What to expect from e-commerce in 2015

e-commerceMulti-million dollar valuations for e-commerce companies; venture capitalists flocking to invest millions of dollars in these companies. That’s how we could best remember the business of e-commerce in India during 2014. Some highlights: Softbank committed an investment of $10 billion in India and invested in Snapdeal, Housing.com and OLA cabs. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos visited India and committed an investment of $2 billion. Rival Flipkart.com responded by raising a third round of funding taking the total to $1.9 billion. With that, Flipkart’s market valuation reached $7 billion by the end of the year.

In 2014, e-commerce sales through mobile phones picked up drastically. Flipkart and Snapdeal note an increase in the number of users shopping through their respective apps. At the beginning of 2014, Flipkart got 10 percent of its business from mobile apps and for Snapdeal it was 18 percent. By December 2014, the figures jumped to 55 percent (Flipkart) and 60 percent (Snapdeal).

What to expect: The e-commerce bubble is going to swell to massive proportions once the government permits international companies to sell products online in India.  Look out for the entry of giants like Amazon.com and Alibaba.com. And the e-commerce companies will make massive investments in India. Amazon and Flipkart will invest nearly Rs 2,300 crore. Some major acquisitions and mergers may occur. Since most Indians access the Internet on their mobile phones, expect to see more apps and shopping done through phones.  The introduction of 4G services and cheaper 3G phones will boost mobile internet and shopping through mobile phones.

How Amazon will benefit with its Fire phone

Fire

Amazon Fire Phone

On reading the news about  Amazon’s Fire Phone and its 3D camera, a couple of thoughts flashed through my mind — like reverse image search and its potential. But the most interesting thought was the key function of the device, to search for products on Amazon’s online store, just by shooting a photo of something you want to buy.

First let’s discuss Amazon’s (late) entry into the highly competitive smartphone business. With giants like Samsung, Microsoft-Nokia and Sony, not to mention the numerous Chinese brands, what chance does Amazon have in the  smart phone market? It cannot score on pricing alone.

To answer that, one has to be reminded about the premise for Amazon tablets and wands. These hardware devices are like miniature Trojan horses – nice looking on the outside, low priced, with the real stuff on the inside. The real reason for Amazon to launch Kindle Fire tablets was to sell more e-books, music, movies and TV shows. The loss made from selling low-priced tablets would be offset by profits from content.

It will be the same with the Amazon Fire Phone.

Amazon wants you to use this smartphone to buy products from its online store. But haven’t we heard this before?

The real reason why people bought Apple’s iPhone and the iPod was iTunes and its amazing catalog of content. Steve Jobs went to great lengths to get all the music, movies and TV shows in one place, on the iTunes store — and he made it real simple (and quite affordable) for us to access this content. The other attraction was the App Store, though there were few apps when the first version of the iPhone was launched.

Well, with the Fire phone, Amazon wants to simplify the shopping experience, and make it less time-consuming. So if you want to buy, say the same pair of flip flops as you friend, just get a 3D picture of it with the Fire phone, and send it to the Amazon site.

At the back-end, the site will use reverse image search technology (or humans) to find a match and make suggestions. You will then need to select the product and confirm the purchase.

Very neat!

Speaking of reverse image search technology (using pictures to search pictures). It has been around for sometime, though I doubt many people use it to search images on search engines.

Google offers reverse image search and you can read more about this here: https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/1325808?hl=en

And there are companies like TinEye Services that offer image recognition technology: http://services.tineye.com/

Amazon’s image recognition system is call FireFly.

So instead of typing keywords to search images, just upload an image that suggests what you are looking for — and the search engine will find similar images.

Great for high school projects!