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US Makes $57B Available to Small and Disadvantaged IT Providers

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By John K. Higgins
Jul 30, 2020 3:42 PM PT

United States government agencies will remain active in the information technology market, despite the impact of COVID-19 on agency operations. In fact, there is some evidence that the occurrence of the virus has spurred agencies to improve IT resources.

For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) in early July launched a new contracting vehicle offering a potential US$50 billion in federal acquisition of IT products and services. IT providers will have until Aug. 5, 2020 to apply for participation in the program.

In addition, GSA extended an existing IT procurement program and added $7 billion to the program’s potential contract coverage. Both programs are directed to small and disadvantaged IT providers with a Small Business Administration status known as “8-A” companies.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present new challenges and obstacles to many of GSA’s partners in the small business community, we are doing all we can to help keep this important part of the federal IT ecosystem vibrant and successful,” said Laura Stanton, GSA’s acting assistant commissioner of the Office of IT Category, in a recent blog posting.

“As we all navigate new realities and requirements, GSA is working to ensure small businesses have the opportunities to thrive,” she said.

Streamlined Contracting Promised

Both the current and new information technology contracting programs are classified as Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) vehicles.

Under the GWAC concept, vendors register as qualified information technology providers for the relevant contract vehicle. To quality, companies must go through a rigorous evaluation process which includes meeting standards for technical competency and demonstrating that a vendor is “responsible and responsive.”

Additionally, the company must be able to show why its pricing should be considered fair and reasonable, according to Larry Allen, managing director of the federal market access practice at BDO-USA, which provides contract advisory services.

The one-time vendor qualification process makes contracting more efficient for both agencies and IT providers. Once qualified, vendors become eligible to compete for separate specific “task order” projects from multiple federal agencies, with awards made on the basis of project requirements.

However, vendors who qualify for a GWAC program are not guaranteed any real business. “What they’ve really won is the right to compete for business that federal agencies wish to place,” Allen told the E-Commerce Times.

Vendors Look to the STARS for Business

The total of $57 billion in potential GWAC contracts will be administered through two procurement vehicles designated as Streamlined Technology Application Resource for Services (STARS) programs. GSA sets funding “ceilings” for each program indicating the total value of eligible contracts. Actual funding for a specific task order is provided by the federal agency using the contract vehicle.

Here is how the additional contract opportunities will work:

GSA STARS II Contract: Since the beginning of this program in 2011, GSA has made $15 billion worth of contracts eligible for participation. More than 50 federal agencies have used the vehicle. In late June the agency once again raised the ceiling for the program by $7 billion worth of eligible contracting while extending the duration of the program.

As a result of the extension, new STARS II task order contracts may be awarded through Aug. 30, 2021. Work may continue through June 30, 2022. The type of IT work generally is limited to custom programming, system design, facilities management, and other computer related services.

GSA noted that 787 “industry partners” (i.e. eligible vendors) will remain on the STARS II contractor roster during the procurement extension period.

GSA STARS III Contract: When this new, $50 billion program opens later this year, it will be operated in similar fashion to STARS II. But in addition to a significant boost in the funding level, the scope of work will be broadened. The program will support “customized IT services-based solutions which can be tailored to meet an agency’s unique mission needs,” GSA said.

Project scope will include “new and emerging technologies which may evolve over the life of the contract,” such as artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and virtual reality.

A significant element is that the program will be open to a wide swath of potential vendors. Current vendors for STARS II will need to re-qualify for STARS III. “STARS III will offer updated technology solutions, like a greater range of cloud-based offerings, cybersecurity solutions, and newer commercial IT products. It may also feature new contractors,” Allen noted.

GSA went through an internal business case process to determine whether the creation of STARS III was justified. The business case was approved, and on July 6, 2020 GSA issued a request for proposals (RFP) for IT vendors to submit their qualifications.

Disappointing Issue Emerges

The good news for vendors related to the STARS programs is somewhat offset by GSA’s recent decision to terminate another GWAC program. After reviewing the “Alliant 2 Small Business” vehicle, which also covered IT procurements, GSA closed the program.

According to industry sources, the administration of the program led to a significant number of challenges, or “protests” of contract awards. GSA’s explanation for the cancellation was that since the program was launched in 2018, “the federal government’s requirements have evolved.”

The Alliant small business program and both STARS programs “address different types of small businesses, and are different programs,” said Allen Hill, GSA’s acting deputy assistant commissioner, in the Office of IT Category at GSA.

“Each GWAC is a separate entity and program. While the Alliant-2 GWAC had a $15 billion ceiling, no funds were obligated on the program. GSA is working on a new approach for small business GWACs to strengthen, innovate, and better respond to changing technology needs and security threats,” Hill told the E-Commerce Times.

“I think GSA did make the right decision. While there are few public details around the protests, they dragged on for considerably more time than most. The costs and time invested were considerable. This had the net effect of making the pricing and solutions offered under the original RFP stale and obsolete. GSA would have had to scrap everything and start over anyway,” said BDO’s Allen.

More Is Needed

The recent changes GSA has made are part of a major effort to revise and upgrade the agency’s information technology contract process for small and disadvantaged providers.

“GSA is committed to finding ways for our GWACs to reflect the current IT marketplace so that we can maximize the opportunities,” for such companies, said GSA’s Stanton. One goal is to create opportunities in such areas as cybersecurity, emerging technology, and IT supply chain risk management.

As salutary as these proposed changes might be, GSA still has more work to do according to Roger Waldron, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement. GSA needs to be more specific on why it cancelled Alliant-2 for small business contract, and to “publicly and proactively” engage with the small business community on the content and timing of the agency’s future plans, he said.

The current uncertainty about GSA’s contract portfolio is “already roiling the market,” Waldron said in a recent blog posting. The Coalition offered to work with the agency to address continuing contracting issues.



John K. Higgins has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2009. His main areas of focus are U.S. government technology issues such as IT contracting, cybersecurity, privacy, cloud technology, big data and e-commerce regulation. As a freelance journalist and career business writer, he has written for numerous publications, including
The Corps Report and Business Week.
Email John.

Source: http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/86782.html?rss=1

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Black Friday on track for $8.9B+ in online sales as shoppers stay away from brick-and-mortar stores

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Black Friday — the day that launched 1,000 other shopping holidays — may have lost its place as the “start” of the Christmas shopping season by now (it gets bigger and earlier with each passing year). But the day after Thanksgiving still pulls in a crowd of buyers looking for a bargain and remains a major bellwether for tracking how sales will progress in what is the most important period for the retail and commerce sector.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year was definitely slimmer when it came to actual, in-person crowds — kind of a refreshing break from those times when you feel like it’s the worst of humanity when people are breaking out into fights over TVs at a local Walmart — but online it seems that sales did not disappoint.

Figures from Adobe, which is following online sales in real-time at 80 of the top 100 retailers in the U.S., covering some 100 million SKUs, said that we are “on track” for a new sales record for the day, with between $8.9 billion and $9.6 billion expected in sales online for Black Friday, a jump of 20%-29% on last year.

For some context, in 2019, Adobe tracked $7.4 billion in online sales, and yesterday it said that shoppers spent $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving, with more than $3 billion spent online each day in the week leading up to Thursday.

Adobe was still tallying the final numbers for the day as of this morning European time, so we’ll update this post with the final numbers as and when we get them.

Its analysts say that the evening tends to be big for online shopping — which makes sense since people might have been either going out in person during the day, or just doing something else on a day off.

Not all are in agreement that night time is the right time, however. Figures from Shopify — which analyses activity from the 1 million-plus merchants that use its e-commerce platform — said that the peak shopping hour on its platform was actually 9am Eastern, when there were as many as $3 million in sales per minute. The average cart size for US shoppers was $95.60, it added.

Interestingly, Shopify’s per-minute sales number underscores how the long tail of merchants are still quite a ways behind the very biggest: Adobe noted that its figures, across the sites that it tracks (which have at least $1 billion in annual sales) tally to $6.2 million spent per minute on Black Friday.

In either case, smartphones continue to be a major driver of how sales get made. Adobe said that as of 4pm Eastern some 41.5% of all sales were on handsets, a bit lower than the day before but 7% higher than in 2019. And just as was the case yesterday, it seems that smaller retailers are attracting more shoppers on mobile: Shopify said that some 70% of its sales are being made via smartphones.

We’ll see how all of that plays out later today also with the initial figures from “Small Business Saturday”, which is the latest of the shopping designations added to the holiday weekend, this one trying to hone focus more squarely away from major chains and big box merchants.

One big takeaway from the bigger weekend figures will be that offering items — electronics, tech, toys and sports goods being the most popular categories — at the right price will help retailers continue to bring in sales, in what has proven to be an especially strong year for online shopping after many have opted to stay away from crowded places due to the pandemic, but also a critical year for retailers because of the drag that the pandemic has had on the wider economy.

Cyber Monday is likely to continue to be the biggest of them all, expected to bring in between $11.2 billion and $13 billion in e-commerce transactions, up 19%-38% year-on-year.

Perhaps because of the shift to more online shopping, and the concern over flagging sales, it’s interesting that “holiday season” has also been extended and now comes earlier. Adobe said a survey of consumers found that 41% said they would start shopping earlier this year than previous years due to much earlier discounts. Recall too that Amazon’s Prime Day was delayed to start in October this year, an ‘event’ that many treated as a moment to get a jump start on holiday shopping.

“Black Friday is headed for record-breaking levels as consumers flock online to shop for both holiday gifts and necessities,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights. “Concurrently, it’s also worth noting that this year, we’re seeing strong online sales momentum across not only the major shopping days like Thanksgiving weekend, but throughout the holiday season as consumers spread out their shopping across several weeks in reaction to continued, heavy discounting from retailers.”

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/28/black-friday-online-sales-numbers/

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ADvendio Celebrates 10 Years of Product Excellence and Growth

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ADvendio, a leading Salesforce powered solution for media buying and selling, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the ADvendio product. Reaching this 10th-anniversary milestone is down to their hard work and unwavering commitment to their customers. The company’s growth projections align with its vision of creating unrivaled advertising solutions that bring teams together to buy and sell advertising on one platform.

Ten years ago, ADvendio had sought to streamline all advertising management processes by leveraging one scalable cloud-based solution. The mission was to provide customers with trusted innovative solutions for their advertising needs while driving results and improving performance. Since then ADvendio has become a leading software for publishers, advertisers and agencies using Salesforce® and it’s relied on everyday by some of the best known companies globally such as CBC, Sanoma, Pedestrian Group to name a few.

As part of the celebrations, and bearing in mind the current limitations surrounding the COVID19 pandemic, ADvendio has planned a remote internal celebration on Thursday, 26th November. The celebration brings together all ADvendio employees across all global offices, who will come together and mark the ADvendio Products 10th Anniversary.

Bernd Bube, ADvendio’s CEO, commented, “We are delighted to have reached this milestone, especially in such a competitive marketplace. ADvendio has achieved this success through the hard work, passion, and dedication of our team members, from product development to customer service levels throughout the organization. We have dedicated ourselves to 10 years of product innovation, process improvement, and efficiencies to provide our clients with the highest quality product and services. We look forward to celebrating this milestone and looking forward to the next ten years!”

About ADvendio:

ADvendio was founded initially as a Salesforce® consulting operation in 2004 by CEO Bernd Bube. After working closely with the advertising business for several years, Bernd recognized a need and a gap in the market to streamline all advertising management processes in order to help publishers, advertisers and agencies improve efficiency and drive revenue. And that is how the idea of creating the ADvendio product was first conceptualized.

To ADvendio, customer satisfaction remains its highest priority. They continue to optimize and enhance their ad management software to improve user experience and integrations with leading ad servers, ad exchanges and other ad tech platforms. A number of new solutions are in the various stages of development and will be rolled out in 2021 to address the strategic needs of their customers across programmatic, media buying, self-service, and marketplace offerings.

Currently, ADvendio has its presence in several regions globally. Its head offices are strategically located in Ireland,Germany, Chile and the USA, to provide customer support in more than 25 countries. Further, expansion is in the pipeline as captured in their ambitious growth roadmap that outlines the company growth path for both short and long term success.

The company boasts of a top-notch team of dedicated, highly-skilled, and experienced professionals who are passionately looking forward to the future of ADvendio. The company has put forth an extra effort into training their employees on the latest technologies and industry trends. Their service technicians are quality pro certified and offer an unsurpassed quality compared to their competitors.

In the last ten years, ADvendio has delivered hundreds of projects to their customers who they now rely on for repeat business and referrals. ADvendio product enables publishers and agencies to get everything you need for premium ad sales management with streamlined cross-media programmatic and linear sales processes. Additionally, advertisers and agencies who use the ADvendio product can deliver excellent cross-media campaigns in Salesforce® with a comprehensive media buying solution.

To find out more about ADvendio and, their products contact https://www.advendio.com/ or

Emma Johnson, Channel Marketing Manager
ADvendio Europe Ltd, Harcourt Road, Dublin 1, Ireland

Email: emma.johnson@advendio.com

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Source: https://www.prweb.com/releases/advendio_celebrates_10_years_of_product_excellence_and_growth/prweb17572812.htm

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Colorful Virgin Human Hair Brand – Incolorwig Makes Its Online Store…

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Incolorwig human hair online store

Incolorwig human hair

Bring color to life.

Incolorwig, a new online store launched, offers colorful human hair wigs and pre-colored virgin human hair extension. Incolorwig targets women who wants to change their hairstyle easily with high-quality hair wigs.

Incolorwig(https://www.incolorwig.com/) focus on providing consumers with colorful, stylish, and price-friendly virgin human hair products, such as Lace Wig, Headband Wig, Lace Frontal Wig and Human Hair Weave Bundles, etc.

Incolorwig Hot Selling Virgin Human Hair Products

Hairline Lace Wigs

14-24 inches all made of 100% virgin human hair and swiss lace in medium brown color. There are many types of Hairline lace wigs on sale in Incolorwig includes bob wigs, straight hair, body wave and jerry curly.

Brazilian Hair Bundles

In addition to best human hair wigs, Brazilian hair bundles are also supplied in Incolorwig. Consumers can freely purchase a combination of 3-4 bundles with a closure.

Headband Wigs

One new series of Incolorwig products. Also a new hairstyle of latest in fashion and styling trends. Headband wigs can effectively save time because it is easier to wear and install.

Products on sale in Incolorwig all have variety colors to choose. No matter classic black or exaggerated colors like blue and pink are all available. The three most popular color wigs are Burgundy Wig, Ginger Wig and Highlight Wig. Any other colors like ombre color you can find in Incolorwig, too.

Incolorwig Online Hair Store

With the concept of “Let every customer can wear a suitable colorful wig”, Incolorwig focuses on high quality of products, also offers 24-hour online service for customers, always being there with every customer from the time before-sale, selling & after sale. There virgin human hair wigs and bundles have been sold to many countries with there fast delivery service, all the order will be shipped at the first time. When you purchasing human hair wigs from Incolorwig, after you paying, your order will picking up and matching ship methods in 2 hours. All orders will be shipped within 24 hours.

After Incolorwig was established this year, it has become a favor brand of many black women. “Wigs bring more than just changes in their hairstyles, but also a pursuit of beauty and self-expression,” the founder of Incolorwig said, “What human hair wigs can do is that free to control one’s own hairstyle and color, at least.”

With the mission of bring color to life, Incolorwig encourage women to pursue beauty and help them to find their own style. The wigs have been sold to the USA, Europe and Africa with a good reputation and feedback. According to a customer’s feedback: ”This is once of the best wigs I have ever gotten from Incolorwig, great seller communication and fast delivery. The wig is as described. I highly recommend this.”

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Source: https://www.prweb.com/releases/colorful_virgin_human_hair_brand_incolorwig_makes_its_online_store_debut/prweb17562726.htm

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Investing in the Impending E-commerce Future

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In 2019, the global foreign exchange market (forex) was valued at a jaw-dropping $2.4 quadrillion.

In fact, this is equal to more than 50 times China, Japan, Germany, India and the U.S.’s economic output combined. Institutional investors, such as investment banks, pension funds, and large corporations have typically dominated this space, but there are avenues for individuals to enter the market as well.

This infographic from Compare Forex Brokers breaks down the world’s most interconnected financial market, and how individual investors can start trading.

The Forex Market: A Global Landscape

Across the forex market, 170 major, minor, and exotic currency pairs can be traded as contracts for difference (CFDs). A CFD enables you to speculate on whether the price of an asset will rise or fall.

Here, trades are conducted on over the counter (OTC) markets—non-centralized markets made up of a network of participants. This is different from traditional markets, such as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, which operate on formal, centralized exchanges.

While the forex market is by nature, decentralized, these core regions show where forex transactions are most concentrated by market participants including banks, commercial businesses, or individual investors.

Globally, the majority of forex trading takes place within the following hubs.

Forex Trading Centers (2019) Country Share of Global Over the Counter (OTC) Forex Turnover
1 UK 43.1%
2 U.S. 16.5%
3 Singapore 7.6%
4 Hong Kong 7.6%
5 Japan 4.5%
6 Switzerland 3.3%
7 France 2.0%
8 China 1.6%
9 Germany 1.5%
10 Australia 1.4%

Source: BIS

The UK accounts for over 43% of global forex trading, averaging $2.7 trillion daily according to the 2019 Triennial Central Bank Survey by the Bank for International Settlements. London’s geographic location between the U.S. and Asia makes it an optimal forex trading centre—a trend that has held strong over the last 50 years.

With forex trading in the U.S. jumping over 50% in the last decade, the U.S. is the next most active forex market. Meanwhile, averaging $633 billion in trading volumes in 2019, Singapore is Asia’s largest forex trading center, with Hong Kong following close behind.

The Top Seven Currency Pairs

What are the most highly-traded currency pairs?

Overall, 68% of global forex trading falls into seven major currency pairs.

  Top Seven Currency Pairs Percentage of Total
1 United States Dollar vs Euro 24.0%
2 United States Dollar vs Japanese Yen 17.8%
3 United States Dollar vs Great British Pound 9.3%
4 United States Dollar vs Australian Dollar 5.2%
5 United States Dollar vs Canadian Dollar 4.3%
6 United States Dollar vs Chinese Yuan 3.8%
7 United States Dollar vs Swiss Franc 3.6%

Source: BIS

Currency prices are impacted by factors including inflation, international trade, political stability, among other macroeconomic factors.

Breaking Down Institutional and Retail Trading

While commercial and central banks, hedge funds, and investment managers make up most of the forex market, only 5.5% are individual investors.

Importantly, they differ in a few key ways.

Institutional Forex Trading Retail Forex Trading
– Buy and sell the physical currency

Interdealer market: Large institutions trade on an interdealer market, which is a non-centralized network of dealers

Less formal: Often trades are conducted by phone, email or instant message.

Non-transparent: Execution prices and buy/sell orders are not visible to the market.

– Buy and sell contracts for difference (CFD)

Contracts for Difference (CFD): CFDs allow traders to speculate on the price of an underlying asset. Traders do not own the underlying asset.

Long and Short Trades: Traders can take a long or short position:

Long position: buying a CFD with the expectation the asset’s market price will increase.

Short position: selling a CFD with the expectation the asset’s market price will decrease.

For various reasons, retail forex trading increases in popularity year after year. However, before diving in, it is important to know the stakes involved in this speculative market.

Understanding the High Risk of Forex Trading

Retail forex trading is, at is core, very risky.

In 2019, 71% of all retail forex trades lost money. One explanation is the highly leveraged nature of the market—many investors trade using borrowed money. But while trading with leverage can magnify losses, it also applies to gains.

Key Benefits of the Forex Market

While there is risk inherent in the market, what are some of the advantages in forex trading?

  1. Low transaction costs: No exchange or regulatory fees. Overall trading costs are low with both commission and no commission pricing structures available.
  2. High liquidity: Along with being the largest market globally, it is also the most liquid with $6.6 trillion in daily trading volume.
  3. 24-hour market: Trading is not confined to limited hours or time zones.
  4. Leverage: Forex brokers offer retail traders leverage which allows the to increase their exposure

Unlike equities, currency trading is all about relativity. A currency can depreciate overall, but can also appreciate relative to a currency that has depreciated even more.

Connect to New Markets

While big gains are possible, many trades lose money, but regulatory improvements have helped build trust in the market.

Meanwhile, multiple digital platforms provide a link to global currencies, allowing retail forex traders to enter the market and trade from any location. For those comfortable taking more risk, currency markets offer opportunities with outsized potential.

Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/investing-in-the-impending-e-commerce-future/

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