Tag: retail

Vietnamese outfit uses sex to sell flowers

vn-flower-shopA Vietnamese e-commerce startup has come up with an innovative, yet rather tasteless way to sell flowers. It sounds surprisingly liberal for a socialist state, but HappyEndings.vn is using sex appeal to sell flowers, with a ridiculous intro. Sex sells, even though the approach seems a bit upside down. Flowers shouldn’t be sold using sex – it should be the other way around.

Mind you, despite the cheeky name and tacky approach, HappyEndings.vn is a legitimate and serious e-commerce outfit. “Happy ending” doesn’t really have a lot to do with sex, it is a term used to describe a pleasurable ending to a massage in some parts of Asia. However, the site intro has a lot to do with sex.

The site takes a provocative angle when it comes to product categories as well. They are named cheap bastard collection, playboy collection and sugar daddy collection. The last is aimed at big spenders, while the “cheap bastard” one is clearly not.

Better yet, the consumers seem to be loving the in-your-face approach, with plenty of humorous and dirty comments, reports InsideRetail.Asia.

UK retailers to net £10 billion on cross-border sales

berlin-borderOnline sales are booming and taking their toll on brick and mortar shops, but another interesting trend is starting to emerge. Cross-border sales in Europe are expected to hit £36 billion this year. As much as 10.6 per cent of all online purchases will be cross-border affairs.

It might be a worrying trend for some, but not for British retailers, as they are the most successful in doing business across borders.

According to IMRG data, international consumers dropped as much as £7.4 billion on British online retail sites and the figure is expected to hit £10 billion in 2013. The UK online retail market is second only to the US in terms of overall value. IMRG concluded that cross-border markets are becoming increasingly attractive for UK retailers, as they offer multiple opportunities for sustained growth.

Andrew McClelland, Chief Operations & Policy Officer at IMRG, commented: “Cross-border is the future of e-commerce, and the opportunity is particularly strong for UK retailers due to the advanced state and sophistication of the market here.”

However McClelland warns that expanding internationally is a complex business and retailers need to carefully identify markets that are appropriate to them rather than just attractive in terms of value and growth. Basically, they have to do their homework.

“Research is everything when it comes to cross-border; there have been several instances of retail brands finding success by selling product ranges that they are not well-known for by consumers in the UK,” he said.

In order to facilitate cross-border growth across Europe, Trusted Shops and IMRG came up with ‘Internet Shopping is Safe (ISIS)’ schemes in 2012. Their goal is to create a standard European trustmark that supports UK retailers in their international expansion strategies.

Towns look to NFC to attract high street shoppers

google-walletHigh street shops are under a lot of pressure from tech savvier e-commerce outfits, but a group of town and city managers believes they can help reverse the trend by enlisting the help of NFC technology.

It is not a case of fighting fire with fire, though.

The Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), which represents close to seven hundred shopping locations, has teamed up with NFC loyalty programme supplier MoLo Rewards. They aim to enhance the town centre offer by integrating NFC support in a more traditional setting.

The goal is to provide local, independent shops some of the same capabilities used by major retail players, allowing them to compete with internet based competitors. The programme offers establishments in town centres to better integrate their services, combine reward programmes with free parking , access to leisure centres or events.

ATCM manager Guy Douglas told NFC World that the association decided to use MoLo’s approach after the outfit made the case for NFC and elaborated its ideas.

“It just made sense to us,” he said. “A town and city centre is only vibrant and thriving if people find a reason to go there. NFC is a way of delivering an enhanced town centre offer, which can only be a good thing especially when the high street is hugely challenged by e-commerce.”

ATCM chief exec Martin Blackwell said the association will use its two decades worth of experience to enhance the high street shopping experience, with support from MoLo Rewards. He added that the association is organising meeting with mobile network operators, card issuers and retail groups in an effort to shape the adoption of NFC technology.

ATCM and MoLo believe they could bring their integrated NFC system to town and city centres later this year.

20 shops close a day and it’s getting worse

highstreetRetail chains in Britain closed an average of 20 stores a day over the past year. According to a report by the Local Data Company and PwC, the number of shop closures in 2012 soared tenfold on the year before.

It makes for some depressing reading to say the least. The survey found that 1,779 stores were closed in 2012, compared to just 174 in 2011.

The downturn seems to be affecting every sector, from travel agents and sports goods shops, to banks, computer game shops and jewellers. However, some businesses seem to have bucked the trend, including charity shops, pawnbrokers, pound shops, betting shops and payday loan companies, basically all the services people are likely to use when they are broke like Greece and out of work like Spanish youths.

It gets worse. The number of closures is predicted to rise and the rate of closures in December, January and February is up and could hit 28 a day. Many companies are falling into administration, including former heavyweights like HMV. Blockbuster, Jessops and Comet are down and out as well.

Mike Jervis, insolvency partner and retail specialist at PwC believes the downward trend is getting even worse in 2013.

“2012 saw more retail chains go into insolvency than ever before. The failed chains generally shared two problems- too many stores and too little multi-channel activity,” he said. “A number of them had failed to deal with their underlying issues by hiding behind light touch restructuring processes, especially Company Voluntary Arrangements.”

Christine Cross, chief retail adviser to PwC, said the figures are more disappointing than many had hoped, but she pointed out that several major chains were forced to resort to closures and this was anticipated for a long time.

“What is surprising is the speed at which stores have been picked up by value and grocery retailers in particular. Good businesses with good operating models and good people don’t fail,” she said.

Although closures are up across the board, some regions have taken a bigger hit than others. The South East leads the way with 376 closures, 265 shops closed their doors in West Midlands and the North West saw 215 closures. The North East, Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber stayed in double digits.

Google needs no shops says Rubin

nexus7Rumours of Google’s retail store push seem to have been just that, groundless rumours. Android boss Andy Rubin now says that Google does not need its own retail stores.

Speaking to AllThingsD, Rubin said the need for physical stores is simply not there anymore. Consumers can get plenty of information online or through word of mouth.

Taking into account the sheer volume of bias and fanboy fuelled hype found in most tech reviews, we believe the latter option is a better choice.

However, Rubin believes consumers no longer have to go into stores to “feel” gadgets. He added that Google’s hardware effort is still in its infancy and we have to agree. Google’s Nexus programme is basically a way of showing the world how not to launch and market phones, or how to ruin perfectly good products with terrible execution.

“For Nexus, I don’t think the program is far enough along to think about the necessity of having these things in a retail store,” said Rubin. He went on to say that Google has no retail store plans and that it has nothing to announce. That’s nada.

For some strange reason, Google seems to view Nexus gear as a nuisance, something to get out of the way while developing newer versions of Android and web services. Tangible stuff is dirty in the Google mindset. Even Rubin refers to his own Nexus gear as “these things,” rather than actual products that could be very competitive and generate plenty of revenue if Google somehow managed to do things right.

Just ask Samsung.

Retail sales index slump blamed on weather

snow-london

UK retail sales are down and it seems the slump is worse than economists had predicted. According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), retail sales will hit a five-month low in February.

Although volumes continued to strengthen in the first half of February, the pace of growth slowed down once again. CBI found that 37 percent of retailers saw an increase in their volume in early 2013, while 29 percent reported a decline.

The resulting balance of 8 percent was the lowest figure since September 2012. It was also the third consecutive month in which the pace of growth had slowed. Economists expected growth to drop to 16 percent, down from 17 in January. They also expected the volume of orders to remain flat, but they fell 19 percent, the lowest figure since November 2011.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. CBI reckons the business situation is actually improving. The business situation balance rose to +12, the best result since August 2011. Some retail sub-sectors also did quite well, such as clothing, furniture and none-store goods, which includes online and mail order sales. In fact, non-store sales were up 70 percent.

“We all know trading is tough, and the bad weather hasn’t exactly been encouraging shoppers to hit the high street lately,” said Barry Williams, Chairman of the CBI Distributive Trades Survey.

So, it appears that strong non-store sales had a lot to do with horrid weather, and the weather also contributed to the sharp decline in retail footfall last month.

Visa opens mobile payments programme

visa-epayVisa is expanding its programme to integrate payment technologies into emerging devices and platforms, including NFC-enabled smartphones. 

The Visa Ready Partner Program is designed to help device manufacturers, mobile networks and other partners to gain access to Visa intellectual property and licenses, including APIs and SDK’s for mobile point-of-sale payments.

Republic to join highstreet heaven in the sky?

onesie1Teens may have to look for their onesies elsewhere with news that Republic is teetering on the brink of administration.

The Leeds-based clothing chain, which caters for the youf market, is expected to call in Ernst & Young to deal with the administration, which could see around 1,000 jobs at risk and 120 empty stores.

It is thought that the company, which was bought by private equity firm TPG in 2010 for around £300 million, is struggling amidst competition from H&M and Primark, which offer clothes at cheaper prices.

It also hasn’t had the best few months. In January it admitted its profits had fallen 86 percent to £3.7 million, while in November TPG was forced to plough in a further £20 million.

Just last week its chairman Andy Bond quit as the company brought in KPMG to help it offload some of its stores.

If the rumours are true, then the retailer would join Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster in the great highstreet heaven in the sky

E-commerce spending hits $186bn in US

shut-up-and-take-my-moneyRetail e-commerce is still growing, in spite of economic volatility and a host of other concerns. According to comScore, 2012 was a record year for e-commerce outfits in the US. No doubt it will have a trickle down effect here in Europe.

Total e-commerce sales amounted to $186.2 billion and a quarterly breakdown shows that Q1 2012 was the fastest quarter, with year-on-year growth of 17 percent. Growth in the second and third quarters hit 15 percent and it slowed down to 14 percent in the holiday quarter.

On the whole, E-commerce spending saw double digit growth for the last nine consecutive quarters. Sales in Q4 2012 hit $56.8 billion, an absolute record, despite the fact that it fell somewhat short of expectations.

“2012 was a year in which – for the most part – e-commerce continued to grow strongly, despite an uneven macroeconomic environment showing signs of recovery but also cause for continued concern,” comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. “With e-commerce growth rates consistently in the mid-teens throughout the year, it is clear that the online channel has won over the American consumer and will increasingly be relied upon to deliver on the dimensions of lower price, convenience and selection.”

The fourth quarter was also the first time e-commerce spending reached 10 percent of total US retail spending, excluding food, gas and auto sales. The top performing product categories in Q4 were digital content and subscriptions, consumer electronics, toys and hobbies, apparel and accessories, followed by books and magazines. Each category grew at least 15 percent compared to 2011.

comscore-ecommerce

HMV to shut 66 retail shops across Britain

hmv-administrationHMV’s administrators announced Thursday that 66 retail stores across Britain will close their doors over the next two months.

HMV, which entered administration in January, currently operates 220 stores in the UK. Deloitte said the affected stores employ 930 staff, but no fixed date has been set for their closure yet.

Staff quickly took to Twitter, talking about redundancies made across HMV offices and distribution centres.

Deloitte, HMV’s administrator, is in talks with restructuring specialist Hilco about a possible takeover of HMV. Hilco is said to be in talks with suppliers and HMV’s landlords, as part of an effort to save about half of the shops in the UK, Express reports.

“This step has been taken in order to enhance the prospects of securing the business’ future as a going concern,” Nick Edwards, joint administrator at Deloitte, said. “We continue to receive strong support from staff and are extremely grateful to them for their commitment during an understandably difficult period.”

HMV became a hugely profitable enterprise following the introduction of CDs and cheap video tech in the eighties. It quickly expanded around the world, opening shops in North America and on the continent. Its retail operation peaked in the naughties, with 325 shops up and running. However, HMV failed to recognise the threat posed by online distribution to its traditional retail approach and by the late 2000s it was in more trouble than it could handle.

HMV is not the first retail outfit to face collapse due to online competition. Camera chain Jessops and DVD rental business Blockbuster were forced to close last month.

The HMV stores set to close over the next two months are:

England: Ashton-under-Lyne, Barnsley, Bayswater, Bexleyheath, Birkenhead, Birmingham Fort, Blackburn, Boston, Bournemouth Castlepoint, Bracknell, Burton-upon-Trent, Camberley, Chesterfield, Croydon Centrale, Durham, Fulham, Huddersfield, Leamington Spa, Leeds White Rose, Loughborough, Luton, Manchester 90, Moorgate, Orpington, Rochdale, Scunthorpe, South Shields, Speke Park, St Albans, St Helens, Stockton-on-Tees, Tamworth, Teesside, Telford, Trocadero, Wakefield, Walsall, Walton-on-Thames, Wandsworth, Warrington, Watford, Wellingborough, Wigan, Wood Green, Workington

Scotland: Dumfries, Edinburgh Fort, Edinburgh Gyle Centre, Edinburgh Ocean, Edinburgh Princes Street, Edinburgh St James, Falkirk, Glasgow – Fort, Glasgow – Silverburn, Glasgow Braehead, Kirkcaldy

Northern Ireland: Ballymena, Belfast Boucher Road, Belfast Forestside, Coleraine, Craigavon, Derry, Lisburn, Newry, Newtownabbey

Wales: Wrexham

Mobile shopping apps only four percent of e-commerce revenue

smartphone-shoppingIn spite of the unprecedented smartphone boom, shoppers are apparently still reluctant when it comes to e-commerce apps.

According to a report compiled by Research2Guidance.com,  the vast majority of mobile shops made less than 5 percent of their total e-commerce revenue via the mobile channel.

Co-op Group hit by job cuts, scrapped IT system

Co-operative_headquarters_manchesterIt’s been a bad week for the Co-operative Group, with stories of job cuts and full-year profits almost written down to nothing.

The sorry story starts with the Co-operative’s banking arm, which reportedly spent its money on an IT system that could be scrapped. Sources told the Times that the cost of doing this could set the bank back by  £200 million – almost the cost of its full year profits.

The company had taken on the Finacle IT platform upgrade project in 2009 as part of  a £700 million integration programme linked to its partnership with the Britannia Building Society.

However, it has since had second thoughts about the system following a potential purchase deal of 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group.

If the buy goes ahead, according to the Times, the Co-op will scrap the system and instead adopt the infrastructure currently used by Lloyds. This could land it with a huge hole in annual profits, which are set to be announced in mid-March. Last year’s earnings by the bank stood at £201 million.

A section of its retail arm is also struggling.  According to the BBC, the company has announced that 338 jobs could be slashed in the Midlands after plans to close its Fashion and Home department stores.

The announcement comes after the group reported “substantial losses,” and “changing retail behaviour” at its department stores in Derby, Ilkeston and Chesterfield, in Derbyshire; Coalville and Wigston in Leicestershire; and Stafford.

However, the Group said it will try to turn some of these stores into different entities, which could help keep job losses to a minimum.

ONS data shows low retail growth for Xmas 2012

bromleyhsUK retail sales grew 0.3 percent in December, the Office for National Statistics has revealed, which is the lowest rise on record since 1998.

There was an upward tick in retail from August 2011, however, in December 2012 the growth was lower than expected. The quantity of goods grew 0.3 percent from the same time last year, while overall amounts spent was estimated to have grown 0.7 percent.

Except for December 2010, when retail was severely affected by bad weather, December 2012 was the lowest growth since 1998, which was at -0.4 percent. Comparing the month with November 2012, both quantity bought and amount spent dropped by 0.1 percent.

Online sales were 1.2 percent higher compared with December 2011, but compared with November, the ONS says the proportion of web sales fell at a slower rate than in previous years – which is seasonally unusual. Retailers told the ONS that online shoppers helped with overall sales and made up a larger proportion of sales in December than expected.

According to data from Experian, December 2012 was the busiest Christmas ever for online retailers, with plenty of consumers going online on Boxing Day and Christmas to spend festive cash and vouchers. There was a 30 percent growth in visits since last year.

Year on year growth from non-store retailing and non-food stores was cancelled out by large drops in spending at food stores and petrol stations. Overall, the estimated weekly spend in all retail was £8.5 billion for the month, compared to £8.4 billion in December 2011.