Monday, August 20, 2007

Direct .... from China

One of the biggest impacts on the world economy and probably the biggest factor in keeping inflation low in the Western Economies has been the emergence of China as a world's manufacturer of a huge range of quality goods.
The massive importers of goods from China such as Wallmart own dozens of factories there. All the leading retailers have buying offices and visit regularly.
Now medium-sized and small scale retailers, wholesalers and eBay traders have access directly to Chinese manufacturers and traders via DH Gate.
DH Gate have solved the problem of finding, sifting the goods on offer but more importantly have developed an escrow system backed up by a buyers rating system (similar to eBay)which gives buyers complete security that the goods will be as ordered and that payment is only released on satisfaction.
DH Gate have set up a dispute resolution process to deal with transaction problems if and when they arise.
All in all a thoroughly thought through business which is already generating multiple millions of dollars of revenue monthly and listing 2.5million items. All this in only 2 years.
Accelerator invested alongside our friends at Atlas Venture.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Glasses Direct takes on the giant opticians

It is very interesting to note the aggressive price stance being taken in the latest Specsavers press campaign.
Full pages featuring "A massive range for less than £40" - at the "UK's most trusted Optician"
[Source: Readers Digest Most Trusted Brands Survey 2007].
I think this is all very flattering for Glasses Direct, the tiny eCommerce upstart founded by Jamie Murray Wells and backed by Index and TAG amongst others.
A concerted campaign by the UK's leading opticians may slow Glasses Direct down a little but a price war is probably the last thing the high street operators need right now.

The fact is that as more and more consumers start to understand that there is relatively little mystery in buying subscription glasses on the web then Glasses Direct with their - "from the factory to the consumer" approach - is likely to keep taking market share.

Jamie has built his business on a lot more than price. The range is expanding rapidly to embrace fashion products and the service and quality that he is offering is superb.

Glasses is demonstrating a most interesting disruptive approach to a market which has paid little attention to price until recently.

Koodos using FeedCommerce

It is noticible that more and more user actions are being accomodated within the browser - not requiring new web pages to load. This undoubtedly leads to a more satisfying user experience and providing greater stickiness (to use a web 1.0 term) to publishers.
This phenomenon is now moving towards eCommerce and Koodos is an early adopter of this technology with the help of Nooked. Click on the grid below and see that you don't need to leave the publishers page to get product descriptions and price. Only at the point of transaction do you call upon the Koodos site (by all means do so and place an order).

Koodos is an ideal ecommerce application because it specialises in scarce inventory which changes daily so the feed technology keeps the offer current, exciting and relevant.
[Hot tip: If you do go to Koodos before 22nd August, make sure you register for their private sale of Diesel Jeans at only £29.99!]

Edgeio (another company in the TAG portfolio) has recently launched its paid content network enabling publishers to have their content paid for 'within the browser'.

A feature that makes it easier for consumers and publishers is one we are likely to see much more of soon.

If you know of any really great applications of FeedCommerce please comment.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Four out of Ten!!

I sincerely hope the Guardian Newspaper know how to pick winners - in the tech start-up space anyway!
They recently ran a series of articles headed Top 10 Dotcoms to watch. Their picks were:(in alphabetical order)

Social networking for frequent travellers.

Intelligent search of property websites.

Online identity management.

Alternate reality gaming.

Print on demand: cards, notes and stickers.

Map-based property search.

Touch Local
Local directory services.

Trusted Places
User-created local information.

Peer to peer lending.

Recruitment 2.0.

UK based only - of course.

Like all top 10's its bound to be controversial although since TAG is invested in 4 of the 10, we naturally hope they have it about right!

Fizzback shortlisted ...

Fizzback has been shortlisted for in the 'Best Use of Technology' category for the 2007 UK Startup Awards.
This category is for companies which have applied technology to provide an advantage in a traditional market or have come up with a totally new product, solution or service.

Fizzback's idea is brilliantly simple. Consumers comment or provide feedback using digital channels - primarily mobile phones using SMS. The service provider has their finger on the pulse of customers issues and comments in real time - while they are experiencing the service.
Fizzback enables consumer facing companies to capture instant feedback from their customers and convert real time insights into improved acquisition and retention. Some of Fizzbacks clients use the service to identify 'at risk' customers and initiate intervention or communication within minutes.

The powerful Fizzback engine uses artificial intelligence to interpret free form comments and instantly analyses and interprets the feedback delivering it its clients in a format that ensures they receive a continuous and real-time view of their customers’ satisfaction levels, issues and priorities. This is done via a web interface dashboard.

Feedback can give companies a real insight into what their customers are experiencing at the front line. Senior management can’t possibly patrol all their shop floors, train carriages, or hotel foyers. So they rely on feedback to tell them what’s going on. And yet it is often something that companies seem to dread receiving.

If you get to a customer quickly, at the point of the experience, you can not only stop that customer defecting to a competitor, but can actively convert them to loyal advocates. But you have to know that they’re having a bad experience in the first place.

Traditional methods of capturing customer feedback are deficient in many ways. Questionnaires, on or offline, are notoriously unreliable for gathering a real understanding of customers’ future intentions. The feedback form that tells you that a guest at a hotel was ‘satisfied’ with the service, but is it enough to get them to return? What would have changed that view to ‘excellent’?

Fizzback’s research shows that companies using this system have reported a 67 per cent drop in issues and complaints from customers (up to 73 per cent in the retail sector) coming via other methods such as letters of complaint. The immediacy of feedback stops disgruntled customers defecting to a competitor. Some companies use it to identify common problems, for example, with suppliers. If they receive a number of complaints about a particular supplier, it may be that the contract needs reviewing.

Some of the companies using Fizzback - on trial or as part of their ongoing operations and customer experience monitoring are:
Barclays Bank, The National Health, Phones4U, National Express, Bourne Leisure, First Capital Connect.

Interested in reading further, read DM Weekly article