Tag Archives: amazon

Amazon, The Data Company, Not The Retailer

Last week I blogged about $GOOG.  This week, we’ll talk about $AMZN.

I find myself using Amazon much more than I used to.  I use the desktop version and the iPhone app though most of my usage comes from the iPhone app.

I’ve tasked myself to think about why I use Amazon.

Price was my first reaction.

Buying online for consumers used to be about price – mainly because you did not have to pay sales tax.  Amazon is collecting sales tax, but from just 8 states but three of those states are the most populated states in the USA including California, New York, and Texas.  Based on a July 2012 estimate, they collect sales tax on 35.45% of the country.  New Jersey and Virginia are expected to join the Sales Tax list in 2013 which would push the total coverage of the USA to 41% of the US population.

So eventually, buying online will not be about saving on sales tax.  It’s about something much bigger.  Convenience.  Selection.  And much more.

Here’s what I basically netted out to:

Amazon isn’t necessarily about the lowest price, but the most convenient shopping (1-click).

The 1-click shopping experience on Amazon is amazing.  It’s dead simple.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been sitting with someone who recommends a book and I pull out my phone and within fifteen seconds, I order the book and its delivered via Amazon Prime (48 hours).  Their search works, their catalog of product is deep and broad, and the checkout experience is headache-less.

I wish every single site and store deployed a similar checkout mechanisms.

At the agency, we’ve partnered with Amazon in an advertising relationship and are working with them on a client business or two.  I never thought I’d be working with a retailer in this capacity, but I am.

So what is Amazon?

To me, in my opinion, is a data company that uses intent and e-commerce to build its dataset.  Sound similar to Google?  Yep.  Only difference is that Amazon is a bit more diverse with its data set as it has the actual sale of product.  Keep that in mind.

Oh, and Amazon also has an entire cloud hosting division.  How much data resides and passes thru their cloud?



Black November – Holiday Shopping Has Officially Begun

Holiday shopping mayhem used to begin on Black Friday.  Many of us all have our own crazy shopping stories and there are even some YouTube videos of people filming their Black Friday shopping experiences.  For retailers, this marked the official date to begin holiday displays and holiday discounts and for American consumers, it was the “unofficial but official” nod to take out the plastic and start purchasing gifts for friends and loved ones.  If you go into a retail store during this time of the season, you can almost be guaranteed that there will be a musical bell in the song playing over the sound system.

But something different is happening this holiday shopping season:  it’s happening earlier than ever before.

  • Stereotypical holiday season television commercials are appearing on television already (saw some back in October)
  • Fun loving holiday season music is already playing in malls and department stores
  • Holiday look & feels are starting to appear on websites earlier than ever (look at Amazon.com, Radioshack, Dell, Brooks Brothers)
  • Serious retail discounting already both offline and online

All of the above was deduced from a 1-person focus group of myself.  I’m allowed to do that because it’s my blog.

But to make this larger than just a 1-person focus group, I did some digging around online for some holiday season research and one of the top studies that retailers and periodicals are referencing is an October study done by Accenture which states clearly in it’s title:  Holiday Shopping Season to Start Early But Discounts May Disappoint, Accenture Study Finds.

“Holiday shopping in 2008 was defined by the huge discounts that were available – and available very early in the holiday season. In 2009, however, retailers will be reticent to offer such generous incentives in the face of rising commodity prices,” said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice.
The survey of 526 U.S. consumers found that 69 percent of shoppers expect to do the bulk of their holiday shopping by December 7 (vs. 60 percent in 2008) and more shoppers will shop on “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving – this year (52 percent vs. 42 percent in 2008). However, the vast majority of consumers (86 percent) will not be moved to buy without a discount of at least 20 percent, and a quarter of shoppers will be looking for an aggressive 50 percent discount before they open their wallets.
If you are an entrepreneur, how do you take advantage of the holiday season?
Putting my idea-hat on, I can think of a few areas where entrepreneurs could impact the holiday season:
  • An AdobeAir app built for shopping discounts
  • Promo code online exchange
  • Holiday deal of day website (maybe on Twitter?)
  • Outsourced wrapping
  • Online gift giving concierge
If you are a brand, how do you take advantage of this time?
What specifically interests me about holiday shopping season is how, when, and where retailers create a dialogue with current clients and potential clients.   CRM programs built around direct mail, display advertising, email, and mobile,  are extremely important during this time as brands should be sending different copy/offers to different client segments.  While this sounds simple, it’s not simple to do at scale without the right infrastructure.  Brands who spend time investing in the infrastructure (either internal or through a 3rd party) will be the winners during this holiday season.
If you are a consumer, how do you take advantage of this time?
Start collecting discount coupons and use as necessary.  The assumption is that the discounts are going to be greater as the holidays draw closer however the selection will be less as retailers have put less into production due to the financial environment.

Where Analytics Are Heading: The Woopra Terminal

One of my colleagues in the office told me about a website statistics service named Woopra (he knows I love quantitative data). I had not heard about it prior, so I went a did a little research around the Internet about it. Apparently, it launched on/around May 30 2008, as it’s relatively new, but had a nice little writeup on TechCrunch. I did some Tweet tracking and saw that a healthy early adapter audience was using it.

What is Woopra you ask? Very simply: MyBlogLog meets Google Analytics and has a baby, and then morphs into a Bloomberg Terminal of the next century. Very, very interesting, at least to me it is. I’ve taken some screenshots of my Woopra Terminal and put them below for you to see:

Woopra Image 1

Woopra Image 2

What I like about Woopra is that it gives me information in near real-time and tells me where my audience is going and where they have been on my website. Generally, all of the data exists on server logs, but I like the advanced graphical representation of my data. In the screenshots above, you can see the ticker on the bottom of the page that scrolls with data from the server.

Woopra is going to run into some issues when large publishers start signing up. They are in beta right now which is very smart and limiting their service to publishers who are less than 10,000 page views. I’m speculating that the reason for this is because the amount of resources it takes to crunch all of the data is fairly intensive and that they want to work out all of the kinks before they start charing. I’m interested to learn how their infrastructure is built – are they using Amazon’s EC2?

What I’d like to see is Woopra share network data information.  Meaning, if I track a view on my site and rename them, I’d like to see that “renamed” person across the entire Woopra network.  There is a lot of information in the larger “network” – lets see if Woopra pools that data.

I also give them credit for the slick interface.

Shrinking The Web Down to 2 Players

Or not.  A Sanford C. Bernstein analyst has written a 310 page report entitled, “U.S. Internet: The End of the Beginning” to be published in the next week or so.  HipMojo has provided some analysis on why this report may be wrong and I’d agree with them.  Reuters coverage is here.

I don’t think that the web will shrink down to just two players – competition is healthy and companies will continue to innovate.  In the report, it says that Google and Amazon are the two companies that survive and that eBay is a merger target in the near future.  Google has not found a way to really generate comparable revenue to the search business yet, though, I feel that one of it’s next big revenue drivers will be the DoubleClick AdExchange in the next 3-5 years.  Google is significantly positioned as a potential leader in the exchange space as advertisers and publishers continue to use the DART serving (DFA/DFP) platform and as Google releases new advertising opportunities across games, radio, television, print, etc- and it all becomes available online.

The web is too large a playground for just 2 players.

Amazon Web Services Event, New York

AWSSpent the afternoon down at Cooper Union in Manhattan to listen to Amazon galavant about their Amazon Web Services suite/platform.  I chose to attend the event because I knew very little about the platform before today and wanted to increase my knowledge base.  I also had some friends attending (Michael, Nate, Jonah, Jason, Howard, and others) and wanted to network with other successful New York innovators/entrepreneurs.  I even had the chance to meet Esther Dyson in person.

Amazon certainly impressed me with the event.  The general population knows Amazon as a shopping mall (says Fred Wilson), but if you ‘long’ them, they may very well turn into the Web OS.  From online storage, on-demand computing, and their recent entry into payment services, Amazon could very well provide the facilities that a next-generation application needs to get off the ground.  Why would an entrepreneur chose to use this new platform?  Simple:  leverage the power and economy of scale of Amazon and pay severely reduced rates over other independent providers.

Now, for me, I’m skeptical although, cautiously optimistic.  I like it a lot.  Almost too much.  It’s one of those things where it’s almost too good to be true.  From an investment standpoint, would you want to see one of your portfolio companies putting all their eggs in one basket, a basket that is brand new and doesn’t offer an SLA at this point?  What happens if Amazon’s S3 (cloud) goes down and your files cannot be found.  What if the EC2 (computing) goes down and your processes do not get executed, thus, your service/business returns either incorrect or no data.

Mogulus LogoI’m sure there are plenty of companies (some expressed them today) experiencing growing pains with the AWS service, but the benefits may outweigh the issues.  There were a few companies that showcased their products and companies like Mogulus is powered solely by AWS.  Other than the front-end and administration areas, it’s backbone is AWS.

New York has a thriving digital media scene as evidence today.  The participants in the presentation were all NY based companies (though Cruxy has people all over) and it’s great to see the industry picking up.  As an entrepreneur and digital media guy, I really enjoyed learning about AWS and look forward to studying it further for possible uses in the future.

Anyone Going to Amazon Web Services Conference Today (in NYC)?

AWS LogoI’m heading to the Amazon Web Services Conference today in Cooper Union from 2-6pm.  Anyone else going and want to meet up?  Here is the link to the registration page (free)

Details (per their page):

Who should attend:

  • Entrepreneurs, founders and leaders of start-up/early-stage companies, and venture capitalists

Reasons to attend:

  • Understand how to integrate Amazon Web Services into your business
  • Find ways to cut fixed infrastructure costs while increasing reliability and scalability
  • Hear what VCs look for when investing in early stage companies
  • Learn from successful start-ups about their use of Amazon Web Services
  • Network with local VCs and start-ups from your area

When: Wednesday, September 26th, 2-7pm

  • 2-5pm Presentations on Amazon Web Services, how to attract VCs, and how successful start-ups have built their business using AWS’ solutions
  • 5-7pm Networking/ Cocktail Reception

Where: The Great Hall, Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street, New York, NY, 10003 Map and Directions