All merchants deal with finance — borrowing money, raising equity, dealing with banks, and selling (or buying) a business. We address all those topics, plus U.S. regulatory changes, financial technology, earnings of public ecommerce companies, and more.

  • Finance

    5 Reasons for an Ecommerce Business Plan

    April 10, 2013 •

    Does an ecommerce company need a business plan? Yes, almost any business can benefit from developing a business plan. While many companies prepare a plan solely to secure outside funding, a business plan can also help you focus on what you want your business to be in the future and pro...

  • Illustration with the letters SWOT Finance

    SWOT Analysis for Ecommerce Companies

    April 3, 2013 •

    A SWOT analysis — Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats — is something many MBA students learn. Unfortunately, businesses frequently treat SWOT like geometry: one of those things you learn but never use again.

  • Finance

    Internet Sales Tax: States Take the Lead

    February 13, 2013 •

    The days of sales-tax-free online purchasing are coming to an end for many consumers. 2012 was a year of inaction on the federal level because the Marketplace Fairness Act that would have required sales tax collection by Internet merchants on a national level never came to a vote. Howev...

  • Finance

    Equity Crowdfunding Stalls

    January 25, 2013 •

    When President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act in April 2012, the clock started ticking on a 270-day period for the Securities and Exchange Commission to write the regulations that would govern crowdfunding. That 270 period is over and no regulations exist. SEC Chai...

  • Finance

    Analyzing Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Overall Retail Sales

    December 3, 2012 •

    Cyber Monday online sales reached $1.47 billion, up 17 percent over last year, representing the heaviest online spending day in history, according to digital tracking firm comScore, which also reported that Black Friday sales reached $1.04 billion, besting last year's amount by 28 perce...

  • Finance

    Third-Quarter Ecommerce Results Bode Well for the 2012 Holiday Season

    November 15, 2012 •

    The growth in online purchasing continues. In a survey of 1,989 online consumers conducted during the last week of October, digital-tracking firm comScore found that In Q3 2012, online sales grew 15 percent over the same period last year, compared with a two percent year-over-year growt...

  • Finance

    Ecommerce Shines in the Second Quarter of 2012

    August 23, 2012 •

    The first half of 2012 continued the 2011 fourth quarter trend of strong ecommerce growth. In Q2, online retail grew nearly four times the rate of total consumer spending in the U.S., according to ecommerce research firm comScore. The Census Bureau reports that U.S. ecommerce sales in Q...

  • Finance

    Ecommerce Acquisitions, Mergers, and Partnerships — What You Need to Know

    August 8, 2012 •

    In the late 1990s, ecommerce vendors looked to brick and mortar retailers for marketing tips and best practices. Now, as more people shop online and abandon brick and mortar stores, retail chains are turning to online merchants for advice. That's because web-only sellers have shown th...

  • Finance

    Investment in Ecommerce Firms Robust

    June 14, 2012 •

    While the poor showing of Facebook in its initial public offering last month has immobilized the market for Internet companies wanting to sell stock to the public, the overall investment climate remains strong. Merger and acquisitions activity in the ecommerce arena has remained robust ...

  • Finance

    Going Public? How to Decide Which Exchange to List On

    April 20, 2012 •

    Thinking about taking your company public? After you get through all the paperwork you will have to decide at which stock exchange you want to list your company. Each publicly traded company may trade shares on only one domestic stock exchange. Substantive differences exist among the ex...

  • Finance

    Equity Crowdfunding Is Now Legal in U.S.

    April 10, 2012 •

    Last week President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) that includes revisions to the 1930s era financial regulations that limited equity funding for start-up businesses. Equity crowdfunding is now legal in the U.S. The final bill is more restrictive than ...

  • Finance

    Kabbage, A Funding Source for Ecommerce Merchants

    March 15, 2012 •

    When we first first wrote about Kabbage just over a year ago, it was a fledgling endeavor with only eBay merchants as customers. But Kabbage now serves merchants who use Yahoo! stores, Etsy, Amazon, and Shopify, as well as eBay. In July Kabbage will be launching in the U.K., its first ...

  • Finance

    15 Top Crowdfunding Projects on Kickstarter

    February 23, 2012 •

    Kickstarter is a crowdfunding site to fund entrepreneurial projects in technology, design, film, art, and other creative fields. The video game project Double Fine Adventure has raised two million dollars from over sixty thousand backers, and the funding still has 19 days to go. Within ...

  • Finance

    Buying Sites to Boost Traffic

    January 12, 2012 •

    Purchasing and maintaining established, niche websites may help online retailers increase site traffic and sales. Boiled down to its essence, much of online retail marketing is devoted to increasing site traffic in the hope that more visitors will ultimately lead to more sales and more...

  • Finance

    Zynga Falters in Public Debut; Affects Facebook?

    December 26, 2011 •

    The market for technology stocks is closing the year on a less than happy note and the disappointing public debut of online game provider Zynga did nothing to change the mood. Zynga's Opening Day Zynga's IPO was highly anticipated despite the fact that in the days prior to going publ...

  • Finance

    6 Internet Stock Offerings in 2011; Recap

    December 19, 2011 •

    Although 2011 is not yet over, it appears it will be a dismal year for the IPO — initial public stock offering — market. As of September, according to statistics compiled by market tracker Dealogic and reported in The Wall Street Journal, 63 percent of all 76 IPOs were trading below the...

  • Finance

    Crowdfunding: 5 Things You Should Know

    November 24, 2011 •

    New crowdfunding sites are springing up every month and more and more entrepreneurs are looking to these sites for money. Despite all the hoopla, crowdfunding is not currently a good alternative for most start-up or small businesses. Here are five things you should know about crowdfundi...

  • Finance

    Venture Capital Firms Bullish on Ecommerce

    November 10, 2011 •

    In "Ecommerce Companies Snag Venture Capital," I discussed several ecommerce firms that recently received venture capital funding. Most of them were ecommerce infrastructure providers. I was curious to find out if VCs prefer business-to-business infrastructure companies to consumer-ori...

  • Finance

    Banks React to Durbin Amendment

    November 4, 2011 •

    When the Durbin Amendment regulating interchange fees on debit card transactions took effect October 1, it appeared that merchants could accrue some cost savings on debit card transactions and perhaps leverage their savings by encouraging customers to use debit cards in lieu of credit c...

  • Finance

    Ecommerce Companies Snag Venture Capital

    October 25, 2011 •

    While venture capital funding has generally been in the doldrums this year, a few ecommerce software companies — and even some online sellers — have managed to attract equity investors.

  • Finance

    Amazon Becomes a Proponent of Uniform Internet Sales Tax

    September 29, 2011 •

    Two months ago I wrote "California Joins the Internet Sales Tax Fray; Federal Legislation Coming?," a description of the latest efforts by states to get online sellers to pay sales tax. Several new developments warrant another look. California and Amazon Come to Terms After we publish...

  • Finance

    Ecommerce IPOs for 2011: 3 Down, More to Follow?

    September 23, 2011 •

    Groupon's initial public stock offering, which had been pushed back, is now back on. But for how long? With the ongoing market volatility, several prominent Internet companies are reconsidering their IPO plans. Here is a roundup of the ecommerce-related IPO market for 2011, including a...

  • Finance

    Consumers Use Tablets for Shopping; 70 Million Units in 2011

    September 22, 2011 •

    When Apple introduced the iPad in April 2010, people ridiculed the name. Nobody is mocking it anymore. While other companies, including Microsoft, tinkered with tablets earlier, none of them made much of an impression on consumers. With its sleek design backed by Apple's marketing magic...

  • Finance

    Amazon Prime: 5 Million Members, 20 Percent Growth

    September 16, 2011 •

    For $79 a year, Amazon customers who join the Prime membership program get unlimited free two-day shipping on eligible items with no minimum order size. For $3.99 an item, a ...

  • Finance

    How to Read a Financial Statement

    September 8, 2011 •

    Having a good accountant is important to the success of every small business. But do you really understand all the terms in the documents your accountant prepares? Relying too heavily ...

  • Finance

    How to Choose a Business Credit Card, Part Two

    August 26, 2011 •

    In “Part 1” of this two-part series, I provided some tips for choosing a business credit card. In this “Part 2” installment, I provide details on specific cards as evaluated ...

  • Finance

    How to Choose a Business Credit Card, Part 1

    August 25, 2011 •

    Unhappy with your current business credit card? Cheer up. As a business owner you have many choices. But a card that is right for one business may not be advantageous for another. Cash flow, credit rating, and the amount of business travel can influence your choice of cards. This is "...

  • Finance

    Will the S&P Downgrade Affect Smaller Ecommerce Businesses?

    August 18, 2011 •

    The downgrading of U.S. creditworthiness from AAA to AA+ by Standard and Poor's has dominated the news over the past two weeks. Since 1941, the U.S. credit rating has been AAA — the highest rating — denoting a safe investment. While S&P's action will doubtless have repercussions,...

  • Finance

    How to Find Venture Capital Investors For Your Company

    August 12, 2011 •

    If you have a great idea for a start-up — or if you have an existing business that needs money to grow — the main options are to borrow from friends and family, borrow from a bank, or seek equity funding from a venture capital firm. Banks are skittish about lending to small businesses i...

  • Finance

    Does the SEC Fail Small Internet Businesses?

    August 5, 2011 •

    As retailing migrates online, an increasing number of ecommerce and Internet business will seek to raise public capital. Many of them will be smaller companies. But a growing number of observers believe the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is failing smaller businesses and In...