A week before Thanksgiving, PayPal announced their latest billion-dollar buyout. The acquisition du jour was Honey, a deal-finding app and browser extension, and the price was a cool $4 billion in cash. It’s a sweet deal for PayPal—but it’s also a major boon for smaller e-commerce players.

WTH is Honey, honey? It’s an online shopper’s best friend. Once connected via a browser extension or mobile app, you shop like normal— and Honey will tell you about active coupon codes, track pricing history for wishlist items, and point you to better prices elsewhere, all automatically and for free within their network of 30,000 merchants.

Honeypot… I mean… Jackpot!

This acquisition eliminates PayPal’s biggest strategic gap with uncanny perfection and, in turn, makes their service considerably more useful to smaller e-commerce players that are tired of being pushed around by Amazon.

What gap does Honey fill? In a word: data. More on this in a hot second.

What’s truly remarkable about Amazon is…

… how “sticky” it is for shoppers. The infinite catalog and free 2-day shipping (with Prime) are just the beginning; eventually, Amazon seems to read your mind.

How do they do it? Amazon can “understand” what their customers want (and how to make it easier to buy) because they have ungodly amounts of customer information from every stage of the shopping process— every click and keystroke from your first search to your latest purchase.

Two can play at that game

PayPal already had boatloads of info about two things: who their customers are and what they buy.

What were they missing? They didn’t have data on the whole “intent” part. You know… the stuff shoppers do before they buy. What were they researching? What keywords did they type in? What sites did they visit?

It just so happens that Honey’s business is (literally) all about that pre-purchase behavior.

Now that PayPal has the complete picture of the customer journey, they stand to win big—not just for themselves, but for every independent business put back on a level playing field. That’s certainly one honey of a deal.

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