Will Warranty Enforcement Be Amazon Marketplace's Achilles' Heel?

When it comes to competing against Amazon, eBay or even Japan's Rakuten, one of the more challenging aspects is their third-party marketplaces, which give each a seemingly endless inventory at minimal risk. But the odds may be getting more even, as shoppers are starting to notice that some manufacturers are strictly enforcing their authorized reseller rules.

The immediate impact on shoppers is they may find that the expensive flat-screen TV, surround-sound speakers or refrigerator that looked like such a bargain on Amazon voids the warranty. The arguably-unrealistic expectation from consumer goods manufacturers—which sharply strengthens the hands of traditional e-tailers trying to fight against these third-party marketplaces—is that shoppers would not only notice the actual name of the merchant shipping the item, but would take the time to run that name on the manufacturer's site to see if they are truly an authorized reseller. Or they could just make the purchase from or and know for certain.

Top Stories


At Wal-Mart, World’s Largest Retail Data Warehouse Gets Even Larger

October 13th, 2004

It's only fitting that the largest retailer should have the world's largest database, but at more than one-half a petabyte, that's a lot of information, even for Wal-Mart.

The vendor that is supporting those many bytes of data—NCR's Teradata division—begged for the extraordinary permission from the normally secretive Wal-Mart to announce this achievement to make a point: It is arguing that its systems can scale without hiccups even at an extreme number. Read more...


Teradata, SeeCommerce Alliance Promises Retail Out-of-Stock Help

October 12th, 2004

Leveraging the deep retail installed base of Teradata, SeeCommerce and Teradata announced on Monday an integrated package focusing on one of retail's most troubling issues: out-of-stocks. Read more...


Drawing the E-Commerce Battle Lines

October 8th, 2004

When America Online announced its yawn-oriented shopping portal ("Gee," asked executives from Microsoft and Yahoo simultaneously, "why didn't we think of that? Oh yeah. We did."), it renewed the perennial offline/online e-commerce debate. Since shortly after the Web came into being and browsers became graphical, the Web was without form, and void and darkness were upon the face of the browser. And Andreessen said, "Let there be commerce." And Barksdale saw the commerce and that it was good. And Barksdale divided the online from the offline. Read more...


A Tailor-Made Technology Environment

October 6th, 2004

In the clothing business, selling a suit that doesn't fit a customer makes little sense, even if it's highly profitable. The same can be said for retail e-commerce strategies: There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all Web site. Casual Male, with more than 533 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, dominates the "big and tall men" apparel niche, which it identifies as a $6 billion market. Read more...


Microsoft’s POS Move May Make It a Viable Retail Option

October 5th, 2004

When Microsoft Corp. unveiled its embedded operating system for retailers, it stressed the mini-OS' plug-and-play capability. But one key motivation for the company might have been the fear that retailers were considering upgrading without Microsoft. Late 2004 had retailers at a key IT management point, with aging POS (point of sale) systems pressuring them to upgrade, but many standard upgrade paths unappealing. This drove some retailers to consider Linux. Read more...

Site Helps Retailers Tout Local Deals

September 30th, 2004

One problem that retailers have with the World Wide Web is that it's so ... well ... worldwide. A group of newspaper publishers tried to address that issue with the launch of a Web site intended to match consumers looking for specific products with local retailers that have those products on special promotions.Read more...

Is Corporate Hoarding the CRM Goodies?

September 28th, 2004

Store managers are starting to complain that their data-collection efforts are baring fruit, says Evan Schuman, but they're not being allowed to eat any of it. It's a common complaint within retail circles. Read more...

Will Frustrated Store Managers Revolt Against Corporate CRM?

September 28th, 2004

Frustrated by what some see as IT executives hoarding CRM information, retail store managers are starting to do an end run around corporate with their own customer-information-gathering systems.

One result of this retail technology revolt are smart store kiosks, which today do a lot more than display electronic brochures.Read more...

JDA, PeopleSoft Team Up to Help Retailers

September 23rd, 2004

In an attempt to fend off retail moves from SAP AG, PeopleSoft Inc. and JDA Software Group Inc. announced an alliance that they said better serves retailers. Under the deal, the companies will integrate PeopleSoft's Enterprise Financial Management with JDA's Portfolio Merchandise Management. The move followed PeopleSoft's alliance with IBM. Read more...

Overblown RFID Privacy Fears Still Merit Attention

September 19th, 2004

As RFID stories start appearing in the consumer media and on the television network news shows, we're starting to hear the same death and despair stories that were all the rage when the consumer media first discovered the Web. My personal favorites were the early stories of shock when a reporter found out that government computers had pornographic images on them. That sounded pretty bad, until you realized that it was simply an Internet server that has Usenet newsgroups on it. Read more...

Startup Rolls Out RFID Transition Tool

September 15th, 2004

As the industry slowly moves ahead with RFID integration, one of the critical issues has been the need for retailers to seamlessly work with both bar-code and RFID readers. It's difficult enough for 20-year-old point-of-sale devices to handle RFID, let alone handle RFID while still working with bar-code devices. Read more...

Albertsons Learns the Legal Dangers of CRM

September 13th, 2004

An oft-heard complaint about retail CRM programs is that they are a waste of money when—as happens frequently—the retailer never uses them to connect with customers or even uses individualized information at all. The naysayers who said privacy resistance could backfire were given a lot of ammunition when $40 billion grocery giant Albertsons was sued for trying to make money off of those CRM names. Read more...

RFID to Be Served 7-Eleven Style

September 11th, 2004

A dairy truck driver pulls up to a 7-Eleven convenience store and is preparing to deliver crates of milk when the store manager greets him.

"Hold on a moment," the manager says, as he looks at an RFID readout on his PDA. "These crates over here are bad." Read more...

Pity the Retail IT Pioneer

September 3rd, 2004

Historically, the two most difficult technology decisions involve migration. Put simply: when to get into a technology/platform and when to get out. A senior Best Buy executive gave a much needed reminder that while exit/entrance issues get all the headlines, it's the detail-ridden implementation/execution issues that usually decide success or failure. Read more...

Best Buy Taking Baby Steps to Full RFID

September 2nd, 2004

Best Buy has gone public with its RFID plans, pledging to move all of its major suppliers to start delivering RFID-compliant tags for all product cases and pallets by Jan. 2, 2006. The deadline for those suppliers to support all product cases and pallets is May 2007.

But the $25 billion Fortune 100 retailer said this rollout was being done at a relatively relaxed pace. "This is going to be a 'go slow to go fast' move," said Bob Willett, executive vice president of operations for Best Buy. "We've barely got our feet in the water." Read more...

Survey: Linux Has Long Way to Go in Retail

August 27th, 2004

Linux penetration into retail isn't nearly as significant as commonly believed, according to a study from industry analyst firm Venture Development Corp. (VDC). "There's a lot of talk, a lot of news around Linux and a lot of hype," said Mike Liard, senior analyst at VDC and a co-author of the report. Read more...

In Retail, Can A Shrink Shrink Shrink?

August 27th, 2004

In retail technology today, security is a chief concern, and CIOs are exploring any and all options—including a psychological approach for weeding out would-be thieves.

No issue generates as much concern—if not outright panic—as does security.Read more...

Will Cell Phones, PDAs Become Retailers’ Promo Tools?

August 25th, 2004

With PDAs and cell phones getting more advanced, one retail transaction vendor wants to turn those consumer gadgets into two-way, advertisement-friendly checkout devices.

A major roadblock for razor-thin-margin retailers adopting new checkout and loyalty programs is the cost of buying the many new pieces of hardware, plus the cost of integrating the software into legacy POS (point-of-sale) systems. Read more...

A Lesson from Toys ‘Were’ Us: Use Tech to Personalize

August 14th, 2004

When Toys "Were" Us announced that it was going to abandon the toy business, the toy chain was widely seen as another victim of Wal-Mart. But the truth is, the move stemmed from the company's own inability to use technology to get closer to customers.

The traditional fear of technology is that it replaces people and makes business transactions more impersonal. Anyone who has gotten locked into a battle of voice-mail prompts—furiously hitting "0" and "#" in a futile effort to break through to a person—understands the frustrations of automated responses. Read more...

Discover CIO: Retail Technology Ready for Major Changes

August 10th, 2004

Today's retail payment space is ripe for radical change, says the CIO for Morgan Stanley's Discover Financial Services Inc. unit. And when radical change happens, it can shake up an industry, and market leaders can find themselves in a market that is much less friendly than before. "I've never seen so much change in a particular space at any one point in time. In Europe, there is a movement mandating the use of chip cards and PINs," said Diane Offereins, Discover's CIO and executive vice president. Read more...

Is Retail IT Being Killed by Complacency?

August 10th, 2004

Are retail IT execs too comfortable and timid to be effective? Are legacy systems so extensive, the fundamental infrastructure so adequate and the margins so tight that modernization is too much work and too risky? Those decidedly uncomfortable questions were raised by the CIO of Discover Financial in an interview. Read more...

Integrated Device Could Ease RFID Processing

August 10th, 2004

A large French electrical equipment supplier introduced a way for suppliers to more seamlessly integrate RFID capabilities into existing equipment, which could lessen the supplier burden and possibly accelerate and broaden RFID adoption. TCP Open, the approach unveiled by $9 billion Schneider Electric, allows a supplier's PLC (programmable logic controller) automation systems to communicate directly with various third-party TCP devices, including radio frequency tag readers, printers, bar-code readers and other PLCs. Read more...

Discover To Use Biometrics To Combat Rivals

August 10th, 2004

What do you do if you're a struggling second-tier credit card company and your main advantage is offering lower prices to retailers? One approach is to position yourself as more convenient and more modern than your competitors and to focus on places that your rivals don't dominate. That's a big part of the strategy behind Discover Financial Services Inc.'s sudden embrace of biometric technology, according to CIO Diane Offereins. Read more...

What’s the Real ROI of Self-Checkout?

August 6th, 2004

A recent study by IHL Consulting Group indicates that self-checkout and other self-service systems generated almost $128 billion in sales last year, up about 80 percent over a year before. Projections are that these sales figures will continue to grow exponentially—up 73 percent this year and then a projected 88 percent next year.

Although the numbers are clearly rising quickly, self-checkout programs are by no means universally successful. Some retailers are enjoying huge success while others question whether it will ever work for them.Read more...

Self-Checkout Faces Practical, Tech Hurdles

August 6th, 2004

Self-service retail checkout systems are among the hottest growing technology segments, but the new devices are still in an experimental phase and suffer from the startup hiccups of any new technology.Read more...


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