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Global Perspective - News Worth Sharing

  • Alibaba, China’s largest eCommerce marketplace, is facing problems in its native land as it deals with sluggish expansion due to a maturing population and user saturation.

    But Alibaba is also facing problems elsewhere as it eyes an ambitious expansion strategy capped by an aggressive push into the world’s second most populous country, India (China is slightly ahead in terms of population with an estimated 1.383 billion people living inside its borders in 2016, while India has an estimated population of 1.329 billion people).

    Alibaba’s been on an acquisition spree over the past two years — of which about a fourth of the companies it has acquired were based in India — but the Chinese eCommerce giant is still facing substantial barriers to establish a foothold in the lucrative Indian market, according to Seeking Alpha’s Ravi Thakkar.

    In 2014, Alibaba invested $500 million into Paytm, Indian’s largest mobile payments platform, and invested another $500 million into Snapdeal, either India’s third or fourth largest online retailer depending on the figures. However, it has seen only “modest inroads” into the country as a result of these costly investments, according to Thakkar, a U.K.-based investor.

    Rumors have also begun to swirl that Alibaba has had talks to acquire the online marketplace ShopClues and merge it with the Paytm online marketplace as a way to shore up its presence in India.

    Still, all these acquisitions and investments still do not leave Alibaba with a relatively large share of the Indian market.

    Amazon, one of Alibaba’s true global competitors, has already become India’s second-largest online marketplace and is beginning to threaten market leader Flipkart, with neither looking like they would be amenable to any type of partnership or investment from Alibaba anytime soon.

    “Alibaba’s strategy for India looks like a patient, broad-based strategy,” said Thakkar, but he still doubts how successful it will be because the company faces substantial hurdles in India in terms of logistics, poor internet connections (except in major cities), unfamiliar government regulations and lower purchasing power.

  • Most retailers understand the importance of providing savvy customers with multiple ways to not only find deals, but also provide a smooth sailing experience, whether they are intending to buy a product on their mobile phone, on the internet or in a physical store. Despite knowing this, large and small merchants are finding it challenging to offer seamless transactions on all fronts.

    According to the OmniReadi Index™, the divide between the most and least prepared retailers when it comes to being fully “omnireadi” is growing.

    In this month’s edition of the Developer Tracker™, PYMNTS spoke with Vaughan Rowsell, founder and chief product officer for Vend, about how many retailers struggle with embracing new technologies and worry that the undertaking of providing omnicommerce opportunities to their customers will be too much to handle.

    Here’s a sneak peek:

    “Keeping operations siloed just doesn’t cut it anymore, but it can take some people time to come around to new technologies,” Rowsell said, adding that some merchants just can’t see the bigger picture of bringing various channels together or they believe it will be too hard to accomplish.

    The adjustment to cloud-based technologies, which Rowsell says fuels the creation of a true omnichannel experience, can be a difficult move, especially for small to midsized companies.

    “It’s that first step that can be the biggest hurdle,” Rowsell said.

    Payment Players Make Strides

    While some companies are pushing off making any significant changes to their payment solutions, others have taken steps to roll out new products and services to enhance the customer shopping experience.

    Mastercard launched Masterpass, a digital payment service that allows customers to make quick and easy purchases. The credit card company has partnered with multiple banks to try to help consumers make mobile payments using banking apps. The service, which was rolled out in the U.S., will reportedly launch in Africa, Europe and the Middle East next year.

    Meanwhile, Alibaba announced it is developing VR tech that can be used while browsing and buying from the company’s digital catalog. The Chinese internet giant has demonstrated versions of a customer-facing interface that enables customers to interact with an automated store employee while researching 3-D products from anywhere in the world.

    The August edition of the Developer Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, also features recent news and analysis, as well as about 130 providers, including several additions to the directory.

    To download the August edition of the Developer Tracker™, powered by Vantiv, click the button below …

    Vantiv Developer Download Here Button

  • July online sales jump and cross-border e-commerce volume hits a record in the United Kingdom.
  • A shadow is cast on the Oculus sign, as a visitor uses Oculus goggles to experience Minecraft for Gear VR during a press demonstration, at The Village event space, in San Francisco, California on March 15, 2016. (Photo: GABRIELLE LURIE/AFP/Getty Images) Best Buy has provided in-person demonstrations for Oculus Rift basically since there were real Oculus Rift headsets to demonstrate – the retailer announced back in May it would provide demos at 48 locations in the U.S. Now, it’s doubling down on that bet, with a plan to give customers a taste of VR in 500 locations in time for the holiday shopping season, according to Bloomberg.… Read More
  • Home furnishing e-retailer Wayfair debuts a virtual reality app for patio designs, aiming to perfect the experience before VR becomes mainstream.
  • Fast fashion retailer Zara is facing a lawsuit from U.S. consumers that alleges that the firm intentionally misleads American consumers as to the price of its products.

    Specifically, the case filed by shopper Devin Rose in the United States District Court for the Central District of California accuses the apparel company of using listings in Euros to lure customers in with a deceptively low-looking price only to sell them the item in dollars at a currency exchange rate far above anything being advertised anywhere.

    Zara “vehemently denied” the accusations in an email sent to RetailDive.

    Zara USA vehemently denies any allegations that the company engages in deceptive pricing practices in the United States. While we have not yet been served the complaint containing these baseless claims, we pride ourselves in our fundamental commitment to transparency and honest, ethical conduct with our valued customers. We remain focused on providing excellent customer service and high-quality fashion products at great value for our customers. We look forward to presenting our full defense in due course through the legal process.

    Inditex — Zara’s parent firm and the largest apparel company on Earth — is considered the firm that put fast fashion on the map. And though that model — quick to the shelves, quick to replace and low cost — has made Zara an international presence in fashion, it has also drawn sharp criticism of its practices. These complaints include reliance on sweatshop labor in the developing world that encourages unethical worker treatment and a design aesthetic that prizes volume over taste. “Bait and switch” now goes on the list of ethically questionable practices Zara has been accused of dabbling in to push consumers into a belief that their clothes are somewhat cheaper than they really are.

    The lawsuit, filed in California by law firm Geragos & Geragos, could potentially draw millions of other customers if the suit is granted class-action status.

    “We are hopeful this class action will compel Zara to stop its unlawful pricing practices of charging substantially in excess of the tagged prices on its clothes, which has caused consumers to pay on average $5 to $50 more per item, and billions of dollars in the aggregate,” Ben Meiselas, one of Rose’s attorneys, told The Fashion Law.

  • Monte Carlo Fashions will be sourcing and marketing the products through a third party and sell in multi-brand retail outlets
  • Flipkart’s return to the retail model results in better customer experience in product quality and delivery speed, but sales growth remains a concern
  • As retailers rely more heavily on promotions to drive traffic, Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. and Ralph Lauren Corp. have been two of the biggest victims.

Super Stars of Global Commerce

  • The GRIN is our global task rabbit. The community and coaching helped provide clarity as to which countries to target, how to evaluate our global partners and provides ongoing perspective to our most challenging questions.
  • The GRIN connected us with the right solution partners in Brazil. These connections will help us improve the service to our customers and enable us to better compete with the top ecommerce companies.
  • The GRIN workshop provided real world insight to the problems that all retailers face when going global. The GRIN community provides meaningful connections.
  • As a Chinese retailer, we made several connections in the United States that are helpful while learning the importance of brand to my growing business.
  • Best full day workshop I have attended on going global - a real eye opener.
  • I love the GRIN community. I walked away with an understanding of how to develop a business case for my C-level team to help fund my global initiatives.

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What we have an opinion about

Thought Leadership

A bit of an overused term. At the GRIN, we focus on reputational leadership – the new measure of true vendor leadership. The GRIN community provides feedback as to the unique strengths and knowledge of the global vendor community.


Are great. The GRIN is focused on making them a whole lot better. Join us at GRIN recommended conferences to meet global leaders, have a bit of fun and expand your core knowledge.


They just don’t focus on the right things. Global RFPs are successful when they shine a bright light on the strategic vision and local knowledge of the vendor. The GRIN will help you perfect your RFP process.

Business Plans

Throw them out right now. Develop an iterative business model when first going global. It’s the only way to stay in the game. At the GRIN we create programs to make your business part of a useful, living plan – not a dead and irrelevant piece of paper.


The best vendor knowledge is often locked in a vault. The GRIN lets vendors showcase their unique strengths and expertise. Retailers have the opportunity to engage directly with those experts which accelerates the path towards true partnership.


All successful cross-border retailers have a culture of open collaboration and innovation. The GRIN will help you grow the massive global engine of creativity at your company.


Top retailers we have met with identify localization as their greatest global challenge. The GRIN has an easy fix - learn from others how they tackle this issue and then develop your own process around localization.