US: Retail shops lose out to thriving online market

BUSINESS & ECONOMY
01:46Jan 27, 2017
More and more Americans are opting to shop from the comfort of their own homes or offices. And while online retailers are thriving, many traditional shops are facing serious challenges. Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher reports from Miami.

http://video.aljazeera.com/channels/eng/videos/us%3A-retail-shops-lose-out-to-thriving-online-market/5299923427001;jsessionid=47BC5D2DFF630FBF6BFE214E94E9BEC0
 

An overwhelming number of retailers are losing money chasing Amazon

An overwhelming number of retailers are losing money chasing Amazon

Krystina Gustafson@KrystinaGustafs

Thursday, 23 Feb 2017 | 12:01 AM ETCNBC.com

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Wal-Mart vs. Amazon: Which is the better buy?  Tuesday, 21 Feb 2017 | 4:38 PM ET | 03:49

Brick-and-mortar retailers are becoming more competitive online by providing tighter delivery windows and offering the option to pick up digital orders in-store.

There's only one problem.

As they invest billions of dollars to close the gap with Amazon, the overwhelming majority of traditional retailers still hasn't figured out how to profitably fill orders that incorporate both the web and the store.

According to a new report by JDA Software and PwC, only 10 percent of the 350 global retailers surveyed are making money fulfilling these types orders. They're plagued by high delivery costs, rising return rates and the labor required to pull merchandise from shelves for in-store pickup.

The challenges are even greater for retailers outside of the U.S. and U.K., which have invested more time and money in these strategies.

JDA's findings come just days after Macy's warned that its margins will decline each quarter this fiscal year due to increased shipping costs. They come roughly a month after Urban Outfitters and Target said greater digital demand cut into their margins over the holidays.

The survey results underscore the delicate balance retailers navigate in meeting customers' growing demands while protecting their margins — something Wall Street has given Amazon a pass on. That's partly because Amazon is able to offset its shipping costs through its Web Services platform.

"Retailers now need to balance the effectiveness and profitability of the fulfillment channels they offer with customer satisfaction," Lee Gill, JDA's group vice president of global retail strategy, said in a statement.

"If shoppers experience a problem with home delivery or in-store pickups, that is a lost sale – and customer – that retailers can't afford in a highly competitive market," he said.

As retailers work to tilt the profitability scale back in their favor, 62 percent told JDA they plan to raise the minimum spending requirement for free standard home delivery over the next year. Separately, 55 percent said they will raise the minimum order value required for in-store pickup.

Several CEOs will also decrease their investments in areas that are becoming too burdensome on their bottom lines – most notably, same-day delivery.

Of course, these trends will not apply to every retailer. They're also more prevalent in international markets, as U.S. customers have come to expect perks like free shipping.

"Customer expectation for things like free shipping and free returns have pushed U.S. retailers away from charging for these services. If anything they've reduced their minimums," Jim Prewitt, vice president of retail industry strategy at JDA, told CNBC.

Indeed, in just the past month, Wal-Mart lowered customers' minimum spending requirement for free shipping from $50 to $35. Amazon responded by trimming its minimum order threshold from $49 to $35 for shoppers who don't subscribe to its Prime service.

Following Wal-Mart's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings release on Tuesday, CEO Doug McMillion told investors the company has already seen a "nice uptick" in its digital sales since rolling out its change.

"We've got the right building blocks in place," Marc Lore, president and CEO of Wal-Mart's U.S. eCommerce division, told reporters on a separate call. "We're moving as fast as we possibly can."

Fast and online fashion leaves retailers chasing sales and juggling debt

BY BLOOMBERG NEWS

Highly leveraged apparel chains struggle amid shifting consumer habits.

(Bloomberg)—Visitors to the newly redeveloped Kings Plaza shopping mall in Brooklyn later this year will encounter new, multilevel Primark and Zara stores. Names not on the directory? Debt-laden older brands such as J. Crew, Rue21 and True Religion.

“Euro fast fashion,” featuring trendy clothing that can move from catwalks to stores in mere weeks, has taken the U.S. by storm, and distressed specialty apparel retailers are among the biggest casualties. Their business models and balance sheets are in tatters, especially at smaller and slower chains that jacked up debt during leveraged buyouts.

Besides fast fashion, traditional chains are being hurt by the quickening shift to online shopping as competitors led by Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, lure away consumers with free shipping and the convenience of buying from their sofas.

“Today’s customers think differently,” says S&P Global Ratings analyst Helena Song. “It’s so easy to lose your customers, and they never look back.”

The shift in consumer habits has left plenty of apparel retailers short on cash just when they need it to buy updated systems and keep their shelves constantly refreshed to keep pace with their newer, nimbler rivals. The result has been the biggest spate of restructurings and bankruptcies since the Great Recession. There are more on the way.

“Companies that have the highest leverage are going to be the least able to address those challenges and invest the capital necessary to explore different strategies and evolve the business models,” says Chris Grubb, a managing director in Greenhill & Co.’s restructuring group who focuses on struggling retailers. “There will continue to be a slew of these smaller filings.”

Moody’s Investors Service lists 18 retail and apparel names as “very high credit risk.” That’s “the highest number I can remember since certainly the recession, and I don’t recall us getting to that level even then,” said Moody’s analyst Charles O’Shea.

Younger shoppers have gravitated to fast fashion brands not only because they’re more affordable but also because they’re able to quickly capture the latest looks and make them available in a fraction of the time traditional merchants need. Cheaper prices also mean customers of these brands, sometimes referred to as disposable fashion, have come to expect an ever-changing assortment.

The competition exacerbates the crunch at companies like J. Crew Group Inc. (No. 49 in the Top 500) as they scrounge for cash to respond. The most immediate risk is for chains that are smaller, highly levered, and often private equity-owned, Greenhill’s Grubb said. J. Crew, Claire’s Stores Inc. (No. 455), Gymboree Corp. (No. 365), Rue21 Inc. (No. 453) and True Religion Apparel Inc., No. 705 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 1000, the five most troubled companies on S&P’s list of retailers on negative outlook, all fit that profile with credit ratings deep in junk territory.

Some have sought breaks from creditors such as debt swaps and extended loans or hired financial and legal advisers for restructurings.

J. Crew, backed by private-equity sponsors TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners LP after a 2011 buyout, added two directors with restructuring expertise to the board this month as the value of its $1.5 billion term loan was sinking toward 55 cents on the dollar. High leverage is also squeezing chains less affected by fast fashion. Claire’s, bought by Apollo Global Management LLC in 2007, has repeatedly squared off with creditors over new terms, and Gymboree, laboring under debt from its Bain Capital buyout in 2010, has said it’s looking into refinancing or repurchasing senior notes.

Representatives for True Religion and Rue21 declined to comment, while representatives for J. Crew, Gymboree and Claire’s didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Fast fashion is an expensive proposition for traditional specialty merchants, who are often lagging behind on replacing stale inventory or are sacrificing merchandise quality, S&P’s analysts said.

“A lot of them are hamstrung by their supply chains,” S&P’s Robert Schultz says. “Even high-end brands are going into fast fashion.”

Less-indebted apparel names, while still facing the same secular pressures, are better equipped to adapt. American Eagle Outfitters Inc. (No. 63), for example, managed to keep 2016 revenue growing through Oct. 29. The teen fashion merchandiser has virtually no debt, with just $8 million drawn on a $400 million revolver.

Bigger problems

Specialty apparel shouldn’t expect a break anytime soon. Holiday retail sales increased 4% in 2016 to $658 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, with nonstore sales growing faster than forecast at 12.6%. Department stores are struggling to face the changing industry too, with Sears Holdings Corp. (No. 14), Bon-Ton Stores Inc. (No. 169) and Neiman Marcus Group (No. 36) all on the S&P list of highest-risk companies with negative outlooks. Many of the chains are closing stores to cope with sluggish mall traffic, with Sears planning to shutter another 150 locations. A representative for Sears declined to comment; the other two chains didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Malls may also come under pressure as closing retailers leave them with empty storefronts and broken leases. More than 10 percent of U.S. retail space, or nearly 1 billion square feet, may need to be closed, converted to other uses or renegotiated for lower rent in coming years, according to data provided to Bloomberg by CoStar Group.

Trade policy reform under President Donald Trump’s new administration could cause further pain by making it more expensive to import apparel, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Poonam Goyal wrote in a report this week. More than 90% of apparel purchased in the U.S. is produced abroad, and additional import costs could hurt retailers’ margins, according to the report.

Why easy and cheap e-commerce is a big plus for small business

Published originally by BDC

Canadian consumers are buying more and more goods online. Yet while most Canadians are online, many Canadian business aren't there yet—meaning much of our spending is going to companies in the United States.

In fact, Statistics Canada says that just 10% of small businesses were selling online in 2012. At the same time, Canadian consumers spent an estimated $21 billion on online purchases—that's up nearly 30% in just two years, according to research firm eMarketer.

Get your feet wet

The good news: It’s never been easier or cheaper to get started in e-commerce. No longer do businesses need to invest huge sums in an e-commerce website. You can create a sales-ready site with no programming knowledge using free services such as OpenCart and PrestaShop, or inexpensive providers such as Shopify and eBay Stores.

These sites come with an online shopping cart, product catalogues and the ability to pay via credit cards or other methods, such as PayPal. Also included are options for customer reviews and feedback, and data on your sales to help you track performance. "If you know how to use e-mail, you can build an e-commerce site in 15 minutes," says Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer at Shopify, a leading e-commerce website provider.

E-commerce can level the playing field for small businesses, including those in small towns, Finkelstein notes. Online sales allow you to punch far above your weight in attracting customers. With a well-designed website, a small business can reach as many people online as a much larger company. Plus, your site can be seen worldwide 24 hours a day, and Internet marketing tends to be cheaper than traditional methods.

"The Internet has democratized entrepreneurship," Finkelstein adds. "Thanks to the Internet, I think the future of commerce belongs to small businesses." Another advantage: E-commerce lets businesses test products and marketing approaches at little cost, while getting quick feedback from potential customers.

The online advantage

Unlike a bricks-and-mortar store, where you might be stuck with the same product display for months because of the investment, an e-commerce site can be changed for free in minutes to include new products or a different look, Finkelstein says. You can then quickly check your web traffic data to see how clients are responding to your changes.

E-commerce allows the kind of trial and error that entrepreneurs often need to do before succeeding. "One of the advantages of online sales is you can pivot quickly," says Finkelstein.

Anita Bezeau, Assistant Vice President of Information and Communication Technology Solutions at BDC, agrees. "The cost of entry is very low," she says. "The Internet allows you to try and fail and learn."

Selling over the Internet helps streamline order processing, reducing costs and errors, Bezeau adds. And it offers businesses a "huge competitive edge" because of the convenience of online ordering, she says. "The more convenience you create for clients, the more they’ll stick with your business."

3 tips for e-commerce success

1. Start small

Don’t get bogged down trying to create a huge, high-end website featuring hundreds of products. Start with a free or low-cost e-commerce site, and test three or four products to gauge customer interest while working out the kinks in your ordering and fulfilment process.

2. Test and learn

Don’t expect to succeed with your first efforts. "It’s really about learning," BDC’s Anita Bezeau says. "Technology allows us to do and test quickly and economically."

3. Be attractive

In your online store, feature attractive product images, clear descriptions and an easily navigable layout, so visitors can quickly find what they’re looking for and make a purchase. Also, engage visitors with fun and educational extras: How-to tips for products, interesting videos and background information on the story of your company.

74 Percent of Small Business Websites Have No eCommerce

Jun 9, 2016 by Joshua Sophy In Technology Trends 6

 

If you’ve been dawdling capitalizing on the ecommerce movement, you’re not alone as a small business owner.

New data from SurePayroll’s monthly Small Business Scorecard shows that only 26 percent of small businesses have an ecommerce site or even use their website in any way to conduct sales. Considering the push for small businesses to create an ecommerce and/or mobile site as a way to connect with customers, this paltry number is a bit surprising.

Again, 74 percent of small businesses surveyed by SurePayroll don’t have an ecommerce-enabled website.

How could this be? With the ability reach more customers, expand their brand and, of course, generate more sales and make more money, small businesses, you’d figure, would be champing at the bit to get their products or services online.

Well, 42 percent of the small businesses surveyed by SurePayroll say “the Web really isn’t that important to their business.” Twenty-eight percent of the small businesses in the survey said they don’t even have a company website.

So, even though most experts agree on the importance of a website, perhaps it’s the skills required to build an ecommerce site — or a website, in general — that’s keeping small businesses away from the budding sales platform.

Despite the growing number of DIY website builders — many aimed at small businesses — only 17 percent of that target market have tried them.

More than half (actually, 52 percent) of the business owners surveyed by SurePayroll who did have websites said they hired an agency outside the company to do all their website creation. Another 20 percent said they hired a freelancer. So, cost could be a factor in setting up an ecommerce site with many companies.

Just 11 percent of small business owners say they created their own site using their own skills to do so.

Overall, these numbers are a bit surprising and should be a wake-up call for small business owners everywhere, especially the 42 percent of owners who say the Web isn’t an important part of their business.

Ecommerce sales are skyrocketing and consumers are demanding an easier way to search and pay for products and services, be it just online or more specifically, on their smartphones. If you’re not offering this to your customers, there’s a chance they’ll find a competitor that is.

Spending an afternoon or evening checking out those numerous DIY website services that are available to small businesses may be hours very well spent. And if your company hired a freelancer or outside firm to create your site initially — and perhaps their invoice scared you out of calling back for updates — it may be wise to pick up the phone or send an email to find out what’s required to update your site to be mobile — and ecommerce-friendly.

Chart: Small Business Trends

Why Small Businesses Need E-Commerce Now More Than Ever

End of the year data from 2014 shows that an effective e-commerce strategy is essential for modern retailers.

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros@webmarketing007

 For generations, the basics of retail stayed the same. People who wanted to buy something usually had to go to a store and most people were able to find a store by looking for its sign. I don't have to tell you that times have changed (that's what clocks and calendars are for) or that the internet has dramatically affected the way people shop and interact with businesses. Many small business owners have only waded into the waters of ecommerce, but the time has come to dive in. Recently compiled data from the end of 2014 shows that retailers need a strong internet marketing and ecommerce strategy now, more than ever.

The 2014 holiday season was reasonably good for business owners. However, it was online retailers who saw the largest gains in traffic and revenue. With great deals, fast shipping and simple cost comparisons, more and more consumers are choosing to do a lot of their shopping online instead of in stores.

A recent study found that the number of people shopping online during the holidays increased dramatically from 2013 to 2014. According data from Wipro Digital Research, 36 percent of U.S. shoppers and 45 percent of U.K. shoppers reported doing the majority of their shopping online back in 2013. Their newest survey found that 61 percent of U.S. and 71 percent of U.K. consumers reported making the majority of their purchases.online.

At the beginning of the year, Wipro Digital Research conducted a Post Holiday Consumer Survey based on 2,023 online respondents split about equally between the US and the UK. The study confirms that more people are eschewing brick and mortar stores for online sites. Furthermore, the responses of these consumers suggest this trend will continue into the future.

"Consumers continue their steady march online, finding few reasons to shop in-store rather than online for their holiday shopping," said Avinash Rao, Global Head, Wipro Digital in a press release announcing the study's findings. "But even online, omnichannel retailers are losing customers to internet pure-plays. Bricks and mortar retailers are having difficulty delivering on the benefits of omnichannel retailing."

This isn't just about the power of ecommerce during the holidays. The study's findings suggest that retailers should expect to see online sales growing faster than in-store sales throughout the year. In both countries, half (50%) of those surveyed said they plan to do more shopping online in 2015. Only 4 percent of the U.S consumers surveyed and 6 percent of those from the U.K reported planning to increase visits to a store this year.

Investing in ecommerce is important for all businesses, because consumers use all channels at their disposal when researching, selecting and buying a product. In-store browsers can become online shoppers and vice versa. This was seen in the Wipro data. Even when consumers reported browsing both online and in a store, one in three (34% in the US and 33% in the UK) chose to go back online to make their purchase.

The conclusions from this study are supported by a recent report from IBM which found that 43 percent of US consumers prefer to shop online. The IBM study also reported that 29 percent of US consumers made their most recent purchase online. Some of this is related to need for some businesses to update their ecommerce sites, and the fact that some customers use online research to find a nearby location that has a product they need.

MORE:

Keep in mind that there are a lot of people who may 'prefer' to shop in-store but 'choose' to shop online because it's the most convenient option. In any case, the data shows a real value for businesses that embrace internet marketing and ecommerce to reach the large percentage of customers who are shopping online.

Improving a businesses ecommerce and internet marketing strategy can prevent a small retailer from falling behind their competitors and provide new sources of revenue as more consumers choose to shop online. One of the benefits about adding ecommerce to a business strategy is that it doesn't require much more than what is already available at the brick and mortar location.

A clothing boutique that wants to start selling online only needs a computer with an internet connection to run the ecommerce solution (a website or app) and some boxes to ship things in. In this way, adding ecommerce can require far less investment than opening a second location.

It should be clear to business owners and marketers that the old models of retail have changed and that it's essential to change their strategy in accordance with the new reality. Ecommerce and online sales will become an ever-important factor in the revenue of retailers. For marketers the writing is on the wall: you don't need a bigger sign, you need a bigger internet marketing presence. Small businesses need ecommerce now, more than ever.

For more information on how online and mobile sales affected the 2014 holiday season (and how they'll affect the future) read this article on the Web Marketing Pros website on 2014 holiday data.

The pros and cons for sellers on 9 online marketplaces

The Marketplaces

 

Not all online marketplace are created the same, and they are not all designed for the same audience and purposes. Here is a short glimpse of each marketplace and their pros and cons. 

Let us start with the household names Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy.  

1. Amazon

The behemoth, mega, marketplace with an estimated 244 million active members that sells both big brands and products by individual sellers.

Pros: Massive online traffic, multiple product options which allows you to sell anything.  Affiliate marketing, fulfillment by Amazon, 

Cons: The customer is Amazon's, and not the sellers. Amazon competes with sellers and takes very high commissions from merchants upwards to 25% commission depending on product.

2. eBay

Another mega marketplace with 85 million unique visitors a month. The marketplace allows you to place products either for auction or a "buy it now" price.

Pros: Massive online traffic, wide variety of products, easy to establish seller account wide variety of products, branding opportunity for sellers.

Cons: Fees structures are complex and can and expensive, slow transactions in auction format. 

3. Etsy

Etsy is a popular marketplace for handmade crafts and handcraft supplies. 17 unique visitors a month. 

Pros: User friendly, It's easy to set up, lots of traffic, part of a community 

Cons: fees add up, listing fees, credit card fees, saturated markets, limited customization, no shop customization

Other big marketplaces (lesser known)

 

4. Rakuten

Rakuten is an online marketplace similar to Amazon with 39 million unique visitors a month, the majority from Japan. 

Pros: No customer overlap since most customers may not be using other marketplace. A good place to find loyal customers outside of the United States. Rakuten does not compete with the merchants and encourages merchants to compete among themselves. 

Cons:  High shipping costs to Japanese customers, strong competitors, high costs to join at 33$ a month plus commissions as high as 15% for some categories. 

5. Newegg

Newegg is a marketplace that specializes in electronics with 6.1 million unique visitors a month.

Pros: sophisticated shoppers who are looking for particular products, low commission rates, some of the lowest in the industry.  

Cons: Sellers must pass a screening test, shoppers will only purchase products that they have most likely heard of before. 

6. ioffer

On the ioffer marketplace, shoppers offer a price to the sellers. Instead of bidding against other buyers for an item, potential buyers can make you an offer that you can accept or deny.

Pros: Less expensive fees to sell. They have a final value sale depending the price of the item. 

Con: Difficult to navigate, lacks customer service, no branding opportunity, 

7. Bonanza

Bonanza is an C2C online marketplace where individuals and small businesses can sell their products. It has 2.1 million unique visitors a month.

Pro: simple navigation, upbeat community, easy product upload, viable alternative to eBay and Amazon. 

Cons: Less sales potential than on other marketplaces, can't sale identical items, 

Local marketplaces

 

8. Citify

A new online/app marketplace that invites stores, wholesalers, individuals to sell items locally and globally. Shoppers can find items sold in their city or in any other city available on the marketplace. The marketplace also offers a job market for their local merchants to find workers. 

Pros: Easy navigation, locate products by location, easy to open a store, low flat fees 5% for all items, no listing fee, Easy contact between seller and buyer.

Cons: low traffic, no CSV upload, currently not a lot of items available,  

9. Scott's marketplace

Scott's marketplace has the same idea as Citify. A marketplace that seeks to help small businesses get online and show their wares.

Pros: Easy to navigate, nice site, easy to open a store, upbeat community, low 4.99% fee, no listing fees. 

Cons: low traffic, no product share buttons, small presence on the net, USA only sellers. 

 

 

 

Citify.ca is also Citifymarketplace.com

When Citify was first designed, we thought of the Canadian marketplace as the point of focus. However, with time and seeing that many merchants and store owners from around the world have expressed interest we have opened the marketplace to the world. So Citify.ca has is also known as citifymarketplace.com. We presently have merchants from all over the world intrested in delivering their products to their local and global consumers. 

Why Citify ?

Why should there be a marketplace for local city goods and services? why should there be another online marketplace? Why Citify.ca? 

The Big City

The city is a confusing, immense, noisy, bustling, infrastructure with millions of people and hundreds of thousands of stores and shopping malls at every corner of every street screaming for attention.  How can we make sense of it all ? How can we find things ? How much time is spent looking, searching, comparing,  and store hopping to find a certain product. All those hours browsing, searching, driving down to malls, parking the car, pushing through crowds, and the various other adventures and troubles that shopping in brick and mortar stores may cause. Shopping is a huge everyday logistical problem for every shopper everyday.

The vast Internet   

Shoppers are a clever bunch, they will go to the internet to look for items that they are interested in, they do their research, compare, select a store, and then plot out their travels to. It is a matter of survival, time management, and a very smart shopping strategy that has become increasingly the trend. However, there is an issue to this strategy. How will shoppers find the items they are looking for on the internet? How will they know which store to go to ? How will they know what is in their city? Is there a way to have the product delivered?  Many will simply say that they will Google the item and keep their fingers crossed. The truth is Google will not show shoppers all the stores available in their city, it will not show all websites of every store that have the desired item, shoppers will not be able to truly compare and make a complete research of the best prices in the city. Shopping for local goods and services on google can be very frustrating if not at times impossible. Google search results will most likely show BIG box stores with huge advertising budgets. So the shopping results on Google is in the favor of those shops that have the means to advertise online. The internet is simply too big to find local stores that offer the item shoppers are looking for. 

The Small Merchant

The small merchant looks at the internet as an abstract foreign entity, separate from their brick and mortar shop. They will sporadically attempt to place some content online, in a Facebook page, a little tweet, an Instagram, a website, very few have an eCommerce solution to drive online sales. Many small merchants are uneasy and uncertain in the way to participate in the internet shopping trend. More then 80% of small merchants avoid the internet all together and either see it as an added hassle, frustration, and an investment with uncertain results.  

The BIG price tag of eCommerce platforms

The small merchants and anyone who would like to have an eCommerce platform often balk at the price tag of having an eCommerce platform. Everything from custom eCommerce design to SAAS solutions like Shopify, Megento, Woocomerce, Pastashop, etc etc can be quite expensive, confusing, complicated, and intimidating. The development of an eCommerce platform can cost thousands of dollars, but there is also the costs of marketing the platform, hiring skilled designers, SEO gurus, graphic designers, etc etc. Furthermore, the investment does not guarantee any ROI (return on investment) as their expensive stand alone site stands in a digital ocean of the internet, showing up very little times on Google, possibly ranking on the 100th search page, possibly attracting very little attention and very few shoppers. 

The BIG online marketplaces

Amazon and eBay are popular household names. They are behemoths of the online marketplace model. They are great for global, international, sales, but they evidently are not serving the regional city population and its many unique shops, artisans, merchants of every-stripe. They do not serve the shopper who is looking for products in their city. The fun thing about citify.ca is that it can also be used to shop in other cities for products, so in a way it is also global as the aforementioned sites, but with a very unique perspective on local shops and shoppers that BIG behemoth online marketplaces do not. 

So, why Citify.ca? 

Citify.ca makes sense out of the city. It saves time, money, and sanity. Citify is the shoppers friend, a handy shopping tool, as they search for items in their city, compare prices, and either visit the store with the desired item or purchase it directly online, and have it shipped to their door. It is simple, the shopper pops out their cell phone, tablet, and starts browsing for local goods and services and purchasing it online, time saved, energy saved, sanity saved. Citify.ca is the small merchants easy way into the net, they open a store (1 min) create profile (2 min) add products (2 min each) post it, and it's online and ready to sell. No programming, no headaches, and best of all its FREE.  Merchants extend their reach across the city, the country even the world. Citify.ca allows merchants and shoppers to connect, it allows them to ask questions, negotiate, review, and share. Citify serves a need that is relevant as more and more people use the internet as a tool to find local products and services. At the time of writing, Citify.ca is a small, young, online marketplace, but with time we hope the marketplace will become an indispensable shopping tool. 

 

        

Amazon pushes customers towards pricier products, report claims

 

ProPublica investigation found that algorithms placed items in the prominent ‘buy box’ on the website that weren’t always the cheapest

 Amazon not only sells products directly itself, but also allows other retailers to sell their own products through its platform. 

Wednesday 21 September 2016 03.15 BSTLast modified on Wednesday 21 September 201612.25 BST

Amazon’s algorithms encourage customers pay more than they need to for popular products and appear to give more prominence to items that benefit the retail giant, according to an investigation by ProPublica.

The investigation looked at 250 frequently purchased products over several weeks to see which ones were chosen to appear in the highly-prized “buy box” that pops up first as a suggested purchase.

Incentivised reviews are warping Amazon’s product star ratings, report says

 

Amazon not only sells products directly itself, but also allows other retailers to sell their own products through its platform. This means that the same product – say a particular set of headphones – could be offered by dozens of different vendors at different prices and with different shipping costs.

When customers search for and click on the product they are looking for, the Amazon algorithm chooses one vendor’s offer to put in the buy box. Having your product in this buy box offers a major advantage for the retailer, as most customers end up clicking “add to cart” and buying the product.

ProPublica found that almost three-quarters of the time Amazon would place its own products or those from companies that pay Amazon to fulfill orders into the buy box – even though they weren’t always the cheapest.

If a customer bought everything recommended by Amazon’s buy box they would have paid 20% more than if he or she had bought the same products at the lowest price on the platform – a premium of $1,400 for the same basket of goods.

Amazon does offer a tool to allow customers to compare product prices by producing a list that ranks sellers of the same item by “price + shipping”. However, even there the company gives itself an advantage by omitting the shipping costs for its own products. This would mean the rankings were accurate for Amazon Prime members, who get unlimited “free” shipping for $99 per year, and for those buying more than $49 worth of goods in one transaction, but for anyone else the ranking is misleading.

In a statement, Amazon said: “With Prime and Super Saver Shipping (which requires no membership and ships orders above $49 for free), the vast majority of our items ordered – 9 out of 10 – can ship for free. The sorting algorithms the article refers to are designed for that 90% of items ordered, where shipping costs do not apply.”

Amazon insists that its algorithm chooses products to go into the buy box based on a range of factors which it chooses not to disclose, including price, seller rating, the closest item to the customer and free delivery.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in 2007 said that it uses “very objective customer-centered algorithms” to automatically award the buy box to the lowest priced seller, provided they had the item in stock and were able to deliver it. This is clearly no longer the case.

A whopping 94% of sellers who were selected for the buy box placement but who did not have the cheapest listing were either sold by Amazon itself or by companies paying Amazon. Some companies that don’t pay Amazon fees of between 10% and 20% of sales to fulfill orders find themselves sidelined – as highlighted by ProPublica.

Amazon won’t reveal how exactly the buy box works, but outlines tips for sellerslooking to win placement in the hallowed box.

It’s another example of how hidden algorithms govern our online interactions, from Google search results to our Facebook news feeds. Amazon is no different. However, for a business founded with the mission to be the “Earth’s most customer-centric company” the findings of ProPublica’s investigation represent a difficult pill to swallow.

List of marketplaces to shop local

Shopping local online is becoming a trend. The convenience of looking for local products from the comforts of home online can be quite exciting and may result in either the shopper visiting the location in which the product is and discover new a store and adopting a new brand in the process, or simply ordering any product from a local store and have it delivered to their door. Here is a list of of eCommerce platforms that are designed to connect local shops with local shoppers.

  1. Scott's Marketplace https://www.scottsmarketplace.com
  2. Citify Marketplace http://www.citify.ca

If you are aware of any other local online virtual mall. Please let us know. we will add it to the list.

Normas Bath and Body joins Citify

What is better that being in a hot shower? well, being in the shower with soap that looks and smells like delicious food of course. Normas Bath and Body's products are hand made soaps that smells and  looks like yummy treats. Try no to eat them! Here are some of the products available on Citify.ca

123 Station 123 has joined Citify

123 Station 123 is a large electronics and gadgets supplier based in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong. Citify is very happy that they have added many interesting products onto our marketplace. Here is some of the products available on City brought to us by 123 Station.

and so much more.

come and check Citify for more products from this store.

Some of the New Products this Month (August)

New products this month on Citify.ca

The marketplace is rapidly growing with new products from around the world. We are very happy to have new stores open on our marketplace. Here are some of the new products we have on our marketplace this month.

 

HYPERVIBE G17 PRO VIBRATION PLATFORM

 

With a suitable machine and correct technique Whole Body Vibration can stimulate the body in a variety of unique and beneficial ways not possible with other forms of exercise. The key to Whole Body Vibration effectiveness is G-force. A review of the research literature indicates that insufficient G-force is the #1 reason for disappointing outcomes in many if not most cases.

Loaded with innovative new features and style, HyperVibe brings you a vibration machine designed for the ultimate user experience. The new G17 PRO model brings power, style, and intelligence together via a beautiful color LCD display which guides users through a wide range of pre-installed video programs.

G17 Specifications Vibration frequency: 5-35Hz (adjustable in 1Hz increments) Vibration amplitude: 7mm maximum (peak to peak) Vibration acceleration: 17g maximum Platform movement: Pivotal Platform Size (mm): 21.1(w) 13.2(d) Machine Size (in): 28.1(w) 32.2(d) 53.3(h) Machine weight: 170lb Maximum user weight: 440lb Motor: 900W

We have been based in Didsbury AB since 2007, teaching people how to unlock the benefits whole body vibration has to offer. We offer private training by appointment at our Calgary studio. If you are dealing with a medical issue, own a machine now and need some direction, we’ve here as an experienced resource. Our company trains medical professionals, are involved in ongoing research and offer the best performing machines in the market.

 

PC Test Serial Port Cable RS232 RS 232 Loopback Loop Back Plug Tester LED Adaptor

 

Mini Testers are used to check the interface for failures and to help identify the equipment that has failed. Used to monitor the 7 most commonly used data lines to see if equipment has failed. Seven, two row of color LEDs check status of TD, RD, RTS, CTS, DSR, CD, DTR. DB 9 Male/Female No external power required DB9 Male to Female Pass Through M/F RS-232 V.24 Serial Mini-Tester With LED light Easy to install , Plug & Play Standard RS-232 Port Fully compliant with RS-232 Specs. Easy check data transfer & receiver Compact size Fit display of RS-232 working

Sold by 123 Station123  Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong

$13.22CAD / $10.52 USD

 

EA Sports FIFA Manager 08 PC

 

FIFA Manager 08 is a game created by EA Sports , part of the series FIFA Manager . It was released on November 2, 2007 on PC. Game in Like New condition. Tested and works great. Coming from personal collection.

Sold by Verrosa London, Ontario

$29.99 CAD/$24.59 USD

 

Cherry Lotion

 

Yum.. indulge in this cherry body lotion. smells like candy! great for anyone. try not to lick it;) super moisturizing and great for all skin types. use on the feet too before retiring.. 8 oz jar. All handmade! highly recommend! Don't lick it:)

Sold by Normasbathandbody Elizabethtown, United States

$11.65 CAD/$9.00 USD

 

About the Making of Citify

It all came about on day, as a man was too lazy to shop with his wife and there was a boxing match on T.V that day. The very sad man wanted a simpler way to get all the things his beloved wife wanted that day, but without moving from his couch and the comfort of his own home. At first, the man had the idea of shopping online and dashed in front of his computer, looking, searching frantically, for the things his wife wanted desperately that day, but alas! without success, most shops in the city, he noticed, do not have a website or a website with a shopping cart, so his hopes were dashed and he put on his coat, for the poor sad man had to shop all day that day. The very sad man had to resign to his fate, and had to shop with his wife and spend hours and hours in malls and shops all around the city and miss the boxing match on T.V. Then the man had an idea, he thought "Would it be nice, would it be very nice, if I could order anything from any shop within my city with my cell phone, tablet, or computer, and not have to spend hours and hours in malls and shops all around the city with my beloved wife this day."

So this man went on a quest, a quest for people like him, people who are either too lazy or too busy to spend hours and hours shopping all around the city or hours and hours searching through online for a shop that sold products online, or for a product that can be found within the city.

So this man thought, how to make it possible and easy for anyone to order anything from within one's city with one's tablet, cell phone, or computer. So he came up with a plan. The plan was ingenious, the plan was clever, "why not", he said, "have a marketplace for all the shops, imagine what that would do" He smiled as he thought of all those unknown shops, those hidden gems in some obscure shop that might be discovered on his site and no other.

At first the man thought of his own city, Montreal, and then thought how nice it would be to be able to shop virtually in Toronto or St-Johns too. (That is why it is Citify.CA), but then the man thought how nice it would be to virtually shop in Washington, Paris, London, Rome and in every other city around the world. too, Imagine the possibilities, the products...wow

So after hours shuttered in the basement, hours and days spent on his project, he came up with the app CITIFY.CA. A virtual mall for shops, wholesalers, service providers, home businesses, and anybody else from around the world who can place their products for sale and have it delivered to the consumers home.

However, the man was not satisfied. He is currently working for an inner city delivery system for same day free delivery to the shoppers location. He dreams of big black vans carrying products from the shops to the shoppers home on the same day for FREE. (This, however, is still under development)

He thought to make Citify.ca as simple as possibly it can be....so using it would be frustration free...

 

Citify News

Citify strives to be better everyday, so here are some of the exciting changes that have been going on at Citify.ca

Now you can attract more customers by adding a youtube video to your product description. Simply add your Youtube video link in this box in the listing details and save.

Citify.ca is open to Freelancers to sell their skills on the site. Web designers, writers, and freelance local services are all welcome on Citify. Simply post a skill, and charge either by hour or by task online.

Citify.ca also has three Job boards one for local jobs one for freelancers, and the other for handymen. An employer who wishes to post a job and gain an employee, a freelancer, or a handy man may do so by posting a job on these Job boards. It is free to post. The Jobs will also appear on indeed.ca...

We are very happy to announce that these shops have joined Citify.

 

Citify has a new app for android, so you can shop local on your mobile, tablet of computer. You can get it here

Citify has an affiliate program that you can join here and make 3% commission on any item sold through you affiliate link join here.

Citify is working hard to get a better local delivery system that would cost less and offer same day delivery in any given city. We are negotiating with third parties around the world to make this happen. More news to come……

Citify is collaborating with various city economic development departments, and may be going to Ottawa and other cities across Canada to evangelize and gain more merchants to the online marketplace.

Citify has a crowdfunding campaign to generate funds, so as to improve the site and invest in advertising, and invest in other innovations. You can donate here

We are still a very young marketplace (only 3 months old!!!) but we are progressing in leaps and bounds. Citify will grow to become the local marketplace to consult for local products and services.

Metagenics Fitness Joins Citify.ca

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Citify.ca is happy to have Metagenics Fitness Equipment join our marketplace. Metagenics Fitness is a fitness equipment wholesaler that specializes in providing for recreational facilities, condos, resorts, universities, and retirement homes. Here are some of their products. Each product can be purchased individual or in bulk. Taxes are included with the price.

CASCADE SPIN BIKE CMX PRO POWER

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Cascade-Spin-bike-CMXPro-Power

$2,016.00

spin bike with power in watts measurement

The wired CMX SMARTECH POWER CONSOLE displays key cycling feedback including:

Power – watts Heart Rate – current, average and maximum Calories – Kcal Level – resistance 1-16 Speed – current, average and maximum (MPH or KPH) Cadence – current, average and maximum RPM Distance – trip distance (miles or kilometers) or distance countdown Time – count up or countdown timer Clock Feedback – 12/24 h Features

SMOOTH MAGNETIC RESISTANCE SYSTEM With no friction parts to wear and tear, CMXPro group exercise bikes are extremely quiet, durable and require very little maintenance.

16 LEVELS OF RESISTANCE Resistance lever adjusts easily to give you 16 levels to vary the intensity of your workout – train with interval’s from 30 watts to 1,000 plus watts.

COMFORTABLE SEAT Adjusts up/down and fore/aft for better fit or use your personal seat.

NO-SLIP MULTI-POSITION HANDLEBARS PVC coated handlebars adjust up/down and fore/aft for better fit.

THIS EXERCISE BIKE WITH DIGITAL DISPLAY PROVIDES A REALISTIC AND MEASURABLE CYCLING EXPERIENCE. At last there is a high quality magnetic group exercise bike with a power meter that delivers exceptional performance, motivating training feedback, and long life durability.

Certified for commercial facilities, the CMXPRO POWER group exercise bike with SMARTECH lets you train with power for top cycling performance – measuring your watts, heart rate, level of resistance, speed, cadence, calories, time and distance – to meet and improve your personal fitness goals. Using a smooth magnetic resistance system, with no friction parts for wear and tear, the CMXPRO POWER indoor cycle is extremely quiet and low maintenance making it an exceptional value.

THE CASCADE CMXPRO POWER MODEL INCLUDES:

SMARTECH Wired Power Console HR Monitor/Strap Dual Sided SPD Pedals 16 Levels Of Adjustable Resistance At Your Fingertips (Lever) Besides adding this high level of cycling feedback, the CMX PROPOWER model has all the same great features of the CMXPro Group Exercise Bike – including:

Precision Balanced Belt Driven Flywheel – durable, quiet, requires little maintenance and delivers great road feel Optimum Q Factor – narrower separation between the two pedal cranks for optimal performance Robotically Welded Frame – for long lasting performance Low Maintenance Design – magnetic resistance eliminates old style wearing parts Comfortable 4 Way Adjustable Seat Adjustable Multi Position Handlebars– no-slip, PVC coated with 4 way up/down and fore/aft adjustments Long Lasting Chrome Plated Seat And Handlebar Tubes Durable Ball Bearing Bottom Bracket –for easy service Durable Cranks – for long lasting performance Improved Corrosion Resistance – 2-stage powder coating, with ED primer coating for long lasting finish Dual Water Bottle Holders Rear Molded Stretch Pads Wider Cross legs – for improved stability and oversized leg levelers

SPECIFICATIONS

Length 42? (107 cm) Height 42? (107 cm) Width 23? (58 cm) Weight 96 lbs (44 kg) Max User Weight 350 lbs (159 kg) Shipping Weight 110 lbs (50 kg)

Speedfit treadmill SPT-1000C

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$6,545.00

(Citify is selling on behalf of Metagenics Fitness Equipment, Vancouver, all prices taxes included)

Power source: Non motorized treadmill

100% Green treadmill

No electrical cost – No maintenance – 100% running experience

New generation treadmill ; The user controls the speed by the body’s position on the curved running surface.Stepping forward initiates movement, as the user moves up the face of the curve, speed increases. To slow, simply drift back towards the rear curve.The Speedboard permits low foot impaction the running surface through its new design, forcing the user to run correctly.

Effortless running ; Walk , jog , stop or sprint instantly with no intervention other than just shifting your body forward or back, not having to touch any buttons. Just RUN. It’s the best design ever.

Curve ; Innovation patented curve design conforms better to your stride and encourages running on the balls of your feet, both reducing joint impact and improving performance.

Treads ; Engineered for light weight and incredible strength , the treads are moulded from an advance composite material that incorporates a soft shock absorbing cover, which , together provide just the right spring and shock absorption while handling the high loads and long life requirements .

Zero Maintenance System; Tread belt system is a strong foundation for the precision ball bearings and rollers that support a belt – tread system. As with the roller belt system , the end result is a smooth, quiet belt system with zero maintenance .

Console : Speed , time , distance , heart rate ( by polar) and calories.

Running surface : 17? wide * 64? long ( 43 cm wide * 164 cm long). Weight : 275 lb ( 125 kg)

Warranty: Full commercial . User limit : 400 lbs running and 800 lb walking.

Great for military use and fire departments were users will walk or run with full gear.

Frame: Lifetime ,

Parts: 5 years

Labour : 1 year ( may vary depending on the location)

Treadmill in Action http://goo.gl/mbZcwS

TRX Pro Kit Suspension Trainer

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$201.0

TRX Home Gym is best-in-class bodyweight training for personal fitness. Our patented TRX Home Suspension Trainer has been proven to deliver better results in less time.

With easy set up in less than 60 seconds, you can get your workouts in when it works for you – in your home, at the park or beach, in your hotel room – anywhere you want to workout, whenever you want.0

Why join a local online Marketplace?

There are many reasons that joining a local online marketplace is a good idea and potentially help your business improve sales.

  1. Instead of having just a stand alone webpage in the sea of the internet and being the only one to do most of the work to gain visitors, a marketplace will have multiple merchants market the same location, thus, gaining a lot more potential  visitors than ones stand alone site.
  2. Low cost and tech knowledge to start a shop on an online marketplace
  3. No need to be concerned about SEO
  4. No need to dabble in costly tecky services
  5. The marketplace itself will do advertising to attract visitors to the site.
  6. Affiliate marketing services might be built in with the marketplece.
  7. Shoppers will bump into your products and discover your brand
  8. Shoppers will have the opportunity to compare products
  9. Shoppers can give reviews that will be likely seen by others
  10. Shoppers receive their purchases at home.
  11. Extend brand awareness, in the case of Citify.ca your location will also be known, therefore attracting a lot more potential visitors to your physical shop.
  12.  The ease and facility for shoppers to browse and buy products and services online via computer, mobile, and tablet.
  13. No risk, no extra costs
  14. The physical shop becomes a storage and showroom or their is no real need to have physical stock at all. Ship directly from your provider when you receive an order.
  15. Easy to start a little business online without all the fuss.
  16. No need to have an expensive online marketplace with a shopping cart, simply link your marketplace store to handle online purchases.
  17. Get recognized locally and internationally and expand ones outreach and potential clients.
  18. In store purchasing while using the marketplace.
  19. Accepts all types of currencies and online methods of payment.

There are surely many more reasons that one can benefit from an online marketplace that may have more advantages than a stand alone online store. The best of them respects your brand and allows merchants the freedom to keep contact and their personal service quality, and not try to squeeze the merchant of all their profits.