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What is E-Commerce?

April 30, 2013 Leave a comment
This is a re-blog of the original from:

The eTail Blog kelly.hushin@wbresearch.com

30 Apr 2013 06:29 AM PDT

It’s no surprise that this grammar junky here immediately liked a new infographic from Miva Merchant, an e-commerce software and shopping cart provider. The very beginning starts with defining just how we should write the word…a question I’ve oft debated (albeit an internal debate – I wouldn’t want my coworkers to know how much I think about these kinds of things…though I am now admitting it to the world. What that says, I’m not sure.)

The graphic claims that the correct, official spelling is “e-commerce.” Fine. That settles that.

The graphic then goes on to discuss B2B vs. B2C e-commerce, and highlights a few interesting stats such as the fact that B2B e-commerce sales totaled $3,705 billion in 2012. Here’s a few more highlights:

– B2C e-commerce totaled $169 billion in 2010, only about 20% of the total e-commerce – the rest made up by B2B.
– Examples of companies transacting in B2B e-commerce included IBMDell and Cisco, while the B2C examples were companies like AmazonTarget and Barnes & Noble.
– It was in 1979 that Michael Aldrich “invented” online shopping.

See the full graphic below for more stats and interesting factoids about the history of e-commerce.

What-Is-eCommerce-Infographic

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Start-up ‘unreasonably’ aims to change clothing production By Jennifer

April 29, 2013 Leave a comment

Start-up ‘unreasonably’ aims to change clothing production

By Jennifer Riggins | April 29, 2013, 3:04 AM PDT

BARCELONA — The true story of 11 tech-based start-ups picked to live on a boat, work together, and incubate their businesses for 100 days, to find out what happens when an international group of minds focus on one thing: saving the world.

The last weekend of April, the Unreasonable at Sea ship made its final docking in Barcelona, after an intense journey to 13 countries with mentors the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the founders of TedX and WordPress. Each of the 11 Unreasonable at Sea start-ups — chosen among 1,000 applicants — looks to leverage technology to solve a deep global problem, such as pollution and limited access to food, water and medicine.

According to Epstein, the 11 companies have already generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue and are operational in more than 30 nations. “What unites them is a shared belief that their technology will help define progress in our time and a common eagerness to experiment in what it takes to scale globally,” Unreasonable founder Daniel Epstein said from 2,000 nautical miles off the coast of South Africa, when SmartPlanet first chatted with in February.

Spain was the only country to have two start-ups on-board. One was the IOU (I-Owe-You) Project, a clothing e-tailer which uses its website to link weavers, artisan clothing manufacturers and the end wearers in a worldwide measure to beat out factory machines that are mass-producing millions of meters of the same fabric and cookie-cutter clothing. C.E.O. Kavita Parmar, a fashion designer, created the IOU Project out of sheer frustration because she feels the industry has become about being faster and cheaper, with quantity trumping quality. She argues that machine-based design leads to poverty, lost jobs and sameness.

The IOU Project’s mission is to promote responsible consumption by disrupting and transforming existing supply chains into ‘prosperity chains,’ in which products are embedded with full traceability from artisan to consumer,” says Parmar. She says by knowing the entire supply chain, buyers can be rest assured that their clothing was not made with child labor or by mistreated, under-paid workers, for which all of the big three — Gap, H&M and Inditex, which owns Zara — have at least been investigated. Also, without the overhead cost of running stores, IOU can pay the artisans more, and charge the shopper less.

Unreasonable@Sea 2 Minute Video – YouTube

The members of the 18-month-old company truly relished their time on the entrepreneur ship. “To be part of a community of entrepreneurs with the same drive to change the world around them has been a growth experience,” says Parmar. Even before setting sail, she found the Unreasonable team truly understanding of the unique challenges faced by a for-profit social enterprise, particularly one that is lean and self-funded. The access to Epstein and the other mentors was “a real luxury for someone who is from a country with very limited access” to entrepreneurs at that level of collaboration. This includes 20 mentors who are helping IOU and the other start-ups to expand their business, particularly to the 13 countries they’ve visited, including China, India and Ghana.

Parmar told SP of the challenges with running a start-up in Spain. While she says Spain in general does not have a large entrepreneurial scene, it’s especially bad in the fashion and supply chain sectors, leaving her and her team with a sense of being isolated in their venture. She describes starting a company in Spain as bureaucratically painful, particularly when compared with the U.S. and Northern Europe, where the team has built start-ups before. She also says that finding an angel investor was very difficult because the Spanish investor community is “very traditional,” relying usually on banks as the sole funding channel. However, Spain was attractive to them because they could call on their personal network of family and friends, as well as what she refers to as a “big pool of very talented and relatively cheap designers and engineers.”

While the Unreasonable itinerary was set by the Semester at Sea program, with which it shared the ship, it was fortuitous to end its journey in Barcelona. As Epstein says, “I think it was incredibly serendipitous for us to culminate the entire program in Spain. Spain is a country hungry and ripe for an entrepreneurial renaissance.”

One of the most unique points of Unreasonable at Sea is that it only accepts for-profit world changers and maintains a stake in the profit of each. This especially stands out in Europe, where incubators are nearly all publicly funded. Each two- to three-person team has the assumed, all-inclusive cost of about $100,000. Instead of these entrepreneurs putting up that kind of cash,Unreasonable claims a stake of either six percent equity in the venture or up to $100,000 in equity, whichever is less. If, by halfway through the journey, a team is unhappy with the service provided, they can disembark, owing nothing. However, in the maiden voyage of Unreasonable at Sea, none of the teams jumped ship.

Epstein says this makes sure that the Unreasonable team, mentors and the success of the program as a whole are intrinsically linked with the success of the 11 start-ups. This way, “we are in this for the long haul,” he says, chuckling at his pun.

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EU Slaps Big Duty on Women’s Jeans Made in the USA (Truth or Fiction?) It is TRUE, unfortunately.

April 27, 2013 Leave a comment

The following 4/26/13 California Apparel News article states that a 26% added duty was imposed by the EU to women’s jeans shipped from the US (read CA) an astounding 216% increase to the category’s 12% RATE, and that this increase from 12% to 38% was announced by the European Union on April 24 after the European Commission issued the regulation on April 17.

After an exhaustive  search of the world’s business news and accuracy validation services, I found no corroborating record of this claim. (This writer finds it VERY hard to believe that such a shocking action would have lain there for weeks with NOT A PEEP from anyone who cares about so called “free trade”).

Well, kind readers, I stand corrected on this subject. It is indeed a fact.  

Today, Nancy Cook, of Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services (STTAS), the largest customs and international trade services provider in the world (sic), was kind enough to provide us with the exact authority on this onerous added duty action of the EU (see comments).

Bud Robinson, guest host of Virtual Fashion Technology (VFT).

EU Slaps Big Duty on Women’s Jeans Made in the USA.

April 26, 2013

Starting May 1, the European Union will be collecting an additional 26 percent import duty on all women’s jeans made in the United States, on top of the jeans’ current 12 percent duty.

The increased duty will be a big slap in the face to the Southern California apparel industry, known for its high-end premium denim jeans made primarily in and around the Los Angeles area.

“This will not only affect the brands that make jeans but all the wash houses and sources that support the industry,” said Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association. “When you do the numbers, it is not just about dollars but about jobs.”

Metchek fears that many blue jeans brands will shift their production from Southern California to Mexico to get around the added duty. “They won’t be just shifting production of women’s jeans to Mexico, but all the entire collection,” she said.

Calls made to various Los Angeles jeans manufacturers left them stunned. Many had not heard about the new duty. “Certainly it will affect our business. Our products are expensive,” said Sam Ku, vice president and creative director for the high-end blue jeans label AG Adriano Goldschmied, made at the Koos Manufacturing factory in Los Angeles.

Ku said the company has distributors in Great Britain, Germany and Italy for its European sales of AG Adriano Goldschmied jeans that retail for 200 euros, or $260. “This is definitely something we have to look into and discuss,” Ku said.

Deborah Greaves, the in-house attorney for True Religion, said she had just found out about it and was shocked. “Obviously it is not good news. It is not something you ever want to hear. We haven’t had an opportunity to assess how it is going to impact our business and what we can do to mitigate it.”

The CFA’s Metchek was telling people to write their congressional representatives and California’s two U.S. senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, asking them to pressure the Obama administration to get the duty repealed.

The duty was announced by the European Union on April 24 after the European Commission issued a regulation on April 17.

Three U.S. goods currently subject to a 15 percent EU duty—sweet corn, eyewear frames and mountings and crane trucks—will have their duties increased to 26 percent.

But the big hit came to U.S.-made women’s jeans. This category will see its 12 percent duty rise to 38 percent.

The increased duties come from the EU’s World Trade Organization dispute with the United States over the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act, also known as the Byrd Amendment.

The U.S. Congress approved legislation in 2006 repealing the Byrd Amendment. However, Congress added transitional provisions that allowed U.S. customs to continue collecting duties for distribution until Oct. 1, 2007. The payments continue to be disbursed on antidumping duties collected before that date.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s annual report, issued on Nov. 27, nearly $120 million was paid out to U.S. firms in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $95 million in 2011.

Tom Travis, a customs attorney with Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg in Miami, said the Byrd Amendment was found to be in violation of WTO rules and despite a repeal of the law, its effects were allowed to continue.

As a result, the WTO allows other countries to raise tariffs on goods imported from the United States up to a certain amount, which varies every year.

“What this [new duty] does is eliminates the most promising growth export market for these California products,” Travis said. “It represents a setback for the resurgence of U.S. manufacturers.”

Travis said his law firm is working with its European and U.S. offices to formulate some strategic options.

Many find it odd that the new duties were being added to apparel when most U.S. anti-dumping disputes have been about food products and steel. “In trade wars, you punch people where it hurts,” said Brenda Jacobs, an international trade attorney with Sidley Austin in Washington, D.C. “We have some brands in Los Angeles that are really competitive in Europe.”

Another question is why the European Union is taking this action as it starts free-trade agreement negotiations with the United States. “I think this has taken everyone by surprise,” said Nate Herman, vice president of international trade at the American Apparel & Footwear Association in Arlington, Va.

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Infographic Alert: Retail Jobs Go Digital

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Infographic Alert: Retail Jobs Go Digital

It may come as no surprise that the majority of new jobs in retail these days are not actually in store (perhaps apart from the holiday surge in employment by brick and mortar retailers).

According to some new research displayed in an infographic from Baynote, consumers’ increased comfort, widespread mobile device usage and retailers’ multi-channel adoption have all contributed to the continuous growth in the US online retail sector. The graphic shows that in 2013, the projected growth for online retail sales is 12 percent.

Check out a few more highlights:

_AM4U’s new process for printing apparel …

C:\Users\budley\Downloads\Micro Video (1).m4v

– A 2013 Forrester report outlined its online retail forecast through 2017, predicting it will reach $262 billion in sales this year; a 13% rise over last year’s $231 billion.
– Forrester estimates that U.S. e-commerce companies will employ about 570,750 people by 2017.
– Currently, there are about 41,389 current marketing positions within online retail making $70K. By 2017, that number will increase another 12,097.

Check out the full graphic below:

Image

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Could Mindfulness hold the key to unlock a sustainable future?

April 26, 2013 Leave a comment

There are certainly some big corporate names that appear to think so, including AOL, Apple, General Mills, Huffington Post, Google, and Procter & Gamble; and some Apparel companies like Nike and Patagonia.

Definition: Mindfulness is a practice that involves the cultivation of a present-oriented, non-judgmental attitude.

23 April | Feature | written by Michael Townsend, Earthshine Solutions LtdSB Logo

In the fifth and final part in the Sustainable Business Strategy series, Mike Townsend explores how mindfulness might help us unlock the transformation within ourselves – and in our businesses

PART 5: GRACE UNDER PRESSURE?

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi

 The further we progress on our journey towards sustainable business, the more fundamental are the constraints and challenges that we encounter. We may improve compliance, and optimize our eco-efficiency initiatives, but then find we need to address our business models, our organizational and ownership formats, if we are to deliver more impact,more benefits.

We may go further still, and explore the need for systemic change, to drive the right behaviours and performance, that will enable our strategies to flourish.

But there is one constant, one common denominator in all these processes, organisations, and systems – people.

And so, we reach the ultimate barrier – ourselves – where the only way forward is to go within, and change our internal world. Only then can we move forward to drive the changes that are truly necessary.

Could it be, that for us to unlock transformational change in business, we must first undergo individual transformation? Could mindfulness help us overcome our deepest fears, as we wrestle with the deep and fundamental changes required, if we are to truly transform to a sustainable future?

Interestingly, the concept of mindfulness appears to be making inroads into the business world, and is almost, dare I say, becoming fashionable.

In a business context, according to Karl Weick at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, “mindful organisations are better able to manage the unexpected in a challenging, highly competitive environment”. This certainly sounds like a good idea, given the massively turbulent times we find ourselves in.

Into the mainstream

There are certainly some big corporate names that appear to think so, including AOL, Apple, General Mills, Huffington Post, Google, Nike, and Procter & Gamble; and at least 2 major apparel companies: Nike and Patagonia.

Even Steve Jobs, Apple’s founder and former CEO, was a Zen Buddhist; and he spoke openly about how his time meditating in India shaped his worldview, and ultimately, Apple’s product design.

In her recent interview with Google’s Rich Fernandez, Dr Bronwen Rees explores the link between the leadership agenda and wellbeing, mindfulness, and wisdom at Google. For Fernandez, what started out as a personal pursuit developed into something much greater. Mindfulness grew to represent a cultural shift within, and across organisations.

Fernandez started running a few sessions on mindfulness, expecting around 20 to 30 people to show, but 200 turned up. Clearly, he had tapped into something on a deeper level; perhaps a latent need to find a better way?

The team at Google then developed a robust set of mindfulness and wisdom practices and courses, including Mindfulness Based on Emotional Intelligence – a seven-week course, meeting once each week, and which includes a full day at a meditation retreat. Another course focused on Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction.

And some courses were designed by, and with specific business units in mind, such as The Software Engineering of the Mind. The mind boggles at the prospect of that one.

Google has also established Wellness Centres, where people can go for yoga, massage, or meditation. These sessions are now very popular, with long waiting lists. They also run a video-conferencing meditation group, they call “meditation hangouts”.

The approach has become increasingly popular, and over 4,000 of Google’s 35,000 employees have now taken some form of mindfulness, wisdom, or wellbeing programme.

But this is not just about wellbeing for its own sake.

Google is a high performance culture; expectations are high and this requires a robust performance management system. For Google, mindfulness was all about achieving peak performance and optimising productivity through more mindful practices. “People at Google aspire to do world-changing things. So wisdom and mindfulness provide some strategies and tools that equip us to be able to sustain that level of performance.” (Rich Fernandez, Senior People Development Lead, Google).

Business schools are also starting to embrace the practice, including the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management in California.

In a series of four seven-week executive education classes, and a separate course for MBA students, Jeremy Hunter teaches what he calls self-management, “managing your insides so you can deal with your outsides better”. Classes start with a brief meditation, and cover topics like managing emotional reactions, and dealing with change.

Harvard Business School has also take the leap, where courses are run to help business people better understand their emotions, which involves opening up, to share with others their toughest personal experiences.

g
“People at Google aspire to do world-changing things – so wisdom and mindfulness provide some strategies and tools that equip us.”

There’s something in it – but is it possible to quantify tangible benefits?

Big numbers

According to business professors Michael Porter, Elizabeth Teisberg, and Scott Wallace, investing in wellbeing just makes good financial sense. Their studies show that US employers pay 200-300% more for the indirect costs of health care – in the form of absenteeism, sick days, and lower productivity – than they do on actual health care payments. Their recommendation is for companies to “mount an aggressive approach to wellness, prevention, screening and active management of chronic conditions.”

And then there is the relationship between happiness and productivity. The iOpener Institute carried out a study of a company with 1,000 employees; they found that increasing happiness in the workplace reduces the cost of employee turnover by 46%, the cost of sick leave by 19%, and increases performance and productivity by 12%.

On the face of it, these are very significant benefits – for businesses as well as individuals – and way beyond the diminishing returns we perhaps now experience from our often over-worked and mechanistic business efficiency initiatives.

And going further, a key strategic benefit for business also lies in the ability of staff to make better decisions. David Gelles, in a very thorough and interesting piece for the FT, quotes William George, a board member with Goldman Sachs: “The main business case for meditation is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be more effective as a leader, you will make better decisions, and you will work better with other people.”

Better decisions?

This point is intriguing, particularly from the perspective of developing more sustainable business strategies. Better decisions; but better decisions for what, exactly? Can the more sharper, more effective employee deliver more mindful business decisions, for the greater benefit of people and planet, or will it merely increase their capacity to become even more effective capitalists and plunder the planet?

To address this point, we have to go deeper. Mindfulness is not just about meditation and relaxation – to develop sharper, more focused and energised employees – it also challenges some of our belief systems, including some of our most fundamental assumptions about what we do in business, and how we do it.

Let’s get back to Thich Nhat Hanh, and the important notion of conscious choices; through his mindfulness trainings, he calls us to make five deep commitments:

  • Cherish all life on Earth – cultivating compassion and learning ways to protect our people and planet;
  • Practice generosity and social justice – become aware of the suffering cause by exploitation, social injustice and oppression, and commit to cultivate wellbeing of people, animals, plants and minerals;
  • Responsibility in relationships – cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society;
  • Loving speech and deep listening – to bring joy and happiness and relieve others of their suffering; and
  • Mindful consumption and eating – which involves recognising exactly what we need to consume (in all senses of the word), and what not to consume, in order to keep our bodies, minds and the Earth healthy.

If we were all to adopt these teachings in full, there is no doubt in my mind that the effect would be completely transformative. But this will have huge implications for all our businesses, and the ways in which we run our economies.

The consumption challenge

In particular, the notion of mindful consumption, presents a major challenge to our whole economic model and way of life, we have cultured in the West overt the last fifty years or more.

But as George Monbiot reminds us – we have to do this, anyway – we have to stop hiding behind our eco-efficiency initiatives and deal with the fundamental problem of consumption – it lies at the heart of our key sustainability challenges; of climate change, resource scarcity, and a looming energy crisis.

Can we shift towards a low/zero growth model and make the transition away from a damaging and wasteful economy? This is a major topic in its own right, and one that we will aim to explore in more detail in a future article. But, let’s explore a little further, here, how mindfulness might help.

As Professor Joes Magnusson, author of Mindful Economics, puts it “Mindfulness is calm openness, and at the same time piercing the layers of delusion that have been accumulating, collectively in our minds and institutions.” The implication being that it helps us see past the delusions of a consumer-based and materialistic society, to find a more meaningful, less material approach.

But this, we know, is somewhat at odds with the prevailing corporate business paradigm and our endless pursuit of growth. And while many may privately admit that the goal of endless growthis not sustainable, or even possible; we somehow find it too hard, to move to a different model. Growth pre-occupies our businesses, and our beleaguered governments. And as Jo Confino points out, the fear of radical change and failure holds us back.

Of course, we also know that the current system starts to unravel and ultimately collapse,if we don’t achieve continuous growth – a major inherent design flaw that we will have to address, one day. But another reason that makes it feel like a challenge that is just too hard to resolve. We have become addicted to growth.

But there is some great pioneering economic ‘design work’ by the likes of Peter Victor, Tim Jackson and David Korten, that can help us find a vision and a plan for a better approach. Although, there is less empirical evidence of businesses that have successfully made the transition to a low/no growth economy – optimising, rather than maximising growth.

And while there are an increasing number of businesses getting engaged in the circular economy approach, aiming to maximise the range of resources in use, many of these businesses are still broadly operating within a growth paradigm – still striving towards year-on-year growth in sales.

We may need to come at the challenge form both ends – optimising resource use, certainly, but also optimising growth, and the size of our businesses.

Patagonia, the Californian outdoor clothing company, is perhaps one of the best known examples of a company, that really seems to be engaging with a mindful approach to consumption – by taking the seemingly counterintuitive approach to encouraging its customers to buy less! And really pushing the re-use, repair and recycling business model – in pursuit of the company’s mission of building the best product, causing no unnecessary harm, and using business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, also sees that there is a “proper size” for the company, and as he says in his inspirational talk – The Education of a Reluctant Businessman – “There are no three star French restaurants with fifty tables – it’s impossible.

Patagonia, based on its values and principles, simply cannot become a large company. Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia, says there is a “proper size” for the company. “There are no three star French restaurants with fifty tables – it’s impossible” ago, small really can be beautiful.

And what influenced the approach at Patagonia? Whether formalised or not, Chouinard points to his life-long study of Buddhist philosophies as being a major influence underpinning his work; a mindful approach to consumption. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVfy2T0rzMc

Out of the crisis?

There is no doubt that the introduction of mindfulness can have major benefits for businesses and employees; through the reduction of stress, and generating the potential for greater well-being  creativity, performance, personal growth, and behavioural change. And, not surprisingly, at this time of stress and challenge, the approach is growing in popularity.

But also, mindfulness presents a way out of our seemingly intractable situations –really challenging the more fundamental and difficult aspects of our sustainability challenges, such as our consumption model of economy. Perhaps we can seek, find, and move to a better way?

Quite importantly, mindfulness helps us to overcome our fears of change and failure. And so, it also presents the key to unlocking the doors to develop and deploy truly sustainable business strategies.

Some businesses may not wish to engage with the deeper aspects of mindfulness – beyond the breathing, relaxation, and yoga – to explore with the five teachings, including mindful consumption and eating. Who knows what might happen if we open that ‘can of worms’, and expose the full range of radical shifts that might be possible?

But perhaps this doesn’t matter? It seems highly likely that by the introduction of mindfulness programmes, by their very presence, will set people on a path of personal discovery, that may then lead to more radical shifts, whether intended, or not.

Will mindfulness take off in business? Will the full implications be allowed to take effect? It remains to be seen where this will all end up, but I for one, will be watching and participating with keen interest.

Take action – be the change
Gandhi nailed it when he said, “Be the change you want to see”.
Such a profound statement, on many levels; we all have the power to change what we do, and this can add up to a worldwide change.
Through becoming more aware, and making more mindful choices – even if they can seem hard at first sight – we can achieve this. But what can we do today? Well, here are three things to get us started on our journey:
  • Read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The World We Have – for deeper learning and personal reflection.
  • Look through the Pictures of Success and reflect on the associated Earth Charter Principles, and how these relate to what you do now, and what you would like to do.
  • Perhaps visit Dr Bronwen Rees at The East West Sanctuary, near Budapest, and join one of the courses on embedding mindful practice in business?

 

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A Straight Shot: E-Commerce Gives Designers Direct Line to Shoppers

April 25, 2013 Leave a comment

A Straight Shot: E-Commerce Gives Designers Direct Line to Shoppers

And Apparel Made for You Inc. (AM4U) can let the consumer customize their choices*

April 10, 2013 by  8 Comments

Whether someone’s a small designer trying to make a name for themselves or a legacy retailer in the apparel business for nearly a century and a half, reaching the consumer is the name of the game.  And these days, direct-to-consumer e-commerce is a growing practice among designers.

“Our catalogs don’t generate the same amount of response they used to, so we had to invest more in online media,” says Richard Lowe, international creative director for the 148-year-old Spiegel, whose catalog business allowed it to become the grandfather of direct-to-consumer retailing.

UsTrendy’s Sam Sisakhti founded the company of 15,000 indie designers back in 2008 after four days in a corporate finance job.  “I had close friends that were so talented, but there are only so many small spots out there to sell to — and not everyone has the capital to open a brick and mortar store.”

Meanwhile, Tallulah’s Designs, based in Birmingham, AL, was in business for a year-and-a-half before it offered online shopping last October from its own website.

“We started out selling to a store in Birmingham and another in New Orleans,” says designer and founder Heather Williams.  “We developed our line and our contacts there, and they gave us excellent feedback and the encouragement to expand with an online presence.”

While the design/retail business model might be intimidating, that direct line to consumers is enticing.  After all, (71%) of shoppers browse the Internet for clothes, up from 66% in 2011, according to the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle MonitorTMSurvey.  Consumers still shop in-store more often — about two times per month versus once a month buying online.  But they spend about 109 minutes shopping for apparel online, compared to 96 minutes in-store.

“Our site today is really 90% of our core identity,” Lowe says.  “We went live on the Internet in 1994 and were the first large retailer to do so.  But online, it’s always about being the most technologically advanced.  We’ve gone through quite a change in the last six months.”

These days, the 28-year-old Lowe says Spiegel is “fully loaded” on social media.  “We’re on Facebook, Twitter and we have a huge Pinterest page.  I’ve taken 360-degree videos of the outfits so people can see the true fit.  And these videos are all available on Pinterest, Facebook and our website.”

Spiegel is also going after the 2-to-5 million followers of 40 of fashion’s most elite bloggers. “We’re doing a hard push with them to get to their demographics. We’re going to send them product and challenge them to put my quality against any other label out there — and then let them talk about it.”

Social media and blogs that have a major following can be very influential — especially in an age when the notion of online “friendship” and “followers” is very fluid, and strong relationships can be formed without the parties ever formally meeting.

Among consumers, more than half (53% — up significantly from 46% in 2010) say friends are “most likely” to influence them to buy new apparel, followed by relatives (21%) and magazines (20%), the Monitor finds. Consumers ages 13-to-24 (74%) are significantly more likely than older shoppers (47%) to say friends are most likely to influence them.

4_11 chart

“I don’t believe in pop up ads anymore,” Lowe says.  “Today, people don’t care that there’s an ad telling them what to buy. They care that their friend wore it and posted what they like about it.  They trust someone they know.”

For the novice designer, handling social media, courting traditional press andactually designing new apparel could seem daunting.  That is where UsTrendy steps in to help the indie newcomer.

“We can reach the consumer directly online through the one million unique visitors we get on our site each month,” Sisakhti says.  “For the consumer, we’re offering the rarity and exclusivity of so many designers, many of whom are only selling through us.  Often, items can be personalized — so the bust can be this, the waist can be that, or they can change out the color or fabric options.”

UsTrendy also may provide capital, as well as offer advice and connections, and help with product description lines and photo shoots.

This type of support is important toward driving sales, especially as 30% of consumers cite the Internet as a source of apparel ideas, according to the Monitor.

Tallulah’s Designs’ Williams worked in retail before starting her line.  Still, the new business has her wearing many different hats.

“When I sell wholesale, I sell to the stores and I’m done,” Williams says. “They market to the customer and worry about returns, exchanges and store credits. Online, you become the retailer.  I have to dedicate time to be there for my customer. I spend three hours a day on emails, filling orders, helping with sizing and things like that.

“But I also have complete control of my brand,” Williams continues.  “I also won’t run out of selling space like I would with a brick and mortar storefront.  The possibilities for growth are endless. Online, you get to cultivate and curate your own space, and that’s wonderful.”

*Apparel Made for You Inc (AM4U) see link: http://wp.me/p4aIZ-UJ

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Five Stepping the Textile and Apparel industries

April 23, 2013 Leave a comment

 

WASHINGTON – The Natural Resource Defense Council, a powerful US environmental action group, has called for a new ‘Five Step Program’ to significantly reduce the use of toxic chemicals in the global textile and clothing industries. This approach, says the NRDC, will go a long-way to helping brands and retailers to implement their stuttering responses to the Greenpeace ‘Detox’ pledges. NRDC Director Linda Greer reveals her thoughts to Ecotextile News.

“Few people think of the fashion industry as a heavy industry like steel or cement,” says Linda Greer, Director of Natural Resource Defense Council’s (NRDC) Health and Environment program. “However, the dyeing and finishing of fabric has an enormous environmental footprint, using large quantities of chemicals to pre-treat fabric and dye it the colors we love, as well as extensive steam and rinse water.  The industry places in the highest ranks of industrial water polluters around the world.”

Greer feels that the Greenpeace Zero Discharge campaign, which calls for the phase out of 11 categories of toxic chemicals in textile manufacture by 2020 [Greenpeace Detox Campaign], has provided “a much-needed sense of urgency to the apparel industry to change the way it does business around the world.”

However, she says, “despite an explosion collaborative consultations and meetings among brands and retailers [Roadmap to Zero], the companies who have committed on paper to comply with the Greenpeace and the many others living in fear of imminent Greenpeace targeting, have not come forward with work-plans that inspire confidence they will get the job done.”

Here’s what Greer says is a five-step program for what apparel retailers and brands serious about phasing out their reliance on toxic chemicals should do:

Step One

Firstly, create reduction goals that are results, not process, oriented, with explicit dates and milestones for achieving reductions. “Current pledges to ‘convene a group’, ‘explore platforms’, ‘provide updates’, ‘create roadmaps’, ‘demand collective action’, etc., fall far short of what is needed to deliver change on the ground,” she says: “these commitments are the HOW, not the WHAT”.

Instead, Greer says goals should include: “The phase out of all use of chlorinated solvents by 2014.  Or, if that is too ambitious:  phase out use of chlorinated solvents in all synthetics textile mills by the end of 2014. Or, if even that is too ambitious, how about:  phase out all use of chlorinated solvents in 80% of all synthetics mills in China by the end of 2013, require phase out at the next 25 largest mills by the end of 2014.”

Step Two

Secondly, the NRDC wants retailers and brands to banish the ‘easiest’ chemicals at the ‘easiest’ locations first.

“Start at your vertically integrated facilities. Vertically integrated facilities are the easiest targets, since apparel companies have on-going direct contract relationships with these factories. Fortunately, these facilities often represent large and important strategic suppliers as well.”

As for the chemicals, Greer said that some of those in the Greenpeace (Detox) categories are already largely gone. “(These are) on what I call the ‘dead chemical list’, and those should be explicitly prohibited right away,” she said, “Chlorobenzenes and chlorophenols, as well as azo dyes which form prohibited amines, have been on the Restricted Substance Lists for responsible brands for some time and are thought to be largely out of use in the textile industry. Brands should commit to a 2014 firm phase-out of these chemicals that are already out of use.”

Similarly, she added, the brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, chlorinated solvents, and short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCP) should prove relatively easy to phase down. “A 2015 phase out goal for these three categories would perhaps be feasible. Those chemicals/formulations without currently viable alternatives should be scheduled as the last to go to give time for research to take place.”

Step three

The NRDC is also suggesting the use of the ’80:20’ rule to gear the commitments up to scale quickly. “Apparel companies rightly point to the hundreds of factories and fabric mills that supply their goods as a key stumbling block to rapid implementation of any new rule book,” she said. “However, most agree that if they look, it is a much, much smaller universe of manufacturing facilities that provide the bulk of production.” Greer goes on to say that apparel brands should target the facilities that ‘matter the most first’, then move to the smaller operators later. “They should develop 80/20 plans: plans that initially target 80% of production, 80% of cotton/blend production, 80% of denim production.”

Step four

Key to this approach would be to fill in critical information gaps, according to the NRDC. This could take the form of two types of research: the chemical composition of commonly used formulations and the alternative formulations that are available.

Greer points out that many mills use formulations without knowledge of their chemical composition or buy ‘off brand’ products without realising they are poor substitutes. “Brands must step up to the plate here (either alone or in collaboration) and test the products used at their mills. They should ask their mills to send samples of the products and formulations they use and send those samples to a laboratory for a scan of the Greenpeace chemical categories.” Collaboration across brands would clearly be useful here, with perhaps the creation of a third-party repository and a single list of banned products, but only “if and only if companies can coordinate quickly enough to ensure that they meet their reduction deadlines.”

NRDC believes that research to identify alternatives is also crucial for the change in the industry by 2020.  Again, collaboration across brands would clearly be more efficient for the industry, but only “if it is possible to get this up and running expeditiously.”

With results in hand, “retailers/brands should then provide an explicit list of the formulations that contain banned substances to the mills, with dates for their phase-outs, as well as a list of preferred chemicals and formulations. This will provide a clear path forward for factories to transition away from problem uses.”

Step 5

The final step in the NRDC plan would be for brands to create clear sourcing policies with teeth that deliver business consequences to environmental non-compliance.

“The only way to make the Greenpeace commitments real is for the sourcing team to contractually require them, with consequences – suspension or termination of business – for bad behavior, says Greer. “In fact, it is the sourcing team that needs to own the Greenpeace commitments, not the CSR shop. Any phase-out plan owned and operated solely through the CSR shop is a fake and will not deliver results.  This approach is very different from the ‘we’re-all-in-this-sustainability-journey-together’ mentality that many companies have brought to their CSR work to date and will require changes in hierarchies, ownership, and management for many of you.”

Industry challenge

The NRDC acknowledges that the implementation of the Greenpeace commitments is a challenge for the global textile industry. “Most brands know their Tier One garment factories but not the Tier Two fabric mills, which is where the chemicals of concern are used and released. Traceability of products through the supply chain is an on-going challenge which to date has been focused largely on small, special product lines (such as organic cotton) and not the bulk of wet processing production. Until now, chemical concerns have been limited to chemicals on the residue of clothing [Restricted Substances Lists from AAFA.pdf] and not on the chemicals used and released in manufacturing.  And, let’s be honest with ourselves: only a very small handful of retailers and brands have ever even once assessed overall wastewater compliance at their fabric mills, let alone overseen or enforced a program limiting specific chemicals used and released at these sites.”

However, as Greer says, we can also all agree that the curtain is rising on the environmental problems being generated by textile manufacturing in China and elsewhere in the developing world. “International groups like Greenpeace are routinely showcasing problems to worldwide attention [Hidden Consequences.pdf], and NGOs such as the Institute for Public and Environmental Affairs (IPE), are quickly developing an increasing head-turning capacity in an information-starved China, by outing problem factories across that nation in a highly accessible way [IPE’s Cleaning up the Fashion Industryand IPE’s The Other Side of Apple Report.pdf].

“Given the ready access the public has to the internet and social media around the world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to multinationals to maintain a credible reaction of surprise and dismay to public exposes of the environmental damaged caused by factories in their supply chains around the world.”

Bitter pill to swallow

From this perspective, the Greenpeace campaign can be seen as “bitter but much needed medicine to the apparel sector,” according to Greer.  “And it is an important warning to the other industries manufacturing the pharmaceuticals, paper, furniture, plastics, and other consumer goods we use every day.  If you guys can manage a supply chain to deliver high quality products, on time and at low cost, from hundreds of factories to thousands of retail outlets around the world, it should also be possible to ensure that those same factories are minimising the damage they pose to the air and water in their surrounding communities.”

She concludes: “public expectations of industry are high and rapidly rising around the world; the fashion industry, so highly respected for its creativity, vision, and power of persuasion with consumers, is well suited to take the lead in responding to the public in this brave new world.”

 

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Why the Four P’s of Marketing no Longer Matter in Retail

April 23, 2013 Leave a comment
  • Why the Four P’s of marketing no longer matter in retail

    April 17, 2013
Why the Four P's of marketing no longer matter in retail

By Bob Lord and Ray Velez

Authors of “CONVERGE: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology”

Thanks to technological change, many tried-and-true practices that arise from the Four P’s of marketing — product, price, promotion and place — have to be thrown out the window.

Product: The product now is an open book. The days when all you had to worry about was Consumer Reports are long gone. Customer reviews are ubiquitous and routinely impact how customers buy.

Pricing: Once easy to manipulate, pricing now needs to be transparent. Obfuscation won’t work, and retailers have to be ready and willing to price-match and figure out a strategy for defeating showrooming.

Promotions: In-store promotions can’t just regurgitate the corporate line. They need to incorporate reviews and otherwise offer social proof of the value of the products for sale. Searching online is inherently social. More than 60 percent of users start their surfing behaviors with a Google or Bing search. Page rank algorithms depend on social to drive link strength and popularity. If your site isn’t part of the conversation, folks won’t be finding it with Google.

Place: When it comes to place, or distribution, you have to do it all. Customers want to be able to order online and pick up in-store. They want to start a transaction on the website and finish it on the phone. They want it their way, and it’s more incumbent than ever on commerce providers to give it to them.

Excerpted with permission of the publisher, Wiley, from “CONVERGE: Transforming Business at the Intersection of Marketing and Technology” by Bob Lord and Ray Velez. Copyright (c) 2013 by Bob Lord and Ray Velez. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

In the past, these four Ps were determined by the brand. Now, the consumer is in control, and not only does she know what she wants but the list of demands is a long one.

Showrooming, as the practice has been known, has become a constant subject of conversation in retail circles. comScore says about 4 in 10 shoppers check out products in-store and then buy elsewhere — especially online — for a cheaper price. As of last summer, almost half of U.S. consumers had smartphones and 58 percent of them had used the phone for store-related shopping, per a study by Deloitte. Macy’s has said that 90 percent of its customers research online at least occasionally before buying in the store.

And once they begin doing that there’s no turning back. Typical usage rate for in-store is 50 to 60 percent of trips, per Deloitte. Edgell Knowledge Network (EKN) and eBay Local researchers found that retailers are well aware of the problem and that 8 in 10 expected it to have a negative impact on sales during the 2012 holiday season, with an average of a 5 percent loss. Deloitte, meanwhile, found that about 5.1 percent of U.S. retail sales, about $158 billion, are influenced by mobile and predicted that this number would be 20 percent by 2016. Compare that to a projection of only $5 billion in mobile sales for 2012.

Deloitte ends up with the key insight that it’s mobile influence, not mobile commerce, that retailers should be focused on. Customers have a long list of expectations and at the top is a large amount of information before they make a purchasing decision.

This information-gathering process looks a lot different today than it might have just five years ago. Back then, there might have been a bit of online price shopping and surfing through some product reviews, and maybe a quick phone call to a friend or two if the purchase was large enough. Back then, retailers decided what messages would be in-store and felt safe in assuming that what they told a consumer about a product was the only thing the consumer would ever know about the product. Their signage, advertising, and point-of-purchase materials made up just about 100 percent of content a consumer would on path to purchase.

Pricing practices, especially, have been shaken up. The venerable practice of regional pricing, in which prices are adjusted based on pressures in individual markets, is made more difficult. The Internet, after all, knows no borders. The same is true of offering different prices to different customer segments. In the past, retailers could create one promotion for customers who didn’t have strong buying intent without the risk of loyal or likely customers not catching wind of it. Those promotions could essentially be kept secret. Not anymore.

The consumer also expects more information from third-party sources — that’s a new challenge for any retailer trying to drive unplanned purchases. They want social proof, that is, what friends and family or category experts think about product, and that’s not something that most retailers are set to deliver at scale of 30,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs). Some, however, have tried. Adding reviews was part of an overhaul of the product fact tag, making the product description easier to read, with bullet-pointed key product features and including the average store rating. Putting raw consumers’ reviews that aren’t wildly positive testimonials on the store shelf is a major step for any retailer. Surely a few sales will be lost because of a low average rating, but the payoff is a deepened relationship with the consumer in-store.

This is the future — and if the stores don’t provide peer feedback and information that customers want and are accustomed to getting, then they’ll simply get it on their own. After all, it’s just a click or two away.

 

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Textile Touchscreen?

April 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Textile Touchscreen?

February 22nd, 2013 | by Michael Keller

Check out the video below. It’s an advertisement by sportswear and accessory company Under Armour for their new Armour39 performance monitoring system, a fitness tracker that senses heart rate, calories burned and real-time intensity.

Of more interest for our consideration, though, is the implication that they’re working on an advanced textile. The video suggests that this textile will be turned into athletic wear that monitors performance but can also display information and let the user interact with it. They also seem to be showing a body suit that can change color based on user preference.

What do you think? Is this sci-fi advertising or a game changer in the high-tech fashion world? Any guesses on when something like this could be prototyped and commercialized?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oYCvIr0fWnM

 

 

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The Digital Future of Retail

April 22, 2013 Leave a comment
  • The Digital Future of Retail

 April 19, 2013
The digital future of retail

The following is an excerpt from the new book, “The Retail Revival: Reimagining Business For The New Age of Consumerism,” by RCE blogger Doug Stephens, published by Wiley.

Based on clues we can see all around us, it is my belief that retail, as we’ve known it for at least the last two millennia, is coming to an end. It won’t end tomorrow or next week. In fact, it will likely take at least a decade or two. But it’s very clear to me that we are coming to a tipping point and data, processing power and connectedness lie at the center of it all.

The reason is this…

Retail has fundamentally always been about destinations. The word retail itself is from the French retaillier, meaning to divide up and sell in small amounts across multiple locations. As consumers we have always been required to go somewhere to get things we need. Whether it was a market, store, mall, big-box or even the Internet, manufacturers and retailers controlled distribution. We as consumers had to make conscious trips to these destinations and do business on whatever terms were dictated.

And what’s interesting is that many of the groups I speak to are dying to know which of these destinations and formats are vanishing, which types of retailing are finished forever. Ironically, we’re not witnessing the absolute death of any particular retail destination, but rather the emergence of a completely new one—You! And not just you, but me, too. Every one of us is an individual destination for brands and retailers.

Here’s where we’re headed…

You’re on your way to a meeting in Chicago when your mobile device alerts you to the fact that your anniversary (which you forgot) is the day you

shutterstock_98997599

return home from your meeting. “Damn,” you say, startling the cab driver. But not to worry, your digital assistant on your device offers up a list of gift suggestions that you could buy your spouse, knowing his or her preferences, your spending habits, what you’ve bought your spouse in the past and what your friends are talking about on social networks. She serves these options up for you in a fraction of a second.

Relieved, you choose one of the recommended gifts. She now scours the universe of potential online and offline options based on best price, in-stock availability, fastest shipping, nearest in proximity to your current location and the hotel you’re staying at, and available loyalty points for redemption as well as any coupons that can be applied. She uses all this data to almost instantly produce a tidy and simple hierarchy of choices and all this in an instant. She doesn’t need to ask about color choice because she already knows that from past gift purchases for your spouse.

Feeling great about having this gift looked after for you, you select one of the options. Your assistant now processes the transaction on your behalf, disclosing only the amount of information you have pre-authorized, while double-checking to ensure that no tracking or privacy violations have been encountered along the way. She returns with a confirmation that all is in order and wishes you a pleasant trip. And while you’re moving and shaking in Chicago, your digital assistant will be tracking the order’s progress. Life is good!

What I’ve just described will, by the year 2022, become a common method of buying a significant percentage of the things we need on a day-to-day basis. The days of consciously having to seek things out, evaluating alternatives with whatever information is available and making purchases based solely on the retailers terms are going to come to an end. Burying tracking cookies in shoppers’ browsers or in their devices will seem like something out of the Dark Ages.

The future will see consumers move between anywhere convenience and only-here experiences. Increasingly it will not be the consumer who travels to the store, but the products that travel to the consumer in a completely seamless, serendipitous and relevant way. Consumers will regulate their interests, control their privacy and dictate many of the terms of engagement. And if a brand doesn’t like it, consumers will simply move down the list until they find a one that does.

And where will all this stuff we’re buying on the fly be delivered? Well, players like Amazon and 7-Eleven are already testing drop boxes in select 7-Eleven locations, allowing for seven-day-a-week deliveries that consumers can pick up at their convenience. And UK’s ShopBox has developed lockable, refrigerated containers that are placed outside the home to hold deliveries of just about anything, including perishables.

This is not a shift from brick and mortar to e-commerce—it’s much broader than that. In fact, as we as consumers, gradually become the destination, we’ll stop discerning so much between online and offline retail. Channels of distribution won’t matter. Goods and services will simply come to us, or wherever it’s convenient. Or, when we are given the promise of a memorable, one-of-a-kind live experience, we’ll visit a store.

In time, there will be very few consumer decisions in our lives that our digital assistants won’t be able to help us navigate, and this navigation will not always lead us to a retail transaction in the classical sense.

 

 

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The (Not So) Hidden Agenda Behind Google Glass

April 21, 2013 Leave a comment
 Google (ImageGOOG) is set to release its much-anticipated Google Glass in 2014. These wearable computers hook up to the Internet using Wi-Fi or through your mobile phone, and allow you to take photos and HD 720p video as well as use Google services like Gmail, Google + and Google Maps. With the release of this device, the company is making yet another move towards complete dominance of the web, since the device uses its proprietary Android operating system.

Google’s Android Strategy

Unlike its competitor Apple (AAPL), Google allows developers to use its Android OS for free, which has resulted in Android’s domination of the global market due to its wide adoption in mobile devices. For example, Android’s share of the global smartphone market is around 70%, compared with Apple’s 20 percent. The reason Google has opted to adopt this strategy is simple: while Apple wants people to buy its devices, Google wants them to use its web services. With a smartphone that uses the Android OS, you’re more likely to use Gmail, search the web using the Google search engine, network with your friends through Google + and so on. Once more, people are using its web services; Google then hopes to monetize them through ad sales. In addition, by using its web services, Google can collect data on your web usage habits, and can then use this information to sell ads targeted specifically towards particular consumers.

A person who wears the Google Glass device is likely to be using the company’s web services on a regular basis. In fact, a promotional video for the device shows four services being used – Google’s search engine, Google Maps, Google Now and Google Hangouts. The reason for this is simple convenience – even if you prefer Yahoo (YHOO) to Google, since Google is already the default on Google Glass, why not stick with it?

Google Could Dominate Social Networking

Similarly, once more people are using Google Glass, Google could eventually challenge the current dominance of social networking site Facebook and Microsoft’s video chat IP service Skype. With Google Glass, users can use Google Hangout to video chat directly with their friends and then use the device to show them what the user is looking at. In addition, since Hangout is a feature of Google’s social networking site Google +, Glass users could eventually use Google + as their default social network, which could eventually cut into Facebook’s (FB) share of the market.

At present, Facebook has a commanding lead, with some 700 million users as of the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Global Web Index, compared with 300 million for Google +. Until recently, Facebook users have had little reason to shift to Google +. But if Google Glass leads more people to use Google +, Google could finally challenge the domination of Facebook.

Google Could Challenge Apple’s iPhone

Currently, the Android OS is seen as the poor man’s alternative to Apple’s iPhone. But Google Glass could change that, if it takes off the way it is predicted to. Glass users would likely want to have MyGlass, a Google app that allows them to control the device through their smartphones. At present, the app is available only through the Android app store, although Google may choose to offer it through Apple’s app store. If it does not, however, this could prove to be a serious blow to the iPhone.

Google’s Glass Explorer program has enrolled 2,000 pre-early users who will serve as beta testers for the device and are paying $1,500 for the privilege. With the final retail price of the device seen to be pricey, the target market for Glass are likely to be affluent, with a lot of disposable income to spend on gadgets, and these people are Apple’s best customers. If Google Glass owners find that an Android phone is required to get the most out of their devices, they may opt to shift en massefrom iPhones.

What’s the Outlook for Google Glass?

At present, it remains to be seen how successful Google Glass will be. Google Glass could ultimately end up being a niche item. But if the device becomes successful, then it will cement Google’s dominance over web services. To reiterate, by restricting the best Google Glass experience to Android-enabled handsets, the iPhone’s dominance over the high end of the market could be hit. And by increasing Google Glass users’ reliance on Google Hangouts (and by extension, to Google +), it could create a powerful threat to Facebook’s dominance over the social networking sector. But whatever happens with Google Glass, it is clear that for Google, the future continues to be its web services.

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The peril of ‘showrooming’ from BBC News

April 21, 2013 Leave a comment
 By Alex Campbell BBC News  20 April 2013
Composite: people looking at TVs in shop; trying on clothes; a smartphone, a tablet and a PC with credit card
  • Have you ever seen something you wanted in a shop, tried it, checked the price online on your smartphone, found it was cheaper, and walked out? Welcome to the world of “showrooming”.

“The staff at Jessops would like to thank you for shopping with Amazon” read the sign in a shop window shortly after the British camera chain went into administration.

It was a dry reaction to a growing problem for “bricks and mortar”-focused retailers. Showrooming is said to have exacerbated the decline of high-profile brands like Comet.

Gadget stores, bookshops and the cosmetics industry are all losing sales to showroomers, but solutions have proved hard to find.

Kelly Buckle, 23, of Birmingham, sometimes spends more than £200 in a single shopping trip – but never actually gets as far as the checkout.

“I can go in and smell a perfume and then find it online for £30 less,” she says.

Research by design agency Foolproof found that 24% of people showroomed while Christmas shopping – and 40% of them took their business elsewhere.

JessopsCamera chain Jessops may have suffered the effects of ‘showrooming’

Showroomers are not doing anything immoral. But the process can still be embarrassing.

“I feel bad about it, especially when the staff have been helpful, but it’s my money,” says Buckle.

Bricks and mortar shops have to pay rent, bills and staff salaries. Online retailers can offer cheaper prices because they don’t.

But the online giants get a benefit from the very existence of bricks and mortar shops. It leaves physical retailers in a quandary.

An Australian specialty food shop recently raised eyebrows by charging $5 (£3.37) just for browsing. And some shoe and clothes stores in America and Australia have also tried a “fitting fee”. In all instances the fee is taken off the bill when someone buys something.

Victoria Barnsley, chief executive of HarperCollins, recently suggested the idea of charging a fee for browsing bookshops is “not that insane”.

Steve Pritchard, 61, who runs an independent book store in Crosby, Merseyside, and has worked in the trade for more than 36 years, is not convinced.

“We see them in the corner with their mobile phones, scanning the barcode on a book and finding it cheaper. I can’t blame them,” he says.

“I can’t see a way to stop it. Charging people to browse has been suggested but it’s a daft idea because you still want people to come in.

“You’ve just got to make your retail environment pleasant, have people here who know what they’re talking about and try to embarrass them out of doing it.”

Student browsing in bookshop

If you take a specialist running chain like Run and Become or Runner’s Need you can see this process in action. Staff analyse a customer’s running gait, often on a treadmill and “diagnose” a pair of shoes that will avoid injury.

Those £100 shoes might be markedly cheaper online, but the would-be showroomer has to have a very high embarrassment threshold to walk out with a straight face.

This approach may seem more realistic than either charging a fee for advice or placing other obstacles in the way of showroomers. There have been suggestions that resistance from retailers has included asking suppliers to subtly change the names of products to thwart internet searches.

Coaxing the customer into being willing to pay more is the way, says retail consultant Martin Philpott.

“Shops like Jessops need to become centres of excellence with a limited number of showroom stores in high profile areas, selling high end products.

“I’m a passionate cyclist and I go to a shop that is much more expensive than the internet. But they will build a cycle for you, watch you ride up and down the street or even ride out with you.

“By the time you’ve been there for an hour, their enthusiasm is so overwhelming that you really don’t want to go elsewhere.”

Strangely, online retailers have an interest in the survival of bricks and mortar shops. If web-based retailers lure so many showroomers, what will they do if there are no showrooms left?

Philip Beeching, 53, a web consultant and self-confessed showroomer, thinks online retailers may themselves turn to bricks and mortar – but not necessarily staff and checkouts.

Westfield shopping centre, east LondonWill shopping malls become a place to browse, not buy?

“Online retailers do well out of showrooming and companies like Amazon may well decide that they need to open up showrooms,” he says.

Retailer-turned-author Bill Grimsey, former chief executive of Wickes and Iceland, agrees. He believes the future lies in purpose-built showrooms in major shopping centres.


More from the Magazine

In the 1970s, the High Street was a bustling place of traditional, albeit occasionally stodgy brands, untroubled by out-of-town retail parks, let alone the virtual shopping of Amazon and its internet competitors. “Things are going to change a lot, the whole thing is about to explode,” he says. “People won’t pay to browse. It may start but it will die quickly. People will expect the service.

Grimsey believes that even out-of-town retail parks will quickly become redundant, with 20 or 30 huge shopping malls dominating retail by making use of showrooms.

A growing number of retailers allow customers to order online and check or collect their goods in store – avoiding the inevitable missed delivery cards and increasing the chances of them buying something else while they are there.

But for many, the most important factor is still the price.

“My wife asked me to get a new celebrity cookbook which I found in Waterstones for £27. Using my smartphone I was able to search for it and I instantly found it on Amazon for £15,” Beeching says.

“If the price had been closer maybe I’d have done the right thing. But especially in times where a lot of people are strapped for cash – what do you expect them to do?”

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Technology Entrepreneurship ONLINE from Stanford University

April 20, 2013 Leave a comment
Technology Entrepreneurship ONLINE

INSTRUCTOR:
Chuck Eesley, Assistant Professor, Management Science & Engineering, Stanford University
Starting April 29, 2013

The Technology Entrepreneurship ONLINE Course

Sign up at: https://venture-lab.stanford.edu/venture

This course introduces the fundamentals of technology entrepreneurship, pioneered in Silicon Valley and now spreading across the world. You will learn the process technology entrepreneurs use to start companies. It involves taking a technology idea and finding a high-potential commercial opportunity, gathering resources such as talent and capital, figuring out how to sell and market the idea, and managing rapid growth. To gain practical experience alongside the theory, students form teams and work on startup projects in those teams.

This is the second offering of the class. Last time, nearly 40,000 students from around the world participated and worked in teams together. The top teams were matched with Silicon Valley mentors, and the best teams at the end of the class pitched their ideas to investors. Many of the alumni of the last class are continuing to build their startups and will be mentoring teams this time

By the conclusion of the course, it is our hope that you understand how to:

    • Articulate a process for taking a technology idea and finding a high-potential commercial opportunity (high performing students will be able to discuss the pros and cons of alternative theoretical models).
    • Create and verify a plan for gathering resources such as talent and capital.
    • Create and verify a business model for how to sell and market an entrepreneurial idea.
    • Generalize this process to an entrepreneurial mindset of turning problems into opportunities that can be used in larger companies and other settings.

Check out Fall 2012 highlights!

The Instructor

 Chuck Eesley is an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Department of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E). His research and teaching interests focus on strategy and technology entrepreneurship. In the broadest sense, Chuck is interested in the “ideas sector” of the economy. He wants to find out which individual attributes, strategies and institutional arrangements optimally drive the rate of innovation, high growth entrepreneurship, and ultimately economic growth.

Chuck received the 2010 Best Dissertation Award in the Business Policy and Strategy Division of the Academy of Management and is a recipient of the 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Dissertation Fellowship award.

Chuck Eesley's picture

More Information

Workload

10 hours per week.

Technical Requirements

You need a computer that allows you to watch the video lectures, and the ability to upload your assignments which will be reports and powerpoint/video presentations.

Statement of Accomplishment

Subject to satisfactory performance and course completion, you will receive a statement of accomplishment signed by the instructor. This statement will not stand in the place of a course taken at Stanford or an accredited institution.

Sign up at: https://venture-lab.stanford.edu/venture

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Three Ways to Battle Showrooming

April 20, 2013 Leave a comment

Focus on Me!… FOCUS on Me!!…FOCUS ON ME!!!

By , Published April 20, 2013

 I love it when a new phenomenon comes around that give marketers something to worry about and to debate. I’m sure you have heard of showrooming. Even if you haven’t heard the term, you’ve probably done it.

Showrooming is when you are standing in Target, considering buying an Ipad andThree Ways to Battle Showrooming image kelly creditcards you pull out your smart phone and look up the pricing of the same product on Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Chances are, you’ll find it for a little cheaper, which then leaves you to decide if you head to the Target check-out with just the red velvet cookies, the $9 polka-dot push-up bra, and three plastic chairs for your patio, or if you add the Ipad to your not-as-random-as-it-seems collection of purchases. As you can imagine, Target, and other big retailers, are spending a lot of money, energy, and brain power to come up with ways to push your decision in their favor.

The battles around showrooming are in full swing. Amazon has offered permanent price-matching, so has Target. So at least they have neutralized each other. There are also apps that recognize when you are in a store like Best Buy and they can immediately offer you a coupon if you buy today. From a non-tech point of view, exclusive product like Target’s designer appliances, bikes, and bedding also battle that option of looking at competitors and leaving with only a $.99 bag of popcorn. sense that big retailers would first focus on themselves, their products, and their competitors, those are concrete concepts that are easily spit-balled in conference rooms. But I gotta say, what about me? Isn’t it all about me? I am the customer after all. If you want me to pledge my loyalty and devote all my dollars to you, then I need to be wooed. I need to know that you see me as individual and that you care about my point of view. Here are three things that big retailers should be doing to increase loyalty.

1. Remember My Tastes

There are “push” and “pull” versions of this and retailers should be doing both.

Three Ways to Battle Showrooming image salestagsLowes has launched a “pull” version where they tell customers to keep track of everything they bought on the Lowes site, then next year when you want more of the same daffodil bulbs, you are more likely to buy them from Lowes because you’ll go look them up. By just tracking your in-store or on-line purchases with your phone number you have a great history of everything you’ve purchased. Last weekend I bought 5 strings of “everyday” string lights from Target and installed them on my covered patio. So next year when I need two more strings, I’ll start the shopping process all over again, looking at Amazon, at Home Depot, and at Target and hope to match them up because I won’t remember. If Target gave me a way to remember, I wouldn’t even bother to look anywhere else. I’d just buy straight from them. Lowes has got it going on with their MyLowes campaign. It isn’t enough for me to start shopping there, I don’t really see it driving new customers, but loyal customers and halting some showrooming—definitely.

Amazon does the “push” version of remembering my tastes in the worst way I’ve ever seen. Their emails have become a joke among the geeky marketer set. I once bought a Tag Hauer watch from them for an anniversary gift. Do you want to guess what the next three emails were that I received from them? Their genius reasoning was that if I bought one $2500 watch, I would undoubtedly want another one in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. It just wouldn’t take much for those emails to because really useful to me. What if they made a couple of basic assumptions: Mark the date that I bought the watch and 350 days later send me an email that suggests cigars, golf clubs, and men’s cashmere sweaters. Not that I would buy any of those, but it might get me to click through just because it was a well-timed email right before either my significant other’s birthday or my wedding anniversary. They could take it even one step farther and “push” and “pull” by offering me the option of filling in a bunch more information about my significant other and they could keep an eye out for new stuff coming in that he might like. All of a sudden they become a virtual personal shopper. I’d be loyal. I would. That would work on me.

2. Remember My Dates

How many tiny retailers or super specialty shops have offered this? FTD.com has done it for years, but there literally isn’t a single person that I’m going to send a bouquet of flowers to (can you tell I don’t have a mother-in-law?). I know, this is soooo 2003, but I still think if a BIG retailer did it well, I’d use it. If Target sent me an email 10 days before Angela, Chelle, Jesse, or David’s birthday, I might click through and place an order, maybe not, but I might.

3. Ask Questions, Then Remember the Answers

I covered this a little under number one where I said they should push and pull, but let’s blow that idea up. Incent me to tell you about myself, then remember my answers. This is where SheerID swoops in with a red cape to save the day. Ask if I’m a studenta military membera teachera small business owner, or affiliated with any group, then offer me an exclusive discount for that. SheerID will handle the hard stuff like verifying status and tracking that customer for the retailer. The retailer just needs to offer the discount or special offer and get the word to me, SheerID will protect it from getting posted, it stays personal which is what makes it Three Ways to Battle Showrooming image Kelly as Teacher transparentwork. If I walked in to Joann’s Fabric and got a notification on my phone that I could take an extra 5% off today because I’m a teacher—sold! I wouldn’t check prices with their competitors. Or, use that big data for something other than a buzz word that impresses your boss in your quarterly report. Watch my purchases of consumables and reach out to me around the time I’m running out of paper towels and dryer sheets. Offer a discount for cosmetics or candy the next time I buy those dryer sheets to increase the number of items that I loyally buy from you.

See where this is all going? Take that same creative thinking that has you firing at your competitors and apply it to the characteristics and habits and loyalties of your customer. If you want to develop a long-term relationship with me… FOCUS ON ME! 

Categories: Uncategorized

High opacity polyester fabrics for sportswear

April 20, 2013 Leave a comment

High opacity polyester fabrics for sportswear

18th March 2013, Caronno Pertusella

Italian knitter Piave Maitex’ research into technical fabrics has found new expression with the creation of its new PM Eclisse range of high opacity polyester fabrics for sports and active wear.

According to Piave Maitex, which was founded in 1908, ever since their introduction into the world of sports, technical polyester fabrics have shown poor opacity in the colour white, particularly, and in light colours in general, with dark colours clearly prevailing in this domain.

The Varese based company says its response to the need for opacity is a remarkable step forward in terms of superior overall performance achieved by a coherent combination of new technologies and specifically:

  • Innovative yarns with special cross section and polymer based coatings
  • Fine gauge knitting machines resulting in more compact, smooth and stronger fabrics
  • Elastic modules designed for better body comfort, increased muscle compression, competition performance, without allowing transparency once the garment is worn
  • Reduced thickness, ideal for enhanced fabric breathability and moisture transport
  • Resistance to pilling and abrasion typical of sports performance
  • Optimal yield and definition of transfer prints, smooth and compact surface, enhances bright colours and more accurate designs
  • UV protection
  • Quick dry
  • Resistance to the action of chemicals improved by using Xtra Life Lycra

“Shortly said, PM Eclisse represents today a forefront fabric for sports and activewear,” Piave Maitex sums up.

Piave Maitex has two production plants in Feltre and Monastier with of over 20,000 square metres of production space being occupied by over 100 raschel, tricot and circular knitting machines which are equipped with the most modern and sophisticated production and control systems.

The plant also houses scouring machines with the latest available technology which takes into account ecological requirements, computerised dye mixing machines, dyeing and finishing machines suited to the specific demands of the industry and stenters equipped with the most sophisticated control systems to produce a constant quality to the highest standards.

Two up-to-date laboratories assure accurate control of the company’s production quality and guarantee a production capacity of more than 8 million metres of high quality stretch fabrics per year, together with the versatility to interpret and bring to reality all of its customers’ requests.

In 2011, the vertical Italian warp and weft knitter invested in state of the art high speed digital printing technology for stretch fabrics from La Meccanica di Urgnano. The new generation machinery was installed at the company’s Caronno Pertusella site, near Varese in North East Italy. The new investment aimed to compliment Piave Maitex’s existing ink-jet printing machines already in operation, bringing the company’s digital printing capacity to well over one million meters per annum.

La Meccanica di Urgnano specializes in machines for the processing of stretch fabrics. Piave Maitex says the new QualiJet K16 machines from the Bergamo based company allow it to respond quickly, effectively and with great flexibility to the ever growing customer’s demands in terms of style effects, resolution, number and intensity of colours.

Categories: Uncategorized
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