Tag: retail

Online holiday sales to burgeon

fatherchristmasHoliday sales in 2014 look set to bring a bumper harvest for online vendors.

Channel Advisor, a cloud company,  surveyed over 200 online shops in the UK and US with each averaging out $3 million to $5 million in 2013.

Redshift Research, which conducted the survey, said 86 percent of those surveyed expected to increase those sales this year.

Over a quarter of those  surveyed expect an 11 to 15 percent while half expect an increase between one and 10 percent.  Not one forecast a decline in their online sales.

And Christmas gets earlier by the year.  Many plan to push sales in September but 20 percent already started their holiday season promotions in August.

The online shops claim customer services are important to drive sales.  41 percent will offer free shipping and returns.  Most – 67 percent – said offering free shipping increases sales.

And there’s a push towards the companies increasing their digital marketing and advertising budgets this year.

Facebook marketing works after all

visa-epayIt appears that Facebook is finally starting to make sense for marketers. For years Facebook users complained about every single redesign and the inclusion of more ads, especially intrusive ones that appear in newsfeeds.

However, it appears that they are working. The Drum reports that 12 percent of Facebook users in Britain have already made a purchase after seeing a product in their newsfeed. So for all the talk of hating Facebook ads, the same people who are complaining seem to be falling for the ads.

What’s more, Faceboom EMEA veep Nicola Mendelsohn said mums spend three times as much time on Facebook during the holiday season and they account for the vast majority of Christmas gift purchases.

Facebook has recently announced the launch of a new SMB content hub that should help small businesses promote goods and services on the social network.

Cheap tablets are getting even cheaper

cheap-tabletsNow that even grocers are targeting the 7-inch tablet segment, the dog eat dog of cheap tablets is getting even more brutal. Chinese white-box players are further cutting their prices, according to channel sources cited by Digitimes.

A quick glance at tablet prices in the UK and the continent reveals that there are already heaps of tablets priced at £99 or less, with some truly cheap models going for as little as £49.

What’s more, some big vendors like Asus, Acer and Lenovo also have products at or close to the £99 mark and let’s not forget Tesco’s impressive Hudl, which is priced at £119 yet it features a much better screen than similarly priced tablets.

Google and Amazon had a thing or two to do with this trend. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 series of tablets reinvented the £199 space last year, so quite a few companies introduced similar products and similar price points. As a result, the white-box crowd has no choice but to run for the hills, or in this case for the bargain bin.

This doesn’t appear to bode well for big brands. It was recently reported that Google was forced to slash orders for the second generation Nexus 7 due to soft demand. People who want cheap tablets seem to be going after even cheaper models and the £/$199 price point is now practically reserved for high-end 7-inch tablets.

In addition, the market share of small white-box outfits is going up, from 26 percent in Q2 2012 to 39 percent in Q2 2013. The top five brands are losing share, but if the prices of entry level Asus, Acer and Lenovo tablets are anything to go by – they are not far behind in the race to the bottom.

eBay, Argos partner for collection

argos-logoFor some time now, eBay has been pushing discussion about the future of etail, the high street, and how brick and mortar will intersect with online shopping – now, in a bold move, the company has joined up with Argos in a bid to offer the best of both worlds.

Online shoppers will be able to buy selected goods from eBay and pick them up in-store at Argos outlets across the UK. 50 eBay merchants are taking part, but are anonymous at time of publication.

Argos already has its own click and collect service but expanding it to include popular eBay stores will certainly not harm the company, provided the scheme is implemented properly. Amazon, which eBay increasingly sees as its top competition rather than its original selling point as a bidding website, has collection points in the UK too.

Earlier this year, Argos reported its first sales boost in years. It attributed much of this to the check and reserve feature. This is not to be sniffed at considering the otherwise lacklustre state of the UK’s tattoo-parlour, betting and pawn-shop packed high streets.

eBay has trialled a service called eBay Now across the pond in New York and San Francisco, partnering with popular retail outlets such as Home Depot and Urban Outfitters to arrange for goods to be delivered within the hour for a fee. This may be rolled out to Britain next year.

Commenting on the announcement, Warick Business School’s retail expert, Dr Scott Dacko, said whether or not this service becomes “the” model, integration between online and offline sales is “the future for retail”.

“It is likely to be a win-win-win arrangement, with both partners and UK consumers benefiting all round,” Dacko said. “I am sure the arrangement will prompt a host of competitors to move more quickly into not only seamlessly integrating their online and brick-and-mortar operations but also looking into similar partnerships as well”.

During Christmas last year, eBay experimented with a bricks and mortar showroom where customers could try out products and interact with them through an app.

Carnegie: US PC imports stumble

pc-sales-slumpAccording to an analyst note from Carnegie, world chip sales are likely to be largely untouched between the June to July – at one percent seasonally adjusted month by month – and $24.9 for the month.

A May spike could have been thanks to Samsung’s latest Galaxy handsets, but a drop in June could be down to clearing previous inventories of previous phone and PC models ahead of new launches.

Carnegie’s early indicator for the three month moving average of chip sales for July suggests a “modest improvement slightly better than the normal seasonal pattern”.

Korean chip exports were better throughout July and August compared to June levels. Other tech production in South Korea was on the up after a long slump post the Q4 iPhone and iPad boom.

Taiwanese production improved over July thanks to electronic components and parts, however, overall it was held back by a weakness in high end smartphones and a drop in TV manufacturing.

Japan has been losing market share in semiconductors to other countries in the APAC region, in particular China and Vietnam. A sharp drop in chip segments was noted for Japan, with Carnegie adding an overall drop in Japanase consumer electronics market share and less production in Japan likely contributed.

Carnegie estimates world semiconductor sales will drop by one percent for the year.

Carnegie warned that US PC imports have been weak since March – and that the numbers could include tablet computers. Meanwhile, retail sales are sluggish for tech categories. Some of this is attributed to shopping patterns, as internet sales replaced buying through brick and mortar stores.

US inventory levels for electronics fell sharply, with leading retailers like Best Buy slashing their stock.

For the US telecom enterprise sector, it is expected that imports are flat, including Ericsson and Cisco equipment. Although the July numbers are not in, May and June imports were weak after a spike in April.


High street recovery continues in August

highstreet South endIt seems all that talk of high street gloom was just that – talk. According to the latest monthly figures from BDO, retail sales were up 3.5 percent sequentially in August. It was the best result since February and although the business climate is far from perfect, things appear to be getting better.

Don Williams, head of retail and wholesale at BDO said the feel-good factor last year came from the Olympics, which means it was artificial, but this year it has more to do with the tone in the media and people being less fearful of getting sacked.

“There is no doubt confidence is returning slowly,” he said.

Homeware sales were up 20.2 percent, the best result since 2007, but fashion wasn’t that hot with an 0.3 percent drop.

“The overall outlook for the UK high street was also positive,” Williams added.”This has been a strong month overall.”

Williams also noted that retailers are getting better at managing their cost base and they are investing more in online.

Footfall creeps up, vacancies down

clouds3The July heatwave is long gone, but its positive effects on the retail sector are still being felt. According to the British Retail Consortium, footfall was up 0.8 percent in July compared to a year ago. The footfall uptick was not the only good news, as vacancy rates went down.

BRC found that vacancy rates in town centres went down from 11.9 percent in April to 11.1 percent in July. Since lovely weather drove shoppers back to the high street, online took a hit. Online sales fell two percent compared to June, but year-on-year they were up nine percent.

In addition, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is now forecasting GDP growth of 1.2 percent in 2013, up from 1.0 percent in its May forecast. CBI revised its figures after a better than expected second quarter and signs of a pick-up in confidence across a broad range of sectors, including services, construction and manufacturing.

“The economy has started to gain momentum and confidence is picking up, but it’s still early days,” John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said. “We need to see a full-blown rebalancing of our economy, with stronger business investment and trade before we can call a sustainable recovery. We hope that will begin to emerge next year, as the Eurozone starts growing again.”

As the Eurozone emerges out of recession, we could be in for a period of relative stability, but the recovery remains painfully slow in most sectors.

Intel thinks PC market a-ok

Intel-logo “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,” an Intel spokesperson said, before insisting that the PC market isn’t seriously in the doldrums.

At a New York event, Intel execs showed off an Intel sponsored IDC survey that claimed the PC market holds enormous potential, and that there is no better time than now to buy a PC. Cash strapped people in Europe and the US may disagree – instead spending their cash on daily necessities like food instead of replacing functional consumer electronics.

The survey said 97 percent of respondents consider their PC their main computing device, and of these respondents, 41 percent plan to buy a PC in the coming year. Many also said they would rather give up exercise, sweets, caffeine, and TV than their computers.

As AllThingsD points out, a rather different recent IDC document showed PC sales trends are the worst they’ve ever been, ever, not just in the US and Europe, but also in emerging markets like Latin America and Asia.

Intel’s Merlin Kister said retailers were partly to blame because they frequently do not show off the capabilities of hybrid-style notebook, tablet crosses.

Euro online sales to double in five years

visa-epayOnline retail sales in Europe are expected to double by 2018, reaching €323 billion. This year online retail should hit €188 billion and some companies like Amazon are expected to see even faster growth, according to market research firm Mintel.

Mintel’s survey covered 19 markets in Europe and it was made exclusively available to Reuters. The survey found that Germany, Britain and France would remain by far the largest markets for online retail. However, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland should see fast growth, while Norway and Sweden already have the highest online per-capita spend.

Mintel analyst John Mercer said there is a big North-South divide in e-commerce in Europe. French participation levels lag Britain and Germany, but Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain are even further behind, which is hardly surprising since they can barely afford Molotov cocktails now.

Amazon is expected to maintain its lead and double its market share in the next three to four years. Amazon currently has just five dedicated websites in Europe, in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Mercer reckons Amazon would be better off with localised sites for the Nordics than Italy.

British grocers are doing surprisingly well. Tesco’s market share is 2.3 percent, Asda and Sainsbury’s have 1.1 percent and 0.9 percent respectively. However, online grocery shopping is not popular in the rest of the continent.

Tablet shopping survey reveals strange new sofa habits

smartphone-shoppingA report fresh out of Nielsen found that shoppers behave quite differently when they’re doing their shopping on tablets rather than smartphones. Tablets are a lot more likely to be used for product browsing and tablet users write more product reviews.

Two thirds of smartphone shoppers use their devices mostly at home, while the same goes for four fifths of tablet users. More often than not, they watch TV while their playing with their smart devices. Tablet owners are more active with product research (59 percent) and are more likely to purchase physical items (38 percent) than smartphone shoppers (24 percent).

However, smartphone shoppers make up for it by being more active outside the home. On the other hand, Nielsen found that quite a few mobile shoppers are on the sofa while they’re shopping. This is true of 95 percent of tablet users and 72 percent of smartphone users, who make their purchases from home. Tablet users are more likely to make a purchase overall.

In a brick-and-mortar setting, smartphones reign supreme. As many as 70 percent of smartphone shoppers use a store locator to plan their shopping trip, while 37 percent arrive with organised shopping lists stored on their phones. The majority of smartphone and tablet shoppers use their devices to check prices before pulling the trigger. More smartphone users do this in physical stores. Smartphones also lead the way when it comes to mobile coupons and mobile payments.

Even when their shopping spree is done, many shoppers turn to their tablets to write product reviews or write comments about their purchases on social media. The majority of smartphone and tablet shoppers also use their devices to track the progress of their online orders.

UK B2C e-commerce to hit £62.49 billion

visa-epayBritish people are falling in love with e-commerce and a new eMarketer report claims their enthusiasm for buying things they don’t need and can’t afford with money they don’t have will drive UK business-to-consumer e-commerce sales up to £62.49 billion this year.

It gets better – by 2017 the figure may hit £89.73 billion, or 16 percent of total UK retail sales. However, the figures include digital travel sales. The volume of retail e-commerce sales this year may be £44.06 billion and they will represent 70.5 percent of B2C e-commerce sales in 2013. The share is expected to rise to 72.5 percent by 2017.

Although the average UK buyer often ranks as the top spending e-commerce consumer worldwide, non-UK people are starting to play a notable role in B2C sales. IMRG speculates that online retail sales made by non-UK people will total £10 billion this year, up from £7.4 billion in 2012.

Mobile e-commerce is also showing signs of growth. Sales from mobile phones and tablets are expected to increase 71.8 percent year-on-year to £6.6 billion, that’s 15 percent of total UK e-commerce sales. In 2017 they will  hit £17.2 billion. Possibly.

Most online shoppers are after clothes, sports goods, household goods, travel arrangements, accommodation, tickets, music, films, newspapers and books. British fashion outlets are doing particularly well, unlike their counterparts in the rest of the world. Many people are still reluctant when it comes to buying clothes online, but fashion shops in the UK are offering free shipping and generous return policies.

High street must evolve or die

highstreetA retail company is calling out for a change in the way the high street manages and expects upticks in sales.

Powa Technologies CEO Dan Wagner suggested it is ridiculous to rely on the weather for an upturn in sales when the country is in search of wider improvements in economic performance. “There should be a greater emphasis on innovation that engages more directly with consumers to deliver more activity at the tills,” Wagner said.

Online shopping has transformed the way people buy and the high street has struggled to keep up. Of course, high street stores were bound to have a hard time if they clung to old models, which has lead to the death or transformation of what were once givens in any town centre.

Convenience has trumped the bricks and mortar approach for many people. Especially when it comes to delivering content, microtransactions online get that content to whichever device you prefer so much faster than a bricks and mortar shop, it’s unsurprising that many film and music outlets have faltered.

But this won’t necessarily mean the death of the high street.

“New shopping models involve convenient delivery and collection methods, more enjoyable methods of browsing, and quick means of payment,” Wagner said. “We shouldn’t be anticipating the loss of the high street, we should be anticipating its evolution”.

Just where that evolution will go depends on companies being prepared to take risks. One possible model is a hybrid approach, where consumers can buy online and collect in store or vice versa in interactive showrooms.

Heatwave reheats British retail in July

highstreet South endJuly appears to have been a great month for British retailers and they have mother nature, a tennis player and a baby to thank for it.

According to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, sales were up 3.9 percent, against a 2.0 percent increase in July 2012, the fastest July growth since 2006. In real terms, total growth was 4.4 percent, the fastest since April 2011.

Since much of the growth was fuelled by hot weather, fashion outlets and the food sector did particularly well. However, online sales grew by just 7.9 percent, much lower than the 15.6 percent in July 2012. Home accessories, furniture and home textiles were the worst performing sectors, as most people chose to buy flip-flops and barbecue sauce instead of new carpets and Allen key loving flat-pack furniture.

“Food has performed very strongly, with summer barbecue ingredients and feel-good foods doing well during a month where the Lions, Murray, Chris Froome in the Tour de France and the start of the Ashes series all contributed to the positive summer feeling;” said Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC. “Clothing has also had a very good month, which was down to good weather spurring summer fashion buys and some very good discounting.”

David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG, said July was a “golden month” for retail sales and a return to form for British retailers.

“Hopefully this uptick in sales is another indication that the UK economy has turned the corner towards growth. Murray mania, summer sun and the arrival of the royal baby gave consumers that much needed feel good factor, encouraging them to leave caution behind and help retailers put in a champion performance,” he said. ‪”With autumn ranges now hitting the shelves, retailers need some cooler weather to encourage consumers to treat themselves to some new winter woollies. If they get these new ranges right and suitable weather, it could be game, set and match.”‬‬‬

Mobile POS market to grow grow grow

tablet-POS-cash-registerTablets and smartphones are synonymous with cannibalisation and the smart-device craze is now taking its toll on the POS market. Apple pioneered the use of tablets in a POS setting and it didn’t take long before the rest of the industry recognised the advantages of mobile POS solutions.

According to a report from IHL Group, 28 percent of US retailers plan to “embrace” mobile POS by the end of the year. In America alone, the mobile POS market is expected to be worth over $2 billion this year, reports Forbes.

However, not everyone wants an iPad cash register. The report also found that a third of retailers don’t plan to deploy mobile POS devices over the next three years. Although most retailers could benefit from sleeker and smarter POS solutions, some don’t believe they are worth the investment. This is probably true of small outfits operating on a shoestring, as they are more likely to use existing POS systems for as long as they can.

The advantages of mobile POS solutions are quite obvious. They rely on relatively cheap off-the-shelf consumer gear like iPads and Android tablets, backed by a legion of cheap and eager developers who can take care of software. Furthermore smart devices are available in a wide range of form factors, they are very portable and they can handle all sorts of payments. Ruggedized devices are available, too.

It is not a case of going out, buying a tablet, then looking for adequate software. Big players have recognised the trend and they are already offering the whole monty. Last month HP announced a new POS solution based on a run of the mill ElitePad tablet, in a fancy jacket designed specifically for POS applications.