Tag Archives: merchandising

Another Technological Innovation from Amazon

3 May

Not only is Amazon the leader in online retailing overall, it continues to develop innovative technology. Among its already popular innovations are the Kindle, Kindle Fire, TV Fire Stick, and Echo (Alexa).

Due to its getting more heavily involved in apparel retailing, Amazon has just patented a unique new technology-driven, custom-clothing process.

As Nick Wingfield reports for the New York Times:

“This year, Amazon will surpass Macy’s to become the largest seller of apparel in America, by several analysts’ estimates. It is looking at ways to keep expanding, too. Amazon is exploring the possibility of selling custom-fit clothing, tailored to the more precise measurements of customers, and it has considered acquiring clothing manufacturers to further expand its presence in the category.”

“If there are tipping points in retail — moments when shopping behavior swings decisively in one direction — there’s a strong case to be made that apparel is reaching one now, with broad implications for jobs, malls, and shopping districts.”

Also for the New York Times, Wingfield and Kelly Couturier describe Amazon’s customization effort:

“In April [2017], Amazon received an intriguing patent for an ‘on demand’ apparel manufacturing system, which can quickly fill online orders for suits, dresses and other garments. Here’s how it would work. (1) The process starts when customers submit online orders to the retailer for shirts and other articles of clothing, accessories, bedding, curtains, and towels. The patterns, printed onto rolls of fabric or other material, are arranged to reduce scrap.”

“(2) A “cut engine” then carves out the various pattern pieces, while cameras analyze them to make sure they aren’t being distorted in the process. (3) A robotic arm with a mechanical gripper places all the pieces into a tote on a conveyor belt. (4) The conveyor belt delivers the totes to a sewing station, where ‘an attendant and/or automated sewing machine’ stitches the item together. The items are then examined at a quality control station, packed up and shipped to customers.”

 

Click the image for many other figures that visually highlight Amazon’s customization process.

Source: Amazon 

 

2016 China-Based Singles’ Day to Dominate Global Holiday Season

14 Nov

Last year, we wrote about the phenomenally successful 2015 online Chinese Singles’ Day, an annual event scheduled for November 11 that dwarfs Cyber Monday, which occurs on the first Monday after Thanksgiving each year. As reported by The Street: “Singles’ Day is the biggest retail event in the year, beating Cyber Monday and Black Friday.”

What is Single’s Day? As recently described by Lauren Davidson, Emily Allen, and  Ashley Armstrong for the Telegraph:

“Singles Day started as an obscure ‘anti-Valentine’s’ celebration for single people in China back in the 1990s, but it has spawned into the world’s biggest online shopping day. Astute readers will notice that November 11 is written 11.11, or one-one-one-one. Known in China as ‘bare sticks holiday’ because of how it looks numerically, Singles Day began as an anti-Valentine’s Day in the 1990s when students at Nanjing University started celebrating their singledom. It was then adopted by E-commerce giant Alibaba (China’s Amazon equivalent) in 2009; and it is now a day when everyone, regardless of their single status buys themselves gifts.”

“Alibaba chiefs spotted the commercial opportunity in Singles Day back in 2009 and began launching ‘Double 11’ deals just as online shopping was starting to explode. It was also seen as a chance to boost sales in the lull between China’s Golden Week national holiday in October and the Christmas season. When sales almost quadrupled the following year, Alibaba trademarked Singles’ Day. Some of the featured sales center around singledom, such as boyfriend pillows and single travel tickets, but the day has now widened to an all-inclusive shopping holiday.”

Angela Doland, writing for Advertising Age about the 2016 Singles’ Day, notes that:

“Alibaba’s annual online shopping festival started with just 27 merchants taking part. It has grown into the world’s biggest shopping day, and has just smashed its own record, with sellers on its platforms logging nearly $17.8 billion in transactions in 24 hours. Over 11,000 foreign brands joined in [from more than 25 countries], including first-timers Apple, Sephora, Target, Victoria’s Secret, and Maserati.”

“The Chinese Internet giant has created a whole entertainment offering around its shopfest, including a 4-hour live-streamed variety show that drew stars like Scarlett Johansson, Kobe Bryant, and David and Victoria Beckham. That’s a surprising departure from its small-scale start in 2009, when Alibaba latched on to the fact that some Chinese college students were celebrating Nov. 11 as a day for singles, an anti-Valentine’s day. Other E-commerce firms have joined in, including Alibaba’s chief rival JD.com, and much of China shops on Nov. 11. It’s not just for singles anymore.”

How well did the 2016 Single’s Day just do? It has crushed last year’s revenues — going from $14.3 billion in 2015 to $17.8 billion in 2016. Here are a sales curve (reported by BBC News) since online giant Alibaba first embraced Single’s Day in 2009 and a 2016 video from CCTV News.
 
singles-day_-alibaba-breaks-record-sales-total-bbc-news
 

 

Ma and Chenault: An Interview with 7 Major Points

18 Jul

Jack Ma, who started life with very little, is now one of the richest people in the world. He is the  founder and executive chairman of retail behemoth Alibaba Group, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

In an interview with Kenneth Chenault,  chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, Ma enumerated seven key points. These points are valuable to those at any point in their careers:

  1. Rejection comes with benefits. “When Ma graduated university, he applied to 30 different large companies — and no one would hire him.  So, he started a translation agency, earning $50 his first month. Years later, in 1999, he gathered 17 investors in his apartment, explaining to them his vision to use the Internet to help small-business owners sell. With $50,000, they started Alibaba.”
  2. Get your business global. “Innovative products and services bring those small and medium-size companies to China. I would say China, in the next 20 years, will become the largest importer country in the world because China’s resources can never support such huge demand.”
  3. Don’t wait to innovate. Ma said: “Repair the roof while there is still sunshine. “When the company is good, change the company. When the company is in trouble, be careful. Don’t move. Just like if the storm comes, don’t go up and repair the roof.”
  4. Learn from the failures of others. “For Ma, it’s the mistakes that business owners should really learn from. ‘A lot of people fail for the same reason. If you know why people fail and you learn [from] that, you can make a correction.'”
  5. Be passionate. “If you’re just in the business for money, you’re going about it wrong. Ma and Chenault both emphasized the need for passion in what you do, and agreed that that fervor is a hallmark of successful small-business owners.”
  6. Customers come first. Ma said: “The ones supporting you are not the shareholders. Not government. It’s the customers, the people, the employees. Focus on the customer. Focus on making employees happy. And focus on integrity to everything you’re committed. That is the only thing.”
  7. Help build strong leaders. “If a business is to continue after the owner has moved on, the younger generations must understand and embrace its vision and values. ‘Give them the chance to make mistakes. Listen to them. Respect them,’ said Ma.”

 
Click the AP Photography image to read more.
 

 

It’s Time for Greater Use of RFID Technology

22 Mar

Guest Blogger

Today’s post on RFID technology is by Chris Landry, the Managing Director of Colourfast, an international paper and plastic card printer that is based in Ontario, Canada. 

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RFID Technology — An Infographic

The concept of radio frequency identification (RFID) is becoming increasingly common among retailers worldwide, with more than 50% of product manufacturers already implementing it and a further 21% expected to do so within the next year. So what is this RFID craze and why it is proving so popular?

It refers to the placement of a small chip in a product which is scanned by an antenna within a scanning field – in theory, a similar idea to barcodes, but with some key differences. For instance, numerous RFID tags can be scanned at once and will register without human contact, whereas barcodes can only be read one at a time and require a person to scan the item physically.

Companies such as Google, Walmart, Virgin, and Coca Cola, which have already converted to RFID, will tell you that it reaps numerous benefits, such as increased work efficiency, increased sales, greater job satisfaction, and — crucially — greater customer satisfaction. In this time-short world of ours, customers do not like to be kept waiting at checkouts, so RFID enables them to get through checkouts much quicker; this goes a long way to improving customer experience.

Find out more about the potential of RFID in the infographic below, which was created by paper and plastic card printer Colourfast (http://www.colourfast.com/usa/gift-card-printing).

 

China-Based Singles’ Day Dwarfs Cyber Monday Sales

4 Dec

China’s online Alibaba is the leader in special events (see this post).  As it notes: “Alibaba.com is the leading platform for global wholesale trade serving millions of buyers and suppliers around the world. Small businesses can sell their products to companies in other countries. Sellers are typically manufacturers and distributors based in China and other countries such as India, Pakistan, the U.S., and Thailand.

Each year, Alibaba runs a Singles’ Day on November 11 (that it created) targeted at final consumers. The revenues generated on Singles’ Day dwarf those on Cyber Monday. This year, Alibaba used Singles’ Day to “launch new initiatives in globalization, logistics, and mobile and omni-channel commerce to improve the shopping experience for buyers and sellers.”

Why does Alibaba do so well on Singles’ Day relative to Cyber Monday and U.S. online retailers? As reported by Knowledge@Wharton:

“In just one day — November 11 — Alibaba Group generated a massive $14.3 billion in gross sales for China’s major shopping event, Singles’ Day — a figure equivalent to seven times the volume Cyber Monday generated last year. As Cyber Monday is now here, U.S. online retailers and other E-commerce players are likely turning to Alibaba’s performance on Singles’ Day for lessons learned and takeaways.”

“But, as one expert noted, U.S. online retailers are likely to face some steep challenges in recreating aspects of Alibaba’s success, in which merchants across the board discounted items by 50% or more for Alibaba’s online shopping site Taobao Marketplace and also on its third-party shopping platform Tmall.com.

“Beyond offering consumers steep discounts for Singles’ Day, Alibaba also instituted an unusual strategy that U.S. retailers, in the end, may want to emulate for Cyber Monday, experts point out. The company unveiled a glitzy, star-studded TV show that aired on the eve of Singles’ Day to prompt viewers to snap up specials via their computer, tablet, smartphone or Internet-enabled TV or set-top box.”

Will Tally Be a Winner for Inventory Management?

17 Nov

As we know, managing inventory properly can possibly make or break a firm’s sales and profit goals. So, companies should be as efficient and accurate as possible in their inventory management efforts.  Nonetheless, many organizations rely on physical inventory counts done by humans, which can result in errors.

With that in mind, consider the new Tally automated system, from Simbe Robotics:

“Tally is the world’s first robotic autonomous shelf auditing and analytics solution. The solution consists of one or more mobile robots that can autonomously traverse large brick-and-mortar retail environments to capture, report, and analyze the state and availability of merchandise and help ensure compliance with the store’s planogram [planned layout of merchandise] – the ideal placement of products on shelves in order to maximize sales. Tally performs the repetitive and laborious tasks of auditing shelves for out-of-stock items, low stock items, misplaced items, and pricing errors. Tally operates safely during normal store hours alongside shoppers and employees.”

Take a look at the YouTube video to learn more about Tally.
 

 

Amazon and Its “Minions”

9 Jun

The ever-aggressive Amazon recently entered into its first promotional movie tie-in with Minions, an animated film opening in mid-July 2015.

As reported by Sarah Perez for Tech Crunch

“Forget billboards or magazine ads. If an advertiser wants to put its brand in front of a big audience today, you may as well slap that ad on an Amazon shipping box. Or, at least, that’s the mindset behind the new partnership between Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment and Amazon. The retailer has begun to ship customer orders in bright yellow delivery boxes featuring cartoon characters from the upcoming Minions movie. The deal represents the first time Amazon has ever allowed a third party to completely brand its delivery boxes, the company tells us.”

“The pairing between the movie makers and Amazon makes sense for this latest installment in the Despicable Me franchise of films. The popular movies, which to date have grossed over $1.5 billion at the box office worldwide, have already turned the film’s characters into merchandise.”

Click the image to read more.
 

 

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