Archive for retail

Pinterest drivers more eCommerce

It seems that Pinterest is expanding their platform aggressively with partners like Etsy and offering price tags on some shared items, and is already one of the top 10 social networking sites according to VentureBeat attracting 11 million unique visitors in December.

Valentine’s Day in Melbourne

While 2011 appears to be the year of Geolocation services and coupon discounts it does appear that the ability to sort and filter based on user generated reviews has been forgotten.  If you are in the state of panic about what is the best restaurant or florist in Melbourne you might find that Googling it will not always deliver the best result.  While some websites such as Urban Spoon offers a list of the top 10 Valentine’s Day Restaurants in Melbourne it is often limited and out dated.

  • L’Angolo Italiano
  • Nostralis Wholemeal Vegetarian Pizza
  • Dig A Pony
  • Mosq Restaurant & Functions
  • Bosisto’s Liquor Bar
  • Santorini Restaurant Williamstown
  • I Carusi
  • Livebait
  • Roule Galette
  • Green Olive

The issue that within Australia there is no leading website for restaurant reviews such as Yelp and even Google Hotpot does not allow for easy filter by rating. It’s hard for those looking for the best supplier or service based on user reviews but it’s likely using a combination of Facebook Places, FourSquare and manually checking Google Places you can find something suitable.

Top Florists in Melbourne for Valentines Day

Victoria has some of the best garden’s in the country and below is the top florist based on user reviews on Google Places.  The first Melbourne florist listed is Fowlers Flowers was had some of their flowers recently photographed as part of an article on Valentine’s day in the Herald Sun.

Fowlers Flowers
489 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill
03-9489 9114

Flower Flower
523 Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy
03-9489 6373

Affinity for Flowers
333 Collins Street, Melbourne
03-9620 4333

A Jane Price Florist
50 Princes Street, Melbourne
03-9347 8882

Ngenious Floriade
89 Bridge Road, Richmond
03-9426 6124

So leading up to Valentine’s Day it appears that it’s still a fairly common problem that both what is a good idea or gift still seems to remain a last minute question. The slight concern is the high number of search queries looking for the date which is always the 14th February.

Top Valentines Day Related Search Terms

  1. Valentines day ideas
  2. Valentines day gifts
  3. Valentines day 2011
  4. Valentines day gift
  5. Sydney Valentines day
  6. Valentines day Australia
  7. Valentines day Melbourne
  8. Valentines day date
  9. Valentines day poems
  10. Valentines day Perth

Some of the rising search terms are

  • Sydney Valentines day
  • Valentines day Brisbane
  • Valentines day dinner
  • Valentines gift
  • Valentines gifts
  • Valentines ideas

Adult Toys replacing flowers?
Recently I read in the Australian Financial Review that while it’s still not universally promoted one of the fastest growing areas for Valentines Day gifts is Adult Toys and Sexy Lingerie from adult shops.  The number of people visiting online adult stores for research and then buying offline is unknown as there still can be a stigma to visiting a physical location.  Most of these online adult stores do offer express delivery so it might not be too late if you have forgotten to purchase a Valentines day gift.

So hopefully you have found a date, organised them a great gift and found a great restaurant, but if all else fails there is always Chat Roulette.

The Naming Game

What’s in a name? Potentially everything. If it includes any of these deadly sins, then your saviour could come simply by changing it.
1) Thou shalt not have a name that is a direct synonym of a competitor.
a. A name which is very similar to a competitor will become the death of any unique selling point your business has to offer. This is because any attempt to distinguish your company will be overshadowed by their already established strengths and weaknesses. Let us say CallTel; an established fictional telephone provider; has a new competitor entering the market that decides to call their company RingTel and subsequently adopts a similar logo.  CallTel begins to have some serious internal issues and goes into receivership. How will this affect Ringtel? For one, customers may think that they may be the same company. Negative light on CallTel will be reflected on Ringtel as people will relate the issues with one to the issues of another. Be careful that when choosing a name, you are not influenced by others.
2) Thou shalt not have a name that coveys a veiled meaning.
a. Veiled meanings can convey either a positive, negative or neutral message. Watch that your name does not express something you may wish not to convey.  For example, Fooked New Car Dealer (use your imagination!) and Payne Dental Centre (ouch!)  will not paint the picture you wish to convey. Get others who are in a different industry to critique your name. I am sure you know of some people who have accidently had this happen to them. Some true examples that come to mind are Jenny Taylor (Genitalia), Larry King (Larrikin) or Teresa Green (Trees are Green).
3) Thou shalt not have a name that signifies singularity.
a. If you plan for growth beyond one person; which is what many strive for; do not put a person’s name on it. Especially your own. That is one of the worst things you can do, unless you want to signify small or a family business, by all means go ahead. It also means your business will act more like a job than a business. But most of you will want to grow, so you need to take into account your long term strategy. Even if you are only one person, it’s better to be perceived as having an army behind an organisation.  Also if you run into misfortune along the line, you save your family name from becoming tarnished.
4) Thou shalt not have a name which needs to be asked twice.
a. Simplicity. Keep the name to a maximum of two syllables if possible. A simple clever name is, simply remembered. Be clever, but not overly smart that it takes a course to figure out the meaning. Be creative, but not to the point of obscured ridiculousness. You want people to remember not to be confused. Less is more.
5) Thou shalt not have a name that is totally unrelated to your business
a. A name symbolizes your business. It evokes an image, emotion or meaning. These preconceptions are formed from how your customer sees that name.  If you call yourself Goofy’s Civil Lawfirm or Funny Funeral directors your customer may be riled that you are not taking your business seriously. Your business name should evoke an image, emotion, or meaning that reflects your business.
Some examples of these include:
Tyrepower (powerful, masculine, strong and specialises in Tyres)
Freedom Furniture (Relaxation, liberated, comfort)
Coca Cola ( Derived from Cocoa leaves and Kola Nuts. The K was changed to C because it flowed better).
Your name should be fresh and interesting, free from obscurity and above all, memorable. A timely biblical fable is when Jesus simply said ‘follow me’ and devoted crowds followed. I’m not suggesting you’re Jesus, but your name needs to do the same. So remember, keep the name simple, your message powerful and it will become the starting point for your business to also develop a devoted crowd of followers.  When you do this, you will capture and captivate your customers and reflect what you’re all about…in just a few powerful words.
Author Bio: Jethro Batts is a management focused entrepreneur who is working on a number of startup and consulting projects

Seagate wants Direct sales!

According to the New York Times article today, Seagate joins the Dell model in offering its products direct to large clients and in higher volumes than before.  Typically manufactures have sold to large web companies such as Google, Yahoo, Amazon direct but this is now expanding to other tech companies and even to investment banks as customers try to get more bang for their buck.

The problem is that like many traditional businesses, Seagate & Intel have built established and strong distribution partners and channel partners who have helped build some of these tech companies into the giants they are today.  The problem is now that the larger partners now have to worry if they spend time building relationships and educating larger clients on the benefits of using Seagate products the client can now be stolen by their supplier Seagate.

This is a major hassle for any company having to worry about losing sales to other channel partners now also have to worry about the supplier cutting them out as even once the channel partners offer a discount Seagate can still undercut their partners and sale the hard-drives at a profit.

Seagate Partner Program Benefits – North America

Bringing Added Value to System Builders, Resellers and Solution Providers. The Seagate Partner Program (SPP) is designed to help you set your business apart from the competition. SPP provides you with tools and resources to help increase customer satisfaction and lower your cost of doing business. As an SPP member, you can access an exclusive portfolio of benefits:
  1. Password protected website with valuable sales resources
  2. Exclusive special offers
  3. Dedicated pre-and-post sales support waiting to take your call
  4. Quarterly electronic newsletter – Storage Insider Magazine
  5. **Seagate reserves the right to contact your larger clients direct
Based on this recent news maybe Seagate Partner Program Benefits detailed above should be updated  to include a caveat 5**
What should a supplier do?
I have contacted a number of suppliers in the past direct, but you can recognise a good supplier when they refuse to deal with you outside their partner and even go further and price higher than their channel partners to make sure the sales funnel stays competitive.  The benefits of dealing with a channel partner is that they are the ones who offer the local support and training when required.
How the market is now, suppliers needs to make sure that their channel partners stay profitable and provide assistance and resources were required. Suppliers can often have a lot less patience but need to stand by their channel partners as they are the ones that will continue to grow their business into the future.

Top Xmas Toys

So Christmas Day 2009 is 5 days away but does that doesn’t mean its too late for online retailers who are trying to push guaranteed delivery spots for last minute buyers.  We focus was made on the US market as it is far ahead in online retail and also has a larger amount of search traffic for analysis.
What is interesting is that with all this discussion around Toys R Us making this years Zhu Zhu Pets hot and also securing the most available stock was hot little this affected online interest in search queries.
Another interesting point is that Zhu Zhu pets unlike Eyeclops Night Vision did not generate a significant amount of interesting outside of the US/Canada.
Also we can see that of the top search terms, or even the rising search terms for the past 7 days it didn’t feature, so have parents given up on trying to buy them or were they just over hyped?
Top Toys search terms last 7 days in USA
  1. toys for tots
  2. kids toys
  3. christmas toys
  4. best toys
  5. toys for kids
  6. toys for christmas
  7. toys for boys
  8. top toys
  9. girls toys
  10. baby toys
Rising Toy Searches
  1. Avatar toys
  2. Parents toys
  3. Salvation army
  4. RC toys
  5. Haba toys
  6. Green toys

Avatar Toys?
It is surprising that considering the amount of money spent on advertising Avatar that more wasn’t spent around the promotion of its toys as it was released so close to Christmas.  Even a google search for “Avatar toys” only shows 1 AdWords campaign running by MR Toys.

With the initial hype in July 2009 around Mattel’s New Web-Enabled “Avatar” Toys Will Offer Augmented Reality very little appears to have been pushed or promoted and a must have toy for Christmas might have been missed by Mattel.

It does show the official Avatar i-Tag website but they have failed to use any descriptive title tags or meta descriptions to explain its relevance. The only retail toy sites to show are:

  • Shopping.com
  • TysToyBox.com
  • Amazon.com

Best way to sort toys?

So having the ability to sort and filter toys is one of the areas that many of the local online retail stores fall down. Even some of the bigger US sites still seem to struggle to match the usability of Amazon.com or upcoming sites like Milo.com.

While eToys & Walmart miss 2 key features “best seller” and “top rated” toys filter that can make shopping for presents that much easier.  But both eToys.com which is owned by Toys R US and Walmart.com do actually follow a very similar process for finding gifts, using age based avatars. But eToys does a better job at selecting images and making them large enough to be able to see the child.

But while eToys does as a much better job as visually displaying the options its website also goes about breaking almost all onsite guidelines for search optimisation, but because of its design they likely convert online sales higher than Walmart.

The one store that seems to excel at combining both is Target.com that while dropping the graphically shop by age pictures, does use a gradient colour scale to that darkens at the age/price increases.  They also have the ability to sort toys by age brackets with pricing guidance selectable from a top level which reduces an extra step in the search process.  The 3 large shop by price buttons are very clear and easy to find as is the ability to find best selling toys by category which Walmart.com and eToys don’t offer.

It is likely that the price breaks have changed since last year with many clients seeing a decrease in average price of items purchased but an increase in total number of items purchased.  It would be interesting to find how many of Target.com’s online sales are above $50 and have they even got the price breaks correct?

Shown below is the Australian online store for Toys R Us which falls well short of its competitors, and its selection of Top 10 picks don’t seem to be supported by any other data such as top selling items, most popular items, more of a staff/company list of the crap they want to offload online. The website design standards is far below its competitors, and for a company looking to increase profitability I would expect more than 50 cents spent on webdesign….

The website that continues to offer the best online experience for filtering and sorting its vast inventory with a single click is Amazon, and it also provides a helpful sales chart.  This chart of top items is ranked, complete with indicator of current trend increasing/decreasing popularity and also how long it has been featured in the top 100.  This is useful for being able to ensure you don’t buy last years version of the toy by accident and also shows the continuing popularity of items such as Lego that have been in the top 100 for almost the last 2 years.

The next best website to be able combine both easy filters to find the right toys by price/gender/age and also include “top sellers” information was Target.com.  The cool point is the easy and quick loading “quick info” mini-detail pages that are available which don’t require you to leave the page to view product information. The let down is the Google Adsense that is showing in the bottom at the “narrow by” filters which may distract from the user experience.

The final site that seems to fail to follow its eToy model of making it easy to find toys is Toys R US.  One of the more useful features “top sellers” is hidden at the bottom of the “top rated” page.  While the website tries to be basic, it seems to lack any actual business model, and seems to be more of an land of banner ads and confusing cross promotion offers.  The only saving grace is the easy to view and fast loading “top sellers page” as it informs you if the product is in stock and what unique promotion is relevant to that item.  The “top sellers” page also like the Australian version doesn’t provide any filters or any details about how the top sellers data was generated.
Based on the top selling items they are missing the “zhu zhu pets” audience they have been promoting and many of the other items listed on their competitors websites as popular selling products.  It is likely that this relates to the typically demographic that visit Toys R Us stores, not looking for high-tech just the basics at a reasonable price.  It seems that along with their recent purchase of a number of specialty/traditional toy stores they have also attracted more of these shoppers online and missed out on the high-tech high profit toys like the Amazon Kindle or iPhone.

One followup blog post we have discovered while doing research for this post and will have written up is around how WalMart fails at online marketing. So remember don’t believe all the hype that you read about what is the must have toy of the year, and remember to use the online stores that offer you the best value and easiest experience.