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Here's what happened in e-commerce this week (AMZN, FB, BABA)

Published by Business Insider on Sun, 19 Jul 2015

Happy Weekend! E-commerce Weekender is a collection of our favorite e-commerce news of the week from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's paid research service.LUXURY RETAIL IS MOVING ONLINE IN CHINA:Luxury brands and products are shifting their focus to online retail sites in China. High-end retail is already a mature market in China, being thefourth-largest market for luxury shopping in 2014, reportsEuromonitor International. Additionally, about45% of Chinese consumers intend to buy high-end luxury itemsover the next three years, according to a survey fromBain Consulting. Typically, luxury brands have been resistant to engage customers online in order to keep up exclusivity of the items. However, this focus is shifting in China to increase their digital presence.China's biggest name in e-commerce,the Alibaba Group, is investing $100 million in Mei.com, a site for daily deals on luxury itemsand high-end fashion brands, reportsReuters. Alibaba currently offers multiple e-commerce platforms, including its own 'flash sales' site, Juhuasuan. However, its foray into luxury brands has been limited so far. Alibaba's plans for Mei.com include expanding its user base, brand cooperation base, logistic services and IT infrastructure services, according tothe company. Additionally,China-based luxury online retailer Secoo raised $50 million in a financing round led by Ping An Insurance. The insurance company also owns Lufax.com, an online investment site that connects individual investors with small businesses trying to raise funds.This story was originally sent to thousands of professionals in thee-commerceindustry in this morning'sE-COMMERCEINSIDER newsletter. You can join them-- sign up for a RISK-FREE trial now VIRTUAL SHOPPING WILL CHANGE THE E-COMMERCE EXPERIENCE:Online retailers are increasingly coming up with new ways to make the at-home shopping experience as entertaining and comprehensive as going to a brick-and-mortar store. Facebook, Samsung, HTC, HP, and other large tech companies are hard at work developing virtual reality headsets for consumer use. Most of the attention on virtual reality devices to-date has been centered around its impact on the gaming and media industries, but they could also have a major impact on how people shop, according to a 2015 survey conducted byWalker Sands. Thirty-five percent of the survey respondents said they would be open to purchasing more online with virtual reality since it will be a more realistic feel of the product remotely.Japanese online retailer Rakuten recently acquired virtual shopping business, Fits.me, a London-based startup that develops 'virtual fitting rooms', reportsthe company. Fits.me allows online shoppers to create an avatar with their exact measurements to better see how an article of clothing might fall on their body. The virtual fitting rooms give the customer the ability to more accurately visualize how a product would look, and gives them confidence to buy online.FACEBOOK INTEGRATES SHOPPING ASSISTANT FEATURE WITH MESSENGER APP:Personal assistant systems like Siri, Cortana, and Google Now have been marketed as the best way to get something done on a smartphone with minimal effort. But even though you can schedule a dinner date or get directions to the nearest movie theater,AI personal assistants focus mainly on productivity and cannot complete more intricate tasks when it comes to consumer interaction with the e-commerce industry. And the vast selection of retailers and products online has made sifting through all of the options a laborious task for consumers. Thus, the space for digital assistant platforms that help with this process is open and growing.Facebook is launching its own assistant platform called Moneypenny that will run as part of Facebook Messenger, reportsForbes. Instead of using AI technology,users can message a real person to help with researching and buying different products and services online. Little else is known about what Facebook plans to bring to the table with Moneypenny, including how it will charge customers and when it will be launched. Moneypenny is not the first to do this, though. It will directly rivalMagic, an on-demand concierge service that works through text messages. Users anywhere across the US can text a real person at Magic to complete a variety of tasks, like booking airline tickets and ordering groceries for delivery.See some examples of how Magic works:AMAZON LEVERAGES ONE-DAY SALE TO DRAW IN NEW CUSTOMERS:Amazon's 24-hour summer sale for Prime members, called Prime Day, appears to have been a major success for the online retailer. Product orders exceeded that of last year's BlackFridaysale which was open toallAmazon customers (not just Prime members), reportsthe company. But the purpose of Prime Day wasn't so much about generating a large influx of revenue in the short term as it was about generating awareness about its members-only shopping program Prime. Shoppers were able to participate in Prime Day without a subscription by signing up for a free trial, which allowed them to experience all of the shipping perks and discounts that members experience on a daily basis.In fact, Amazon likelylostmoney on Prime Day because of thesteep discounts, but that risk could pay off in the long run by converting more shoppers to Prime memberships. Members of Prime who spend more money on Amazon on average than non-Prime members, according to a report fromMillward Brown.Prime members spend about $1,500 with Amazon each year, while non-Prime members spend about $625 with the retailer annually.Prime members are also much less likely to shop at other retail websites in a single shopping session than non-members.GROCERY E-COMMERCE IS PICKING UP IN CANADA:Consumers in Canada are increasingly turning to the web to shop for groceries, and now institutional retailers like Walmart and Metro are stepping up to meet the demand. Walmart Pickup, the retailer's online grocery ordering service, launched last week in six of its Canadian store locations.Walmart plans to make the service available at an additional five store locations in Canada later this month. Walmart Pickup allows shoppers to order groceries through Walmart's Canadian websiteWalmart.caand then the retailer's store associates will pick and pack the items for the customer to pickup. Orders must be placed 24 hours in advance and exceed $50. Walmart has a similar program in the US called simplyWalmart Grocery.In another sign that online grocery sales are heating up in Canada, Canadian supermarket chain Metro is claiming to have released the first grocery shopping app for the Apple Watch, according toSupermarketNews. Customers can use the app to manage shopping lists and opt-in to receive digital coupons and offers. Apple started shipping the wrist-wearable device in April, and approximately 3 million have sold to-date, according toSlice Intelligence. As retailers expand their grocery shopping offerings, we'll likely see more consumers buying food and beverages online. Currently, 12% of consumers in North America say they already order groceries online and an additional 55% say they would be willing to try,according to Nielsen.Find this article interesting' You can get it delivered to your inbox every morning. Get the jump on your competitors. Try it RISK FREE now Join the conversation about this story
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