Tag: retail

Hilco to cut another 400 jobs at HMV

hmv-administrationHilco, the new owner of HMV, is planning to cut 400 jobs at the troubled entertainment retailer. The Times reports that Hilco is looking to save as much as £7.8 million from its annual payroll and the latest round of cuts is just one in a series of cost cutting measures.

An internal memo to HMV staff listed the positions earmarked for layoffs. Although Hilco did not say exactly how many jobs will be cut, the memo states that three positions in most of HMV’s remaining 141 stores will go, which amounts to about 400.

Security guards will be among those dropped in nearly all stores, except those in “high risk” areas. Cashiers in more than 100 stores will also lose their jobs, along with supervisors. It seems that part-time staff will eventually account for about 50 percent of HMV’s total workforce.

Hilco scooped up HMV earlier this year and it apparently plans to focus its revival efforts on 141 stores, employing around 2,500 souls. However, the future of dozens of stores across the country has already been sealed.

M-commerce survey reveals strong growth

SmartphonesA survey carried out by Stibo Systems has revealed that the number of m-commerce purchases has increased by 19 per cent over the last year.

The study found that the number of purchases made over e-commerce increased from 40 per cent to 59 per cent in 12 months. However, the survey also established that 17 percent of consumers aren’t too keen on m-commerce channels when they can’t find the necessary information using their tablet or mobile.

Finding product info using a smartphone should be relatively straightforward, but 48 per cent of respondents said small screens make it very hard to read information once it has been found. In other words, m-commerce outfits should start using bigger fonts. Another 46 per cent said they are still concerned about security, reports QRcodepress.

SEO Positive exec Ben Austin said the ever evolving smartphone and tablet market is making mobile purchases much easier than before. The added level of convenience has managed to attract more consumers, but more work needs to be done.

“This research also highlights the need for the information on mobile sites to be clear and secure,” he said.

The industry needs to do more to address security concerns, which are overblown as it is, and they apparently need to redesign their mobile shopping sites to improve readability on small screens. The latter part sounds easy enough, but strengthening confidence in mobile security might prove a bit more challenging.

People regret boozy online buys

boozebeltAccording to a new OnePoll study, nearly a quarter of British consumers have bought products online while under the influence of happy juice. Needless to say, they regret their purchases, like most other things we do while inebriated. 

Two thousand consumers took part in the survey and the results indicate that the convenience offered by e-commerce services is a double edged sword. It is not like e-commerce outfits are targeting drunk consumers, but the ease of spending hard earned cash with just a few clicks seems to be a bit too much for some jolly consumers to miss out on. Spending too much money while drunk tends to be a bad idea, whether you do it online or out on the town.

In addition, the interfaces of e-commerce sites are susceptible to all kinds of shopping mistakes. A total of 56 per cent of consumers admitted that they regretted buying clothing items online, while 22 per cent felt buyer’s remorse after getting a gadget, reports shopsafe.co.uk.

It is estimated that British consumers spend over £1,000 online a year on average. It seems that a good chunk of that is spent after a few glasses behind the laptop.

Metro.co.uk reports the case of a 22-year-old man, who somehow managed to order 22 tickets to an Oasis concert after a drinking session. The drunken shopping spree cost him over £2,000. It is not clear whether he enjoyed the gig.

E-commerce generates demand for mega-warehouses

warehouse-openOnline shoppers are not just killing main street, they seem to be taking creating a lot of demand for oversized commercial storage units suitable for logistics and delivery outfits. In other words, small warehouses are going out of style, fast.

Property Magazine International reports that 25 million square meters of retail space will be needed over the next five years to keep up with e-commerce trends. That is the equivalent of 3,300 football pitches and some developers might end up driving white Bentleys, just like Premiership footballers.

It is estimated that online outfits will also need an additional three million square meters of specially equipped e-fulfilment space over the next five years. Another 22 million square meters is needed to keep retail stores and satellite warehouses stocked.

The growth of e-commerce will also drive further development of so-called dark stores, which is basically a fancy name for huge warehouses where goods are packed and shipped to consumers.
Jones Lang LaSalle executive Paul Betts argued that many retailers have simply outgrown their supply chain infrastructure and they have to work out new logistics models for multi-channel retail.

M-commerce to double in next 12 months

google-walletMobile shopping is the new black and a recent survey carried out by Conlumino indicates that it will continue to grow at an impressive rate for the foreseeable future. M-commerce has already risen 55 percent compared to a year ago and it is now estimated that it will grow another 115 percent over the next 12 months. 

Shoppers shun brand snobbery for cheap prices

light blueShoppers are shunning “premium shops” as the place to buy premium brands, and instead are happy to buy them at the cheapest possible price, research has revealed.

In the latest survey of 1,000 consumers, ShopperCentric said just over three quarters cited ‘product quality’ as the key defining feature of a premium brand.

A measly 16 percent said that they felt that upmarket stores were the place to go to buy these brands, with half of those questioned saying that it was the pricing that attracted them into stores.

Snobbery around premium brands was also shunned, with six in ten shoppers claiming that they hated the status these products held, and just 28 percent stated that they wanted to feel ’special’ when they bought these.

In fact, it seems lower prices and promotions are the way to a consumer’s pocket, with 74 percent of shoppers claiming that they loved finding a premium brand with a price discount and 61 percent said they only bought premium brands when they were on offer.

Manufacturers could face a lose/lose situation. 59 percent of shoppers admitted that if they saw a premium brand on reduced price, it would make them question whether the full price was too high.

Despite that, 37 percent of shoppers agreed that the types of brands who don’t discount, don’t care about their shoppers.

Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director of ShopperCentric said that the findings showed that  that price alone clearly did not “denote superior quality for shoppers any more”.

Instead, “great (and proven) quality appeared to lie at the heart of an unequivocal premium brand definition.”

She pointed out there was a role for expressing this through price, packaging, image or even channel and in store.

“For many shoppers it appears, it isn’t about where you sell a premium brand, but how you sell it,” she added.

Tablets a boon for shops

stylustabletWhile the humble desktop PC emits a death rattle across Europe, consumers are flocking to tablets – devices which tend to be much more comfortable to keep on your lap when channel surfing.

According to analyst house Context, tablet sales have increased an enormous 350 percent in a single year, proving a boon to retailers who had the foresight to invest in the devices. Global MD of retail research at Context, Adam Simon, pointed out that there is a shift away from online-only retail channels, giving bricks and mortar stores the opportunity to capitalise while the consumer embarks on its cheap-and-cheerful tablet frenzy. Amazon is an example, which now stocks the Kindle in regular stores.

Click and collect is an emerging trend which is also helping the traditional retailers. Rather than waiting for the postman to stealthily drop in a “Sorry you weren’t at home” card in the nanosecond he or she was at the door, customers order online and pick up their product from a designated site. This is a pretty neat option because you don’t need to take a week off work to make sure you catch your delivery. Argos has enjoyed success with this model.

Of course, Apple is still very popular, but Context pointed out that top tablets in Western Europe also included the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, the Galaxy Tab2 10, and the Nexus 7. Samsung’s laughing.

Context tablet analyst Salman Chaudhry said in a statement that Apple’s show and play concept “was a real leader and taught consumers to enjoy experiential purchases while also creating links between their own stores and other retail outlets”.

“Various tablet vendors are now following these footsteps by making more devices available in stores for people to trial before they buy, with even Google getting in on the act with their stands in PC World,” Chaudhry said.


High street slump has no effect on video game disties

pac-manHMV and Blockbuster are gone, along with countless independent shops, but their demise doesn’t appear to be hurting video game distributors. In fact, the leading UK distributors told MCV that the closures did not have much of an impact at all.

Mastertronic said the bankruptcies are a non-issue, as most stock is now on a consignment basis. “However, where we have expensive console stock in the retail channel and no practical means of retrieving it quickly, it still poses a problem. The ongoing transition to a digital business has minimised the effects of these closures,” said Mastertronic operations director Dermot Stapleton.

Vogue Distribution sales manager Tom Popple said the poor performance of the retail sector has made had a knock-on effect on game sales, but Vogue is weathering the storm by expanding into new markets. Clock Entertainment exec Jake Wright said it is sad to see big names disappear from the UK high street, but he pointed out that the closures did not have much effect on his outfit.

A number of execs from Bright Red Distribution, Gem and Link Distribution concur. While none of them welcome the demise of high street chains, they don’t appear too concerned, either. Besides, the long-term trend in the gaming industry is online distribution, with constant updates and plenty of downloadable content to keep gamers hooked.

The demise of brick and mortar shops is already boosting online sales, although sales of PC games are not doing very well. High street’s woes did not take a financial toll on games distributors, but they did hurt company confidence and there are not that many positive signs to report. PC sales are down, console lovers are waiting for next-gen gear and casual gaming on mobile devices is bigger than ever.

European Commission cracks down on e-commerce scams

european-commissionThe European Commission is planning to crack down on aggressive e-commerce practices which are apparently discouraging consumers from shopping across union borders online.

The commission has announced plans to promote coordinated enforcement efforts and help member states share best practices in light of a review of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

The directive introduced standardised rules across the EU five years ago, including bans on unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices, bans on misleading consumers, fake free offers, consumer baiting, hidden advertising and direct marketing to children. However, the European Commission found that consumers and businesses are still uncertain about how the new rules need to be applied by national authorities., reports Out-Law.com.

“Consumer spending accounts for 56% of EU GDP, but a lack of consumer confidence in shopping across EU borders means we are still not tapping into the full potential of the Single Market,” said EU Justice Commissioner Vivienne Reding. “We have good rules in place to protect consumers, but we need to make sure they are better enforced, especially in cross-border cases.”

Reding stressed that rogue traders should not be tolerated and that consumers have to know exactly what they are buying. Consumers must be sure they are not getting ripped off in the process, especially when they are spending across the border. The EC found that only 40 percent of EU consumers shop across EU borders online. British retailers are leading the cross-border e-commerce charge, so this should be good news for them, provided the EC doesn’t botch it.

The commission said that consumers are a lot more interested in making cross-border purchases now than they were in 2006, before the Directive came into force. However, plenty of other factors contributed to growth and the Directive was just a small piece of the puzzle.

Target gobbles up two e-commerce culinary chains

tagtet-ecommerceDiscount retail chain Target is expanding its e-commerce operation with a couple of tender and juicy acquisitions. 

Reuters reports that the company has agreed to buy Chefs Catalog and Cooking.com.

The acquisitions should boost Target’s ability to sell cooking products and kitchenware online and fancy ceramic knives will only be a click away.

Target did not disclose the financial terms, but both deals should be closed in 30 days and they will not affect the chain’s financial results.

Chefs Catalog sells kitchen utensils and tools directly to customers through its website, while Cooking.com sells more than 30,000 various products, including recipes and other member-submitted cooking content.

Thanks to Jamie Oliver and other celebrity chefs, an increasing number of people are turning to home cooking as a healthier and cheaper alternative to eating out. The fact that quite a few people are broke and can’t afford to dine out also helps.

Brits lag behind US in mobile commerce

us-revolutionary-warAlthough British retailers seem to have an upper hand in European mobile commerce, a new report indicates that they are lagging behind their American counterparts in m-commerce.

The study was carried out by multi-touch retail technology provided Skava, and it found that only half of Britain’s top 100 retailers have optimized their websites for mobile devices. In contrast, all of the top US retailers have already done so.

The study found that revenue from mobile accounts for about one percent of all online sales in Europe. However, it is growing at a compound rate of 43.1 percent. Forrester estimated mobile revenue will account for 6.8 percent of European online revenue by 2017. That amounts to 19 billion euro.

Forrester analyst Martin Gill stressed that UK retailers have to adopt mobile tech if they hope to move forward. However, he also believes they will face plenty of challenges.

“A number of factors encourage and inhibit the adoption of mobile commerce… consumer trust, the convenience and value proposition of mobile shopping, the ease of payment and the availability of products at the right price,” said Gill. “European eBusiness executives in many countries have been slow to provide mobile-optimized experiences and these factors — both supply and demand — will continue to limit the opportunities.”

The study found that smartphone and tablet users tend to interact with their devices quite a bit differently than PC users. Hence, retailers’ websites must be optimized to cater to new platforms. They also need to respond quickly to new market trends and devices, which is easier said than done due to the mind boggling pace of progress in the mobile industry.

UK backs retail sector’s luxury expansion abroad

jewelsAs many as 1,000 posh retail outfits will get assistance from the government to foster further international growth over the next two years.

The UK Retail Industry International Action Plan was developed by the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the retail industry. The goal is rather straightforward, taxpayer money will be used to help the retail sector expand into expanding overseas markets.

Business Secretary Vince Cable believes retail has a big role to play in British exports, as the government tries to rebalance the economy.

“With this action plan UKTI will back small and large retailers across the UK to grow and expand into new export markets,” he said in a statement. “The UK’s dominance in e-commerce puts retailers in a world-beating position to capitalise on the fast growing demand for British goods and luxury brands.”

The plan is focused on luxury retailers, who aim to expand into bustling cities such as Beijing, Moscow, Mumbai, Istanbul, Shanghai, St Petersburg and other cities with plenty of nouveau riche in white Bentleys.

According to International Business Times, the global retail sector is set to grow by 8 percent through 2016, which is not the case with most European markets, including Britain.

However, it should be noted that British retailers are doing rather well abroad, even without government handouts.