Millions of US businesses have a poor, outdated internet presence

Oddly enough, at the centre of the Internet universe, millions of SMEs have an outdated or non-existent online presence.

While many of the world's best examples of ebusiness are in the US, SMEs have been left behind, "favouring coupons, local advertising and circulars".

This presents an opportunity for savvy SMEs - since local, regional and even State keyword markets are not as firecely contested as equivalent markets in the UK and Australia.

They are also less likely to access overseas markets than their British and European counterparts.

bcg.perspectives - Unlocking the Digital-Marketing Potential of Small Businesses

Twenty-three million small businesses power the U.S. economy. They account for half of all sales in the United States today and have created two-thirds of all net new jobs since the 1970s.

But these companies are not leaders in the online-advertising world. A survey of 550 small-business owners by The Boston Consulting Group found that only 3 percent of their advertising budgets flows online. Small-business advertising dollars are still primarily spent on traditional marketing vehicles, such as Sunday circulars and coupon mailers


Author Interview: Kenneth Cukier, co-author of "big data"

Charles Duhigg in his book the power of habit and reporter at the New York Times uncovered a story about data mining customer purchases to see if they could "target" excuse the pun, specific leaflets to specific households, pre-emptimg certain purchases. One of the biggest sale times for a company like Target occurs around the time of pregnancy and birth. However, Target didn't want to simply send out a leaflet saying BUY ALL YOUR BABY GOODS HERE. They interspersed baby items along with what may have seemed like innocuous items, such a fruit or toilet rolls.

Author Interview: Kenneth Cukier, Co-Author Of 'Big Data' : NPR

"There was an example of a father coming in to a store and complaining that the teenage daughter was receiving fliers in the mail for coupons for baby products. And he said, 'What are you trying to do? Trying to get my teenage daughter pregnant?' And of course the way it ends is that he comes back later and apologizes, and says, 'It turns out there were things in my house that I wasn't aware of.' Now the story may be apocryphal. It may not be real. But the fact is, this is the sort of universe that we are now going to be in — we're all going to be in — because of Big Data. And all stores will be doing this, and all governments will be doing this. Your doctor will do this. Your employer will do this. This is the new norm."

Of course Target isn't the only one using Big Data. A colleague shops at Woolworths and has a rewards card. So she was a little surprised (though grateful) when she received an email advising her that one of the items she had purchased had been recalled and to return it to the store for a full refund.


Set up a tab to pay using Facebook as your reference

One of the founders of Paypal has launched an app. called 'affirm'.

This re-envisions the buying process and is aimed at "impulse time-poor shoppers".

There's an online and an in-store process.

Using your smartphone, you "tap. tap. buy".

Because, "It should be easier to buy from your mobile phone, not harder."

They claim, "The Affirm button appears at checkout and can transform the payment experience from as many as 170 inputs to as few as two taps to complete a purchase. It’s supposed to be this easy.

Interestingly, it is not actually a payment gateway process (they don't collect the money).

Your credit is "checked" via Facebook and you are granted a tab with 30 days to pay.

PayPal founder creates two-tap checkout for smartphones (Wired UK)

Max Levchin -- one of the founders of PayPal -- has launched a new payment service designed to let users make purchases on their smartphones using a "two-tap checkout".

Big Data in 1854

Very interesting take on the "origins" of Big Data, and why today's exabyte was yesterday's megabyte.

Big data in the age of the telegraph - McKinsey Quarterly - Organization - Strategic Organization

‘Big data,’ then and now

Just as information now floods into companies by the tera-, peta-, and exabyte, during the mid-19th century, governments, businesses, and universities produced and grappled with what one historian has called an “avalanche of numbers.”3 To be sure, McCallum’s rail lines may not have generated even a megabyte of information. But this was indeed big data for him and his senior deputies, who were managing a system of unprecedented proportions. Although the telegraph’s speed made more information available, organizing and acting on it became increasingly difficult. One delayed train, for example, could disrupt the progress of many others. And the stakes were high: with engines pulling cars in both directions along a single set of rails, schedule changes risked the deadly crashes that plagued 19th-century railroads.


Living with the threat of disruption

In 2012 an estimated 35% of Americans engaged in "showrooming" (the practice of using bricks-and-mortar businesses to view products that are subsequently bought online).

US research firm Placed, has commissioned research into the most at-risk retailers. You can download the findings here.

The findings are perhaps not surprising - Amazon being a large beneficiary of the practice. In the US, the bricks and mortar giants - such as Toys R Us and Best Buy - are responding to online discounting through price matching. In the UK, Comet and a number of other former retail giants are no longer trading. Their failure to respond quickly enough, coupled with their high cost base gave them little scope to respond effectively to the threat.