Jon Russell of The Next Web reports, “Alibaba is gearing up for one of the largest technology IPOs in history with more significant strategy and investment moves. The latest, this week, saw the company lead a $1.2 billion investment in Chinese online video service Youku Tudou and link up with browser-make UC Web to launch a mobile search joint venture. Youku Tudou, which is comparable to a Chinese version of YouTube, is taking on investment from Alibaba and Yunfeng Capital, which will hold 16.5 percent and 2 percent shares respectively. The deal values Youku Tudou — which is listed on the NYSE and was created following a billion dollar merger in 2012 — at over $6.5 billion, but moreover it is a sign of Alibaba’s ambition to move into entertainment and mobile. Jack Ma, the iconic founder and now executive chairman of Alibaba, said that the deal would ‘accelerate our digital entertainment and video content strategy… and bring new products and services to Alibaba’s customers’.” Read more
Supply chain and products standards organization GS1 – which this week joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to contribute to work on improving global commerce and logistics – also now has released the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number) Validation Guide. In the states the GTIN, which is the GS1-developed numbering sequence within bar codes for identifying products at point of sale, is known as the Universal Product Code (UPC).
The guide is part of the organization’s effort to drive awareness about “the business importance of having accurate product information on the web,” says Bernie Hogan, Senior Vice President, Emerging Capabilities and Industries. The guide has the endorsement of players including Google, eBay and Walmart, which are among the retailers that require the use of GTINs by onboarding suppliers, and support GTIN’s extension further into the online space to help ensure more accurate and consistent product descriptions that link to images and promotions, and help customers better find, compare and buy products.
“This is an effort to help clean up the data and get it more accurate,” he says. “That’s so foundational to any kind of commerce, because if it’s not the right number, you can have the best product data and images and the consumer still won’t find it.” The search hook, indeed, is the link between the work that GS1 is doing to encourage using GS1 standards online for improved product identification data with semantic web efforts such as schema.org, which The Semantic Web discussed with Hogan here.
According to a new article out of Mobile Marketing and Technology, there has been a breakthrough in the area of image search. The author states, “British company Cortexica has developed the first software in the world that will help consumers to purchase the perfect pair of shoes. Launching on March 19th, ‘FindSimilar™ for Shoes’ takes a photo of any sort of footwear and then analyses it against a database of images. Working like a ‘visual search engine’ it displays a range of shoes with similar characteristics such as shape, colour and design and allows the consumer to choose from a tailored selection. The technology works by mimicking the way the brain processes images and finds similarities.” Read more
Apparel.com reports, “Reflektion, a retail analytics firm, has raised $8 million in a Series B funding round led by Intel Capital and including NIKE, Inc. as well as several private investors. Reflektion provides a predictive analytics platform for retailers and brands through an easily deployable Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. The company plans to use the funding to support its customers — including Converse, Inc., which is currently piloting the technology, O’Neill, A.M. Leonard and RealTruck — and to launch broadly its ecommerce and business intelligence solutions in the market. The resources will also be used for additional product development, plus expanded sales and marketing activities.” Read more
John Koetsier of Venture Beat reports, “Some sites are stupid. They don’t know you; they don’t know what you like; and they don’t know what you want. Even if you’re among the tiny six percent of visitors that log in, the site is the site is the site. ‘Unless you put the $4 billion a year that Amazon puts into its technology, you end up with a pretty dumb site,’ Joelle Kaufman, BloomReach’s head of marketing and partnerships, told me yesterday. ‘We use technology to unlock that potential and make every web experience — mobile, tablet, desktop — oriented around the individual and their need at that moment.’” Read more
Sean O’Neill of Tnooz reports, “Last week saw the soft launch of Hopper, the long-awaited consumer trip planning engine that claims to be powered by the ‘world’s largest structured database of travel information’. Since last summer, the site has put wannabe users on a waiting list, allowing only a handful to become beta testers. But as of now, the bouncer’s gone. Anyone can create an account, road-test tools, and book flights. Founded in 2007 and based in Boston and Montreal, the company has 23 full-time employees and has received more than $22 million in funding from backers such as Brightspark, Atlas Venture, and OMERS Ventures. It claims to have breakthrough semantic search technology.” Read more
Faith Merino of Vator.tv reports, “Pinterest may have just gotten one step closer to monetizing. The company has confirmed its acquisition of visual search technology company VisualGraph, which could result in A) a stronger commerce angle, or B) ultra targeted ads. Or both! The two-man company was founded by Kevin Jing, who formerly worked on Google’s image search technology. VisualGraph was specifically designed to be applied to commerce and ‘visual shopping,’ so it seems likely that that’s how Pinterest will integrate the technology. And Pinterest is definitely raising money like a commerce company. The startup recently raised a massive $225 million round just last October, bringing its total raised to more than $550 million since 2010.” Read more
Jay Myers of BestBuy recently wrote, “Shortly before Black Friday, one of my colleagues approached me with a curious question. ‘Mr. SVP XYZ was talking today about us creating a promo page of ‘stocking stuffers’. Do you think you could produce a list of products that might be ‘stocking stuffers’?’. After some discussion, we agreed that these products would be under $20 and be 5”x5” or smaller to qualify as a stocking stuffer. In a couple hours time we had a SPARQL generated list of 190 products (thank you @bsletten) on a promo page for anyone who searched for the ‘stocking stuffers’ phrase. A classic last minute, rogue (skunkworks?) effort.” Read more
Barbara Starr of Search Engine Land recently wrote, “Ever since the Hummingbird update, there has been a ton of Internet buzz about entity search. What is entity search? How does it work? And what exactly is an ‘entity’? However, the topic of entity search as it relates to e-commerce and Google Shopping has been neglected. Everything you have learned to date about entity search, semantic search and the semantic Web also applies to e-commerce. The big difference in the shopping vertical compared to other search verticals is that all entities searched for are of the same type. Every product in Google is, in fact, an entity of type ‘product.’ It should therefore be treated and optimized as such.” Read more
October 14, 2013: The world’s leading hotel price comparison website, HotelsCombined, is pleased to announce a new partnership with acclaimed app-based travel planner Desti, to power the new travel planner’s metasearch and hotel comparison functionality.
Desti, an all-in-one travel app which launched earlier this year in the US, accesses HotelsCombined’s technology to extract live rates and availability for hotels. The information, along with review data, is displayed through the Desti app and is accessible for users to browse, click through and book. Read more