Sunday, February 26, 2012

Isis Details Mobile Wallet Plans

"The Isis mobile wallet, set for release in two US cities this summer, will feature a prepaid card with cash already loaded and a capability to 'follow' participating merchants to receive coupons and other offers," reports Digital Transactions, which attended an event held by Isis last week in Austin, Texas.

According to a report in Communications World, "Users will also be able to add further cards from participating issuers onto their mobile wallet, Digital Transactions adds, and will be offered a 'clip to Isis' service that lets them 'load offer details directly from print media, posters, or online displays by scanning QR codes.'"

An overview of how the wallet will work was presented Wednesday by Isis officials to an audience of software developers and terminal-manufacturer execs in Austin, Texas, where one of the two test launches will take place (the other is in Salt Lake City, Utah).

One marketing tool not initially included with the wallet is location-based services that let users’ smart phones alert merchants when the user is nearby in order to trigger an offer for the user. “It’s an area we’re treading lightly in,” Jim Stapleton, chief sales officer at Isis, told the audience, adding that Isis fears offers could be viewed by consumers as intrusive. “It’s wise not to venture into this until the consumer is comfortable and feels in control,” he noted.

According to Digital Transactions, a future release of the wallet will let users generate a list of nearby participating merchants on their screens.

Summarizes Digital Transactions, "Dallas-based Isis, launched in 2010 as a joint venture by carrier titans Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc., and T-Mobile USA, has already reached agreements to support the contactless-payment products from American Express Co., Discover Financial Services, MasteCard Inc., and Visa Inc. Like competing products from Google and Visa, the Isis wallet depends on near-field communication (NFC) technology to transmit payment details from handsets to point-of-sale readers and to allow phones to receive offers."

In interviews with Digital Transactions News, Isis also disclosed that it plans to have about 1,000 merchant locations supporting its wallet in each of the two launch cities from the beginning of the tests. The two-city “soft launch,” as Isis officials characterize it, is expected to start some time in July.

Isis will be at SXSW 2012 Interactive in Austin next month as the event's official mobile wallet sponsor (and will have an "Isis lounge" and a booth at the event).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

NJ Bill To Offer Amazon Sales Tax Exemption Til 2013

New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald has introduced a bill to grant a sales tax exemption until September 2013 if it invests $65 million to construct two warehouses that could bring 1,500 full-time jobs to the state.

As reported by The Street, "The legislation specifies that the jobs go to New Jersey residents."

Amazon already has similar agreements with Indiana, California, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Heal's Implements mCommerce Site

Heal’s, the UK’s home of modern designer and contemporary furniture, lighting and home accessories, has launched a mobile optimized Website that creates a rich shopping experience for consumers anytime, anywhere. 

Enabled through the Venda Mobile Platform powered by Localpoint Storefront from Digby, Heal’s mobile optimized site enhances their cross-channel strategy and complements their eCommerce site and six retail stores across the U.K.

 Heal’s sleek and elegant mobile shopping experience allows customers to search, browse and buy products in as little as 60 seconds when they visit  from popular mobile devices such as iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.

 Key features of the mobile optimized site include: large, rich product images with additional views, detailed product descriptions, a homepage banner, shop by category, store locator, an ever-present search bar, ratings and reviews, and social integration with Facebook, Twitter and email a friend.

“With an increasing percentage of our online traffic coming from mobile devices, enabling a mobile optimzed website was a strategic next step for us,” said Mike Traill, Head of Ecommerce at Heal’s. “The shift to mobile creates a huge opportunity for us to engage with our valuable customers on a deeper, more personal level.”

The Venda Advanced Mobile Platform is integrated with the Venda Enterprise Commerce platform. This seamless solution provides brands and retailers with a unified platform to connect with and serve their customers when mobile 365/24/7, delivering highly personalized and rich shopping experiences.

According to a recent survey by eDigitalResearch and IMRG, 40 percent of U.K. consumers using a smartphone while shopping ultimately made a purchase in-store, online or via mobile.

“We are excited to continue our strong relationship with Venda to create a unique and optimized mobile experience for leading UK retailers through our Digby Localpoint Platform to help them build a more personal relationship with their most loyal customers,” said Dave Sikora, President and CEO of Digby. “Heal’s is a great brand that is rich in history and we look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure the mobile channel is a long-term strategic success.”

While Congress Dithers, MN Lawmakers Struggle With Online Sales Taxes

The Minn. StarTribune reports that "An increasingly tense fissure is opening among Republican legislators over a proposal to require Internet retailers to collect state taxes. The issue pits behemoth Internet companies like Amazon squarely against bedrock Minnesota retailers like Target and Best Buy, forcing some Republicans who control the Legislature to choose between helping Minnesota companies and honoring their longstanding refusal to raise taxes."

As the paper points out, "Until now, most legislators were swayed by arguments from Internet retail giants like Amazon that the issue was one best left to Congress. But attempts at a federal fix have stalled."

Click HERE to read the full article.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apple's Mountain Lion Takes Big Leap Toward Convergence

Apple's new operating system, Mountain Lion, available by this summer, will bring much of Apple’s mobile technology to the desktop (for instance, the “Messages” app will replace iChat, and Gizmodo thinks it's the future of instant messaging).

Integrated into the new OS is iCloud, which allows any document saved to the cloud to be available on an iPhone or iPad and  syncs changes with all the devices (hoping to do an end run around Dropbox, although there will be a limitation on the file sizes that iCloud can handle). In addition, Mountain Lion will sync your computer with your TV, making it an extension of your computer screen.

Twitter will also be fully integrated with Mountain Lion. According to Apple, "OS X Mountain Lion keeps you on top of all things Twitter. Sign in once and you’re all set to start tweeting — and you don’t have to leave the app you’re in. Tweet links and photos directly from Safari, iPhoto, or Photo Booth with the new Tweet Sheet. Tweet comments and add locations. And when someone mentions you in a tweet or sends you a direct message, you’ll get a Twitter notification right then and there."

According to Gizmodo, "Facebook was supposed to be integrated into iOS 4. Cupertino wanted to code its own Facebook features because it lacked confidence in Menlo Park’s ability to build a great app, so it built the social network into its mobile operating system. Facebook said no and negotiations broke down. Apple then went with Twitter in iOS 5."

UPS Buys European Fulfillment Company

According to The Journal of Commerce, UPS has acquired Kiala, a Brussels-based third-party fulfillment center for eConnerce merchants, as part of a strategy by UPS grow its business in Europe.

"Kiala delivers packages to delivery points where consumers can pick them up at their leisure, instead of having to be at home or the office to receive them," reports TJC. "The company, founded in 2011, operates in Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, France and Spain" servicing more than 300 companies, including H&M, Esprit, and Yves Rocher, handling up to 145,000 parcels daily, according to Kiala's Web site.

The terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

PA Postpones Online Sales Tax Collection

Pennsylvania has postponed imposition of eCommerce sales taxes for companies with no nexus in the state until Sept. 1.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Pennsylvania's definition of nexus is broad enough to include not only brick-and-mortar stores, but things like distribution and fulfillment centers, delivery trucks and sales forces."

The newspaper also reports that "In addition to setting the Sept. 1 compliance deadline, Pennsylvania has included a 'use tax' line for the first time in 2011 state tax return forms, to urge consumers who bought items online or out of state, and didn't pay tax, to declare and pay the 6 percent levy when they file their returns."

TouchCodes Compete With QR Codes

LAPTOP reports that while loading data from a QR code "requires activating a camera app on a phone or tablet, turning your device around, shooting a picture, and then waiting for the appropriate app to interpret the code." there is now a new technology developed by German startup Printechnologics that "promises to change all that, allowing you to unlock exclusive content in apps or web pages by simply touching printed materials like business cards or packages to your screen."

Called "Touchcode," it works by "embedding a thin layer of capacitive material in printed items like business cards, tickets, magazine pages, or product packaging. When you hold the paper to a capacitive touch screen, it acts like a set of invisible fingers tapping out a complex code that’s interpreted by a Touchcode-enabled app or website. Though the app should run on any multitouch-enabled, capacitive screen, it works best with panels that support at least 5-points of touch input. Like QR codes, Touchcodes can be used for launching web pages, enabling coupon codes, event ticketing, or even mobile payments."

LAPTOP reports that printers can license the technology and add the Touchcode layer to their production processes at a projected cost of less than a penny per unit printed.

For examples of Touchcode applications, see the LAPTOP article.
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