Reflections on ePayments by Alejandro Betancourt 

 

 

I remember when each morning before my parents left me at school, they used to give me some bills to buy a snack at break time. At that time, it was necessary to use paper money and it was part of our daily lives in our societies. Today my wife and I make electronic bank transfers to my son’s school so he can buy snacks that, when I was a child, I used to pay with coins and bills in the school cafeteria. How have times changed!

And the point is that because of the way societies and their needs are evolving, we will go out only with what we are wearing and our cellphones, because that will be the only things we will need. And not only to pay, also for daily activities such as opening our houses or cars, activate alarms, turn on or off devices remotely, the same way it is happening with the so-called “internet of things”.

The topic about shopping is already handled in these contexts. There are studies which refer that many people in the world have lost the “fear” to enter their banking card number by internet through their mobile devices, increasing their traffic 50%, thanks to certain improvements applied to the topic of usability and geolocation of services. It is projected that transactions of this kind will go over from 300 million dollars reached in 2015, to more than 600 million in 2019.

Another point to take into account is that more than 25% of smartphones users in the world, have decided to pay through their cellphones, and more than a half assure that they would do it more often if there were promotions or discounts. Is it also worthy to note the fact that women are in charge of the non-digital shopping world; meanwhile the online buyer’s profile is men who are between 25 and 34 years old, they spend more on books or music, and they do it from their computers using platforms which offer security when paying, such as PayPal.

The most common payment way in the world is payment through “point of sale (POS) terminal”, where cellphones act as banking cards, which through a contactless connection, makes possible the connection to the bank making direct payments.

The belief is that for the year 2020, 50% of payments will be made this way. It is believed that in the last years, e-commerce has grown 20%, making development of applications of the Wallet kind easier, and that facilitates access to all information related to your cards or purchases in different stores.

From Apple to Microsoft, going through Google and the very same Visa, have started to work on platforms to pay the phone, the same way this can be made through the already known PayPal. Facing this scenario, what are you waiting to polish these details in your virtual store?

 Alejandro Betancourt

 Alejandro Betancourt eCommerce 

 

It is expected that in the next years, there will be more than 2 billion users registered in e-commerce platforms worldwide, projecting incomes close to one thousand 328 million dollars. According to Goldman Sachs, average expenses per user will increase to 514 dollars next year (2018), which makes this kind of commerce unlimited, since it will not stop growing until becoming one of the main industries, boosted by changes in consumer habits and technology advance, so that there are more devices connected to the net. These four facts show e-commerce growth:

1. China gives it all importance: Alibaba, the Asian electronic commerce giant, improved revenues of 7,403 billion dollars in the second quarter of 2017, increasing 56% in regard to the same period in 2016.


2. Walmart and e-commerce: This American giant recently acquired the men’s clothing company Bonobos for 310 million dollars to reinforce this area,  obtaining results just between April and July this year for 123,400 billion dollars; an increase of 2.1% in regard to last year. 


3. Amazon worries: As I wrote in my previous article, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer based in the United States and with the highest billing related to e-commerce. Just in 2016, it reported revenues of 139,990 billion dollars. Amazon knows they could be stranded if they do not revamp their strategies; that is why they want to diversify their services and products with the recent launch of ‘Instant pickup’, a series of locations for ‘order receptions’ in several cities in the United States, as a pilot program to add an innovative ingredient and risk in their equation of e-commerce.


4. Artificial intelligence on e-commerce: Addition of artificial intelligence to the world of businesses is not just a simple projection or science fiction fantasy, since e-commerce is seen as the most appropriate platform to commercialize. Last month, Sokadi, a company founded by Amazon ex-workers, launched a platform focused on marketing for e-commerce and analytics, which operates based on artificial intelligence.

 

Spanish version: 4 datos que demuestran el crecimiento del e-commerce


Alejandro Betancourt

 

 Alejandro Betancourt eCommerce2 

 

In this time, when digital is already part of our daily lives; business, trading and entrepreneurship are rapidly becoming more linked to the virtual world. The amount of companies developing online stores, with ordering systems through internet or mobile applications which help you buy or sell comfortably and safely; make way for new languages, strategies and business techniques on which we must be updated – since they are more popular each day- and whose widespread growth is only beginning.

That is why I would like to share a series of articles with different contributions to the topic of electronic commerce or e-commerce, with ideas, information and case study reviews or successful experiences for entrepreneurs, who have on Internet and social networks the appropriate platform to begin their businesses.
Let us start with the basic: e-commerce is a process where two or more parts (business owners and/or consumers) make business transactions which can be distribution, selling, buying, marketing or providing information about products and services, through a computer and internet access.

In the beginning it was only used for transactions such as electronic data interchange, but in the mid-90s the concept of selling services through the net began to develop by using electronic means like credit cards as ways of payment. This fact created the idea of electronic commerce, making companies build up electronic commerce divisions or virtual sales.

From the entrepreneurship point of view, this tool generates great opportunities because there are neither barriers nor borders for e-commerce, but in a world where almost everybody has smartphones which are product displays for businesses; without creativity or a worthy, different and genuine proposal, expected results will not be seen.

All over the world there are figures which show the big potential of doing businesses having internet as their platform. The website Live Stats averages that 40% of the world population has an internet connection, and examples like Amazon, which through e- commerce has become the biggest online bookstore in the world, the same with Dell Computers, all of them say that e- commerce is real. Amazon reported revenues of more than 74 billion dollars for 2013; and for 2014, Dell reached revenues of more than 57 billion dollars.

Keeping distances between a humble entrepreneurship with little time and one of these big companies, what is it all about? With a website or social networks strategically managed you can have a virtual store open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day in all telephones and computers connected to internet, giving the chance of generating customers even from the other part of the world.  

 

First Steps
Even if you think that having a smartphone is enough to be effective to sell your products or ideas, the topic is not that easy as it seems because these products or services you want to promote online have to be determined, to redefine sales processes, distribution, invoicing, marketing and customer service. That is why you should be careful and develop a well thought and proved strategy in order not to waste time or resources.
Here is a list of points you cannot miss if you want to begin e-commerce:

 

  • Products to sell: First you must remember that not all products are likely to be sold online, besides you must analyze if you have the place and personnel required to keep products or merchandise in good conditions. Likewise, the demographic aspect has to be taken into account, since e-commerce is closed to technology and constant updates; it is not advisable for products to people, for example, older than 60, overall because at this moment the age range of people online is between 20 and 40.
  • Partners or specialized providers: You need to work with a supportive company related to details from the website design to installation and software handling required to make online transactions. Make sure the hosting provider (the one which posts your page in a server), guarantees safe transactions so your customers’ confidential information remains confidential and encrypted during and after transactions. These kinds of providers are in charge of registering your domain name as well, and will be your advisors when setting up your virtual store.
  • Web design: Importance of a well-designed web page lies in being different from the other existing millions of pages which will be your competition. It must have attractive spaces for special offers and promotions; and a comfortable, kind and nice way of navigating. It is worth having links to other sites of interest, and always leaving spaces for customers to express themselves through suggestions or commentaries.
  • Assured production: You should develop a portfolio with services or product images you offer, but make sure articles are available in inventories. It is advisable to offer what you already have and not to disappoint the customer promoting products you would not have.
  • Logistics: Make alliances with courier, tracking and delivering companies. Check if these companies have worldwide coverage, and in case of any inconvenient, packages can be traced electronically.
  • Invoicing: Although there are different methods, as writing checks before buying or paying by credit cards, the most recommendable way now is to work with bank transactions since they have no limits related to geographical distances and can be monitored in real time.
  • Customer Relationship Management: A good website will help you have detailed updated information about your regular and potential customers, and according to their preferences and suggestions, offer them service during and after the purchase. I suggest that you follow e-mails, messages in social networks or enquiry calls generated by your website. Do your best for your customers to register basic personal information, or more information about their hobbies, lifestyle, professions, likes, etc., in return of personalized bulletins, promotions of articles, discounts and memberships.

These pieces of advice will help you draft your e-commerce business plan. In future articles I will go deeper in topics such as promotion, growth and advantages of online businesses.

 

 

Spanish version: Una mirada al e-commerce


Alejandro Betancourt

I have been very attentive this week to all news related to renewable energy, especially the one concerning solar energy, which I have always considered a very interesting technology where, undoubtedly, will lay a big percentage of energy generation worldwide in a close future.

 

 energia solar 

 

After checking some articles and reports, the release revealed by Bloomberg, based on the outlooks of the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), is the one which has given me more satisfaction because of how complete and interesting is, but overall for its initial point: “the costs of solar energy will slide 66% in 2040, and wind power onshore 47% with renewable energies overlapping most of power plants for 2030”.

The report is based on the latest projection from the main firm of financial journalism made for the New Energy Outlook 2017 (NEO), which basically shows how the global system of generation of energy is decarbonizing.

Let me share my remarks about some conclusions of this report:

1. GROWTH:

It is forecasted that by 2040 the solar energy will grow 14 times its own capacity. By that year, It is expected that both solar and wind energy represent 48% of the installed capacity and 34% of electric power generation, which nowadays indicates 12% and 5%, respectively.

2. CHEAP ENERGY:

The costs of solar energy will go down 66% by 2040. In countries as big as Germany, Australia, The United States and other smaller ones like Italy or Spain, electricity from photovoltaic panels is already as cheap as coal. For the year 2021 it will be much cheaper than coal in other big countries such as China, India, Mexico, The United Kingdom and Brazil.

3. ASIAN BIG MARKETS:

China and India show an investment of 4 billion dollars for the power sector, in fact, the Asia Pacific’s region invests almost the same as the rest of the world in power generation. From the total amount of this investment in energy, it is projected that a third will be for wind and the other third for solar; 18% for nuclear and 10% to coal or fuel.

4. BATTERIES:

Batteries and new sources of flexibility further the attainment of renewable energies. The report foresees that the market of lithium batteries is expected to scope a valuation of at least $239 billion between 2017 and 2040, the year when 57% of households and businesses will have small scale storage systems, meanwhile nowadays, we see how natural gas provides flexibility of the system in critical moments. High scale batteries compete increasingly with natural gas to provide flexibility of the system in high demand time. The report also anticipates that renewable energies will help reach penetration of 74% in Germany until 2040, 38% in the United States, 55% in China and 49% in India.

5. ELECTRIC VEHICLES:

In Europe and the United States, the electric vehicles (EVs) will represent 13% and 12% of the generation of energy by the year 2040, respectively. The demand of these vehicles will increase the cost of lithium batteries.

6. SOLAR HOUSEHOLDS:

This is surprising information. By 2040 the photovoltaic home energy will express almost 24% of the electricity in Australia, 20% in Brazil, 15% in Germany, 12% in Japan and 5% in the United States and India. This reduces the need of coal plants and high scale gas.

7. COAL IS FALLING:

A slow demand, cheap prices in high scale renewable energies and switching from coal to gas, will decrease 87% the use of coal in Europe by 2040. In the United States it is going down to 45%. However, in China it will continue to grow a fifth part during next decade, but it will reach its highest point in 2026. The global demand of thermal coal will decrease 15% between 2016 and 2040.

 

Spanish version: 7 claves para entender el futuro de la energía solar


Alejandro Betancourt

 Alejandro Betancourt inglés 

The last issue of the magazine Forbes España had on the cover the four geniuses behind the sunglasses brand, Hawkers, the corporation where I am the chairman of the board and feel very proud of. Hawkers created a guide for businesses based on the strategy of creating an innovating market and closer to the consumer, thanks to the opportunities of the digital transformation, which has revolutionized the fashion and accessories industry.

In the article in Forbes (http://forbes.es/actualizacion/8014/hawkers-ya-es-historia-del-comercio-electronico-espanol) it is explained how this entrepreneurship grew in an exponential way, pointing out figures which exceed any expectation in the traditional e-commerce, becoming the current model of reference for the startups:

- More than 4,5 million of sunglasses sold.
- Presence in 50 countries.
- 90% of the sales are done through internet, being profitable and removing the pillars of the area.
- From 300 to more than 100.000.000 millions of euros billed in only three years.

These figures have been reached leaving behind traditional strategies and staking for a global action plan which has changed the sector. The industry, dominated by giants with a lot of seniority and experience, did not show any innovation for a long time. These big people from the market did not believe in the feasibility of the pattern of business of Hawkers.

Hawkers has taken advantage from current interconnectivity and technology to contribute with a new strategy to a market which was left behind in the past. Normally, when somebody wants to buy sunglasses, goes to a store, checks the well-known brands, compares prices and makes a decision. We broke off these paradigms, creating an easy new channel of sales through internet, something which had never been done before in the area. By means of our online shop, we offer a brand of sunglasses with design, class, quality and with an affordable price.

Marketing has been one of the keys of success of Hawkers, focused on the consumer, through social networks. These social networks have helped as: an advertising tool to position the brand, an instrument for data collecting to make essential decisions, the means to campaign with influencers who dominate these platforms. Facebook acknowledges us as the company with the best advertising performance in Europe, The East and Africa and in Twitter we have accomplished to break records of organic trending topics.

 

“Hawkers does not sell glasses, it sells Hawkers”
Our brand is fresh, young, funny, rebellious and groundbreaking. We offer to live an experience and be part of a generation: the Hawkers generation. Two important references in the history of the modern marketing are: Inditex, Zara’s parent company and Swatch. The first one created a market of clothing design affordable and closer to the consumer. Swatch is the revolution in the market of watches. It is about a Swiss product, with good quality, an attractive design and much cheaper than any Swiss watch. From a more contemporary view, this is what we have done in Hawkers. We are still even nearer the consumer, just a “click” apart, we make easy the decision to get a brand with quality, great design and with a price which breaks with the tradition of buying sunglasses which currently cost at least 100 dollars or euros.

In Hawkers, this new corporation, we have broken records, we call the attention in the lists, we win awards and we have achieved to be the cover of Forbes in Spain.

Everybody is talking about us, analysts and experts in the area, just because we are succeeding doing something nobody had done before. We will continue breaking paradigms to become market leaders.

 


Alejandro Betancourt