Mary Meeker's Internet Trend Report - 2017

The most anticipated slide deck of the year for ecommerce retailers is here. Our key takeaways:

Here are some of our takeaways:

  • Global smartphone growth is slowing: Smartphone shipments grew 3 percent year over year last year, versus 10 percent the year before. 

  • Voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries. Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016, while accuracy is now about 95 percent.

  • China remains a fascinating market, with huge growth in mobile services and payments and services like on-demand bike sharing. 

  • While internet growth is slowing globally, that’s not the case in India, the fastest growing large economy. The number of internet users in India grew more than 28 percent in 2016. That’s only 27 percent online penetration, which means there’s lots of room for internet usership to grow. Mobile internet usage is growing as the cost of bandwidth declines. 

  • Wearables are gaining adoption with about 25 percent of Americans owning one, up 12 percent from 2016. Leading tech brands are well-positioned in the digital health market, with 60 percent of consumers willing to share their health data with the likes of Google in 2016.


All 300+ slides are here: 2017 Internet Trends Report

Getting ready for Apple Pay

The last month has seen significant mobile news for retailers and brands. Nordstrom is now selling product from Instagram, forever ensuring that it’s feed will link to a product page every time. 

A click on this image feeds into the product page for the pearl bracelet, $48. Not the soda. 

A click on this image feeds into the product page for the pearl bracelet, $48. Not the soda. 

Apple is making a move into less affluent markets with the iPhone 5C, Boku is enabling carrier billing in the European Union, PayPal separated from eBay, and retailers are embracing mobile in-store service at a much higher rate.


The piece of mobile news that caught most retailers’ ear was the launch of Apple Pay in the US. It will be one of the easier technologies to implement, and given the market penetration of the iPhone (in the US it is 42.4 percent as of July 2014), and the mobile payment method major retailers will want to adopt.

Apple Pay appeals to customer’s sense of security because only a token is transferred to the retailer, no credit or banking information. But this does have implications for loyalty programming as no other customer information is connected with the transaction. Personalized online shopping experiences are at risk for these customers, as are loyalty rewards.

Retailers can reach out to payment terminal providers to set up their business for Apple Pay. EMV standard contactless payment (tap payment) will need to be functioning in-store. And for those brands and retailers with Apps – familiarize yourself with the Developer page for Apple Pay.

ADDITIONAL | Has mobile payment hit it’s tipping point?

Boku is taking carrier billing to new places

The mobile payments market has had big news in the last month – the release of Apple Pay, and PayPal’s announced split from eBay. Yesterday Boku announced that customers are able to pay for real world goods by adding the payment to their mobile phone bill. Internet access required, NFC (near field communication) technology not. 


This method of payment is called carrier billing. Previously carrier billing has been limited to digital wallpapers and ringtones, but with new deals with Vodafone, O2, and EE, Boku is expanding its role of e-Money issuer in the UK and EU.


Boku will negotiate limits with individual phone carriers (and merchants). They are operating using industry standard limits for now. £30/transaction £200/month will not facilitate an auto purchase, but does allow for magazine and convenience purchases, including movie tickets, parking, takeout, and public transportation.


“It may not yet revolutionize mainstream retail payments, but it could well see people using mobile to pay for cans of pop, newspapers and magazines and making other ‘micropayments’ in small retailers and the like, while the mainstream high street stores are still grappling with finding budget for beacons and other tech” commented Paul Skeldon at


Who would have thought that it would be corner shops and kiosks that got the first taste of mobile payments in retail?


Merchants will need to sign on, thereby allowing customers to use this method of payment. Consumers will not need to register. In most instances it will take only confirmation via text to process the transaction. No credit card information exchange, in fact, no credit card required.


The global m commerce market is set to grow from $116 billion in 2014 to $467 billion in 2019. The focus in North America has been on wallets and beacons, but carrier billing is likely to have a larger global impact in the end – serving regions where merchants and consumers have cell-phones but not NFC technology. “Suddenly, mobile payment has become simple to implement” summarized Skeldon.


ADDITIONAL | Has mobile payment hit its tipping point?

ADDITIONAL | VIDEO The 5 big benefits of ‘charge to bill’

Google site search: Hurdle for retailers or consumer service?

Google is in constant evolution, and it remains the number one search engine. It is important for retailers to follow the company’s updates, difficult to decipher as they may be.

In a move to keep users on their search page for longer, Google launched search within a site. The clumsy name simply indicates that below the header for a particular retailer, is another Google search box. Instead of immediately clicking on the retailer’s website, the user may enter a secondary search on the same Google page.

Search within a site searches are treated like other search result pages. Which means, relevant advertising is also returned. The organic results are from the specific retailer. The ads are from any company that has purchased advertising – including the direct competition. We searched ‘marc jacobs’ at Revolve Clothing (above), and Shopbop – another ecommerce retailer was the top return (below). The rest of the results were all from Revolve Clothing.


As Mark Ballard, director of research at Rimm Kaufman Group LLC articulates, “You’d end up generating ads for your competition on a search that otherwise would have taken place on your site”.

Google argues that the search feature on many commerce sites are plainly not very good, and the company is looking to fill that second query result on its own search pages.


There is a solution for retailers wanting to control the returned results, and eliminate any advertising. Google has allowed for the retailer’s own search results page, as long as it’s formatted correctly and submitted to Google. Amazon and Walmart have already opted-in.




The search within a site feature is one of the newest the company is using to keep retailers on the Google search page longer. Structured and Rich Snippets pull key product and site details (like a camera’s dimensions, resolution, etc.) from brand and retailer websites, displaying them on the search results page. Thus, delaying the click to a retailer / brand’s webpage.


At this point, search within a site doesn’t seem to be altering consumer behavior in a significant way, but Google is actively expanding both the Snippits and Site Search features.

Amazon and Walmart set up on eachother's turf

This week, two major retailers took a step out of their comfort zones, across the country, to play in their competition’s playground.  Walmart has expanded its west-coast technology lab, and Amazon has opened a photography facility in New York.



Image source: Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times   

Image source: Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times


Amazon announced the opening of a 40,000 square-foot photography facility in New York, which plans to run 24/7 when it’s fully operational in a few weeks.  Fashion, lead by Cathy Beaudoin, is estimated to be a significant blend of the company’s expected $95 billion business in 2013, which includes women’s contemporary, men’s, and which is the flash sale component.

Amazon is west-coast based, with headquarters in Seattle and a significant presence in Silicon Valley, but the company was eager to make a home in New York.  The studio is expected to serve it’s own businesses, in addition to those sellers who use the Amazon site as a third party sales outlet and platform. 

 “New York is a magnet for talent — models, photographers, digitech people, hair and makeup stylists,” Beaudoin said.  It’s as much about cost-cutting and convenience as it is about image excellence.  “This is allowing us to scale and obsess over the customer experience”.



Image: Walmart via Wired

Image: Walmart via Wired

While Amazon is focused on improving its soft-lines and ‘customer-browsing’ capabilities, Wal-Mart is looking to compete and play catch-up with the etailer in e-commerce technology.  The discount retailer is pouring money into mobile and talent, expanding it’s offices in San Bruno, California to include foosball tables and salmon entrees. 

Talented engineers are what the company is after, as Walmart continues to grow its $10 billion ecommerce channel.  Same-day delivery, online pricing, and free delivery (without membership) are the areas Walmart continues to make head-way. 

Walmart’s online revenue may only be a fraction of Amazon’s, there is significant opportunity with the volume of unique visitors to the site.  Walmart counted just shy of 63 million unique visitors in August – which is about half of Amazon’s 133 million.  That is a much smaller delta than the revenue measurement.  It shows that Walmart has the customer’s interest – it just needs a larger share of their dollar.  

Earlier in the month Walmart also opened two new online fulfillment centres so it could increase its product selection and ship packages to customers quickly and cheaply – the two strategies which enabled Amazon to become dominant in the channel. 

Both retailers have significant strength: Walmart has scale and profitability, Amazon dominates the e-commerce world.  Both have the vision and awareness to know they need to expand into new areas.  That is good news for the future of both.   


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The business of silk scarves

Hermes opens Silk Bar, launches an app, and teaches us about production





This month, it’s great to be doing business at the Time Warner Centre in Manhattan – or at least attending a quick meeting or two there. Situated in the lobby is the Hermes Silk Bar diner where the company’s silk scarves, ties, and enamel bracelets are temporarily being sold. 

We were surprised in April when we stumbled across the Silk Bar in Taipei – and were thrilled to see it would be ‘popping-up’ in Manhattan.  The high-traffic building is expected to attract a new customer for the brand, and bring a bit of fun and colour to the crowd in dark suits.  And for those who need a quick break, the Bar also hosts a games room with golf, hula hoops and a photobooth.  Les Jeux d’Hermes is the icing on an already whimsical cake.





And to ensure customers enjoy their purchase beyond the initial beauty of the art on each scarf, Hermes has also launched a Silk Knots app with videos, and step by step instructions on how to tie your scarf.  Tops, braided headbands, necklaces and dresses, in addition to beautiful around the neck drapes are all included. 

Nike has always been great at serving a higher mandate for their customers, for example offering training video apps, and prepping-for-your-first-marathon programs – but it’s nice to see a fashion company offering the same level of service.  A lifetime of fun with silk scarves is what Hermes is offering their customer.  



Hermes is a company of artists and craftspeople first and foremost.  The designers of each of the silk scarves are purposely kept away from the production process so they will not consider the hours it takes to see their vision through.  Thankfully, this is exactly what the Hermes customer loves about their product – the quality, the uniqueness of each piece, the artistry. 

It often takes up to six-months for an engraver at Hermes to determine each scarf’s distinct colours.  Often a 750 to 2000 hour process, engraving (or preparing the artwork for print) takes up to a year. 


Craftspeople, as with many chefs and producers, care primarily for their final product and also the materials and ‘waste’ which are not used in their production.  Hermes is a company which uses only the highest quality of materials, the availability of which limits their production capacity.   The Hermes craftspeople often joke about the ‘mean men who inspect each finished piece’ – the toughest quality control group in the industry.  With these standards, it is within every artist to want to put to use everything – rejected and damaged finished goods, scrap material, etc. 

Petit h is a workshop designed and run by Madame Pascale Mussard.  The creative space brings Hermes skills and materials together under one roof and offers artists the chance to use them in new works.  The scraps and discarded materials from the production workshops are reborn into unexpected objects.  Traditionally these items have been sold through travelling exchibitions in Hermes boutiques, but have now found a more permanent home.  Hermes is opening a new Petit h shop in the rue de Sevres store in Paris. 



Hermes’ business continues to experience strong growth year over year, and is one of the few companies which stands firmly behind, and executes according to its values.   Perhaps strong growth is associated with strong values?

To build a strong, sustainable retail business, you need a great foundation – and a lot of inspiration to innovate and develop creative solutions.  Our online courses and workshops are ideal for this. 

Stay updated with our Twitter feed.  Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Gucci's Digital Direction

Written by David McKay
We can’t do a ‘Gucci p.r. Girl’ thing. We’re an authority and corporate voice - but we can be conversational at the same time.
— Courtney Colavita, worldwide social media director at Gucci

Gucci reaches 24 million people via social media every day by curating narrative and imagery which highlights the brands heritage, social lifestyle, news and events.  The company has embraced all major platforms, including Pinterest.  Although the company has an impressive 15,000 followers on the suburban, female dominated platform, they are still quite a distance from the 3+ million followers Peter Som boasts.  However, the brand is embracing the potential of the platform, and Tumblr, both of  which are driven by search instead of a timeline - giving content increased longevity.  


As a global luxury brand Gucci's overall communication strategy is controlled, not allowing for real-time consumer interaction and posts on sites like Facebook.  This is in contrast with Proenza Schouler's digital activity, which generates and creates a community-based feeling.  "We can't do a 'Gucci p.r. Girl' thing.  We're an authority and corporate voice - but we can be conversational at the same time", reiterated Courtney Colavita, Gucci's director of social media, at Fairchild's Menswear Summit.  Additionally, Gucci differs in its value strategy - while coupon and discount offers are often some of the most popular way retailers interact with consumers, online or offline it is not part of the brands value proposition.  


Gucci's online strategy has also been aided by targeting the much-neglected male customer.  Chris Ventry, GM of Gilt Groupe's GiltMan told CNBC recently that men shopping online are outspending the ladies by approximately 25% percent.  Gucci ensures this demographic is served through micro-trend content.  


Staying true to the brand's heritage and consumer lifestyle has helped boost brand ambassadors, while maintaining a cohesive story and image - online and off.