EU Commerce Changes In Regulations Impacting eCommerce

Last week the European Commission redrafted guidelines, many of which relate to regulations around distance selling. The revised guidelines had been adopted 10 years ago and the new ones are to be in place beginning in May for the coming 10 years.

There continue to be many restrictions allowed but the overall set of guidelines pull back on some types of restrictions suppliers can put in distribution contracts. For example, suppliers can no longer prohibit authorized sellers to sell on the Internet.

In addition, suppliers can no longer prevent online sellers from taking a sale from across borders including within a distribution system such as exclusive distribution or selective distribution. For example, a retailer in the UK can accept and ship an order to a buyer in France even if they are not authorized to sell physically in that market. The retailer cannot proactively market to that customer, but they may accept an order if it comes to them passively.  

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Though Miffed, Media Companies See Silver Lining In Apple-Adobe Tiff


The Apple-Adobe tussle is heating up to bizarre proportions, with Steve Jobs yesterday issuing a public defense for Apple's anti-Flash stance. Call it a blog-heard-round-the-world due to how quickly Jobs' comments spread, much appropriate focus has been placed on Jobs' technical arguments, including this write-up in The Wall Street Journal that quotes my colleague Jeffrey Hammond

But there's another big story behind this Flash fiasco that has successfully remained off the radar of most. It's the answer to this question: How do the media companies -- you know, those people who use Flash to put their premium content online everywhere from to -- feel about having their primary delivery tool cut off at the knees?

Answer: Media companies hope to complain all the way to the bank.

First, a bit of disclosure. I'm the one who went on record explaining that the lack of Flash is one of the reasons I am not buying an iPad. So I'm clearly not a fan of the anti-Flash rhetoric for selfish reasons: I want my Flash content wherever I am. But I've spent the last few weeks discussing the Apple-Adobe problem with major magazine publishers, newspaper publishers, and TV networks. Their responses are at first obvious, and then surprisingly shrewd.

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The Data Digest: Smartphones Drive Mobile Banking Uptake (EU)

A recent report from my colleague Alexander Hesse on 'The State Of Mobile Banking In Europe: 2010' shows that about one in eight European Net users with a mobile phone use mobile banking today — with SMS account alerts being the most common type. Many European banks like Rabobank and Lloyds TSB let customers set up time- and event-triggered text alerts, but currently, only 10% of European online mobile phone users actually use them.

We expect that 39% of European mobile phone users will use the mobile Internet by 2014. Why? Smartphones becoming the norm, more widely available, all-you-can-eat data plans, and more compelling content will drive uptake. Today's iPhone and BlackBerry users are, for example, already nearly three times as likely to use mobile banking as other mobile phone users.

GSI Gains Control Of Intershop: What It Means

On April 14th, GSI and Intershop announced that they had entered into a licensing and distribution agreement. As a part of the agreement, GSI gains a minority and controlling interest in Intershop. With a relatively small ownership stake of 10.5%, GSI will have significant influence over Intershop, due to Intershop’s very diluted and diverse stockholder base. This gives GSI control over one of the oldest and most established eCommerce software solutions in Western and Central Europe. Additionally, under the agreement GSI will have exclusive rights to distribute Intershop’s solutions in the Americas and also have access to Intershop’s software, engineering talent, and integration experience.

What the agreement means:

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My Key Takeaways From The Forrester Marketing Forum

I’ve had a few days to catch my breath (and catch up on email) after the Forrester Marketing Forum in Los Angeles and I’m finally in a position to reflect upon what was an exciting and informative few days on the west coast.  A few key takeaways:

  • B2B marketers are dedicated to social and have a lot to learn from each other. I had the pleasure of hosting a one day workshop on B2B social marketing with colleagues Peter Burris and Peter O’Neill. Technology marketers have dominated past workshops like these, but I was thrilled to see clients from a diverse array of B2B industries in the room, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, travel, manufacturing, and marketing services. It was a great, active group and what impressed me most was how attendees related to the pain points and best practices of other attendees in the room. Dealing with government regulation was a hot topic and it wasn’t just financial services and pharma marketers who had something to share. Although some regulatory bodies create more difficulties or ambiguities than others (I’m looking at you, FDA), B2B marketers can learn a lot from each other when it comes to creating a social strategy and building an organization capable of navigating regulation.


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Nokia Launches Ovi Music in India: First Take

Nokia today announced the launch of the Indian implementation of Comes With Music.  The fact it is called Ovi Music indicates the degree to which this is a highly bespoke implementation of Nokia’s unlimited music offering, specifically tailored for the local market.  Nokia understand the dynamics of emerging markets more than any other global digital music player and they’re embarking on a first or early mover strategy across key emerging markets such as India, Russia and Mexico.  This is Nokia’s 30th unlimited music market.

Nokia have done a lot to address local market dynamics, such as a 90% local language, 4 million track catalogue, pinless activation directly on mobile devices without a PC (due to low PC penetration) and reducing the Ovi client from 60MB to 3MB to address connectivity issues.  The service will also have a new low end music phone (the X2) to drive its launch.

Even with those features though, the majority of the Indian market will not be addressable.  Most mobile phone users don’t have any download capability (either PC or mobile) and rely upon filling up their phones with illegal content from dodgy stalls set up outside mobile phone shops.  (Nokia’s focus on ‘clean meta data’ for Ovi Music in India is an intended differentiation point from these resellers). 

Of course Nokia fully understand these dynamics and they’ve chosen to launch a service with a remit of addressing a smaller, higher spending, more tech savvy segment, leaving their AM radio enabled phones as a means of delivering a music experience to rural areas etc.

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Facebook, Privacy & Lawmakers: What Should Marketers Do?

Last week, Facebook announced changes that expanded the sharing of consumer data with a select set of third-party partners, and it only took a matter of days for lawmakers to press Facebook for changes and government agencies for more oversight.  The fact Washington took note of Facebook’s changes isn’t at all surprising; in fact, it was inevitable.  But what happens next—and what this means to marketers—is not inevitable and depends a great deal on how proactive Facebook becomes on education, transparency and cooperation with lawmakers and privacy watchdogs.

Facebook has learned from its past privacy missteps, as evidenced by the way it recently asked for consumer input for proposed privacy policy changes, but it is far from earning its diploma in Public Relations and Politicking.  It’s been just three and a half short years since Facebook broadened its membership from students to the entire population of the planet, and as it has grown from a niche social media site to a ubiquitous form of communications for over 400 million people, so have grown the demands for Facebook to manage the expectations of consumer, voters, lawmakers and marketers.  Facebook is still learning how to accomplish this, and it is earning a fair to middling grade.

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What Role For The CMO In Social?

Sorry, won't reveal the conclusions here (yet). 

We all know that Social Computing can have an important impact on the brand and on the brand experience. And that many people and departments around the enterprise have adopted social technologies. But therein lies the challenge -- how to best benefit from social when everyone is involved? And what role for the CMO? 

I'll talk about my new research on how CMOs should orchestrate their company's social initiatives next week at our Paris Tweet-up. And I expect not to be the only one talking. 

If you're in Paris the evening of May 4th - or would like to be ;-) - please join us.  You can find details and registration here:  I look forward to seeing you at Café Reflets - Centre Cerise @ 19 h. 

Tabulating The Tablets: Apple Vs. Asus, Dell, HP And The Rest

In the weeks since the iPad launch, there’s been a spate of rumors, “leaks,” and PR pushes around would-be competitors to the Apple iPad. By the end of the year, consumers will be able to choose from an array of multimedia touchscreen tablets including tablets that:

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Global Marketing Is Messy, And Organizations Must Adapt

When Unilever launched its "Dirt Is Good" campaign, the company probably imagined parents like myself breathing a sigh of relief as we learned to love our children's mess. However, the tagline has a double meaning. To my mind, "Dirt Is Good" perfectly summarises the chaos that is global marketing — mess that can be as puzzling as a finger painting, and just as satisfying.

With the "Dirt Is Good" tagline, Unilever actually supported four different brands of laundry detergent: Persil, Skip, Via and Omo. To complicate matters further, these brands occupied different positions in different markets. Take Omo, for example: it's a premium brand in Brazil; a second tier brand in Australia, France, and South Africa; and no longer sold in Britain, Ireland, or New Zealand, where Unilever promotes Persil as its premium brand instead. Compare this to Marketing MBA Fantasy Land, where the perfect tagline falls out of the brand architecture, which aligns with the product offer and the product's corresponding position in the market.

Global marketing is one big mess, and the CMOs who win will be those who Create An Adaptive Global Organization, to borrow a phrase from my latest report. In other words, CMOs must create a global marketing team that uses data and customer insight to learn, adapt, and grow in real time, anywhere in the world.

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