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The rise and rise of gourmet cook-at-home meal-kit subscription service Blue Apron

Busy e‑commerce man­agers, like every­one after hard day’s work, need to eat when they arrive home quak­ing with hunger. How­ev­er, decid­ing what to cook can be a drag, espe­cial­ly if you need to go back out to the gro­cery store to fetch that all-impor­­tant garam masala or turmer­ic. New York e‑commerce start­up Blue Apron is tak­ing the strain out of home cook­ing for busy pro­fes­sion­als with its sub­scrip­tion deliv­ery ser­vice of mouth­wa­ter­ing meal kits that top chefs would approve of. Every e‑commerce manager’s dream  Accord­ing to For­tune, the start­up, which launched in 2012, is about to close a Series C round esti­mat­ed to be between $40million and $50million, and a $500million val­u­a­tion. It’s got some com­pe­ti­tion, to be sure (New York neigh­bor Plat­ed being one), but it seems to be get­ting a lot right. While some rivals, like Los Ange­les-based Pop­Up Pantry, have gone to the wall, Blue Apron is going from strength to strength. At the end of March, it announced it was serv­ing half a mil­lion meals per month – way up from the 100,000 per month it was deliv­er­ing in August last year. At $10 per meal, that trans­lates into a rev­enue run rate of $60 mil­lion.…

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Ecommerce startup Fab gets over half its Christmas Day revenue from mobile

Fab.com has become one of those jaw-drop­ping suc­cess sto­ries capa­ble of evok­ing twinges of envy and awe-struck admi­ra­tion at once; just over a year since its trans­for­ma­tion from gay social net­work to high-fly­­ing, design-focused e‑commerce site, it’s announced record-break­ing U.S. rev­enue for Christ­mas Day from its mobile apps alone. In news that will leave many an aspir­ing e‑commerce man­ag­er, web con­tent man­ag­er and e‑commerce ana­lyst sit­ting back open mouthed, Fab has just declared that no less than 56 per cent of the thriv­ing startup’s US rev­enue on Christ­mas Day came via its mobile apps, the largest sin­­gle-day cash-inflow it’s seen to date. Mak­ing mobile work Fab’s co-founder and CEO, Jason Gold­berg, has placed much empha­sis on the poten­tial of mobile apps to dri­ve busi­ness.  The company’s first apps were launched in Octo­ber 2011 and exact­ly one year lat­er, they con­tributed 33 per cent of the site’s vis­its and 33 per cent of its sales.  Gold­berg was con­fi­dent then that mobile would short­ly gen­er­ate 50 per cent of the site’s rev­enue.  It turns out he was wrong – it just deliv­ered over 50 per cent in a sin­gle day. There’s still some way to go before Goldberg’s vision is tru­ly real­ized…

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Amazon does about turn on Kindle Fire HD “no opt for ads” policy

Ama­zon has deft­ly engi­neered a swift volte-face after near­ly shoot­ing itself in the foot over the launch of the new Kin­dle Fire HD: pur­chasers will now be giv­en the option of declin­ing ads after all. The e‑commerce giant con­firmed late last week that ads would be dis­played on the Kin­dle HD’s lock screen with­out giv­ing cus­tomers the option of declin­ing them. Mar­ket­ing coup or a farce? It doesn’t take a high-fly­­ing e‑commerce ana­lyst or senior e‑commerce man­ag­er to tell that this was a seri­ous­ly flawed strat­e­gy: as Busi­ness Insid­er jour­nal­ist Steve Kovach observed, com­pul­so­ry full col­or, media-rich ads are far more obtru­sive than the ads on the black-and-white Kin­dle, which he con­sid­ered a “small price to pay” for a low-cost e‑reader.  But in a prod­uct aimed at rival­ing the iPad, it seems like an act of self-sab­o­­tage. Com­ment­ing on the sit­u­a­tion Kovach wrote: “I guar­an­tee lock­ing users into a forced ad-view­ing expe­ri­ence is going to ruf­fle a lot of feath­ers, espe­cial­ly since Ama­zon’s pol­i­cy with oth­er devices allows the cus­tomers to opt out.” Could this be a promis­ing coup turn­ing to farce before it’s real­ly begun? Not many prod­ucts can reach the sky in a lead bal­loon. The prod­uct is…

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New Polaris search engine is already swelling Wal-Mart’s coffers

Polaris, the new site search tool recent­ly launched by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is already gen­er­at­ing extra rev­enue after just three months. The revamped algo­rithm for Walmart.com’s site search engine dis­plays results based on three mea­sures of prod­uct pop­u­lar­i­ty: most recent­ly pur­chased, most post­ed about on Face­book and most pos­i­tive reviews.  Items which oth­er cus­tomers have recent­ly searched for or clicked on are also dis­played. Smart search­ing The new search engine, which was built over ten months by just 15 engi­neers in @WalMartLabs (the company’s team of mobile and e‑commerce plat­form staff), pro­vides plen­ty of food for thought for the inno­v­a­tive e‑commerce ana­lyst and e‑commerce man­ag­er alike. The Labs’ vice pres­i­dent, Sri Sub­ra­ma­ni­am, said that it under­stands cus­tomer intent much bet­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor, Ende­ca, adding, “retail­ers embrac­ing e‑commerce have to very quick­ly turn into tech com­pa­nies — and search is the crown jew­el of this.” In an inter­view with the AllThingsD.com, Sub­ra­ma­ni­am revealed that, since its imple­men­ta­tion just three months ago, Wal-Mart’s online sales have surged by 10 to 15 per­cent. Depart­ing from the con­ven­tion­al search tech­nol­o­gy used by oth­er bricks-and-mor­­tar stores for their e‑commerce wings, Polaris has tak­en a leaf out of pure­ly online retail­ers’ design books.  E‑commerce enti­ties…

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Can marketing hurt e‑commerce businesses?

The phrase “if some­thing seems too good to be true, it usu­al­ly is” is a com­mon one, and even applies to the world of elec­tron­ic com­merce. Whilst week­end sales might be good for con­sumers, as well as online adver­tis­ing cam­paigns intend­ed to boost sales by offer­ing ludi­crous dis­counts, the truth is that such tac­tics can often back­fire gen­er­at­ing a set of cir­cum­stances that can dam­age both high street and online busi­ness­es. Week­end crowds, long lines at the reg­is­ter and under­staffed depart­ments give con­sumers a very bad shop­ping expe­ri­ence, and online deals are not exempt either – par­tic­u­lar­ly if a rush of traf­fic crash­es the site’s check­out sys­tem. The groupon effect  The “groupon effect” is an exam­ple of this. This sees aggres­sive mar­ket­ing cam­paigns — which have been set in motion with­out ade­quate prepa­ra­tion or real­is­tic man­age­ment of expec­ta­tions for the busi­ness own­er or the shop­per — send­ing sales into over­drive. The prob­lem is that a shop can end up being over­whelmed by the sud­den del­uge of con­sumers who arrive in order to redeem a group coupon. This can lead to the busi­ness receiv­ing very poor online reviews instead of the sales boost and increased brand recog­ni­tion that had been the…

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