E-Biz Briefs: Micropayments, E-Coupons, Overseas Shipping

Javien's micropayment plan meets Visa's new guidelines, traffic is up at coupon sites, and Shipwire, the online fulfillment company, expands into Europe.
This week in e-commerce news, Javien's micropayment plan that meets Visa's new guidelines, traffic is up at coupon sites, and Shipwire, the online fulfillment company, expands into Europe.

Micropayment Made Easy

Javien Digital Payment Solutions, Inc. yesterday announced that Javien Micropay is the only patented micropayment technology that can help merchants and retailers meet Visa's new guidelines for online micropayment transactions of Visa credit, debit or prepaid cards. Additionally, Javien Micropay provides an auditable, provable method of managing online micropayment aggregations that conforms to Visa's new rules. As consumer demand for small ticket items (under $5) increases, merchants incurring transaction fees associated with processing small payments may find it to be cost-prohibitive without the advantage of micropayment aggregation.

Javien's Micropay makes it easy for merchants to aggregate multiple purchases made by the same consumer so they can minimize payment processing fees — in an auditable way that complies with Visa's carefully set guidelines. Effective April 1, e-tailers must obtain authorization at the start of each aggregation session, and are restricted to aggregating multiple transactions made by a single consumer to no more than $15 and a maximum time period of three calendar days. Merchants must be able to communicate the details of the transactions to consumers.

"We're glad Visa has chosen to place standards on micropayment transactions to help guide the marketplace," Leslie Poole, CEO of Javien Digital Payment Solutions, said in a statement. "We've been offering merchants the ability to track and aggregate micropayments for years with our patented micropayment aggregation engine," noted Poole. "Our technology helps merchants comply with the guidelines now, without delay."

Javien Micropay is available as part of Javien's e-commerce platform or as an a la carte option. Merchants can use Javien's patented adaptive micropayment aggregation technology to batch transactions according to Visa's new rules.

Bargain Hunters Going Gangbusters

The weekly share of visits to a custom category of coupon Web sites increased 56 percent for the week ending June 6, 2008, as compared to the same week last year, according to Hitwise. Coupons.com received the largest market share of visits within the category at 29 percent, with its market share increasing 190 percent from the same week last year. Coupon Mountain and Eversave followed with 14 and 6 percent, respectively.

Search engines accounted for 20 percent of the traffic referred to coupon sites, says Hitwise. And, among the top 250 search terms driving traffic to the coupon Web sites, 60 percent of the search queries include a specific retailer brand or branded product. The remaining queries were split between generic searches for terms such as "grocery coupons" and "promo codes" and navigation by the names of coupon Web sites.

"Rising gas prices and tightened budgets have many consumers using the Internet to help save money while shopping online and off. Retailers can entice purchases by making discounts available to price-conscious consumers as the cost of living continues to increase," says Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise. "While discretionary income is shrinking for some households, consumers are still shopping online, but making sure that they find the best deals."

Additional cost-cutting trends, according to Hitwise:
  • U.S. visits to comparison shopping Web sites increased 51 percent for the week ending June 6, 2008, as compared to last year.

  • U.S. visits to discount retailers have increased 25 percent for the week ending June 6, 2008, while traditional department stores have increased 15 percent as compared to the week ending June 9, 2008.

  • U.S. searches on the term 'coupons' sending visits to Shopping & Classifieds Web sites doubled for the week ending June 6, 2008 as compared to the previous year.

Traffic Up at Shopping/Classifieds

The market share of U.S. visits to the Shopping & Classifieds category increased 26 percent in May 2008 compared to May 2007. Additionally, consumers are selling and buying goods through classifieds Web sites. The Classifieds sub-category experienced the largest year-over-year growth in monthly market share of visits among the all of the Shopping & Classifieds categories.

Shipwire Goes Euro

Shipwire, an e-commerce order fulfillment company, announced its expansion into Europe with a new UK warehouse and packing fulfillment facility located outside London in East Sussex, England. Shipwire is a full-service, on-demand global warehouse and shipping service that takes care of all the hassles of storage and shipping for e-tailers. With Shipwire, online merchants can cut shipping times to Europe by up to 75 percent, according to the company.

"Before Shipwire, smaller merchants were at a huge disadvantage; they simply didn't have the time, know-how or volume to compete internationally with large manufacturers and distributors," says Damon Schechter, founder and CEO of Shipwire and author of Delivering the Goods: The Art of Managing Your Supply Chain (Wiley, 2002). "Shipwire gives small businesses the storage and shipping infrastructure of a leading Fortune 500 business, helping them drastically reduce their shipping costs and times by leveraging the power of multiple warehouses. With Shipwire, as merchants grow they can add U.S., Canadian and European warehouses without long-term commitments, and pay only for what they use."

Shipwire offers a free trial of its services. Usage based plans start at just $29/month for 16 cubic feet of storage, that can be split up between Shipwire locations in Los Angeles, Nevada Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, and now the warehouse in London, UK. With a Shipwire account, merchants can outsource receiving, inventory, pick pack, packaging, shipping, insurance, returns, and the logistics of freight, customs and VAT, to drastically simplify international order fulfillment.

Shipwire automatically connects with and adds order fulfillment and international shipping to eBay, YahooStores, PayPal, Google Checkout, Zen Cart, NetSuite, Intuit Quickbooks and other popular shopping cart and inventory management systems.

Global Warehouse Network for SMBs

By storing products closer to their end customers, e-tailers using Shipwire can reduce shipping costs and times, and quickly respond to spikes in seasonal demand. For example, per-item economy shipments to Europe can take over two months, and airmail is prohibitively expensive. Not only does paperwork have to be completed by the e-tailer for each shipment, but buyers often reject orders when confronted with unexpected VAT tax bills, resulting in expensive international returns. By storing products at Shipwire's new UK warehouse near London, most European ground shipments can be delivered in just two to three days, with little or no paperwork, and returns can be quickly and automatically restocked by Shipwire, says the company.

Anne Li, owner of wind and renewable energy company AriSolarWind.com, says, "My business has been growing rapidly, and Shipwire has been invaluable in scaling my business. Recently, demand in Europe for our wind-turbines has skyrocketed, so I turned to Shipwire for help. Working with them is so much easier and less expensive than doing my own order fulfillment. Our products are heavy and fragile, so freighting inventory to Europe, and then shipping it ground, will cut delivery times from weeks to days, and save my buyers and my business a lot of money."

Using Shipwire, Li is able to manage her inventory across five warehouses, in three countries, on two continents, through one online interface, and pay just one bill, according to the company.

Free UK Warehousing Offer

To kick-off the opening of its UK facility, and help merchants schedule container shipments for the 2008 holiday season, Shipwire is offering special deals for e-tailers who schedule a shipment to the UK warehouse by Sept. 1, 2008.

New customers will receive a free month of storage space, valued at up to $250 per month. Existing Shipwire customers can receive Shipwire account credits on future container or parcel deliveries, by contacting their sales representative.

For more information, or to sign up for a fully featured free trial of any Shipwire warehouse, please visit the trial page. No credit card is needed.

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