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Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you survived the first official week back after the holidays and got a few minutes of downtime all to yourself.

At Bigcommerce, we’re ramping for a strong 2015, and talking to successful clients across the globe to get their advice, tips and expertise on ecommerce excellence to share with entrepreneurs looking to do the same.

Of course, while figuring out your own 2015 gameplan is a necessary task, the big movers and shakers in the ecommerce industry aren’t slowing down. Below, catch up on the week’s top ecommerce news you need to know, including highlights from Forbes, Congress and Amazon.

Forbes Releases Inaugural 30 under 30 in Retail

Forbes released their inaugural Who’s Who list for retail this week, naming off 30 of retail’s top disruptors changing the ecommerce game for the rest of us. The list contains 30 companies and 34 founders, among which 47% are women and 32% are minorities, a particularly important point of interest considering that many of the companies listed aren’t just retail or fashion companies, but technology ones as well.

The inaugural 30 under 30 in Retail lists 34 founders, among which 47% are women and 32% are minorities.

Some of those listed are likely companies you are already familiar with, including Etsy, Sak’s Fifth Avenue and Shoptiques. Many of the other list toppers are lesser-known names with some very substantial venture backing and industry nods from fashion’s most well-known brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Spanx and Warby Parker.

The issuing of this first 30 under 30 list for retail indicates a significant moment in the industry. Despite already-occurring changes related to technology and consumers’ ever-changing digital preferences, both digital-only and brick-and-mortar retailers are now rethinking their marketing, checkout and customer service strategies. The retail marketplace is expanding and some forecasters are already seeing 2015 as the year online stores must begin to make strategic decisions –– not about which digital marketplace platforms to use, but about which ones not to use.

Small Business Owners Sworn Into 114th Congress

Q4 wrapped up a very positive revenue year with a strong December. Small business hiring is up, as are worker wages. Optimism levels are trending back at pre-recession levels and for good reason: year-over-year growth between 2013 and 2014 was an average of 54% for all ecommerce industries, with many industries seeing higher than 70% growth in 2014.

YoY growth between 2013 and 2014 was an average of 54% for all ecommerce industries.

These numbers are a preview from Bigcommerce’s Quarterly Ecommerce Report, which provides a detailed breakdown of individual ecommerce industries, based on data from tens of thousands of online stores. The full report will be available Tuesday, Jan. 13.

And there is more good news for small businesses in the new year. Seventy-four new representatives were sworn in to the 114th Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 6, with more than a dozen of those new representatives being small business owners themselves. This news comes as a reprieve to many small business owners, only 7% of which said they felt they were well represented by the previous congress, according to a poll by the National Small Business Association.

74 new representatives were sworn in to the 114th Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Only time will tell if this new congress, and the small business representation within it, will be cause for real legislative changes in favor of small businesses, but the outlook remains positive.

“I’ve spent the last 37 years building my construction company from the ground up,” reads the opening sentence of Rep. Rick Allen’s (R-Ga.) biography page on his campaign website. “I’m a conservative small businessman, and I’ll bring my experience in job creation and principled leadership to Congress.”

FCC Hints at Support of Net Neutrality

Net neutrality arguments hit a high in 2014, resulting in more than 2 million comments on the FCC’s website regarding potential legislation that would reclassify the internet as a utility, maintaining equal access speeds for all websites.

The issue divided many in the industry, with news organizations and multiple tech companies including Reddit, Netflix and Google voicing the opinion that the internet needs to remain a place of equal access.

They’d like to tell you where to buy your shoes by slowing down the service to one site but not another.

“Most of us work at a higher level,” Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, told the Nokia World conference in London’s ExCel centre. “We assume that when we look up a web address and the domain name to get that page that you can get any page because that’s how it’s always been.”

But, he warned, “a lot of companies would love to limit that. If they’re trying to sell you movies streamed online, they’d like to slow down your access to other people’s movies, so you’d come back to them. If they sell you telephone services, they’d love to block voice-over-internet connections, or just slow it down so you decide it’s not a very good technology and go and use theirs instead. They’d like to tell you where to buy your shoes by slowing down the service to one site but not another.”

In essence, classifying the internet as a utility would require cable companies to allow all online companies and services, regardless of size or monetary contribution, fair access to internet speed. And the argument here is an important one for online startups and small businesses. After all, studies like those from The Aberdeen Group report that, on average, a 1 second delay in page load time causes a 7% loss in conversion, 11% fewer page views and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. Viewed in financial terms, a site earning $100,000 a day could lose $2.5M in sales per year.

Viewed in financial terms, a site earning $100,000 a day could lose $2.5M in sales per year.

Thankfully, 2015 seems to have shifted the FCC’s views on net neutrality a bit, and recent reports suggest that Tom Wheeler, FCC Chairman, is moving the country closer to legislation that ensures the internet will remain free and open.

“We’re going to propose rules that say that no blocking, no throttling, [no] paid prioritization, all that list of issues, and that there is a yardstick against which behavior should be measured,” Wheeler said during a public interview at the event, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The FCC will vote on the new proposal on Feb. 26, per an announcement at CES.

Amazon is Up to Something Big, Secretive and Likely to Affect the Startup Retail Space

Recent job postings on Amazon’s careers site are leading many in the tech community to speculate on what may be up the tech giant’s sleeve. First spotted by digital publication Re/code, these new job listings reference building “the world’s best end-to-end platform for startups.

One application for a Senior Manager of Product Management reads:

“Are you inspired by inventors who develop and launch new products? Do you want to build the world’s best end-to-end platform for startups? Do you see the opportunity to connect these entrepreneurs with Amazon’s hundreds of millions of customers? If you live for these kinds of challenges, we’ve got the job for you!”

Do you see the opportunity to connect these entrepreneurs with Amazon’s hundreds of millions of customers?

These job descriptions state the positions could cover multiple areas of expertise including, but not limited to, distribution system and customer-relations software.

The move to focus yet another aspect of Amazon’s retail arm on entrepreneurs follows a string of similar steps by the company, including operating both a 3-D printing online store and a wearable-tech online store. In addition, last summer, Amazon partnered with Indiegogo and Autodesk to launch a “Maker Challenge” promoting inventors and entrepreneurs.

Whatever it is that Amazon is up to, it is sure to be something that will affect the startup retail space.

Photo: Flickr, vgm8383

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