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AMEX's Small Business Saturday Turns 5 With Etsy, Shinola, Simon and Garfunkel

Posted by Dale Buss on November 28, 2014 03:05 PM

After five years of luring post-Black Friday shoppers to think small (and independent), Small Business Saturday is catching on.

But the annual U.S. shopping event to drive business to independent retailers, launched in 2009 by American Express, has a long way to go before it's on a par with Black Friday or even Cyber Monday.

AmEx has managed to attract a lot of partners to Small Business Saturday over the years, including other small-biz advocates such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

This year, nearly 3,000 neighborhoods in every state and DC have signed on to host events and in-store promotions for shoppers. A handful of markets are featuring related events, such as Etsy Trunk Shows co-sponsored by American Express.

"It works because Small Business Saturday connects the small-business owner, the customer and the community, and each year that increases," Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, a spokeswoman for the event and owner of Denver-based RetailMinded.com, told brandchannel.Continue reading...


Yahoo Dives Back In to E-Commerce with Revamped Yahoo Stores Platform

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 18, 2014 02:03 PM

With e-commerce projected to account for 11 percent of US retail sales, totaling $414 billion by 2018, Yahoo is re-launching Yahoo Stores so it can grab a bigger piece of the growing online merchant market.

Initially launched in 1998, the updated platform enables merchants to build and transact on sites hosted by Yahoo for up to $9 per month, complete with tools for creation, marketing, analytics, custom templates and domain names. The platform is already used by more than 1.5 million small businesses as more sellers take to the Web to sell their wares.

"We’ve taken care of some of the stumbling points that small businesses face in setting up online stores," said Amit Kumar, head of Yahoo Small Business, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But Yahoo is a late re-entrant into an increasingly crowded field, with steep competition from Amazon, eBay, Shopify and Etsy, many of which offer customized online storefronts for small businesses.Continue reading...


PayPal Wants to Take Your Money—and Lend It to You, Too

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 31, 2014 11:18 AM

eBay, the parent company of PayPal, is rebranding the online transaction service's Bill Me Later function to PayPal Credit, bringing consumer lending to the central part of the brand as it blows out the service globally. 

It’s part of the company’s evolution to become a more integral part of commerce. The changes signal a strategic shift to “bring credit more to the center of PayPal,” said PayPal’s VP of Credit, Steve Allocca, according to TechCrunch. “[Credit is] especially important to us as we look to expand into the offline world and omni-channel. It’s going to be all the more important for us to have more levers to proactively manage and control our transaction expense.” 

Allocca said customer spend rises by 30 percent after adoption of a PayPal credit vehicle and the recent changes support future goals of the brand to compete in retail POS as well as on mobile. Bill Me Later will cycle payments monthly through PayPal Wallet instead of the current website, minimizing steps between PayPal and Bill Me Later.

Meanwhile, PayPal is also expanding its small business lending program, PayPal Working Capital, which is still in invite-only beta. Since September of last year, the program has loaned more than 20,000 businesses upwards of $150 million from PayPal and lending partner, WebBank.Continue reading...

chew on this

With Farmigo, Local Farmers Take a Better Cut of the Food Commerce Trend

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 30, 2013 05:13 PM

CEO Benzi Ronen calls them “people powered farmers markets,” but his startup, Farmigo, is actually much more.

The online farmers market is a community supported agriculture company that is quietly disrupting food commerce, though on a smaller, but more unique scale than related operations like Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct. Instead of just allowing customers to order fresh produce through the online system, Farmigo extends a business opportunity to local farmers, allowing them to sell their harvests to an eager online community, set their own price, and earn a supplementary income. 

“We’re trying to find people who have always been passionate about building a better food system, but they could blog about it and they could cheer about it, but there was nothing material that they could do to take action,” Ronen told Forbes. “Now they are able to be part of the solution. They’re able to do something actionable and make money along the way.”Continue reading...

what's in a name

After Selling its Heritage to Mars, Wisconsin Coffee House Fights to Keep Local Reputation

Posted by Abe Sauer on August 12, 2013 11:33 AM

A built-in fanbase; a global market; a universally recognizable brand name and logo. Some of the world's biggest brands are well-endowed with all of these characteristics, however, many of them are missing one, important thing: a great brand story. However, one international conglomerate has found a way around this; by buying a local Milwaukee, Wis. coffee shop's backstory. 

With the kind of humble beginnings that make for a great brand heritage, Alterra Coffee opened its doors in 1993 on the fifth floor of a Milwaukee warehouse amidst the metro areas worst financial years. With record-setting unemployment and a widespread cryptosporidium outbreak in the municipal water supply, it wasn't the best time to start peddling coffee. But with grit, good grounds and great service, Alterra built a tremendous local reputation. The brand's locations—which mirror the clean, franchised, free WiFi designs of other major coffee houses—popped up all over Milwaukee. As a movement toward buying local took off across the US, Alterra was perfectly positioned to give Milwaukee coffee lovers their desired Starbucks experience with a local conscience. But it turns out that Alterra's dark roast wasn't the most coveted part of its business.Continue reading...

The Big Game

Intuit Contest Gives One Small Company the Ultimate Platform: a Super Bowl Ad

Posted by Dale Buss on July 31, 2013 07:03 PM

The winner of the Intuit Small Business Big Game contest will lay claim to an opportunity reserved for some of the world's biggest brands. With an advertisement during the telecast of the 2014 Super Bowl as the grand prize, the winning company could expect the 30-second commercial to provide a significant boost to business.

Intuit—which makes products such as TurboTax and QuickBooks that aim directly at small-business owners_kicked off a contest that will award one small business with the ad during the Big Game on February 2, during the third quarter. That's usually the highest-viewership time of the game.

Former Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins head coach Jimmy Johnson, now a Fox NFL-telecast icon, and reality-TV personality Bill Rancic are promoting the contest, which will ask applicants to detail their challenges, offer tips and answer questions about their business experiences, according to USA Today.Continue reading...


Walmart Poses Growing Risk to Local Supermarkets with Grocery Price Push

Posted by Dale Buss on June 27, 2013 10:41 AM

Thirty years after original charges of stomping out indigenous businesses were first levied against Walmart, the chain is still ticking off local retailers that have difficulty competing. Only nowadays, instead of small-town, independent hardware and apparel stores that couldn't hope to compare with Walmart's prices, it's grocery stores that are smarting from price comparisons with the giant.

The chain is continuing to gain market share in groceries and consumables, Advertising Age reported, in large part because of the hundreds of local market-basket price-comparison ads that it has been running in 70 metro markets across the country. The spots show actual grocery shoppers comparing actual receipts from competitive grocery chains to the prices they could have gotten at Walmart. Unhappy supermarket chains have tried but so far failed to besmirch the veracity of the ads.Continue reading...


Square Takes Mobile Commerce Online with New Market

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 26, 2013 06:50 PM

In a classic bait and switch, Square, the mobile payments company known for its quarter-sized credit-card reader, is taking its business online in a direct challenge to PayPal, which is moving more of its services offline into brick-and-mortar retailers. 

After dominating the mobile card reader market, including a hefty deal with Starbucks locations, Square is turning its attention to e-commerce with its new Square Market, which enables merchants to list their products on a website where Square will handle payment processing and deliver cheaper point-of-sale credit card payments (2.75 percent per transaction) by replacing equipment with a smartphone or tablet computer.

"There's a blurring of the lines between offline and online commerce," Square's chief executive, Jack Dorsey, told the Wall Street Journal. "This is the next obvious step for us,” he said, while PayPal's VP lobal product Hill Ferguson commented, "We feel good about our position. When you're successful at something, others try to follow you.”Continue reading...

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