SoLoMo Strategies in Retail

eBay is at it again. They acquired Where, a location-based advertising company that serves ads to mobile phones based on the user's location. You may recall I've discussed geofencing in the past.

SoLoMo.jpg
Both eBay and Amazon seem to be buying SoLoMo companies, and as we saw yesterday, Walmart is entering the fray. So that got me thinking what each might be planning.

Amazon
This is nothing new for Amazon, who has made many technology acquisitions over the years to bolster its e-commerce experience. They practically invented social commerce with product reviews and lists, and their mobile apps have been top notch. I haven't seen much in the realm of local beyond their attempts with AmazonFresh, their grocery delivery service in Seattle. I think they continue to focus on leveraging technology to deliver the best online experience possible, including leading-edge offerings of digital content. (Did you get your Amazon cloud drive yet?)

eBay
After stumbling with Skype, eBay has made a few good acquisitions, especially in the mobile arena where they are a clear leader. eBay Neighborhoods was their best attempt to add social features to their platform, and they have done some work within Facebook as well. Milo helps with local search, and GSI is an opportunity to host other retailer websites. PayPal has the most game-changing potential and continues to drive significant business. But the whole strategy feels like keeping up with Amazon without truly differentiating.

Walmart
There are few success stories for online retailers opening physical stores, but it has always been much easier for established brick-and-mortar retailers to go online. That puts Walmart at an advantage over eBay and Amazon. If they can expand their webstore and tightly integrate it with established stores (omni-channel), then they have a leg up on both Amazon and eBay. Walmart can use its size to keep prices low, use local stores to cheaply ship products to doorsteps, and use social and mobile efforts to accelerate all sales. I wonder if "project titan" is a first step in that direction?

Regardless of what these three giants do, every retailer needs to consider its own SoLoMo strategy. Acquisitions aren't required, but partnerships are better than starting from scratch.

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David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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