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Vanessa’s Variety for the Week of July 25th, 2008

Posted on July 25, 2008 by Vanessa

I was having a hard time figuring out how to get in to this week’s variety, because this past week seems like a blur.  Lucky for me I checked my email and Amazon was gracious enough to send me an announcement about their newest feature, still in beta, UnSpun.  I thought this would be a good way to start out, I mean it’s not like they are the largest internet retailer in the world or anything.  Oh yeah and I didn’t want to be the umpteenth person to mention their second quarter profits doubled this year.  Oh wait, dang it I just did.

  • Amazon announces UnSpun!  Yes Amazon has found another way to get shoppers involved in the purchasing process.  The feature is still in beta, but like I said above I got the email about it today.  "UnSpun by Amazon ( allows you to find lists about anything where the community has voted and added items. UnSpun gives you the best, the worst, the funniest, the obvious, and the obscure.” as explained by the email.  My favorite part about it was that the "UnSpun  team" provided an antidote to explain how these lists are created.  "Recently, the UnSpun team got spun up debating the movies we were most ashamed to admit liking (view this list). Jonathan said Breakfast Club while Michael was all over Showgirls. An e-mail exchange gave way to heated conversations which eventually boiled over into Mark's impassioned defense of Warren Beatty's acting chops over that of Dustin Hoffman's. Red faces and bruised egos aside, we all learned a little more about one another, and a lot about movies we ought to buy (when nobody's looking, of course)."  This may be totally fabricated, but as a consumer I loved the personalization of it.  Maybe I am totally gullible but I felt like I got to see a little insight into the world of those working at Amazon, and it made me like them, more. 
  • Consumers want to do their research online before making a purchase, whether that purchase is made in store or online, according to a study by Nielsen online.  This is great news for multi-channel retailers as the internet is driving offline sales
  • Yahoo profits fell below expected Wall Street estimates in the second quarter, which was not too surprising.  What was surprising to me is that "Yahoo said that it incurred $22 million in costs stemming from 'advisors related to Microsoft's proposals to acquire all or part of the company'".  Who are these advisors?  That is a lot of money regardless of what company you are and especially given the outcome of their “advising”.  It gets better, listen to this Microsoft, to help address the 11% increase in Yahoo’s search service in the second quarter, Yahoo announced a partnership with Google.  According to the article "Yahoo recently announced a partnership with Google that will have Google fielding some queries made on Yahoo sites, to match them with advertisements and split any resulting revenue."  Read the full article here
  • No wonder we pay over $100 for jeans now-a–days!  Retailers are taking dressing rooms to the next level, and it is quite unbelievable.  What I want to know is if it is actually necessary?  Are we really going to keep increasing the cost of our attire just to have some sort of 3-D scanners in the fitting room?  I mean, I love to shop but even I think we are getting lazy, and because of it retailers are having to strategize to accommodate our laziness.  According to the article retailers like Banana Republic are adding call buttons and delivery doors so that sales assistants can bring products to shoppers.  If you have ever shopped there, you know that they bug you enough as it is when you are trying things on.  I am already preparing myself for when I have to say "no I don’t need a piece of cheesecake and a cup of tea to enjoy while trying these clothes on".  While I am on this rant I want to address the fact that we are becoming a society of those that cannot think or make decisions on their own.  I love product reviews I read them when I am making online purchases.  I also like to know my friend's opinions about my outfits (sometimes).  But are we so dependent on what others think that we need "an interactive mirror and webcam" in the dressing room so that we can include friends and family in on our shopping experience?  If your friends and family have that much time on their hands, more power to you. 
  • If you follow Gary Weiss at all you know how he feels about’s CEO Patrick Byrne.  If not, he refers to the company in this post as his favorite "corporate sleaze poster child". reported its second quarter earnings last Friday which caused the stock to drop by more than 41%.  If you read the Q2 2008 Earnings Call Transcript it may become clear why the company’s earnings didn’t measure up.  This blog has taken the liberty of capturing a few key highlights of the transcript for you, and it doesn’t bode well for Byrne.


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