Sam Yip

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Scoopon fined $1 million for misleading businesses and consumers

12:07AM | Wednesday, 18 December

Online group buying site Scoopon has been hit with a $1 million penalty for making false and misleading representations to businesses and consumers.   The Federal Court ruled Scoopon had contravened Australian Consumer Law when it misled consumers as to the price of goods advertised in its deals and their refund rights.   Scoopon also misled businesses by saying there was no cost or risk involved with running a deal with Scoopon and it told one company that 30% of vouchers sold would not be redeemed.   The court has also ordered Scoopon to pay a portion of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s legal costs, to further develop its existing compliance program and ordered an injunction restraining Scoopon from making similar misleading representations for a two year period.   In response to the findings, Scoopon executive general manager Jon Beros told SmartCompany in a statement Scoopon upholds “the highest standards in the industry”.   “As a pioneer of the Australian group buying sector and founding member of the Australian Group Buying Code of Conduct, our leading position has meant Scoopon is expected to uphold the highest standards in the industry,” he says.   “Following discussions with the ACCC, Scoopon has voluntarily accepted orders which include additional measures to improve compliance. Building on measures we've already introduced, Scoopon is re-training our team members, has introduced additional compliance roles and offered to work further with the group buying industry to implement stricter compliance standards.”   Scoopon has been given a community service order to hold an educational seminar on ACL issues for other group buying businesses and members of the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising.   Telsyte senior research manager Sam Yip told SmartCompany because the industry is still developing, the sector has been constantly reforming its processes. “The industry is still quite young, so many of these things which occurred in the past, aren’t necessarily a reflection of what’s happening today,” he says.   Speaking to SmartCompany when the ACCC launched court action against Scoopon in July, Yip said running deals through group buying sites shouldn’t be seen as a simple marketing solution for businesses.   “There are explicit costs around margins that need to be considered and implicit costs about what it means for a brand and for staff and customers,” he says.   “Often it is a lot more complex than advertised.”   The ACCC launched action against Scoopon after receiving “a significant number of complaints” about the group buying industry since it emerged in Australia in 2010.   ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement it acknowledged Scoopon’s cooperation in the investigations which “enabled a more timely outcome to be reached”.   “The ACCC understands that Scoopon has worked to improve its systems and processes which gave rise to this conduct to meet its obligations under the ACL. However this penalty serves as a warning to other businesses in the industry to improve practices or face action from the ACCC,” he says.   “Online traders must understand their obligations are the same as traditional retailers’ and must not mislead customers or other businesses.”   Sims says the ACCC will take further action in this sector to improve compliance and protect small businesses and consumers.   This article first appeared on SmartCompany.

Visa wins banks, JB Hi-Fi and Cotton On for new digital payment system

7:08AM | Wednesday, 10 July

Consumers are increasingly relying on micro-transactions to make purchases instead of inputting their credit card details every time, which makes a new product from Visa all the more powerful, one expert says.   Eventually, says Telsyte senior research manager Sam Yip, the risk of online transactions erodes to a point where consumers are happy to have their financial details tied to accounts – like in Apple’s iTunes ecosystem.   Which is exactly how Visa’s new product, V.me, works. The service, announced yesterday and planned for an Australian launch later this year, allows users to input a username and password instead of requiring credit card numbers for purchases.   Several banks are on board, including NAB, Westpac, ANZ, ING, Suncorp, Citigroup and several credit unions, along with retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and Cotton On.   In a statement, Visa country manager Vipin Kalra said the V.me service “streamlines the process” of purchasing, and allows anyone to shop from any device.   The service allows users to store existing Visa and other payment cards, store multiple shipping addresses and set transaction alerts, along with other customisable features.   The banks are certainly happy – ANZ general manager of cards and payments Marj Demmer said in a statement the Visa service “aligns with our digital focus”.   Yip says this is no surprise. These types of accounts allow for microtransactions, which end up being more profitable for merchants.   “If you look at the popular app stores, like Google or iTunes, people who have already embedded their credit card details into those online stores tend to buy more on impulse.   “These microtransactions are becoming much more profitable, they were more bite-size products a few years ago and are moving into big purchases over time.   “Being able to embed your details and have them be accessible is certainly the way to go.”   The popularity of such accounts is a good example of how the internet is making traditional requirements redundant. The phone number is quickly becoming a useless string of digits for younger users who rely more on instant messages – the same is happening with credit card details if these types of services take off.   As Yip points out, the risk is quickly disappearing. Over time, this could mean all online transactions are run through this type of account-based system.   “The risk is gone,” he says. “The controls are a lot better and these companies are handling fraudulent transactions a lot faster than even five years ago.   “A solution like this to minimise the path to purchase and maximise ease of use is certainly one new way to grow.”   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Online retail sales surge in April

5:29AM | Friday, 31 May

The latest data for online retail sales have shown once again the digital world is faring better than bricks-and-mortar, providing some hope despite recent lacklustre industry results.   The results from NAB comes alongside complaints earlier this week from the retail industry that an unseasonably warm autumn has caused a build-up of winter stock among some retailers, which will be forced to sell at a discount.   The latest NAB statistics show Australians spent $13.5 billion online in the year to April, equivalent to about 6% of bricks-and-mortar spending.   After a dip in March, April recorded 23% growth year-on-year for online sales, with the strongest growth recorded in fashion, daily deals and media – three industries which have typically recorded strong online spending.   Strongest spending per capita was recorded among those aged between 25 to 54 years old, with residents in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Regional WA has recorded the highest growth rate for per capita spending.   NAB chief economist Alan Oster said in the bank's report it was "encouraging" to see a gradual lift among retail sentiment in April, and noted online sales represent 6% of all spending, up from 5.2% at the same time last year.   "While we're seeing businesses take a multi-channel approach by developing an online presence alongside a traditional storefront, growth rates among businesses remains mixed," he said.   "However, encouragingly, online sales have grown by over $2 billion in the past year, evidence that retailers are becoming more sophisticated in how they engage with their customers."   Based on the share of spend, department and variety stores took the biggest slice at 36%, which coincides with David Jones' announcement this week that online sales have continued to grow well.   Homewares and appliances followed at 18%, followed by groceries and liquor at 14% and media at 11%. Games and toys were the smallest group for total spending, at just 2%.   Once again, domestic retailers dominated spending with 72% of all money spent, slightly below the average level of last year but above the low of 71% in July 2012.   But the growth in spending isn't the only positive. Telsyte senior analyst Sam Yip told SmartCompany not only is spending increasing, but average spending has increased as well.   "We're seeing the average price point increase, so we're seeing people spend more on high-price travel deals and restaurants and so on."   Daily deals sites, which are regularly some of the most popular online retail destinations, have been experimenting with more pricey travel products.   Yip also points to the share of spending being directed towards department stores, saying while the increase in spending is encouraging, department stores still lag behind the rest of the industry.   "It is encouraging, but the scale is quite small. These sorts of companies need to realise they can operate significantly differently from their bricks-and-mortar operations."   "Once you move online, it's all about range."   This story first appeared on SmartCompany.

Andrew Mason fired as CEO of Groupon: “I’m okay with having failed”

3:38AM | Friday, 15 March

Groupon founder and chief executive Andrew Mason has been fired on the back of the group buying site’s December quarterly loss.

Group buying industry amends code to crack down on compliance and complaints

3:41AM | Friday, 15 March

An industry code developed to regulate the group buying sector has been tightened, with additions including more clearly defined refund conditions and specifications over how many vouchers are sold in an individual deal.

Expert predicts trickle-down effect for group buying after LivingSocial raises $110 million

3:45AM | Friday, 15 March

US-based daily deals giant LivingSocial has raised another $US110 million from investors, with an industry expert predicting a trickle-down effect for smaller players.

Group buying consumer spending revised down to $530 million

3:56AM | Monday, 11 March

Group buying niche players have been warned of tough times ahead following predictions that consumer spending in the sector will drop to $530 million this year, revised down from more than $600 million.

Small group buying sites told to “hold on and sit tight”

9:43AM | Tuesday, 4 September

Small players in the Australian group buying market need to “hold on and sit tight”, an expert says, after a report revealed consumer spending has fallen for the third consecutive quarter.

Daily deals site RedLipDeals launches, targets adult market niche

9:57AM | Monday, 17 September

A new daily deals site focused solely on adult services has launched in Sydney, suggesting there are still untapped niches within the sector, particularly those targeting a more selective market.

Group buying consolidation gathers pace as Deals.com.au and Ouffer merge

6:08AM | Monday, 18 June

Australia’s group buying market is in the midst of a consolidation period, according to analysts, after Melbourne-based site Deals.com.au announced it will merge with Sydney-based site Ouffer.

Evernote valuation soars above $US1 billion during financing round

4:58AM | Saturday, 21 April

US-based cloud note and storage app Evernote is raising up to $US100 million at a valuation of over $US1 billion, it has been reported.

Yahoo!7 to stop Spreets performance payments as group buying market dries up

4:00AM | Monday, 16 April

Yahoo!7 may be starting to encounter the downside of the group buying industry as a new report indicates the media giant is no longer expected to make any more performance-related payments to its subsidiary Spreets.

New payment technologies take off as RetailMeNot plans to introduce credit card coupon system

4:36AM | Thursday, 5 April

Retail coupon giant RetailMeNot is set to introduce a new coupon system where users can automatically get discounts at retailers by punching in their credit card numbers through the company’s website, in yet another innovation in the mobile payments scene.

Meet the retailer willing to dump discounting brands

3:41PM | Wednesday, 28 March

The head of fashion retail chain Glue has warned brands engaging in constant discounting they may be barred from appearing in any of the company’s stores, in a twist on the usual retail price maintenance debate.

Nova network launches group buying site

3:39PM | Monday, 19 March

Radio network DMG Radio Australia has made its foray into the increasingly crowded group buying market, launching a website that offers daily deals to its 40,000-strong database.

Group buying guide launched for small businesses

3:28AM | Friday, 9 March

Small businesses can now gain greater insight into the group buying channel, with the launch of a business guide designed to complement the Australian Group Buying Code of Conduct.

Three ways to get a slice of Australia’s $16 billion online retail market

3:32AM | Tuesday, 6 March

Start-ups can carve a slice of Australia’s $16 billion retail industry, a new report suggests, by focusing their efforts on online discounts and deals, mobile apps and group buying.

Long-term business partnerships with deal sites tipped to surge

3:36AM | Tuesday, 6 March

Australian franchise Jim’s Group has partnered with discount voucher site DiscountOn.com.au in order to spark sales, with an expert saying similar long-term partnerships are on the cards.

Video games sales dip not deterring start-up developers

3:24AM | Friday, 15 March

Australia’s interactive games industry remains buoyant as local developers lead the way, industry groups say, despite a dip in “traditional retail” computer and video games sales during 2011.

Groupon’s IPO success set to spark local activity

11:22AM | Monday, 7 November

It’s been revealed Groupon raised $US700 million after increasing the size of its initial public offering, with experts predicting the local market to witness similar activity as the sector starts to mature.

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