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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Mobile Shopping is Going Viral this Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

With only 11 shopping days left until Christmas, shoppers need all the help they can get this holiday season while trying to find the best deal on the perfect gift for their loved one.  This year more shoppers than ever before are using their smartphones to find the best deals while they are in stores around the country and even at home and work.

Pricegrabber just released these survey results last week of 3,574 online consumers in the United States.  According to these results, 39% of all respondents have a shopping-related application on their smartphone.  Out of the respondents with a shopping application on their phone, 56% indicated that they have these applications on their phone because they believe they get the best prices using mobile shopping applications.

These numbers show a staggering increase from just 1 year ago when I wrote this KikScore blog post that talked about a Wall Street Journal article that indicated that only 5.6% of consumers used a mobile phone to price compare while on the go.  The WSJ article referenced in the aforementioned blog post also says that only .1% of consumers used a mobile phone in this way in 2009.  As you can see from these numbers consumers are continuing to increase their use of smartphone mobile shopping applications at an exponential rate!

So, what are merchants across the Unites States doing in response to these legions of mobile smartphone shoppers?  Unfortunately, the answer is still “not very much” at this time.  Again, like I mentioned in my blog post last year, I still cannot walk into a Best Buy, use my smartphone to find a better price on an item online and get the store to match this price.  Many bricks and mortar stores are still having a problem reacting to this new wave of technological advancement in the pocket of the U.S. consumer.

According to this article in the Chicago Tribune, some retailers like Macy’s and J.C. Penney are starting to react to these mobile shoppers by streamlining their mobile websites, creating custom shopping applications, and increasing the speed and efficiency of their sites.  In my mind, however, this is just the very basic levels of catering to the mobile shopping consumer and great strides will need to be made in the coming years in order for this new bread of consumer to be on the same page with these large retailers in the U.S.

Have you had a positive or negative experience while using a smartphone with a mobile shopping application at a retailer?

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Skype Hype: Are you using it for your business?

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Now that the founders have become rich (again) and sold Skype to Microsoft – a questions must be posed.  “Did Microsoft completely overpay?” Not that question, but maybe (how the hell would I know).  “Will Microsoft underfund and completely destroy this new asset?”  yes…but not right away and that’s not the question. 

No, the real question is how will this new found attention to Skype change how will you use it for your business.   Before every cable company offered a VOIP solution, Skype was the way to talk over the internet for very little cost.  That uniqueness has gone away, but it still is the best way to talk internationally without it costing a lot.

The way we’ve been using Skype is for video conferences with our team (some of us are in Denver, some in the D.C. area) – and I’m sure we’ll continue to use it that way.  But Skype has competitors in that space with video chat already offered by Apple and other web camera services. 

One of the more interesting ways could be a combination of Skype into social media.  Don’t forget that Microsoft invested in Facebook a few years ago  — so forget poking, what about video chatting with your social network.

Any other thoughts on how Skype can help your business?

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Is this a Bubble or a Buble?

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Every day, I check TechCrunch.  It’s sort of a must-do type of thing.  First, you have to do it to see what the latest trends are for start-ups and funding.  Secondly, if you’re involved in a tech start-up and you don’t read TechCrunch, well, you’re seen as a bit of poseur.  And it’s not one of those things where by not doing it you seem even cooler….like not owning a TV.  For some reason, if you don’t own a TV. people think you’re really smart.  But is that really that smart?  T.V. and the internet are the main sources of news and critical information.  It’s like going back thousands of years and saying “I don’t fire” and expecting people to really respect you.

Ok.  Back to my original thought.  I’m reading TechCrunch and in the last 6 months, at least once a week, there is news of a small startup getting large funding or being acquired by a larger strategic player.  For those of us old enough to remember the late 90’s (and who could forget Ace of Base), it’s getting a little scary because it’s feeling like a bubble.  Irrational exuberance.  High Valuations.  People are losing their F&^%$#*!  Minds. 

But is this latest round of investment and acquisition really a bubble?  Or is it logically investing.  I mean, where else should you put your money?  Real Estate?  Corporate Debt?  Blue-Chip Stocks (with 4% growth).  Recent technology investments are based on profitable companies or scalable services that a larger player would rather buy than build.

I guess what I’m saying is this seems more like  Buble than a Bubble.  By that I mean a pitch-perfect time for technology.  Also, I just love referencing Michael Buble.

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Try Shopkick on Your Smartphone, Almost 1 Million Others Have!

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

I have been using the Shopkick application on my smartphone for the past few months and then I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal the other day and realized that 750,000 people have also downloaded and used the application since it was released in August.

Basically, the idea behind the Shopkick application is that users can login and see which local retailers are closest to their current location.  Users then also have the option on clicking on each of the retailers near them to see what specials the merchant is currently offering to Shopkick customers.  It seems like some of the larger retailers that have close relationships with Shopkick include Best Buy, Macy’s, and Sports Authority.

The other idea behind the Shopkick application that is used to encourage users to access the application daily is driven by rewarding users with Shopkick points just for viewing the retailer’s specials by using the Shopkick application on their smartphone.  Users can obtain additional points by physically visiting the retailers and checking in and also by scanning the barcodes of various products in the stores that the retailers are advertising.  Shopkick users can then redeem these Shopkick points for products and gifts cards from the various retailers.

I found the Shopkick application to be interesting and useful but after attempting unsuccessfully to scan the bar codes of a few advertised products at a local Best Buy I was a little frustrated by the application as well.  I can definitely see a lot of good uses for the Shopkick application and I hope that they expand the functionality included in it to possibly included automatic price comparisons and possibly an easier way to scan the barcodes of advertised products.

Have you ever used the Shopkick application in a store or any other smartphone application while shopping?

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

The Importance of Security in Online Payments

Friday, August 13th, 2010

As more and more fraud occurs in e-commerce, it is ever more important to provide secure payments for your customers. There are some things you can add to your website that will provide extra layers of security for your customers. You can use “https protocol” and “3-D secure protocol”. Also the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has implemented strict standards (PCI Data Security Standard) for merchants that accept credit cards online. In the next sections, all of these types of security options will be explained.

HTTPS Protocol

Normally the website operates under a normal hypertext transfer protocol (http), but with https (hypertext transfer protocol secure), sensitive data that passes through the seemingly insecure network (http) will be protected by an added security socket layer (SSL). HTTPS has been approved by many certificate authorities, so it is a widely accepted security layer for online payments.

3-D Secure Protocol

3-D secure protocol is a form of virtual payer identification. The basic concept behind it is verifying 3 domains. Thus, the name 3-D. The first domain name to be verified is the acquirer domain. The acquirer domain consists of the merchant and bank to which money is being given to. The second is the issuer domain. This is the bank that issued the card being used. The third and final domain to be verified is the interoperability domain. This is the infrastructure provided by the credit card scheme to support the 3-D secure protocol. This is possibly one of the safest ways to accept payments on your website.  

PCI Data Security Standard

Merchants of all sizes have to abide by the PCI DSS’s rules in order to be able to accept credit cards. The PCI Data Security Standard was implemented in 2004 and has been updated several times since then to keep up with technological advances. Companies like North American Bancard specifically say that they offer internet merchant accounts that provide PCI compliant payment experiences. So it is not all on the merchant, since merchant account providers are there to consult and assist merchants with abiding by these rules. The main objectives for the standard is are to create a universal environment where payments are safe and to be able to identify cyber criminals more easily because of these standards.

As more and more people buy online, cyber crime will increase unless merchants become educated about securing data on their websites.

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Is a Start Up the Same as Gambling? I Hope Not

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This week I’m in the city of New Orleans for a conference.  I’ve never been before and it has been eye-opening.  As with anything, there are pluses and minuses.  The minuses — the weather and 3 inch long cockroaches.  In fact I just left a fancy dinner, barely eating my food because one NO’s finest cockroaches scurried across my table. 

The upside to N.O.?  First, if I lived here, I would lose a lot of weight — as I don’t eat sea food.  The second: they have a great casino dowtown.  Last night I played blackjack for 2 hours, and I was thinking about joining a poker game. 

You often hear that starting a new business is a gamble.  Well I certainly hope that’s not the case.  I get the point that starting a business involves risk, but risk doesn’t equate to risk for me (so long as it’s a calculate risk).  Last night, as I was playing cards, it seemed pretty clear that most of what was happening was pure chance — no strategy.  I mean, you could have a betting strategy, but if you followed it perfectly, it still gets you to a coin-flip chance of winning. 

I don’t envision the same type of discipline (or lack thereof) with starting a small business.  Sure, you still may go bust, but that doesn’t mean strategy was essentially pointless.  With a business, a good team and idea should get you a better than toss-up chance to succeed.  Whether you recognize if you have a good team or idea is another story.  By the way, I lost $100 last night…so I hope I’m a better business person than gambler.

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Just Say No, But Say It Nicely

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

One of our main distribution strategies for KikScore is working with partners.  Our ideal partner is one with that has a lot of interaction with small online businesses, or small businesses that want an online presence.

In my day job, I work with with partners quite a bit (or as Corporate America calls them…Channels).  As with any type of sales, reaching out to partners involves a lot of rejections.  Either they don’t have time or the proposed relationship doesn’t fit into the partner’s strategic vision.

What has surprised us at KikScore is the overall interest that our product has received from a partnership standpoint.  We’ve approached 10 different channels and we are in deep discussions with 6 of them.  That type of success rate would get you in the baseball hall of fame (as a hitter, manager or pitcher).

This type of positive reaction has likely twisted my perception.  So when I reached out to a larger company today — with a contact from a mutual friend — I thought it would be a warm reception.  Uh, wrong.  The person I contacted not only said no, but almost chastised me for bothering her.  Sorry, delicate genius.  Let’s hope you never lose that corporate job and have to start approaching people on your own.

Also, I’ll never be a customer of this company.  It’s not because she said no, it was how she said it.

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Organic or PPC — Which is Your Flavor?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

The debate currently rages — where should you spend your time on marketing — cultivating organic traffic or spend the money on pay-per-click?  We here at KikScore are trying to find the right mix for our small business. 

If you research the topic, most of the arguments go as follows: organic is free, it is long-term and builds on itself; PPC is tailored, expensive and, in the short-term, effective in driving traffic.  A funny thing also occurs if you research this topic — you definitely see the battle-lines drawn by self-interest.  The SEO experts all push organic search while the sellers of PPC keywords all push…well PPC keywords.  Even funnier, the SEO folks often purchase PPC keywords on the topic “organic versus PPC”.  What?

I’m not taking sides (I think both approaches have their merits), but I do think the argument that organic search is “free” is a bit misleading (or woefully undervalues your time).  To take advantage of organic search, you’ll have to create content on a regular basis, spend time on social media networks, and monitor the your competitors’ activities.  This is not a “free” avenue to traffic. 

Oddly enough, I equate the debate to grocery shopping.  If you want to do the things that are good for you long term, shop exclusively at Vitamin Cottage or farmers markets.  On the other hand, if you want to eat now, go to Chipotle.  Fast food is not a viable substitute for having a well-stocked kitchen (though its probably cheaper to go to Chipotle every day).  Of course, if your business needs customers sooner rather than later, you probably can’t wait on the garden.  So the balanced approach is probably where I shake out — in other words, do both.

What’s your position on this?

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Diary of a Startup: Staying in Touch

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

KikScore is made up of 7 team members.  We are on 2 different time zones.  Several of our members travel regularly for their day jobs.  One of us has a consulting business that requires odd-hour projects.  All of this adds up to difficulty in scheduling time to talk. 

And by “talk” I mean talking about the direction of the business as a whole.  Because we have side calls with partners, channels and customers.  We also have subset discussion focused on marketing and technology.  Not that this is unique to KikScore, but I would say that 50% of our time is not spent on plotting strategy.  Instead we focus on delivering product and satisfying partner/customer requests. 

One of the things I worry about is staying “in touch”.  Talking isn’t enough.  As I describe above, the KikScore team talks a lot, but we need more time to think together.  While most of us are in one city, it doesn’t mean we sit down each week and just talk about general direction.  We are so busy with opportunities, we’re focused on getting through the day.  So how do you preserve the connection that first brought you together?  I have no idea.  We’re trying to use Skype and get together for lunches related solely to strategy, but as we work on more projects, those lunches are turning into project status meetings.  It’s a challenge.

I throw this out to the readers…any suggestions in rekindling our long conversations on strategy?

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Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Online Shopping & Security Tips from CrunchGear's John Biggs

Friday, April 16th, 2010

This is an excellent four minute video that KikScore recommends for both the small business community and online shoppers on tips to stay safe online.  The video features the author of Black Hat: Misfits, Criminals, and Scammers in the Internet Age, John Biggs.  In the video, John covers steps for staying safe when sharing data and information about yourself online, interacting on social networking sites, buying online and accessing the internet outside of your home. He has a lot of good guidance in the video including his rule to live by that you should not say or share information online that you would not be comfortable sharing in a crowded room.

Take a look, it is a good video.

Please tell us what you think about the tips John Biggs provided in the video in the comments section below.

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