In today’s InternetRetailing newsletter, we’re considering whether the new Libra cryptocurrency, developed primarily by Facebook, will provide a solution for retailers looking to offer shoppers new ways to buy. Facebook certainly intends that it should: the new cryptocurrency could enable shoppers to buy by channels including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Enabling, it promises, half the world’s population to buy online when they currently have no access to bank accounts, has clear potential to boost online retail and wider digital sales enormously. But how those that have no bank account will buy Libra in the first place is as yet unclear. Presumably there’ll be an offline link, such as using cash to buy cards that represent Libra. Alternatively users may be able to earn Libra online in some way, such as through social media interactions. Whether this venture succeeds will ultimately be down to consumers – and whether they trust Facebook and its partners enough to pay them for the privilege of spending their own money. Those “no to low" costs may well end up being micro amounts – but they will all add up, especially for those that have little cash to spend – and it does look as it it will be the consumer rather than the retailer that will be paying the transaction fees, unlike conventional banking.
Today we’re also reporting as Dune London puts a figure on the impact of personalised advertising on its sales, and as Harvey Nichols sees cross-border sales growth. From our European coverage we report as & Other Stories launches an Alibaba store, and as Mercadona launches a new ecommerce offering in Barcelona. What all of these stories have in common is that they’re about organisations offering their customers new ways to buy. Whether those customers want to use them will be key to ensuring these moves are successful.
Our guest comment is from Simon Hall of 5XThinking, who considers how retailers can overcome some common stumbling blocks in ecommerce.