Did Google shoot itself in the foot with the new App Streaming feature?

Earlier this month, Google announced the release of a new, long awaited feature, called App-Streaming, which will enable mobile users to search for in-app content and browse through the app without having to download it (it’s ‘streamed’ to the smartphone). According to Marketing Land‘s Danny Sullivan app streaming will remove the biggest barrier between mobile users and new apps, which is the obligatory downloading. This, in turn, will pave the way for the ‘web of apps’.

google-rankbrain-624x296

 

Why is this such a ground breaking move? Because despite the robust penetration of mobile and the fact it is bigger than desktop, the mobile online experience is as fragmented as the World Wide Web was in its early days, when content was consumed via a handful of services that were disconnected from one another, according to Sullivan. Contemporary mobile apps are the same – and without us even noticing, the use of mobile apps is as limited as the use of the young web was.

 

Discovery of new content/products/etc. is the prime casualty of this limitation because real ‘discovery’ does not exist in the mobile world as we know it. Mobile users can discover, but only as long as it is done within the boundaries of an app, or linked directly to it:

Content is discovered on Facebook, videos on YouTube, apparel on Pinterest, and so on. If users of one of these apps would like to ‘stroll’ away they will enter the realm of the mobile-web, where they will not last long. Hence, the further away from a source app a mobile user will usually venture is a single mobile web step (e.g. from FB to Mashable website, but not from Mashable to another page).

 

App streaming is now in an experimental phase, but it is clear that within a few months it will be available for everyone searching through Google on mobile. How long will it take for this concept to be implemented by Facebook, and then by all mobile apps as a norm?

My guess is that not long, and once it’ll be widespread we will be able move between apps like we move between sites. The world of discovery and the mobile experience will meet, opening the door for true mobile discovery, one that is not limited to a single step’s distance from Google results, Facebook posts or Pinterest Products photos.

Will we start seeing native content advertising that will take us between apps?

Decentralized content discovery services like Outbrain and Taboola are just 2 examples for services that will benefit from this move, as apps will enable content discovery between themselves. Did Google shoot itself in the foot? On one hand the equation is simple: more discovery=less search. On the other hand I’m hesitant of foreseeing that Google will be impacted from this move, because Discovery is a direction Google is also taking (e.g. Google Now). One thing is certain – with so many players and the obvious need from the users, it will not be boring.

 

P.S.

It will be interesting to see how will this trend impact the parallel-but-somewhat-opposite trend of the buy buttons and the ‘inhousing’ of a broadening array of online experiences under a single roof, because app streaming lowers the barriers to buy products outside of Facebook and Google.

 

 

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UberRush and Shopify’s real opponent – Amazon Prime

Uber-and-Shopify-vs-Amazon

Uber and Shopify announced yesterday about a new cooperation in which UberRUSH, Uber’s year-and-a-half-old local delivery service, will be used to make same day deliveries of packages from Shopify retailers to their clients (in the same city).

The Wall Street Journal analyzed the new initiative comparing it to FedEx, in attempt to understand if and how UberRUSH threatens FedEx’s delivery business (spoiler – it doesn’t).

I think WSJ got it wrong – FedEx is not the enemy, Shopify and Uber have a different goal in mind -undermining Amazon Prime’s dominance in same-day delivery service.

As part of our day to day work in DandyLoop we talk to hundreds of retailers. Many of them barely make a living between selling through Amazon, operating their own independent online store, or both. Very few of them will tell you they enjoy selling through Amazon – they don’t have control over their customers, they are at constant risk of being overrun by Amazon that can start selling their products if they are successful, and the fees don’t make things easier.

However they all agree – Amazon Prime is a prime reason to keep selling through Amazon. Despite the additional cost – the retailers testify that sales are simply higher with Prime, and they don’t want to give that up.

Shopify’s growth is based heavily on small retailers that today sell through Amazon. Providing a substitute to Prime is a smart move by the growing eCommerce platform, and might prove to be a real game changer in the struggle that exists between giant marketplaces like Amazon, and eCommerce platforms like Shopify.

Don’t get me wrong – Amazon Prime is far from being threatened by UberRush and Shopify. The service only operates in three cities (NY, Chicago and SF) and it doesn’t yet have the end to end coverage Prime has (e.g. storage). However, the trend should worry Amazon’s execs – given the need among independent retailers, and with the push of Shopify and similar ecommerce platforms, this incomplete service will most likely evolve, improve, and grow into a real substitute to one of the main services that keep Amazon ahead of the crowd.

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What Happens When An Image Winks At You

The other day I passed through a great online-store that sold uniquely designed socks.

As always I expected to see some images of the product, some text, a price, a recomm….WAIT!! It looks like something there is moving in the picture. ‘It’s nothing – ‘it’s just in my mind’, I thought to myself. So I put my finger on the screen, started to apply the pressure that will take me to the next product…THERE IT IS AGAIN! By then I knew for sure that this is no hallucination! I focused my look at the beautiful image. Indeed – it’s moving!

This online store I was just passing through got my attention, the most valuable thing for any online store.

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What is this?

A merge  between a GIF and an image, Cinemagraph is a relatively new type of visual experience that has very little to do with either of its two parenting elements. And though with us since 2011, it never became a format we’re used to seeing a lot, even though we would expect it to be more widespread by now.

In a recent eConsultancy article, Kasia Piekut talks about this rarely used type of image, only a few eCommerce sites today take advantage of it to lift their brand and sales, and that’s where its potential lies.

We are used to seeing either still images, or movies (whether they are feature long or GIF short, all movies share the same common denominator – we expect something to happen [with some exceptions]). This is why the first impact of seeing a Cinemapraph in an online store is so mesmerizing!

Recently, while passing in front of one of Macy’s display windows in Manhattan, my eye was caught by a group of mannequins whose dresses were waving in a wind coming from a fan the store had placed nearby. Like the first Cinemagraph in this article, this mild movement not only caught my eye, it also made the summery dresses seem even more so.

coco-balcony-429

The Cinemagraph’s positive effect is based on three elements:

  1. Visitors are not used to seeing such images. Similar to the impact short videos had on content sites, the novelty of the Cinemagraph makes it valuable. But like all novel things – it cannot be so forever. The first ones who use it (as stated, some already do) will have the most value.
  2. It’s yet another way to add depth to an image, and better convey the message – whether it’s spring, seriousness, luxury, etc.
  3. It’s alive! Our eye is naturally drawn to moving things. Using videos instead of images will overshoot our goal many times. cinemagraph addresses that need.

 

How you can use it yourself:

There are a few resources for Cinemagraphs like Gihpy, or freecinemagraphs. However, if you’re looking to create Cinemagraphs for your own products, you will need to create them from scratch, either using tools like Flixel & CineGif, or photoshop.

 

PS: My personal opinion is that we need to find a new name for Cinemagraphs. I think this a too long, not sexy name and might falsely project that it’s difficult to use and harm its adoption.

 

Read the econsultancy article that talks about Cinemagraphs.

Some more beautiful examples:

louboutin-stamp-429 louboutin-green-shoes-429 AnimatedPhotos15_thumb AnimatedPhotos32_thumb5739526869_e47d3616f3_o_thumb

Not many people are aware of this tool – share and let them know!

Images Credit: cinemagraphseconsultancytripwiremagazine
 
 
 
 

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How Many Online Stores Are There?

How big is your store compared to all the stores in the world? Click here to see.

(Reading time: 5.5 minutes). 

We’re already in the holiday season of 2014, and a question we get asked a lot at DandyLoop is ‘how many online stores are there?’, not only in the US, not on a specific platform, but rather all online stores. So, especially for the coming holiday season, we checked:

The number of online stores isn’t directly monitored by anybody, so what we can do is calculate. Since there are many inaccuracies and assumptions, and yet to answer this questions as accurately as possible, we use 2 existing analyses and utilize two angles of attack.

 

1st angle of attack: The Power law

In a remarkable post, Dinesh Raju took the US top 500 retailers with their respective revenues, and plotted a power rule from which we can deduce the overall number of online stores based on their revenues even if they’re not one of the top-500.

power_law_curve_2012

Source: http://blog.referralcandy.com/

We can learn that in 2013 (the year in which that post was written) there were 576,000 online stores in the US with more than $1,000 annual revenues. However, the field is growing fast – so how many stores are there now? Applying the 2012-2013 growth rate (13.5%) will result in 654,033 online stores in 2014 with more than $1k annual revenues.

But wait, this is based on US top 500 retailers, not the worldwide top 500. Does this mean there are 654,033 online stores in the US alone? Well, being the dominant market, there is not much difference between US top 500 retailers and the world top 500 retailers – the vast majority of them are Americans (plus, the power rule calculation ignores the top 10 stores so Alibaba is not calculated). This means we can assume the worldwide power law is close enough to US’s for us to take them as one. Meaning there are 650,000+ revenue generating ($1k annually) online stores.

Want to know how big your store is compared to all the stores in the world? Use our calculator

2nd angle of attack: The Survey

According to a survey conducted by Tom Robertshaw, we learn there are about 47,000 online stores in the Alexa top 1 million sites, which is 4.7% of the million biggest sites on the internet.

Does that 4.7% ratio of the top million sites continues to all internet sites? First, let’s talk about what does ‘all sites’ mean: The Pareto principle (80% of the effects originate from 20% of the causes) is extremely distorted once we go online – trailing the top websites, there is an extremely long tail with almost no traffic. For example, online advertisers have very little interest in sites with an Alexa rank higher than 50,000 (over 99.995% of sites). The long tail of websites’ size according to their Alexa rank starts very soon in the count and by time it reaches 1,000,000 there’s very little change in the size of sites and the graph is practically flat. This leads us to assume that the 4.7% ratio of ecommerce to regular sites we see in Alexa top 1m is kept for Alexa 10m and also 100m count (i.e. – 4.7% of all websites are eCommerce sites)

Let’s go mathematical and validate this ratio in front of the power law (from our first angle of attack) using our own data: From what we know from DandyLoop’s clients: stores with annual revenues of around $20k, have an Alexa rank of 1,500,000-1,900,000 (an average of 1,700,000). Crunching $20k annual revenues in the power law results in these stores being the 72,000 largest eCommerce sites. 72,000 online stores spread across 1.7 million sites result in a ratio of 72,000/1,700,000=4.24%, pretty close to the survey’s 4.7% estimation which we were trying to validate.

Now the question is how many online sites are there worldwide. According to TekEye there is anywhere between 108,000,000 sites to 860,000,000 sites worldwide. TekEye explain the variance in that the higher figure counts the sub-domains (e.g. xxx.google.com), and the 108m counts as the number of hosts, making the real number of sites likely to be much closer to 108m than to 860m.

Based on the 4.7% ratio, 108m sites gives us 5m online stores and 860m result in 40m online stores. I can try to speculate that the result is most likely somewhere in the low-middle, meaning there are probably 12-24 million online stores, from which only 650k have an annual revenue higher than $1,000k – this will make sense given the long tail nature of online stores in the top 650k.

Want to know how big your store is compared to all the stores in the world? Use our calculator

Summary:

Based on the power law pulled from US top 500 retailers we calculated there are slightly more than 650,000 revenue generating (>$1k annually) online stores worldwide.

Based on a survey for the number of online stores in the Alexa top 1 million, the number of websites on the internet, and a sample of stores which use DandyLoop, we calculated that  the overall number of online stores is 12-24 million.

We see eCommerce is growing in an incredible rate. With the proliferation of tools that lower the barriers for opening online stores – this growth of eCommerce can be shared by anyone, not only the big players.

Assumptions used for the calculations:

  1. US top 500 retailers ≈ WorldWide top 500 retailers (not including the top 10 in each list)
  2. The power law that applies for the top 500 retailers is effective for rest of the list.
  3. The ratio of webSites/webStores in the Alexa top 1 million is the same for all webSites/WebStores.

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