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USPS OIG — Issue Brief: Letter Carriers: Modern Day Milkmen?

March 9, 2015 Comments off

Issue Brief: Letter Carriers: Modern Day Milkmen?
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Highlights

  • The Postal Service and AmazonFresh are jointly experimenting with grocery delivery — a market set to grow in the near future.
  • Because of its extensive fleet, last mile advantage, and reputation for reliability, the Postal Service could be well-placed to play a key role in this space.
  • There may be opportunities to collaborate with other retailers and producers, create an online shopping mall, or capture different areas of the value chain.
  • The Postal Service needs to continue to experiment now with different strategies if it wants to be an effective player in this growing market, as the number of new entrants is quickly growing.

Colorado Department of Revenue — Marijuana Annual Update 2014

March 3, 2015 Comments off

Marijuana Annual Update 2014
Source: Colorado Department of Revenue

• 833 Retail Establishment Licenses and 1,416 Medical Business Licenses as of December 2014
• Approximately 110% increase in Retail Business Licenses and 6% increase in Medical Business Licenses
• 15,992 Occupational Licenses as of December 2014
• 68% non-renewal rate for Occupational Licenses
• 109,578 pounds of medical marijuana flower sold
• 38,660 pounds of retail flower sold
• 1,964,917 units of medical edible products sold
• 2,850,733 units of retail edible products sold
• Approximately 3,200 MED Due Diligence and Complaint Investigations performed and closed
• 98.2% pass rate for potency tests on edibles
• 99.2% pass rate for homogeneity tests on edibles

House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices

March 2, 2015 Comments off

House Prices, Local Demand, and Retail Prices
Source: Social Science Research Network

We use detailed micro data to document a causal response of local retail prices to changes in house prices, with elasticities of 15%-20% across housing booms and busts. We provide evidence that our results are driven by changes in markups rather than by changes in local costs. We argue that this markup variation arises when increases in housing wealth reduce households’ demand elasticity, and firms raise markups in response. Consistent with this wealth channel, price effects are larger in zip codes with many homeowners, and non-existent in zip codes with mostly renters. In addition, shopping data confirms that house price changes have opposite effects on the price sensitivity of homeowners and renters. Our evidence has implications for monetary, labor and urban economics, and suggests a new source of markup variation in business cycle models.

USPS OIG — Window Retail Customer Service: Audit Report

February 12, 2015 Comments off

Window Retail Customer Service: Audit Report (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Between FYs 2012 and 2013, an increasing number of customers expressed dissatisfaction with the service they receive at retail facilities. While the Postal Service’s goal is 90 percent customer satisfaction, in FY 2013 more than 20 percent of customers who responded to surveys stated they had been treated “worse than other retailers” at Postal Service retail counters.

Dissatisfied customers exist, in part, because procedures for improving customer service are not functioning as intended. Although management communicates with sales associates periodically via service briefings known as “stand-up” talks and provides video instructions, there is a lack of continual, formal customer service training. Further, sales associates are selected based on seniority rules, rather than suitability for the position, as suggested by best practices. In addition, the Postal Service does not have a mandatory process to ensure managers regularly observe sales associates and provide feedback. Regular observation would help sales associates recognize where they need to improve their performance.

Cupid to Shower Americans With Jewelry, Candy This Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2015 Comments off

Cupid to Shower Americans With Jewelry, Candy This Valentine’s Day
Source: National Retail Federation

The new consumer online shopping outlook for Valentine’s Day is in — and it spells good news for retailers. According to the latest consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for NRF, one-quarter of Valentine’s Day shoppers this year plan to make some portion of their purchases online. Another positive sign: Prosper’s Consumer Snapshot found that consumer confidence has risen for the third consecutive month. With these results in mind, shoppers planning to buy Valentine’s Day gifts online anticipate:

  • Spending an average of $199, up 13 percent from last year, and a good 40 percent more than the average across all Valentine’s Day shoppers.
  • Treating family and friends — the lion’s share of spending will go to significant others and spouses, but other family members, friends, co-workers and even pets will feel the love.
  • Shopping for tried and true Valentine’s Day categories — retailers selling candy, greeting cards, flowers and jewelry will be among the most popular with Valentine’s Day shoppers, who plan to shop both online and in stores.
  • Tapping mobile devices to find, research and buy gifts — smartphone owners shopping for the occasion expect to use their devices to buy products, redeem coupons and more. Additionally, almost one in 10 expect to use it to pay for their purchases at checkout.

See also: Delivering Customer Delight on Valentine’s Day

USPS OIG — Parcel Payment Technologies and Payment Strategies

January 12, 2015 Comments off

Parcel Payment Technologies and Payment Strategies (PDF)
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

A new white paper from the Office of Inspector General proposes the U.S. Postal Service must consider additional payment options that address how individuals and small business conduct transactions. Providing flexible payment options will allow the Postal Service to capitalize on revenue in shipping and package services and be more relevant in the digital age. The findings and recommendations found in this report are in line with the numerous advancements in technology, e-commerce, and mobile technology and there connections with the future of the business world.

The Decoupling Effect of Digital Disruptors

January 7, 2015 Comments off

The Decoupling Effect of Digital Disruptors (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

While the Internet’s first wave of disruption was marked by the unbundling of digital content, the second wave, decoupling, promises to generate more casualties in an even broader array of industries. Digital start-ups are disrupting traditional businesses by inserting themselves at every juncture in the customer’s consumption chain. By decoupling-the act of separating activities that people are used to co-consuming-new digital businesses are disrupting retailing, telecom, and other industries. Decoupling allows consumers to benefit from the value created at a lower cost or effort compared to what is delivered by traditional businesses. For those companies, the only solutions are to either recouple activities or rebalance to create and capture value (i.e., revenues) from both activities separately. Here, digital technologies can be seen as an instrument that will both disrupt traditional business models and potentially preserve them.

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