Tag: retail

Carphone Warehouse to become tablet warehouse

kate-mossCarphone Warehouse is planning to expand its tablet offering this year, following strong demand in 2012. The company saw plenty of growth in tablets in the latter half of the year, hence it is planning to invest more and grow market share in tablets.

Carphone Warehouse said it will continue to develop the tablet category, both through standalone sales and handset/tablet bundles.

“The development of 4G services is expected to improve download speeds significantly and therefore to stimulate demand for tablets with connectivity to mobile networks as well as wi-fi services,” the company said. “We achieved increased relevance in the tablet market, in part through bundling with mobile phone connections. During the year, we have increased our market share across all our categories and further built our trusted brand. “

As one of the leading retailers in the ever growing mobile sector, Carphone Warehouse had a rather good year. In its annual financial report, the company revealed an 11.5 percent spike in generated revenues, although earnings rose just slightly.

Earlier this week the company also announced that it has enlisted Kate Moss to design a range of smartphone and tablet covers, as part of its new “fashion tech” line of accessories. Not exactly relevant, but it gives us a good excuse to use a gorgeous thumbnail.

Mobile wallet market worth billions by 2018

google-walletThe mobile wallet market is about to get big, huge even. According to a new report published by Transparency Market Research, the global mobile wallet market will reach $1,602.4 billion by 2018. In EMEA it will grow at a CAGR of 30.7 percent from 2012 to 2018 and EMEA will be the largest mobile wallet market in the world by 2018.

EMEA accounted for about 40 percent of the global mobile wallet share in 2011, but the Asia Pacific region is expected to see the fastest growth over the next five years.

The staggering figures sound optimistic to say the least, but Transparency Market Research is basing them on a few emerging trends that hold a lot of promise. The outfit found that affordable NFC enabled phones and POS (point of sale) systems will be the main drivers of growth over the next few years.

Retail is currently the biggest application for mobile wallet services and the trend is set to continue, due to ease of payment using smartphones and initiatives to introduce new POS terminals in convenience stores. Vending machines are also a potent market. Mobile network operators are expected to play a pivotal role in future mobile wallet adoption.

Unsurprisingly, the key players in the market will be Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, Google and others from the list of usual suspects.

However, it won’t be just smooth sailing. Quite a few consumers still don’t know how mobile wallets actually work and we’re pretty sure that many aren’t even aware of their existence. Security and privacy remain sources of concern, too.

UK retail flat as a pancake

highRetail sales volumes in recent weeks were practically unchanged from the same period last year, according to the latest figures from the British Consortium of Industry. Although the industry was hoping for a better start of the summer season, there was little change, although the start of June looks a bit more promising than May.

Orders were broadly flat on a year ago, although they surpassed expectations of a third consecutive fall. Sales volumes were below average for the time of year in June, despite more optimistic expectations and good weather. However, the outlook for July is a bit brighter, as retailers expect sales volumes to rise.

The survey, conducted between 29th May and 13th June, found that 25 percent of firms reported sales were up on a year earlier, while 24 percent said they were down. One in ten reported good sales volumes in line with seasonal trends, while 26 percent said their sales were poor.

Looking at July, 32 percent of firms expect an increase in volumes, while 19 percent are gearing up for another decrease. Interestingly, 63% of wholesalers reported sales volumes were up on a year earlier, and 18% said they were down. These numbers saw faster growth than expected, while most other indicators fell below expectations.

Sales in non-specialised stores, foot and leather store and non store sales all saw double-digit growth, but sales in durable household goods, cultural goods including papers and DVDs, were down.

Web spending leads in retail sales

poundsRetail sales increased year on year this May, the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

In its monthly survey of 5,000 UK retailers, it was found that sales volumes increased 1.9 percent compared to May last year – with the quantities bought in retail marking the highest level since the series began.

Amounts spent grew 3.1 percent, also the highest level on record.

It was the non-store retail sector that brought in the largest quantities. Compared with May 2012, goods bought here increased by almost 20 percent, at 19.1 percent. The non-food sector enjoyed some growth, at 2.2 percent.

In terms of amounts spent, the food sector saw an increase of 3.4 percent.

There was downwards pressure from petrol station, with the amount spent here declining 1.8 percent compared to the same time last year. But the amount bought showed minimal growth at 0.1 percent, over the same period. The ONS points out that this indicates price deflation.

Compared to April 2013, both quantities bought and amount spent grew by 2.1 percent. Here, the food sector also drove the most upward pressure on amount spent and quantities bought – at 3.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.

Every store type enjoyed growth from the previous month, signifying a slight upwards trend compared to a bleak overall picture in April.

The overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales stayed healthy at 9.7 percent. Average weekly spending for online retail reached £582 million – an increase of 10 percent compared to the last year.

Smaller outfits miss out on m-commerce

SmartphonesA research report released by TransFirst and ControlScan has found that small merchants need to step up their game in m-commerce and optimise their websites for mobile. Otherwise they might be missing out on some serious dosh.

The survey, called Small Merchants and Mobile Payments: 2013 Survey on Technology Awareness and Adoption, found that a staggering 82 percent of e-commerce merchants don’t even know whether a purchase on their website came from a mobile device or a PC.

This is a rather alarming figure, since data from those that do distinguish between PC and mobile shoppers indicates that mobile visitors account for a significant portion of online sales, and mobile is growing fast. A survey conducted last year found that 10 percent of respondents used tablets and smartphones to accept credit card payments, but the figure has shot up to 17 percent in less than a year’s time.

Another key finding of the survey shows 49 percent of e-commerce merchants know their websites are not currently optimised for mobile devices and an additional 17 percent say they don’t know or are unsure about their site’s current status. This indicates that as many as two thirds of these merchants may be putting up roadblocks to the growing number of mobile consumers.

“The mobile consumer is knocking at the small merchant’s door,” said Craig Tieken, Director of Product at TransFirst. “Business owners who aren’t already up to speed with mobile payment acceptance need to have a viable plan of action to get there.”

Dave Abouchar, Senior Director of Product Management for ControlScan, said the survey shows that small merchants have a real business need to adopt mobile trends. He stressed that now is the time to embrace the new trends if they don’t want to miss out.

Online shops get physical

google-walletAmerica pioneered online shopping and its e-commerce outfits are now spearheading another trend. They are thinking of opening traditional brick and mortar stores.

Online juggernaut Amazon is said to be actively exploring a store concept and it is not alone. Bonobos, Warby Parker, Sigma Beauty and others are doing it as well.

It might sound surprising, given the e-commerce boom, but online outfits are looking ahead. They can’t hope to sustain current growth rates much longer, so they might be compelled to branch into physical stores sooner or later.

“But we wanted to put a face on the brand, and we wanted people to touch and feel the product,” Sigma cofounder Simone Xavier told CPA Practice Advisor.

Although online retailers tend to have much lower costs than their traditional counterparts, websites can’t completely replace showrooms and stores, or good salespersons for that matter.

“It is strange to see e-commerce sites open physical stores,” said retail consultant Jeff Green. “But when you think about, it’s not surprising. The most successful retailers are going to have a combination of bricks-and-mortars and digital sales. For online retailers, you might as well get to the sale as close as you can.”

Of course, online retailers will stay true to their roots and their physical stores won’t replace online. Many probably won’t bother with physical stores at all and even those that do are likely to face a lot of challenges.

High Streets do better than malls

highstreet South endAccording to figures released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard, footfall in UK shops fell by 0.7 percent in May, year on year. Shopping centres saw the biggest decline, with a 1.7 percent drop, but there is some good news to report as well.

Retailers in London and Scotland outperformed the rest of the country, with footfall going up by 2.6 percent and 3 percent respectively.

The BRC reckons the good showing in Scotland can be attributed to good weather last month and the fact that sales were down over the first four months of the year. However, some regions weren’t as lucky. Footfall in Wales was 1.1 percent lower than a year ago, Northern Ireland saw a 3.1 percent slump, while the West Midlands and East Midlands were down 2.9 and 2.6 percent respectively.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, pointed out that conversion rates were relatively good. Although people made fewer shopping trips, they were willing to pounce on good deals and seasonal promotions.

In addition, high streets outperformed shopping centres in the first five months of the year. Although the high street saw a one percent drop, shopping centres were down 1.7 percent.

“Footfall across all retail locations in the past few months has definitely been proving to be very volatile, particularly in high streets, which fell by seven percent in March, rising by 3.4 percent in April and declining by one percent in May,” said Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard.

Larger regional cities saw the biggest improvements in footfall, but small towns didn’t fare well. Shoppers are still willing to drive to bigger cities and out of town shopping centres, in spite of good weather. Footfall in out of town locations was up 1.2 percent compared to a year ago.

Forrester says yes to Microsoft retail plans

StorePhoto_05Microsoft’s push into retail could just pay off, according to a report from Forrester.

Redmond has been buying up retail space in the Best Buy stores to get its message out to consumer clients. In doing so it is not following Apple, but Samsung which is trying a similar operation.

Writing in his bog, J. P. Gownder, a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, said that the Windows Store represents a complete take-over of the PC department. Windows Stores will effectively replace the computer department at these 600 Best Buy locations.

They will offer a wider range of Microsoft consumer products including tablets.

Gownder thinks that the Windows Store represents a vital strategic step forward in its retail strategy and ought to yield some benefits.

But it might be a little too late for that and it should have been a lot more ambitious.

Gownder thinks that the non-Apple Store North American retail channel for consumer electronics is broken and it is imploding. In a pattern which can be seen in Europe, a spiral of disappearing margins has made direct investment in improving stores challenging.

Retailers have resisted attempts to create better, more integrated shopping experiences and some are addicted to the incentives paid by vendors seeking preferential placement, like pricey end-caps.

In the consumer market, users are a little confused by the new computing form factors. Windows used to be one size fits all, but now they have to deal with touchscreen convertibles, hybrid PC/tablets with detachable keyboards and pure tablets running Windows RT. This is not even taking into account giant tablet-like desktop convertibles.

At the moment, it appears that the PC resellers have not managed to find their consumer-centred feet. As a result consumers just can’t figure out what all the Windows 8 options represent, Gownder wrote.

Microsoft’s move will upgrade its retail capabilities significantly, but it’s not as powerful a move as rolling out 600 Microsoft Stores would have been.

It also creates a channel conflict between Microsoft Store and Redmond’s Windows Store. Buyers familiar with Microsoft Stores could face a different experiences when visiting a Windows Store. Microsoft Stores will give technical help and customer service at their Answer Desks, but shoppers with PC problems could end up in Best Buy’s Geek Squad instead.

The scheme also creates OEM conflicts within the Windows ecosystem. Microsoft’s Windows OEM partners, who are already miffed with Microsoft concerning the Surface are now going to have to compete with Redmond’s hardware in a Windows Store managed by Microsoft itself.

Gownder was optimistic about the move, but it is not clear if it can be exported to other countries.

HP launches tablet POS thing

HPHewlett Packard has introduced a new point of sale (POS) solution aimed at retail and hospitality businesses.

The HP ElitePad Mobile POS Solution is basically and HP ElitePad tablet with HP’s retail jacket for ElitePad. It is designed to integrate into existing IT infrastructure and connect to store systems on the go.

As many as 57 percent of retailers plan to implement tablets in their stores over the next one to three years and HP is clearly trying to cash in on the trend.

The package includes a 1D/2D barcode scanner and three-track encrypted bi-directional magnetic stripe reader (MSR). It also has an integrated detachable hand strap and an optional secondary battery for extended endurance.

“Consumers expect the same personalised experience they get online or on their mobile device in a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store,” said Kobi Elbaz, director, Commercial and Retail Solutions, Printing and Personal Systems Group, HP EMEA. “With the HP ElitePad Mobile POS Solution, store managers and associates are empowered to move the sale from behind the counter, giving them the ability to assist the customer right on the sales floor for immediate customer satisfaction.”

The HP ElitePad is available in EMEA, but the HP Retail Jacket for the tablet will show up in September.

Samsung to launch smartphone accessory business

Samsung rules the roostSamsung might be about to step up its retail game. According to Korean tech site Etnews, the smartphone giant is going to launch an online shopping mall for phone accessories. Aside from making more cash, Samsung hopes the new service will help it grow consumer loyalty.

The online shopping mall is set to debut in Europe in early July. It will then expand to the rest of the world, with a bit of help from Best Buy stateside. Android Community reports Samsung and Best Buy will open around 1,400 retail locations, both online and offline, but the European push seems to be centred on online.

Of course, most of the accessories will be manufactured by Samsung, although some of them will be supplied by its partners. The details of the plan are still unclear, though. Samsung will probably focus on pricey accessories like wireless charging devices and docks, but there is a chance it will start peddling everything, including cheap screen protector films. The service will also carry some Samsung flagship phones.

The global phone accessory market is worth an estimated $44 billion. With Samsung’s huge market share, it is clearly a burgeoning market that needs to be tapped.

Retail apps may cut price-comparison shopping

nexus4-ceIt sounds counter intuitive, but according to a survey commissioned by UPS, retail apps might actually cause consumers to do less price comparisons and more shopping. The vast majority of shopping apps do the exact opposite, they are designed to find the best deals and pinch pennies.

However, the survey revealed that 46 percent of US online consumers are less likely to “comparison shop” once they are immersed in well designed apps peddled by the retailers, reports Business Insider.  It sounds like good news for everyone who ever tried to justify the expense of developing a proper app for their business.

Interestingly, the survey also found that shopping satisfaction was better on a tablet than a proper PC. The experience on smartphones lags behind both tablets and regular PCs, which probably has something to do with screen size.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that retailers with good mobile apps should try to gouge consumers. Most people still like to browse and compare prices. There is no substitute for good deals and good service.

Citi sees more gloom in PC market

pc-sales-slumpIt’s no secret that things are bad in all facets of the PC market and Citi Research believes things are about to get even worse. In a note to investors sent late Friday, the outfit revised its previous forecasts downward. It originally expected the PC market to contract 4 percent this year, but now it expects a 10-percent slide.

The dire predictions indicate that Windows 8.1 and Haswell won’t have much of an effect on overall shipments. It cited sub-seasonal demand in the first quarter and a slowdown in notebook production as contributing factors. Citi also noted that the benefits from Haswell and Windows Blue will be muted and that PC-end demand will remain soft. Computex didn’t help and emerging market aren’t coming to the rescue, either.

“We do not see any meaningful catalysts near-term supported by our product and company meetings at Computex in Taiwan last week which revealed a focus on convertible & higher-end Ultrabooks running Haswell, which addresses the smaller premium notebook market,” Citi said. “We also believe investors will be disappointed when they learn that low-priced touch-capable notebooks (sub-$600) will not be available to consumers until 4Q13.”

Citi forecasts notebook shipments of 179 million units this year, down from 201 million in 2012. Desktops are down as well, 137 million units vs. 148 million units last year. Meanwhile tablet shipments are expected to hit 237 million units, up from 144 million in 2012, reports CNET.

It gets worse. Citi says it previously modelled +2 percent growth year-on-year in PC shipments in 2014 and 2015. That figure has gone out the window.

“We now expect cannibalization from tablets…to more than offset any ‘stabilization’ in demand resulting from stretched replacement cycles or more compelling notebooks,” Citi said.

Compelling seems to be the key word in the PC industry, nowadays. There are no compelling new products or form factors, no compelling OS upgrade or compelling new features. PCs are becoming so mature that they are starting to resemble household appliances, with no apparent need to upgrade until they die.