This fall, Microsoft and Google are set to release revolutionary new tablet PC devices which are expected to make a significant impact on the growing market.  The Nexus 7 from Google and Microsoft’s Surface both look to be promising new offerings, but recent rumors of a new iPad may indicate an even more impressive tablet is on the way.

The Big Three
Sources such as Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times have all reported that Apple is set to release a new, 7.85-inch iPad later this year at a lower price point than the current iPad’s $499.  Despite the late Steve Jobs’ apparent opposition to a “smaller” Apple tablet, consumers seem to be favoring the devices for their increasingly improving resolution and lower cost.  While Google and Microsoft have publicly announced their plans to capitalize on this trend at their recent developer conferences, Apple has remained relatively quiet about their new tablet.

In fact, very little is known about the new iPad thus far.  The New York Times has revealed the suspected dimensions and price point of the tablet, but many other features are still speculative, at best.  While a retina display and iOS 6 functionality are expected to be standard equipment on the new iPad, only time will tell what Apple actually has in store.

Effects on Mobile Search, Social Media & E-Commerce
The upcoming face-off between Google, Microsoft and Apple in the entry-level tablet PC market is undoubtedly going to have a substantial effect on the mobile Web.  The reduced cost of these new tablets makes them more accessible to the tech-savvy (and cost-conscious) youth demographic.  This will almost certainly lead to a rise in social media and search engine usage via mobile browsers and apps.  Additionally, another rise in E-Commerce revenue similar to last holiday season’s online sales boom is anticipated following the release of the three new tablet devices.

What Online Businesses Should Expect
Once the new tablets debut in the final quarter of 2012, online businesses should expect to see an increase in mobile traffic.  Internet marketing efforts should include a heavy emphasis on social media and mobile E-Commerce platform optimization.  If online marketers remember 2012 as “The Year of the Penguin”, 2013 may very well be remembered as “The Year of the Tablet.”

The e-commerce numbers are growing across the globe and daily deal sites are a large reason for the sector’s growth. Looking specifically at the Italian market, the growth and role of daily deal sites in e-commerce is no different. According to leading industry executives, companies like Groupon and LetsBonus are surging in Italy and contributed to the country’s double-digit growth in 2011 online retail sales. The presence and success of these sites is noteworthy and the degree to which they continue to grow and attract online shoppers will greatly affect the trajectory of the e-commerce industry both in Italy and other markets. As such, looking at the future of this sector, internet retailers have an opportunity to employ specific practices, among them being SEO, to push coupon sites forward driving more traffic and growing conversions.

Analysts point to the economic downturn and the fact that shoppers are proactively trying to manage the way they spend money. Cutting on spending is a part of this; however, shopping smarter to get quality at an often exceptionally low price is a larger element as many shoppers are trying to maintain a certain quality of life. Looking at the industry players, Groupon has expanded into 48 countries and like in many others, the company holds the top spot in Italy. Holding the second ranking in the country is the Spanish leisure discount site Groupalia. Other key players in the Italian market besides the three mentioned are Glamoo, Jumpin, Poinx, and Prezzo Felice, and Amazon has entered the ring in Italy as well beginning to offer daily discounts.

Driving Further Grow
So what can discount sites do to encourage greater growth in the discount sector?

  • Personalization – Businesses can promote loyalty apps to their customers that track shopping activity and generate personalized discounts based on shopping history. Customers would welcome these discounts as they are loyal customers of the brand and they opt-in willingly to download the apps.
  • Geo-Targeting – Discount sites can use positioning technology to locate shoppers and send them coupons relevant to their geographic location bringing greater relevance and convenience. This holds great potential for local businesses and markets.
  • SEO – Daily deal and discount sites can optimize their web properties to drive more keyword and location targeted traffic. In addition, they can optimize pages relating to specific local coupons to drive more organic local mobile shopping traffic for people that are searching for deals on their smartphones.

Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com for more information regarding ecommerce and daily deal sites in Italy or how your business can utilize internet marketing and SEO to push business forward. If you are considering partnering with an SEO company, check out this white paper entitled “Six Things You Must know About Choosing the Best SEO Firm” to learn more about what to look for in an SEO company.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece for International Business Times focusing on the growth of US online retailers in the EU market. Some of the figures are worth repeating to set up our discussion here today. US e-retailers had collective sales of $26.1 billion in 2011 up from $20.6 billion a year earlier. The 2011 numbers accounted for 25% of sales in that year for the Top 400 online retailers in Europe, growing from 23.4% from the previous year.

This not only brings into focus the viability of ecommerce but the growing (successful) presence of US companies in the EU market. In that piece, I source a quote from Christine Bardwell from the research and consulting firm IDC who stresses the importance of developing web strategies specific to each country and for retailers to make themselves locally relevant to shoppers in each country. This supports the underlying theme and specific recommendations of part 3 of the “Reframing series” posted here yesterday.

Looking deeper at ecommerce though, mobile shopping is carving out a growing segment of the industry. By now we know mobile across the board is simply exploding around the world. Adoption rates of smartphones globally are increasing every month and the US has just crossed the 50% threshold. We have covered the SEO implications of the rise in mobile on this blog to a great degree and will continue to do so as the importance of mobile in new arenas continuously evolves. Now with ecommerce, mobile shopping is expected to account for $163 billion in worldwide sales by 2015 which is12% of global ecommerce revenue, according to ABI Research. This brings to light increased opportunity for SEO and social media to optimize retailers’ web presence and its functionality to drive these sales.

With mobile though, there are new and different possibilities. The developing trend of mobile commerce enables retailer marketing professionals and the SEO companies supporting them to engage customers and deliver a unique experience on the device. Retailers across all categories can capitalize on this to drive positive experiences with their brand, increase loyalty, and drive sales. El Corte Ingles, Europe’s largest department store and fourth largest globally, recently made the push for mobile optimization launching a more engaging mobile site. The site utilizes HTML5, advanced scrolling, tap-tap zoom capability, full mobile commerce functionality, and efficient browsing by category that does not require loading additional pages and does not slow down the experience.

The direction taken by El Corte Ingles represents one avenue, on-site design development. Others include increasing on and off-site optimization specifically for improving search engine rankings, social media management, as well as app and game integration. The door has been opened now for other retailers and businesses with an online presence to follow suit. Self magazine announced yesterday a social game played through Facebook that engages users in gameplay related to health and wellness, beauty, fashion, and fitness, all areas the magazines speaks to. The game received considerable sponsorship from major brands and will be seen as a test of sorts for the industry. Many will be tracking how it performs. For more on gaming, Anthony discusses the wisdom of its integration for branding.

Kenneth C. Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax is pleased to announce that the company has entered in to a strategic partnership with AspDotNetStorefront, a leading e-commerce shopping cart platform.

Officially launched in 1997, AspDotNetStoreFront is utilized by more than 10,000 users.  The strength of the platform is that it is filled with many components that clients need, including plug-ins, built-in search engine optimization, promotion and marketing tools, and the flexibility and stability of the .NET platform.

“AspDotNetStorefront gives their clients many competitive advantages, not least of which is the fact that the e-commerce shopping cart platform is search engine optimization friendly, an area in which WebiMax is the market leader,” states Wisnefski.  “Natural search plays a critical role in the e-commerce space and this partnership helps both parties join forces on their strengths to deliver a highly valued product that can help increase revenue for retailers using the platform itself,” concludes Wisnefski.

“Our partnership with WebiMax joins two industry leaders and helps us enhance our products by adding additional SEO technologies to our state-of-the-art e-commerce platform,” states Dana Greaves, CEO and President of Vortx, Inc. and AspDotNetStorefront.  “Our innovating products have helped major retailers and Fortune 100 companies successfully execute e-commerce initiatives and we continue to be positioned as our industry leader,” concludes Greaves.

Reports surfaced that Verizon (with other major wireless carriers expected to follow suite) has blocked Google Wallet from being used on their devices including the new Galaxy Nexus.  The wireless company stated security concerns over the ecommerce system caused them to make the devices incompatible with Google Wallet.

Jeffrey Nelson, a company spokesman for Verizon issued a statement to Bloomberg “Verizon is committed to having the best security and user experience” and further says Google Wallet will be considered again “when those goals are achieved.”  Other wireless carriers including AT&T and Sprint are expected to follow the same course of action.

Google Wallet would put the company right in the center of the multi-billion dollar mobile payments industry.  A direct competitor for PayPal in this industry, the plan was to introduce Google Wallet in a select amount of cities including San Francisco, CA and New York, NY.  Currently, the NFC-enabled Nexus is the only device that contains the capabilities, and this major setback is expected to put a severe damper on the implementation of the service.

There is news, however, that Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint are in talks to invest more than $100 million to a similar platform, called Isis.  Information as this becomes available will be updated

Kenneth C. Wisnefski, online marketing expert and founder / CEO of WebiMax, announces how the evolution of the internet has changed the way merchants and consumers navigate the holiday season.  Components including E-commerce, reputation management, reviews and social media have supported the online marketplace that acts to end the traditional shopping experience people have enjoyed for many years.

“If we simply focus on the 2010 statistics of ‘Cyber-Monday’ versus ‘Black-Friday’ (on-line versus in-store), we see that Cyber-Monday experienced 16 percent growth to just over $1 billion in online revenue, whereas Black-Friday revenue only experienced a small increase of 0.3 percent compared to 2009”, states Wisnefski.  “The simple fact is that it is more convenient, consumers can read online reviews, and compare products and purchase from the comfort of their own home (not to mention they don’t have to deal with holiday crowds)”.

These figures are parallel to the success of small business start-ups entering the online advertising market.  Wisnefski’s firm, WebiMax, founded in 2008, has flourished due to the heavy demand for search engine optimization, search engine marketing, E-commerce solutions, social media, pay per click management and more.  The company’s revenue is up 400% year over year compared to 2010 and Wisnefski says “companies are investing more resources than ever before in to these online services.”  He furthers “we represent many retailers that are conducting most of their holiday business online versus in-store”.

It is well-documented that investments in E-Commerce are on the rise as consumers move on-line to make their holiday purchases.  In fact, comScore reported positive growth in E-Commerce spending for the last 8 consecutive quarters.

“The present-day consumer is more price-conscience and aware of competition amongst manufactures which are more reasons why demand is shifting heavy to on-line purchases versus in-store”, states Wisnefski.  “There is a plethora of resources available to the on-line consumer including reviews and ratings, product comparisons and customizing options which ultimately leads to a more educated buying decision by the consumer”.

The fact that companies are investing more and more each year in to E-Commerce and illustrated by recent holiday revenue statistics, it is strongly believed that on-line revenue will outpace holiday in-store shopping over the next few years.

“I will close with this.  Everyone loves A Christmas Story when Ralphie sees the BB gun in the store window.  Nowadays, Ralphie would have found the BB gun online and his parents would be reading reviews about how many kids actually shot their eyes out with it”!, exclaims Wisnefski.