Top Ecommerce News You Need to Know; Highlights from the State of the Union, LVMH, the Super Bowl

Tracey Wallace
Director of Marketing MarkterHire | Former EIC, BigCommerce | Founder, Doris Sleep

January 23, 2015

Happy Friday, everyone! Between deflategate and the State of the Union address, it’s likely you missed some of the most relevant ecommerce news this week.

Not to worry, though. We’ve gathered up the most important information you need to know including how Obama’s speech on Tuesday night affects small businesses, how mobile-local ecommerce is already turning a profit for startups, why LVMH is finally testing the ecommerce waters and how your business can get in on the Super Bowl action, without the big price tag.

Obama Calls for Simplifying Tax for Small Businesses

The jury seems to still be out on President Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, which directly addressed easier tax filing for small businesses. The president called for higher minimum wages and also highlighted the need for companies to issue paid sick leave. Currently, the vast majority of businesses that don’t offer this are, of course, small businesses.

“Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford,” Obama said.

A local mom-and-pop hardware store is paying more in taxes than the Home Depot.

Beyond the simpler filing standard, many small business owners were looking for broader tax reform spearheaded by the President to help SMBs battle against the bigger box retailers.

“What’s most important for our members would be reduced business income tax rates, as the majority of our members pay the top rates as individual filers,” said Jack Mozloom, a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business. A local mom-and-pop hardware store “is paying more in taxes than the Home Depot,” Mozloom said.

When consumers have money in their pockets, they are going to spend it, and that’s good for all businesses.

In all, a lowered unemployment rate and higher minimum wages, though not universally agreed upon by small business owners, mean more money in consumers’ pockets – potentially meaning more revenue for store owners.

“One of the things I’ll be interested in is the proposed tax breaks for the middle class,” said Carolyn Reed, a small business owner invited to meet with Obama before the State of the Union Address. “My husband and I very much consider ourselves part of the middle class, but besides that, when the middle class does well, the business does well. That is, when consumers have money in their pockets, they are going to spend it, and that’s good for all businesses.”

Mobile, Local Ecommerce Scores Big Wins for Startups, Small Businesses

If you’re still not convinced mobile shopping and product delivery service are the next two big ecommerce sectors in line for some serious disruption, take a look a Forbes’ Most Promising Companies list.

Instacart, a mobile-first grocery shopping and delivery app, tops the list and founder Apoorva Mehta says this is only the beginning.

“Everything that we shop for is available right now online and it’s a much more efficient way of shopping than to one by one find individual items that may not be at the store. What takes the average American household five hours to do on a weekly basis, it now takes two minutes.”

Everything that we shop for is available right now online and it’s a much more efficient way of shopping.

Indeed, grocery shopping seems to be one of the last industries making a digital push, with retail already having done so in hoards. In fact, this week, a “Tinder for Fashion” app hit 1 million users by taking advantage of the mobile shopping trend, allowing users to quickly swipe left for no or right for yes –– leading them to a purchase page. Better yet, Grabble, the app in question, allows brands to upload their own products, reducing the need for small businesses to invest in their own mobile application.

“To create, distribute and maintain a mobile app is prohibitively expensive, but unfortunately the alternative of relying on a mobile website is not appealing either,” said Grabble founder Daniel Murray. “It’s virtually impossible to win on your own with mobile, but by joining forces with Grabble you can create a win-win scenario”

Brands already using the app include ASOS, Urban Outfitters, River Island and TopShop.

Fendi to Launch Ecommerce Store, Widening Luxury Offering Online

Ecommerce isn’t just for startups and small businesses. This week, Fendi announced a change in strategy, opting to open a B2C ecommerce site this spring. The goal? To test online shoppers’ appetite for luxury goods and high-end ready-to-wear items.

Luxury brands have long been standoffish when it comes to opening up shop online. Chanel and Celine are the most resistant, while other brands including Burberry, Moschino and Saint Laurent have tested the ecommerce waters.

Luxury brands have long been standoffish when it comes to opening up shop online.

Many luxury brands sell products through luxury marketplaces including Neiman Marcus and Net-a-Porter, but the need to own their brand experience from site visit to package delivery is becoming more of a focus point for these high-end labels. Akin to what some call a “deal with the devil” many small businesses must make when deciding to sell on marketplaces like Amazon, LVMH, the parent company of Fendi, is beginning to pull up the ante on their online customer experience.

Fendi will handle logistics in-house, vastly widening options for order placement, pickup and delivery. “It’s a service that you give to the client,” said Fendi CEO Pietro Beccari. “We will have a 360-degree approach.”

If the label’s foray into ecommerce is a success, we can expect to see other LVMH brands follow suit, widening the luxury ecommerce marketplace for consumers.

Get Super Bowl Business Without the Super Bowl Price Tag

With all the talk of deflategate and leaked or pre-released Super Bowl commercials, it’s likely you’re thinking that the Super Bowl is a big box retailer’s playing field. After all, it costs a cool $4 million to buy the average TV spot, not to mention the amount of money it takes to pay a creative agency to think up a Super Bowl-worthy idea, hire the talent and produce the commercial. And, all of that is just considering the effort that goes into making the commercial. Many Super Bowl advertisers go far and beyond the commercial itself, setting up social media accounts and websites specifically to engage with Super Bowl viewers online.

It’s show-y, sure, and it might be on your long list of ideas for when that next round of funding comes in, but turns out you might be able to cash in on a Super Bowl traffic increase long before you have the dollars to back a multi-million dollar campaign.

Small businesses can pull in audiences and potential new customers at a Super Bowl-sized level.

We’re not talking about hijacking another company’s campaign or monitoring the online conversation closely so that you can pull an Oreo’s tactic. No, we’re talking about a business connect program that connects small businesses in the host city of the Super Bowl game to advertisers and event organizers so that those small businesses can pull in audiences and potential new customers at a Super Bowl-sized level.

The application is closed for 2015, but open for 2016. The Super Bowl game in 2016 will be held in the San Francisco area, and applications are being accepted from all nine Bay Area counties, with a few conditions: the program is limited to businesses that are certified as minority-owned, women-owned, disabled veteran-owned, or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender-owned.

Does your business qualify? Apply now.

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Photo: Flickr, NASA HQ