Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Buy then bye

A recent post in BusinessInsider highlights that Facebook is experimenting with a payments platform as a way to further spur commerce happening on Facebook. Here's the post

I think there's a huge and untapped business opportunity that has yet to be mined around the transactional side of the internet. For example, in 2009, less than 5% of all retail sales were online. AMZN, with its $22B in Revenue and $50B market cap pales in comparison to Walmart's $404B revenues and 210B market cap. So, Walmart's monthly revenue is double that of Amazon's yearly gross. Think about it.

I don't think the relative lack of online commerce penetration is due to consumers/businesses hesitant to complete transactions over the internet; Paypal's total payment volume in '08 was $60B, but instead, we ought to look at:

1. A poor shopping experience, modeled after the days when consumers were narrow band connected. We ought to give consumers more of a brick and mortar shopping experience, but where a crowd is a positive instead of a negative. Scott Stone, the founder of a new commerce company (which I am backing) calls for an end to the 'buy then bye' commerce experience

2. Stored value cards are slicing through the demographic mosaic with teens and now Tweens. Amazon's innovative PayPhrase program facilitates parents setting up an online allowance for their children. Better to have a stored value, where parents have the ability to monitor disbursements, than to hand over cash for a trip to the mall.

3. Returns- Pioneered by Zappos (and again Amazon) whereby returning goods purchased through the site, or via an affiliate is as easy as eating pie.

4. Trust- Returns and payments are only part of it. Security is the big elephant in the room. My personal data, credit card information, and purchasing history is safe with you. I will never hear of someone stealing a laptop from the IT manager of a site I visit, which happened to have my data on it.

5. One size does not fit all. My kids moved from Club Penguin, to Stardoll, to MissBimbo. A natural progression that was optimized for the demographic each step along the way. All they want to do is have some fun...

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