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Birth, life and death of an app: A look at the Apple App Store in July 2014

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Birth, life and death of an app: A look at the Apple App Store in July 2014 (PDF)
Source: adjust

As the App Store and the apps within it mature, more than ever it becomes essential for marketers to look at new techniques to re-engage existing users and get ROI. This report shows the development of the App Store and highlights the critical need for marketers to engage key audiences for ensuring the longevity of their app.

Currently, there are 1,252,777 apps available in the App Store, and as many as 60 thousand apps are added per month – and this rate is itself growing.

In 2013, 453,902 new apps were released in the Apple App Store, exceeding adjust’s prediction of over 435,100 new apps by 4 percent. Almost 15 percent of apps in the store were removed during the year, which adjust labels as “Dead Apps”, due to violating App Store terms and conditions or voluntarily pulled down by developers, leaving 396,341 available apps with a release date in 2013.

Over the next year we predict 578 thousand new apps will enter the App Store (by 1 July 2015).

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USPS OIG — Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow!

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Package Services: Get Ready, Set, Grow! (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

The package delivery market has been growing considerably. Between 2008 and 2013, the U.S. Postal Service experienced a more than 20 percent increase in package volume. The main reason is the growing popularity of e-commerce, particularly online shopping. American businesses and consumers spent more than $68 billion to ship packages domestically in 2013. E-commerce sales in the U.S. alone this year will top $430 billion; global e-commerce will exceed $1.5 trillion.

There is no doubt that packages are growing in importance to the Postal Service’s future. To meet emerging customer demands, the Postal Service needs to position itself for long-term success and broaden its role across the package delivery value chain. The Postal Service has already taken some steps towards enhancing its ability to handle an increase in packages. However, it needs a strategy that includes expanding beyond the traditional postal expertise of last-mile delivery to offer one-stop.

CEOs and Consumers Disconnected on Sustainable Products and Services, Says Accenture, Havas Media report

July 16, 2014 Comments off

CEOs and Consumers Disconnected on Sustainable Products and Services, Says Accenture, Havas Media report
Source: Accenture

Only a third of consumers regularly consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions, according to a global study by Accenture (ACN: NYSE) and Havas Media RE:PURPOSE, which reveals the reasons for the disconnect between business and consumer expectations of sustainable products and services.

The report, “From Marketing to Mattering”, is based on a survey of 30,000 consumers in 20 countries. The study was commissioned in response and as a companion to the UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability, published in 2013, in which two thirds of CEOs admitted that business is not doing enough to address sustainability challenges, similar to the 73 percent of consumers in the latest research that say businesses are failing to take care of the planet and society.

The two studies reveal that, although CEOs see engagement with consumers as the most important single factor motivating them to accelerate progress on sustainability, they are often out of step with what motivates consumers to buy sustainable products and services. 81 percent of CEOs believe that their company’s reputation for sustainability is important to consumers, but the new research shows that less than one-quarter (23 percent) of consumers report that they regularly seek information on the sustainability performance of the brands whose products they purchase.

As result of the disconnect on the importance of a company’s sustainable reputation, only 32 percent of consumers say they ‘often’ or ‘always’ consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions.

FTC Alleges Amazon Unlawfully Billed Parents for Millions of Dollars in Children’s Unauthorized In-App Charges

July 10, 2014 Comments off

FTC Alleges Amazon Unlawfully Billed Parents for Millions of Dollars in Children’s Unauthorized In-App Charges
Source: Federal Trade Commission

Amazon.com, Inc. has billed parents and other account holders for millions of dollars in unauthorized in-app charges incurred by children, according to a Federal Trade Commission complaint filed today in federal court.

The FTC’s lawsuit seeks a court order requiring refunds to consumers for the unauthorized charges and permanently banning the company from billing parents and other account holders for in-app charges without their consent. According to the complaint, Amazon keeps 30 percent of all in-app charges.

Amazon offers many children’s apps in its appstore for download to mobile devices such as the Kindle Fire. In its complaint, the FTC alleges that Amazon violated the FTC Act by billing parents and other Amazon account holders for charges incurred by their children without the permission of the parent or other account holder. Amazon’s setup allowed children playing these kids’ games to spend unlimited amounts of money to pay for virtual items within the apps such as “coins,” “stars,” and “acorns” without parental involvement.

Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers?

July 8, 2014 Comments off

Does Planning Regulation Protect Independent Retailers? (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Regulations aimed at curbing the entry of large retail stores have been introduced in many countries to protect independent retailers. Analyzing a planning reform launched in the United Kingdom in the 1990s, I show that independent retailers were actually harmed by the creation of entry barriers against large stores. Instead of simply reducing the number of new large stores entering a market, the entry barriers created the incentive for large retail chains to invest in smaller and more centrally located formats, which competed more directly with independents and accelerated their decline. Overall, these findings suggest that restricting the entry of large stores does not necessarily lead to a world with fewer stores, but one with different stores, with uncertain competitive effects on independent retailers.

See: Banning Big-box Stores Can Hurt Local Businesses

Making Big Data Work: Retailing

June 26, 2014 Comments off

Making Big Data Work: Retailing
Source: Boston Consulting Group

Traditional retailers generate and capture a deluge of data—most notably, customer transaction histories that can reveal detailed product affinities and promotional and marketing response rates. Now the emergence of big data and advanced analytical tools and techniques can connect data with a larger context. Big data can explain the who, what, when, where, why, and how of retailing.

Although some leading companies have gained a reputation for deft data handling, most retailers have not yet built the analytical capabilities and internal processes necessary to take advantage of the deep well of information they can access. Merchants and marketers often rely on tactics that worked last year, with only slight modifications. Sometimes their promotions end up discounting the wrong items and hurting rather than helping sales. Too frequently, they simply rely on consumer goods companies or suppliers, with their different incentives and motivations, to tell them what to do.

In the end, many retailers have not figured out where and why they are winning and where and why they are losing. They struggle to discover which prices, promotions, and store locations are working best. They have a hard time taking advantage of all the contextual information around transactions that could make a difference in sales. In effect, they know the outcomes of millions of real-time experiments, but they are not able to look at and learn from them.

All this leads to missed opportunities. Ultimately, it opens doors to online and direct sellers, which often have better data and more sophisticated analytics.

Spending on Father’s Day to Top $12.5 Billion, According to NRF Survey

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Spending on Father’s Day to Top $12.5 Billion, According to NRF Survey
Source: National Retail Federation

As the smallest of the American gift-giving holidays, Father’s Day is a blip on the retail sales radar compared to Christmas and Mother’s Day, but the sentimental importance of the occasion will never be overlooked by consumers. According to NRF’s 2014 Father’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average person will spend $113.80 on neckties, tools, electronics and other special gifts for dad, slightly down from $119.84 last year. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $12.5 billion.

Brazil’s Next Consumer Frontier: Capturing Growth in the Rising Interior

June 4, 2014 Comments off

Brazil’s Next Consumer Frontier: Capturing Growth in the Rising Interior
Source: Boston Consulting Group

For the past few decades, both foreign and domestic companies have scrambled for advantage in Brazil, striving to tap into one of the world’s greatest emerging consumer markets. But, in general, they have not thought far beyond the capital cities and major metropolitan areas. Small cities deep within Brazil’s interior account for more than half of the country’s population. But compared with the rich opportunities in bigger cities, especially along the country’s southern coast, they have been regarded as less affluent, too dispersed, and excessively hard to reach.

This view needs to change fast: the action is moving away from capital and metropolitan cities. Millions of households in interior cities, which we define as those located outside of Brazil’s major metropolitan areas and 26 capital cities, are vaulting from poverty into the ranks of the middle class and the affluent. Interior cities will become the primary drivers of growth at least through the rest of this decade. We project that, by 2020, interior cities will account for nearly half of incremental household consumption, or around $130 billion in added spending. They will be especially important sources of growth in sectors such as financial services, automobiles, and apparel.

Free registration required to access report.

Association of the Neighborhood Retail Food Environment with Sodium and Potassium Intake Among US Adults

June 2, 2014 Comments off

Association of the Neighborhood Retail Food Environment with Sodium and Potassium Intake Among US Adults
Source: Preventing Chronic Disease (CDC)

Introduction
High sodium intake and low potassium intake, which can contribute to hypertension and risk of cardiovascular disease, may be related to the availability of healthful food in neighborhood stores. Despite evidence linking food environment with diet quality, this relationship has not been evaluated in the United States. The modified retail food environment index (mRFEI) provides a composite measure of the retail food environment and represents the percentage of healthful-food vendors within a 0.5 mile buffer of a census tract.

Methods
We analyzed data from 8,779 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2008. By using linear regression, we assessed the relationship between mRFEI and sodium intake, potassium intake, and the sodium–potassium ratio. Models were stratified by region (South and non-South) and included participant and neighborhood characteristics.

Results
In the non-South region, higher mRFEI scores (indicating a more healthful food environment) were not associated with sodium intake, were positively associated with potassium intake (P [trend] = .005), and were negatively associated with the sodium–potassium ratio (P [trend] = .02); these associations diminished when neighborhood characteristics were included, but remained close to statistical significance for potassium intake (P [trend] = .05) and sodium–potassium ratio (P [trend] = .07). In the South, mRFEI scores were not associated with sodium intake, were negatively associated with potassium intake (P [trend] = < .001), and were positively associated with sodium–potassium ratio (P [trend] = .01). These associations also diminished after controlling for neighborhood characteristics for both potassium intake (P [trend] = .03) and sodium–potassium ratio (P [trend] = .40).

Conclusion
We found no association between mRFEI and sodium intake. The association between mRFEI and potassium intake and the sodium–potassium ratio varied by region. National strategies to reduce sodium in the food supply may be most effective to reduce sodium intake. Strategies aimed at the local level should consider regional context and neighborhood characteristics.

Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2014: In the hands of the consumer

May 30, 2014 Comments off

Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2014: In the hands of the consumer
Source: Deloitte

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL) is pleased to present the 1st annual Global Powers of Luxury Goods. This report identifies the 75 largest luxury goods companies around the world, and examines the trends shaping the sector. It also looks at M&A deals and provides a global economic outlook.

Focusing on four broad categories of luxury goods (designer apparel, handbags and accessories, fine jewelry and watches, and cosmetics and fragrances), this report identifies the 75 largest luxury goods companies around the world, and examines the trends shaping the sector.

It also provides an outlook for the global economy, an analysis of market capitalization in the industry, an overview of M&A activity in the luxury goods sector, and a discussion of major trends affecting luxury goods companies – in particular the impact of the digitally empowered consumer.

Online Shopping and Mail Order Businesses Jump 27 Percent, Census Bureau Reports

May 29, 2014 Comments off

Online Shopping and Mail Order Businesses Jump 27 Percent, Census Bureau Reports
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Electronic shopping is showing rapid growth compared to the rest of the retail trade sector, with the number of establishments growing 27.4 percent between 2011 and 2012, according to new U.S. Census Bureau statistics released today. Drawn from County Business Patterns: 2012, the new data provides the only detailed annual information on the number of establishments, employees and payroll for nearly 1,200 industries at the national, state and county levels.

The number of electronic shopping and mail-order houses establishments grew from 23,697 to 30,185 between 2011 and 2012. Employment climbed 13.7 percent to 365,508. In contrast, for the retail trade sector as a whole, which includes traditional “brick and mortar” stores, the number of establishments rose just 0.1 percent, while employment climbed 0.7 percent.

“Unlike traditional stores, which are located throughout the country, online shopping establishments and jobs are in concentrated areas,” said William Bostic Jr., the Census Bureau’s associate director for economic programs.

Census Explorer: Retail Edition, the latest version of the Census Bureau’s interactive map, gives users easier access to neighborhood statistics and shows the geographic concentration of electronic shopping and mail-order houses.

Checking Out: A Qualitative Study of Supermarket Cashiers’ Emotional Response to Customer Mistreatment

May 29, 2014 Comments off

Checking Out: A Qualitative Study of Supermarket Cashiers’ Emotional Response to Customer Mistreatment
Source: University of South Florida (thesis – Lawless)

In Western culture, and especially the United States, the increasingly service based economy focuses on creating an emotionally positive experience for customers. This leads to increasing pressures on service workers to hide and suppress their emotions even when mistreated by customers, in order to meet their employers’, and general cultural, customer service standards. This thesis investigates the questions of what kinds of emotional challenges supermarket cashiers experience as a result of mistreatment from their customers, how do they manage to cope with these challenges, and whether there are any differences in challenges or coping strategies between younger and older cashiers, and those with less or more work experience. Researchers have studied the strategies and effects of emotion management in a variety of work settings, as well as private and other institutional settings, including airlines (Hochschild, 1983), animal shelters (Arluke, 1994), and abortion clinics (Wolkomir and Powers, 2007). However, the role of customer mistreatment in the development of emotion management strategies among service workers has remained relatively unexamined to date.

For my research, I conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews with nine female cashiers of different ages who work at large supermarkets in two counties of southwest Florida. As illustrated and discussed in the analysis chapters, most commonly, participants described three different types of mistreatment they experience from their customers and resulting emotional issues: stigma, verbal abuses, and sexualized mistreatment. In order to cope with these mistreatments, cashiers employ two types of emotion management strategies: interpersonal and personal. Interpersonal strategies in the workplace include peer support and enlisting the manager, personal strategies include what I call doing service and forgiving the customer.

In the concluding chapter, I summarize my research findings and describe how my study contributes to the current state of the literature on workplace emotion management. I also discuss the limitations of my study. Lastly, I discuss implications for policy and some recommendations for protecting cashiers from customer mistreatment, and the associated emotional suffering, in the future.

America’s Household Brands Losing Ground

May 6, 2014 Comments off

America’s Household Brands Losing Ground
Source: Deloitte

U.S. consumers are pushing their shopping carts past many of America’s national brands and feel little regret in doing so, according to Deloitte’s American Pantry Study of more than 375 brands across 30 product categories.

Seven in 10 shoppers (71 percent) say they’re spending less on food, beverage and household goods, but don’t feel like they’re sacrificing much. In fact, only 31 percent of brands are considered a “must have” — one that shoppers would buy whether on sale or not — consistent with the last four years that Deloitte has conducted the survey.

“National brands are pressured on all sides, from persistent consumer frugality and low brand loyalty to rival and store brand competition,” said Pat Conroy, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. Consumer Products leader. “While consumers initially resented buying less-expensive products out of necessity a few years ago, they have changed their tune. They have shifted from a feeling of settling for lower-priced brands to settling in to store brands distinguished by high quality.”

CRS — The Target Data Breach: Frequently Asked Questions

April 28, 2014 Comments off

The Target Data Breach: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In November and December of 2013, cyber-criminals breached the data security of Target, one of the largest U.S. retail chains, stealing the personal and financial information of millions of customers. On December 19, 2013, Target confirmed that some 40 million credit and debit card account numbers had been stolen. On January 10, 2014, Target announced that personal information, including the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of up to 70 million customers, was also stolen during the data breach. A report by the Senate Committee on Commerce in March 2014 concluded that Target missed opportunities to prevent the data breach.

To date, Target has reported data breach costs of $61 million. Independent sources have made back-of-the-envelope estimates ranging from $240 million to $2.2 billion, in fraudulent charges alone. This does not include additional potential costs to consumers concerned about their personal information or credit histories, potential fines or penalties to Target, financial institutions or others, or any costs to Target related to a loss of consumer confidence. The breach was among the largest in U.S. history.

The “Amazon Tax”: Empirical Evidence From Amazon and Main Street Retailers

April 24, 2014 Comments off

The “Amazon Tax”: Empirical Evidence From Amazon and Main Street Retailers (PDF)
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research

Several states have recently implemented laws requiring the collection of sales tax on online purchases. In practice, however, only Amazon.com has been affected. We find that households living in these states reduce Amazon expenditures by 9.5%, implying an elasticity of –1.3. We find the effect to be more pronounced for large purchases, for which we estimate an elasticity of –3.2. Further, we find that the decline in Amazon purchases is offset by a 2.0% increase in purchases at local brick-and-mortar retailers and a 19.8% increase in purchases at the online operations of competing retailers.

See also: An Analysis of Internet Sales Taxation and the Small Seller Exemption (U.S. Small Business Administration)

Payment Choice and the Future of Currency: Insights from Two Billion Retail Transactions

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Payment Choice and the Future of Currency: Insights from Two Billion Retail Transactions
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

This paper uses transaction-level data from a large discount chain together with zip-code-level explanatory variables to learn about consumer payment choices across size of transaction, location, and time. With three years of data from thousands of stores across the country, we identify important economic and demographic effects; weekly, monthly, and seasonal cycles in payments, as well as time trends and significant state-level variation that is not accounted for by the explanatory variables. We use the estimated model to forecast how the mix of consumer payments will evolve and to forecast future demand for currency. Our estimates based on this large retailer, together with forecasts for the explanatory variables, lead to a benchmark prediction that the cash share of retail sales will decline by 2.54 percentage points per year over the next several years.

Survey Says… Health Plans Advance Retail Capabilities

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Survey Says… Health Plans Advance Retail Capabilities
Source: Deloitte

“Retail” is a hot topic in the health insurance industry today for good reasons. From the creation of health insurance marketplaces, to the continued growth in Medicaid and Medicare, to the defined contribution movement and the rise of private exchanges, the sale and delivery of health insurance is requiring an increasing focus on the individual consumer. In this context, Deloitte Consulting launched the Health Plan Retail Capabilities Benchmarking Survey to expand our understanding of the industry’s current capabilities and future investment priorities to serve the most dramatically changing segment of the health insurance market – the commercial individual market.

Forty-six health plans participated in an online survey in late 2013. Respondents represented approximately 60 percent of the commercial individual marketplace spanning national, regional, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, provider-sponsored, established and new-entrant plans. Analysis of the survey data reveals three themes:

  1. Product, pricing and consumer experience capabilities top health plan’s priority investment list
  2. Near term investment plans focus on regulatory requirements and retention capabilities but widen the aperture to consumer insight, consumer experience and channel in the longer term,
  3. Technology investments in transparency, mobility, CRM and analytics are fundamental to supporting desired business capabilities.

USPS OIG — Readiness for Package Growth – Customer Service Operations: Management Advisory Report

April 4, 2014 Comments off

Readiness for Package Growth – Customer Service Operations: Management Advisory Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

BACKGROUND:
Strong customer demand for goods purchased over the Internet has driven growth in the package market, despite an otherwise declining mail market. This growing segment provides the U.S. Postal Service an opportunity to expand services and increase revenue. From fiscal year (FY) 2010 to FY 2012, Postal Service package revenue increased by $1.4 billion, or 14 percent, and volume increased by 445 million pieces, or 14 percent. Package volume also increased by 13.7 percent in the first 3 quarters of FY 2013, compared with the same period last year.

The Postal Service’s retail component, Customer Service Operations, processes about 34 percent of its annual package volume during the holiday mailing season (November and December). About 75,000 Customer Service Operations’ employees work at post offices and destination delivery units. Employees accept packages at over 31,000 post offices for dispatch to mail processing facilities and receive them at over 24,000 destination delivery units to sort for final delivery.

This report is one in a series of U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General products that addresses the Postal Service’s readiness for growth in the package business. Our objective was to evaluate operational readiness for package growth in Customer Service Operations.

WHAT THE OIG FOUND:
Customer Service Operations has successfully managed periods of package growth, employee workhours, and scan rates at delivery units. However, opportunities exist to enhance readiness by improving acceptance scan rates, decreasing customer wait time in line during the holiday mailing season, enabling the Passive Adaptive Scanning System revenue-protection function, and reducing the number of non-barcoded packages to provide end-to-end tracking for customers. Overcoming these challenges could improve the Postal Service’s competitiveness in the package business.

WHAT THE OIG RECOMMENDED:
We recommended the vice president, Delivery and Post Office Operations, reinforce that Customer Service Operations’ employees perform acceptance scans to support the 100 percent product visibility strategy. We also recommended the vice presidents, Engineering Systems and Product Information, enable the Passive Adaptive Scanning System revenue protection function and implement a comprehensive strategy to reduce non-barcoded packages. Finally, we recommended the vice president, Mail Entry and Payment Technology, define a solution for notification and collection of shortpaid postage for packages.

Eyes in the Aisles: Why is Cap’N Crunch Looking Down at My Child?

April 3, 2014 Comments off

Eyes in the Aisles: Why is Cap’N Crunch Looking Down at My Child?
Source: Social Science Research Network

To what extent do cereal spokes-characters make eye contact with children versus adults, and does their eye contact influence choice? The shelf placement and eye positioning of 86 cereal spokes-characters were evaluated in ten grocery stores in the Eastern United States. In Study 1, we calculated the average height of cereal boxes on the shelf for adult- versus children-oriented cereals (48 versus 23-in.) and the inflection angle of spokes-characters’ gaze (0.4 versus -9.6 degrees). We found that cereal characters on children- (adult-) oriented cereals make incidental eye contact at children’s (adults’) eye level. In Study 2, we showed that eye contact with cereal spokes-characters increased feelings of trust and connection to the brand, as well as choice of the brand over competitors. Currently, many of the cereals targeted towards children are of the heavily sugared, less healthy variety. One potential application of this finding would be to use eye contact with spokes-characters to promote healthy choices and healthier food consumption.

CRS — Marijuana: Medical and Retail–Selected Legal Issues

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Marijuana: Medical and Retail–Selected Legal Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) outlaws the possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana except for authorized research. Twenty states have regulatory schemes that allow possession, cultivation, or distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Two have revenue regimes that allow possession, cultivation, or sale generally. The U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause preempts any state law that conflicts with federal law. Although there is some division, the majority of state courts have concluded that the federal-state marijuana law conflict does not require preemption of state medical marijuana laws. The legal consequences of a CSA violation, however, remain in place. Nevertheless, current federal criminal enforcement guidelines counsel confining investigations and prosecutions to the most egregious affront to federal interests.

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