Monday, July 11, 2011


Life on the RocksRocky PointeBridal VailAlmost there.Bay ViewBridge to your Future To the Moon Alice!!052Lookout!10-4 Good Buddy!Where's the lifeguard?Lone Pine Mother May IGulf SerenityYosemite FallsLight on the OceanBlue102 GuardianTo the SkyScary HouseIn the WindNothing grows here...Out to Sea

Solitude, a set on Flickr.

A change of pace...

These are pictures from some of my road trips. I call this Solitude and I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Margins Narrowing, Amazon Faces a Well-Financed Campaign to Force it to Collect Sales Taxes - YCharts - Information, Not Opinion - Forbes

Margins Narrowing, Amazon Faces a Well-Financed Campaign to Force it to Collect Sales Taxes - YCharts - Information, Not Opinion - Forbes

States look to Internet taxes to close budget gaps - Yahoo! Finance

Just my 15%

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sales Tax - Who Cares what Amazon Thinks?

Raise your hands if you think there will eventually be an Internet Sales Tax? Of course there will be and and Jeff Bezos can't stop it. It is time the US Government earns some of the tax dollars we are paying them and enacts a sensible plan for managing Internet sales tax.

States need the revenue, consumers are conditioned to pay sales tax and it is fair to charge sales tax for purchases shipped to a state. Right now the States need to shut up and listen. You are better off with a reasonable Internet sales tax for all sales in your state then you are protecting your own sales tax percentage. A reasonable sales tax of 5% with .5% going to the Federal government for managing the program.

California will moan, but we get 8.75% and we can't make it at 4.5% and I say, quit bitching and take the 4.5% because your are fighting for the 8.75% and losing the battle and years of trying to get an additional 4.25% won't get you anywhere.

I say give every State 4.5% of the sales shipped to that state and be happy with it. Even states like Oregon and New Hampshire with no sales tax should charge 4.5%. Ecommerce needs a plan now so we don't play games for 2-3 more years and get stuck with a worse law.

Look, I don't have the lobbying budget that Amazon has but I do have a blog and I do have a voice. Congress wants to say this is an issue for the states so they need to figure something out but getting the States to agree on anything is like herding cats -- its impossible. Congress needs to enact a reasonable solution that is fair for every consumer and still give ecommerce the room to grow.

I say a 5% Internet Sales Tax managed by the US government is the quickest and smartest approach available and regardless how much money Amazon throws at this issue, a national sales tax must be enacted.

Just my 15%

Internet Retailer 2011 - San Diego

If you are attending the Internet Retailer show this year in San Diego, please make sure to stop by the Marketplace booth #1922. This is the first year we are sponsoring the show and I would love to meet you in person.

Internet Retailer runs from Tuesday 6/14 through Thursday 6/16

Just my 15%

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pandora Now Sees IPO At $10-12, Up From $7-$9; Expands Offering - Eric Savitz - The Tech Trade - Forbes

Pandora Now Sees IPO At $10-12, Up From $7-$9; Expands Offering - Eric Savitz - The Tech Trade - Forbes

Pandora is my favorite music streaming service. I'll have to find a way to get in at the IPO price. I'm glad the company was able to last long enough for this big payday.

Who will be the next eCommerce company to go public?

Just my 15%

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Rakuten Acquires Brazillian Ecommerce Platform

TechCrunch had the best write-up on this so I'm just going to link you to that.

"Japanese online retail juggernaut Rakuten is expanding its reach to South America with the acquisition of a 75% stake in Ikeda, a provider of e-commerce services to many of Brazil’s largest retailers.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1996 and headquartered in São Paulo, Ikeda provides retailers with a SaaS e-commerce platform, enabling its customers to help build their desired features and provides advisory services to support their online retail operations.

Ikeda currently provides services to over 100 major retailers located all over Brazil."

I look forward to working with our new friends in Brazil :)

Just my 15%

Monday, June 06, 2011

Overstock No More ... at Least in Name

I know, I haven't blogged much in the last two years and all of a sudden I'm blogging like its the end of the world. Sorry, just lots of interesting news.

From the "What were they thinking" files comes a story I still can't get my head around. Overstock is rebranding to ... get this ... Yes you heard it right,! They have also redesigned the website to be a little less "female" while securing Naming Rights to the Oakland Coloseum where my favorite NFL team (Da Raiders) play.

According to the AdAge article; The online retailer's website will also change with the logo heading, changing to ", also known as," said CEO Patrick Byrne. TV ads will begin to reflect the change to after Father's Day.

" will keep on emerging as our brand," he said. "It's been a gradual transition. We didn't want to risk throwing out the brand equity we've built with ... I think if it all works really nicely, you'll just see fade away and take its place."

I can get behind the concept of rebranding because Overstock was so heavily female but I don't quite grasp how these moves will help them become a more well positioned brand.

Just my 15%

eBay Buys the Rest of Magento

Newsflash! eBay acquires Magento the open source shopping cart. Well they actually acquired the rest of Magento since they already owned 49% prior to this news.

When it comes to eBay and their M&A activity I sometimes scratch my head, but this seems like a no-brainer move since they already owned 49% now they have control of the company and in theory can maximize the investment.

I am very curious to see what they do with all of the recent moves. I could speculate of course about what I think they would do but when it comes to eBay you never know.

Just my 15%

New IPO Bubble Building.

What is it about the world of finance that keeps us building "bubbles"? We had Internet Bubble 1.0 in 1999 and that bubble burst in 2000, we had a much large bubble build in the mortgage business and we just recently started to recover from that bubble bursting, now we see Internet Bubble 2.0 building. I wonder if we've learned anything from all the bubble bursting in the last decade?!

Internet Bubble 2.0 is gathering steam since the successful IPO of LinkedIn last month and now Internet startups are lining up to be the next company to board the IPO gravy train. Groupon has now filed an S1 to announce their intent to go public and I would imagine that Twitter and Facebook will follow shortly.

If this is a real bubble you will start seeing lots of money flowing back into Venture Capital and start-ups across the country getting new investment. If there are any lessons to be learned from all of these bubbles it is "get in quick and be one of the first" who knows how long the bubble will last so you need to act quickly to take advantage.

This will be fun to watch.

Just my 15%

Saturday, June 04, 2011

How eCommerce Times are a Changing!

While eCommerce continues to grow its share of global retail and Brick and Mortar retailers look for ways to stem the tide causing their sales to slow. eCommerce itself is morphing into something much different from its infancy.

In the early days of the web, it was much like the old west, brave entrepreneurs ventured online to stake their claim for retail riches and with their satchels full of VC money they used TV, Magazines, Radio and other traditional media to get the word out. Companies like, Amazon,, eBay, are still around but many others didn't survive. At the time large retail brands like Sears, Best Buy, Staples, J.C. Penny were just testing the idea of selling online and many tech companies like Dell, HP and Compaq decided the web was their future. Unfortunately it took a lot of money to get consumers to stop by these online stores. Amazon was still mostly a book store. The lion's share of consumers went directly to the .com from their browser to find those items they wanted to purchase, if you didn't spend the Traditional Media money to brand your business nobody showed up at your store. According to the chart below, from Channel Advisor, in 2000 75% of consumers started their shopping experience directly at each companies website. Search, CSE (Comparisons Shopping Engines) and Marketplaces consisted mainly of Yahoo, AOL, eBay, and collectively they were only 25% of ecommerce in 2000. Google had just launched their AdWords program in 2000, likewise Amazon launched their Marketplace late that year.

Jump forward to 2010 and you see a much different landscape on the web. Yahoo, AOL and eBay have been dominated by Google, Facebook and Amazon. 44% of eCommerce sales now start from Search (mostly Google) and 27% start in a Marketplace (Amazon, eBay,; only 9% start at the merchants website. All of this while the whole eCommerce pie continues to grow

CSE's as a segment have slowed considerably even though Google Product Search continues to grow. Mobile and Social are growing and may represent the future of eCommerce 5-10 years down the road.

So, in 2011 what's an online retail store have to do to sell their wares? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) efforts are extremely important as Search still dominates but Marketplaces can no longer be left off of the table. Online brands that haven't sold in a Marketplace channel till now are going to have to start or they will missing out on a huge number of eyeballs. In fact many mainline retailers are launching their own marketplace as a way to attract new shoppers to their increased selection; Sears, NewEgg, Walmart among others to launch this year.

In 2011 most shoppers are not starting at your website or going there at all, make sure you don't miss out on those sales by avoiding 27% of those shoppers. Don't miss out on the Marketplace customer.

Just my 15%

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Online Sellers Need to Step it Up!

Gone are the good old days, when you just had to take a snapshot of your product and list it on eBay to make a sale. It was easy back in the day but those days are gone forever ... now a seller needs to have a UPI (Unique product identifier) just to get listed on Google Product Search, let alone on a marketplace. Content standards in all of the available selling channels have been raised. At this point in the game, every seller needs to develop their own content strategy in addition to the other facets of their business. Sellers need to take professional quality images, write beautiful unique descriptions, add professional video, reviews, social bookmarks, etc. just to have a chance at a sale.

Back in the day, you just had to source product at the right price and you could make a great living on your own terms. We had a saying "you don't make money on the sale, you make money on the buy" basically if you bought right you would always make a tidy profit. Today it is much more complicated.

Increased competition for product, higher seller performance standards, increased content requirements, multiple-channel selling makes it very difficult to do business online. So what do you do?

You have to make a decision, are you going to keep complaining that everything is so difficult now? Or are you going to "Step Up" your game? This goes for small sellers as well as the "Big" guys. The sellers who will thrive are those that "Step Up" their game.

For small sellers, that task often falls on the owner because even if you do have staff they are typically doing customer service or fulfillment (pick, pack and ship) If you do not have the time or technical ability then find someone who does because it is a matter of survival. Take Google Product Search as an example. There is no cost to list your items with them and no rev share if it sells, so why would you complain about the increased requirements instead of making the adjustments necessary.

If you have a website and are not submitting your items to Google Product Search you are missing the boat and honestly should re-think your whole business. Google has raised their content requirements regularly over the years and each time they do, it is a hassle to make the changes in your system, but many businesses generate upwards of 25% of their sales through Google. It just takes a little effort to understand what they are looking for and they provide all of the info in their help pages. If your items do not have a UPC, ISBN, JAP, or EAN than you can provide the MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) as well as the Brand Name. For antiques, collectibles, apparel, custom made product you can have an exception.

It always amazes me when people complain about the effort it is going to take to maximize a free service like Google Product Search. Don't complain, adjust! Step-up your game in every area of your business and leave your competition behind.

Just my 15%