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Content and commerce as a double act: a big new trend emerges in ecommerce

E‑commerce ana­lysts and web con­tent man­agers would do well to note an emerg­ing trend which is attract­ing the inter­est of investors, big time: com­merce and con­tent are no longer ships that sail indif­fer­ent­ly past each oth­er in the night but an audi­ence-build­ing, rev­enue boost­ing dou­ble act. That’s the les­son of huge­ly suc­cess­ful star­tups like One Kings Lane, Fab.com, Bour­bon & Boots and Refin­ery 29, the lat­ter being one of the first ecom­merce ven­tures to prac­tice con­tent com­merce from its launch in 2004 onwards.  These firms are blog­ging about how to get the best out of their prod­ucts, pro­fil­ing design­ers, and gen­er­al­ly pro­vid­ing their e‑commerce sites with a dis­tinct­ly more edi­to­r­i­al slant. A les­son for ecom­merce ana­lysts: killer con­tent draws big invest­ment The invest­ment these ris­ing stars have attract­ed speaks vol­umes.  One Kings Lane, which offers huge dis­counts off the retail price of home décor, has raised more than $113 mil­lion since its launch in 2009, while its younger cousin Fab.com (which was found­ed in New York in 2010) has raised the prince­ly sum of $171 mil­lion – and $120 mil­lion of that came in 2012 alone. Bour­bon & Boots, which sells curat­ed, south­ern-tinged art, music, cloth­ing, home décor and food…

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Beauty products eCommerce startup heads for big brand status with $10.3 million Series B funding

A poten­tial­ly major new beau­ty prod­uct brand is in the mak­ing, thanks to the rise of ecom­merce plat­form and cos­met­ics start­up Julep Beau­ty Incor­po­rat­ed, which has just net­ted Series B fund­ing total­ing $10.3 mil­lion. That’s the kind of fig­ure to stir a hint of envy in the job­bing e‑commerce man­ag­er, e‑commerce ana­lyst and web con­tent man­ag­er, even if they can’t help being impressed.  The fund­ing was led by Andreessen Horowitz but boast­ed a glit­ter­ing list of oth­er par­tic­i­pants, includ­ing ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Maveron and exist­ing investors James Las­siter, Will and Jada Pin­kett Smith and rap artist Jay‑Z’s band Roc Nation. Addic­tive cus­tomer engage­ment Julep is the brain­child of erst­while Star­bucks exec­u­tive Jane Park, who says that her vision was to “bring a new social approach to the beau­ty indus­try by hav­ing a two-way con­ver­sa­tion online with our fans, incor­po­rat­ing their ideas direct­ly into our rapid prod­uct inno­va­tion cycle.” The start­up melds per­son­al rec­om­men­da­tions and social con­nec­tions with beau­ty retail and e‑commerce.  It pro­duces its own brand of lip gloss­es, mois­tur­iz­ers, face creams, mas­caras, lip gloss­es, nail pol­ish­es and oth­er cos­met­ics, all of which are on sale from its site. But what makes Julep a poten­tial­ly dis­rup­tive force in the $160…

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$2 million investment sees Fanplayr help small ecommerce outfits compete with the big beasts

Can­ny e‑commerce ana­lysts and web con­tent man­agers aim­ing to increase their rev­enues might be inter­est­ed in the for­tunes of a Palo Alto-based start­up called Fan­playr, which has just secured seed invest­ment total­ing $2 mil­lion. The two-year-old start­up devotes its ener­gies into dri­ving con­ver­sions on all web­sites offer­ing e‑commerce options.  Essen­tial­ly, its plat­form helps e‑commerce mer­chants ana­lyze their vis­i­tor traf­fic and pin­point the opti­mal tim­ing and val­ue of pur­chase incen­tives.  It also helps sites offer Ama­­zon-style rec­om­men­da­tions. Big con­ver­sions for the small guy Much less has­sle than Google Ana­lyt­ics, Fan­playr pro­vides a lot more guid­ance on how to get the best out of it, too.  It typ­i­cal­ly mon­i­tors e‑commerce site vis­i­tors for a month to get a firm han­dle on their behav­ior before ini­ti­at­ing any action.  Once it’s col­lat­ed the data and built up reli­able pro­files of site vis­i­tors, it springs into action, iden­ti­fy­ing shop­pers who share char­ac­ter­is­tics with actu­al buy­ers but haven’t yet made a pur­chase.  E‑merchants are then giv­en rec­om­men­da­tions on how to con­vert these cau­tious vis­i­tors into cus­tomers. Fanplayr’s CEO, Simon Yenck­en, explains his firm’s approach like this: “We deliv­er an auto­mat­ed report to the eCom­merce site show­ing what we found about vis­i­tor behav­ior on the site, and…

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How The Fancy will Challenge Pinterest

When is a pic­ture worth a $1,000 dol­lars?  When its on The Fan­cy. The new social site The Fan­cy is also try­ing to prove they could be worth a lot of mon­ey. Accord­ing to Busi­ness Insid­er, Apple is in talks to acquire the fast-grow­ing social com­merce site backed by the co-founders of Twit­ter and Face­book. Already being called an archri­val to Pin­ter­est, but with a far small­er group of active mem­bers, The Fan­cy works in a sim­i­lar way. It is a pho­­to-shar­ing web­site that, accord­ing to it’s about page is, “part store, blog, mag­a­zine and wish­list. It’s a place to dis­cov­er great stuff, to curate a col­lec­tion of things you love, to get updates on your favorite brands and stores and to share your dis­cov­er­ies.” While Pin­ter­est ranked 16th on Alexa with 10 mil­lion active users so far in 2012, The Fan­cy dou­bled it’s users in two months to 500,000, mak­ing it the sec­ond largest social scrap­book­ing / pic­ture shar­ing sites online. While Pin­ter­est clear­ly dwarfs The Fan­cy at the moment, some believe a David and Goliath bat­tle is about to occur between the two star­tups. How The Fan­cy can Chal­lenge Pin­ter­est Accord­ing to Forbes.com, there is one main fea­ture…

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Soldsie Makes the F‑Word Work

A San Fran­cis­co start-up wants to put the com­merce in F- Com­merce. These days, the big f‑word on Face­book is “F‑commerce,” or, in two words, “Face­book Com­merce.” As weak­en­ing of the stock has shown, Face­book may not be as valu­able as every­one ini­tial­ly thought, due in part to it’s inabil­i­ty to also be an effec­tive com­merce web­site. Cur­rent­ly even fan pages of brands still must trans­port cus­tomers away from Face­book to anoth­er web­site so they can make a pur­chase. How­ev­er, a San Fran­­cis­­co-based start­up called Sol­dsie is look­ing to change all of that. Last week they launched a social media point-of-sale pro­gram that allows busi­ness­es to sell on Face­book sole­ly by using Face­book com­ments. Accord­ing to TechCrunch.com, the com­pa­ny soft-launched in May and has now reached over one mil­lion dol­lars in trans­ac­tions across a net­work of 75 dif­fer­ent busi­ness­es, run by their social media man­agers. With those types of results in such a short amount of time, it appears Face­book Com­merce may actu­al­ly be pos­si­ble. How Sol­dsie Works As with all great new tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments, like Pay­pal or Face­book itself, the way in which Sol­dsie works is sim­ple. All cus­tomers have to do is go to a company’s fan page,…

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