The OnePlus smart TV will be developed by a new division within OnePlus, led by Pete Lau himself. Still at the earliest stages of development, OnePlus is currently seeking input from its fans, as it often does, about what their priorities with a future smart TV will be.

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Finance

LAGOS TO HOST BIANNUAL AFRICA FINTECH SUMMIT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN NOVEMBER

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The Summit, organized by Dedalus Global, gathers innovators, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders in the Fintech sector to discuss technologies transforming finance on the continent, debate regulatory policies, compare best practices, and forge new ventures
LAGOS, Nigeria, September 17, 2018/ — Africa’s premier fintech event, the Africa Fintech Summit, (www.AfricaFintechSummit.com) will be held for the first time in Lagos, Nigeria, onNovember 8-9, 2018. This event comes on the heels of the earlier edition in Washington D.C. which featured leading policy makers, c-suite business executives, start-ups, and investors.

The Summit, organized by Dedalus Global, gathers innovators, investors, policy makers and other key stakeholders in the Fintech sector to discuss technologies transforming finance on the continent, debate regulatory policies, compare best practices, and forge new ventures.

Speaking on the decision to bring the Summit to Lagos, the Chairman of the Summit, Leland Rice, said, “Lagos is an ideal host city; it’s an epicenter of Africa’s fintech revolution and the driving force behind the continent’s entrepreneurial spirit. The successes of companies such as Paga, Flutterwave, Mines.io, and Paystack have strategically positioned Lagos as the destination of choice for investors.”

“The first edition of the Summit in D.C. was a launch pad for several milestone fintech deals struck among its delegates in the months after the event. We plan to build on these successes in Lagos, with a focus on bringing innovators and policy makers together to move the needle on fintech regulation and bringing founders and investors together to facilitate further capital raises,” added Leland.

The two-day event will feature investor missions from the US, UK, and UAE, an Alpha Expo featuring the most exciting startups and entrepreneurs in Nigeria, a half-day blockchain masterclass, and an awards ceremony.

Reacting to the decision to host the Summit in Lagos, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Technology, Lanre Osibona, stated, “This reflects the progress Nigeria is making in the areas of technology and financial services. The event is very important as it comes at the heels of the Vice President Osinbajo’s trip to Silicon Valley to promote Nigeria’s tech sector. We look forward to collaborating with the organizing committee and to a successful event in Lagos.”

In similar vein, Tayo Oviosu, the founder of Paga—a payment company that recently raised $10 million in Series B2 funding—said that “the Africa Fintech Summit in Washington D.C. provided valuable insights into the fintech space and connected me with key players in the industry. I look forward to the Lagos edition.”

Speakers lined up for the event include Chief Economist of PwC Nigeria, Dr. Andrew S. Nevin; Managing General Partner of EchoVC, Eghosa Omoigui; CEO of Diamond Bank, Uzoma Dozie; Founder of Flutterwave, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji; and CEO of PayStack, Shola Akinlade, whose company recently raised $8 million Series A funding

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Dedalus Global.

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For more information, please contact:
Ridwan Sorunke
Directory of Communications, AFTS
Ridwan@AfricaFintechSummit.com
+234 (0) 8037885760
+1 2023166726

About Dedalus Global

Dedalus Global (https://VC4A.com/dedalus-global/) is an investment and strategy advisory firm focusing on emerging markets and emerging technologies. With networks throughout Africa and the Middle East, we leverage granular market knowledge to drive innovation, accelerate capital deployment, and create value for our clients and the economies where they operate.

About Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS)

The Africa Fintech Summit (www.AfricaFintechSummit.com) is a biannual event that brings together leading disruptors, tech and finance professionals, regulators, and investors from around the globe to debate policies, compare best practices, and forge Africa-focused ventures. AFTS leverages the growth of the fintech sector in Africa to bring key stakeholders to discuss the technologies transforming finance on the continent.

To learn more about AFTS, please visit www.AfricaFintechSummit.com

View a recap from the AFTS Washington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIdDS-u0rXE

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Dedalus Global

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Business

AMAZON IS REPORTEDLY BUILDING A FREE STREAMING VIDEO SERVICE FOR FIRE TV OWNERS

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Amazon is said to be prepping an ad-supported streaming video service; it’ll be available to folks who own any of the company’s Fire TV streaming dongles and set-top boxes, reports The Information.

It’ll be separate from Prime Video, which offers a range of licensed shows and movies, as well original content produced by Amazon, to people who are subscribed to Prime.

Amazon's latest streaming device is the Fire TV Cube
Credit: Amazon
Amazon’s latest streaming device is the Fire TV Cube

Do you like good gadgets?

Those sweet cool gadgets?

Oh, yeah

The idea behind this upcoming service, which is dubbed Free Dive, is to help Amazon bring in more revenue through advertising. Ads presently account for a small fraction – about $2 billion out of more than $200 billion – of its annual revenue, but they offer higher margins than retail, and are one of Amazon’s fastest growing earners company-wide.

To that end, the company’s been selling ad space on its site, and is slated to run ads during live sporting events on Prime Video. It also turned off ad-free viewing on Twitch – its game video streaming service – for Prime subscribers earlier this month.

Free Dive could give Amazon a chance to rival Roku, which offers a similar ad-supported streaming service for owners of its devices and is expected to reach 59 million users by the end of 2018. Roku also made its ‘Channel’ service available via the web earlier this month to folks in the US, so you don’t need the company’s hardware to access it. It’ll be interesting to see if Amazon follows suit – and how it plays its cards with customers across the globe, especially in cost-conscious markets like India, where it’s expanding its media offerings.

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