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E-Commerce Global Tech

NetEase Moves into U.S., Vipshop Tries Russia

Two of China’s leading Internet companies are taking their first baby steps outside their home market, with word that online game maker NetEase is moving into the U.S. and fast-rising discount e-commerce firm Vipshop is tying up with a Russian partner. The pair are joining China’s “big 3″ Internet firms, Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent, in making recent moves outside their home market, as each looks for new growth opportunities. All of these companies also want to convince the world that they can compete in the real world outside their own highly protected and heavily restricted home market.   More

E-Commerce Finance

Does Bitcoin Bite, Bark, or Bumble?

Of all the surprises and gifts tumbling tumultuously from the world's startups and programmers, none are more daunting to the casual observer than Bitcoin. What is it, really? Should I buy some? What would that mean? Where would it be? Why are so many smart people doing so, and creating companies to help others do that? What problems does it solve? For one thing, a transnational currency that can be traded without intermediaries has appeal. But while we can say that confidently, it's not even clear Bitcoin fits that definition. Now at least a thorough examination of the phenomenon has emerged from Goldman Sachs. The company has great incentive to get its analysis of Bitcoin right, so when it says this is not really a currency, we should take note.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

WeChat Wrings Money From Unicom, Wangfujing

Much has been written about the meteoric rise of Tencent’s WeChat mobile instant messaging service, with many drawing parallels to the equally rapid ascent of Sina’s Weibo microblogging service starting in 2010. But while Sina has struggled to wring money out of Weibo, Tencent is having much more success with WeChat, as evidenced by news of its latest commercial tie-ups with retailer Wangfujing Department Store and mobile carrier China Unicom. I have a lot of respect for Sina, which has emerged as a leading information provider in China since it first went public in 2000. But the company has shown itself less adept at earning money, unlike Tencent, which has proven much more skillful at milking cash from its innovative core social networking service (SNS) products.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Alibaba, Baidu’s Li Mount High-Stakes U.S. Forays

Two of China’s biggest Internet names are making interesting new moves into the tough U.S. market, with word that Alibaba has launched an American e-commerce website and Baidu founder Robin Li is helming a major new Hollywood animation studio. Both moves look cautious but relatively well conceived, even though each carries a degree of risk due to intense competition in the U.S. e-commerce and animation sectors. Still, I have to admire both companies for at least trying, even if their chances of success could be around 50-50.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Southeast Asia E-Commerce Surge Boosts Region

E-commerce companies moved hard into Southeast Asia in 2013. Armed with innovative strategies and lots of funding, global giants and local startups raced to promote online retailing in a region where brick-and-mortar stores still dominate. Their efforts will bring more than just convenience to tens of millions of net-enabled consumers. They’ll also boost living conditions and create opportunities for a new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs.   More

E-Commerce

Could Mobile Banking Apps Help You Spend Less?

With the holiday season behind us, you might be among the many Americans looking at their checking and credit card statements wondering just where their money went in December, or possibly even all of 2013. If so, 2014 may be when new apps help you get control of your finances. Several simple new tools leverage social media and mobile technologies to help manage your money and spending. Moven, Simple, and GoBank give users who have FDIC-insured, bank-backed debit cards links to mobile apps that provide services including expense categorization and spending alerts, as well as tools for budgeting, saving, and transfering money.   More

Analytics & Data E-Commerce Partner Insights

How Businesses Get ROI from Social Sharing

Social-media-savvy businesses are turning their best customers into direct sales forces online. By leveraging the social networks of their biggest brand advocates, retailers can extend the reach of their product promotions. It’s word-of-mouth advertising at a massive scale. Some companies have been using this “social sharing” approach for several years to build brand awareness and drive sales. Until lately, though, such initiatives were hampered by unsophisticated methods for managing and engaging customers as well as tracking return on investment. Now, new tools and apps are available to develop a smart social sharing strategy that enhances customer experience while providing true ROI data based on sales conversions.   More

Cities E-Commerce

Brookings’s Bradley: A Sharing Economy That Serves All

We know the sharing economy as an efficient and convenient resource, and launchpad for trendy startups like Uber, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit. But the sharing economy could help address needs for a much wider swath of society, instead of just enabling better options for the already-privileged. At Techonomy 2013, Brookings Institution fellow Jennifer Bradley discussed the sharing economy's opportunity for inclusion, such as creating an Uber-like system to help low-income people get to work, and enabling the sharing of essential "means of production" like 3D printers and power tools.   More

E-Commerce

Gift Guide for a Techonomic Holiday

Unless you manage somehow to live off the grid (in which case you probably don't read articles at Techonomy) you are no doubt getting inundated with holiday promotions, news about Black Friday, and reminders of your gift history from any website where you ever bought anything. All of these signs point to a central conclusion: it’s time for the second annual Techonomy holiday gift guide! Our wishlist should appeal to those in your life who value science and technology, sustainable living, or just cool stuff.   More

E-Commerce Media & Marketing Partner Insights

What Shoppers Want: In-Store Shopping with Online Services

If the electronic commerce predictions of the late 1990s had come true, today's average 18-year-old may never have known what it was like to step in a store or participate in the whirl of shopping as millions of Americans will this holiday season. By today, he or she would have a phone or computer permanently attached to their hand, and anything they would need or want would be ordered online and then delivered directly to them. Who knows? Maybe some products were going to be transported—like Star Trek. But, we all know that has not come true.   More

E-Commerce Partner Insights

M-Shoppers Redefine the Mobile Shopping Experience

Mobile-assisted shoppers (m-shoppers) used to strike fear into the hearts of retailers. Armed with a handy mobile device, a savvy consumer could easily compare prices on the Internet and find the best deal available. Brick-and-mortar doomsayers called it the end of their world. How could a business compete with that? But hold on. All the Doomsday speak may have been a bit premature. According to new research from the Columbia Business School and Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, m-shopping may ultimately provide a retailing asset in two distinct areas.   More

Techonomy 13 Cities E-Commerce Techonomy Events Video

The Sharing Economy and the Symbiotics of City Life

Sharing and so-called “collaborative consumption” is poised to alter city life, company life, and family life. We now use digital tools to assist in sharing cars, bikes and apartments. But we’ve always shared apartments, restaurants, libraries, workspace and health clubs. As a host of new platforms transform the economics of sharing, what are the parameters of these new transparent eco-systems? How are business, social and cultural norms re-orienting around collaborative consumption and the peer economy? Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution, Zachary Karabell of River Twice Research, Alex Rodriguez of the Arizona Technology Council, and Arun Sundararajan of NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress discuss. Watch video and read the complete transcript here.   More

E-Commerce Techonomy Events

Shutterstock’s Jon Oringer on Data, Disruption, and Network Effects

At its core, our stock photography agency, Shutterstock, is a technology company. Forty percent of our nearly 300 employees are technologists—programmers, product specialists, and data scientists. People all over the world depend on us every day for images, videos, and instruction, or as a source of income for licensing their own creative work. But we’re essentially in the business of building two-sided marketplaces that are driven by network effects. Our business leverages data and network-effect mechanics to disrupt and grow.   More

E-Commerce Security & Privacy

The Hidden Secrets of the Deep Web

Early this month, U.S. officials seized and shut down a hidden but sprawling online marketplace called Silk Road, known as the eBay of illegal goods and services. More than 1.2 million transactions had been completed on the site, earning its owner some $80 million in commissions. How did a site that allegedly allowed users to buy illicit drugs, deal black market weapons, and even hire hit men stay above water long enough to handle that much revenue over its two-and-a-half years of operation? The answer lies in what’s called the “Deep Web” or the “Dark Web”—hidden corners of the Internet that can’t be reached by Google and require connecting to an anonymous network called TOR that was originally developed by the U.S. Navy.   More

Business E-Commerce

Airbnb Rallies its Community to Fight Back

Airbnb hosts in New York are fighting back against policymakers who are trying to rein in the sharing economy. Last week the New York Attorney General subpoenaed the records of all New York Airbnb hosts, and the community is not happy. Recently Airbnb has been working with officials to clarify complicated rental regulations. But now they are “fighting the subpoena with all we’ve got,” wrote Global Head of Community Douglas Atkin in an email sent to New Yorkers on Monday.   More

Business Cities E-Commerce

One Step Back for the Sharing Economy

In a setback for the sharing economy, the Office of the New York Attorney General has issued a subpoena demanding data about all Airbnb hosts in New York, The Wall Street Journal reports. Airbnb announced in a blog post that they are fighting this “unreasonably broad” demand from the Attorney General. The company recently made a commitment to clarify short-term rental laws, work with city leaders to ensure that the Airbnb hosts pay applicable taxes, and weed out the few “bad actors” among their community.   More

Bio & Life Sciences E-Commerce

This Entrepreneur Helps People Hear

No consumer product is more ubiquitous than the earbud. Unfortunately for the youth of the world, hearing impairment is a closely-associated byproduct. According to a recent report, one in five Americans in their 30s and 40s are now hearing-impaired, and more teenagers than ever are suffering hearing loss. Couple that trend with the painful reality of an aging baby boomer generation, and you’ve got a major emerging market for another technology: hearing aids.   More

E-Commerce

NYC Startup Offers Software for Airbnb Hosts

When Randy Engler and his wife started renting out their two homes using Airbnb, they soon realized it was hard to provide a high level of hospitality to their guests, especially while away. Engler, who has a background in Internet companies and an enthusiasm for the sharing economy, saw an opportunity: build an online service that takes care of cleaning, key exchange, and other rental logistics. The company he created, Proprly, supports rental markets for Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO in NYC and Brooklyn.   More

E-Commerce

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson: My Favorite Etsy Purchase

At our recent Techonomy Detroit conference, we presented Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson with a tough question: What was his own favorite Etsy purchase? The head of the Brooklyn-based handcraft e-marketplace struggled to narrow down his top buys to just one favorite, quipping "It's like children. Which one is your favorite child?" So what item did Dickerson end up picking? Hint: It saw its beginnings as a leather jacket, an army tent, and an army kit bag.   More

Business E-Commerce

A Big Victory for the Sharing Economy

A New York City Airbnb host has won an appeal with the New York City Environmental Control Board after being fined for renting out a room in his apartment, Airbnb reported on its Public Policy Blog. The Board reversed Nigel Warren’s $2,400 fine, delivering a major victory for Airbnb and the entire sharing economy. Airbnb is “a global community marketplace that connects travelers seeking authentic, high-quality accommodations with hosts who offer unique places to stay.” Unfortunately, many cities do not allow these temporary rentals. But Warren and Airbnb were able to successfully argue that as long as a permanent occupant is present during the stay, it does not violate New York law.   More