Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ecommerce: 5 Things You Need To Know


How important is ecommerce to your business? According to reports from comScore,online sales hit $38 billion in the first quarter of 2011, up 12 percent from the same period in 2010; by the third quarter, sales had already risen to $48 billion. And the notoriously big-spending holiday season broke records this past November/December. On Cyber Monday in 2011, online shoppers spent a record-breaking $1.25 billion. By 2015, annual ecommerce sales are projected to hit $278.9 billion.
The ecommerce barrier to entry continues to get lower as more tools pop up to help even the most tech-aversive entrepreneurs go digital. "Almost anybody can set up an online store," says Mark Hayes, head of marketing and public relations at Shopify, which helps business owners establish their own online stores. "You don’t need to raise capital or hire expensive designers and programmers. You can literally go from concept to commerce in just a few minutes for almost no money and with no technical background. It’s called the 'democratization of ecommerce,' whereby what used to cost thousands of dollars and take months of preparation is now more of an afterthought to the development of a product or service. This allows entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they do best and not worry about the complications of ecommerce.”
Hayes says that business owners can no longer afford to ignore the myriad benefits of selling online. "With an ecommerce store, your business is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You don't pay rent or the salaries of sales associates. You don't have any geographical limitations that restrict your customer base, which means you can sell to any country in the world, any time zone and in any language. Also, with shipping companies like ShipWire and Amazon Fulfillment you don't need to worry about storing or shipping your product. You can automate nearly every aspect of the business."

Facebook IPO Furor: Feds Probing Deal Over Insider Bank Warnings

Brendan McDermid / Reuters
Monitors show the value of the Facebook, Inc. stock during morning trading at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York, May 21, 2012.
Facebook’s Wall Street investment banks warned top clients of new doubts about the social network’s financial prospects just days before the company’s IPO, according to a series of reports that emerged Tuesday. After receiving briefings from Facebook executives, analysts at the banks loweredtheir financial forecasts for big institutional clients, some of whom scaled back plans to buy Facebook stock, even as the banks raised the IPO price and number of shares amid a frenzy of hype.
Although Facebook had publicly disclosed mobile advertising challenges, the new revelations raised questions about whether Facebook’s underwriters selectively disclosed information that gave favored clients an unfair advantage over other investors. The revelations, which came as Facebook shares plunged nearly 9% Tuesday, drew immediate scrutiny from federal regulators as well as a subpoena from Massachusetts officials. Now, Facebook has been hit with a shareholder lawsuit for concealing negative information ahead of the offering. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq stock exchange faced a growing chorus of anger — and a class action lawsuit — over its botched handling of the IPO, which has already become the worst-performing three-day start for an offering over $1 billion in the last five years.
Facebook’s highly-vaunted IPO — which was supposed to be a shining moment for the social network, as well as its lead banker Morgan Stanley and the Nasdaq exchange — has morphed into a debacle that’s reinforced some of the worst stereotypes about Wall Street: that corporate executives and their bankers engineer IPOs to maximize profits at the public’s expense; that Wall Street’s own systems have become too complex for its personnel to handle; and that the entire game is a hype-fueled casino, rigged for the house with a sucker played by the average investor.

Colin Powell: I Have 'No Problem With' Gay Marriage (VIDEO)

Colin Powell Gay Marriage
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell became the latest public official to back gay marriage on Wednesday.
"I have no problem with it," he said on CNN, "and it was the Congress that imposed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, though it was certainly my position and my recommendation to get us out of an even worse outcome that could have occurred, as you’ll recall."
"But as I’ve thought about gay marriage, I know a lot of friends who are individually gay but are in partnerships with loved ones, and they are as stable a family as my family is, and they raise children. And so I don’t see any reason not to say that they should be able to get married," he said.
Powell flipped and announced his support for the repeal of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy in February 2010 after opposing efforts in the 1990s to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Earlier Wednesday, Powell slammed Mitt Romney's foreign policy advisers for their hawkish views. He has declined thus far to endorse a presidential candidate in 2012 after endorsing Barack Obama in 2008.