Amazon says it can ship items before customers order

 

1219_amazon

Online retail giant Amazon says it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed.

The Seattle-based company, which late last year said it wants to use drones to speed package delivery, gained a patent last month for what it calls “anticipatory shipping,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Amazon, the Journal reported, says it may box and ship products that it expects customers in a specific area will want, based on previous orders and other factors it gleans from its customers’ shopping patterns, even before they place an online order.

Among those other factors: previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping cart contents, returns and other online shopping practices.

Amazon has worked to cut delivery times as a way of encouraging more orders and satisfying customers, such as by expanding its warehouse network and making some overnight and even same-day deliveries.

Amazon didn’t estimate how much delivery time it expects to save, or whether it has already put its new system to work, the Journal reported.

“It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data,” Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, told the Journal. “Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors.”

To minimize the cost of unwanted returns, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts or even make the delivered item a gift.

“Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” the patent said.

CONVENIENCE IS KING IN TODAY’S RETAIL WORLD

Why-is-customer-always-King

 

Consumers lead busy lives and their time is becoming more limited and fragmented every day. So when it comes to shopping, they may not always be 100 percent focused or fully engaged in the task at hand. So in order to keep up with them, retailers are increasingly finding that they need to innovate in ways that make it easier and more convenient for their customers to get what they need and not miss a beat in the process.

Innovation can take many forms. While breakthroughs like cellular networking and seedless watermelons are tangible examples of innovation, there’s no denying the impact that advancements like multi-platform store formats and online shopping have had on the retail landscape. In fact, according ot the Continuous Innovation: The Key To Retail Success report, convenience may just be the most creative and energetic example of retail innovation.

STANDING OUT WITH CHANNEL AND FORMAT

Channel and format are the stand-out examples of innovation in the retail space. U.K.-based Tesco PLC is one major retailer that has adapted its physical store offerings to meet customer demand for convenience. Notably, Tesco operates four different formats to ensure that its customers have quick and easy access to its offerings regardless of whether they live in dense metro areas or the outskirts of town. Even Walmart, whose superstore concept made it the largest retailer in the world, is testing two smaller formats—even though it continues to expand its traditional supermarket format in the U.S.

As a format in-and-of-itself, brick-and-mortar continues to maintain a strong footing with consumers, particularly as retailers diversify their available store configurations for specific customer needs, online is changing how shoppers interact with stores. This in turn has prompted stores to change in response. For example, many companies with notable physical footprints have capitalized on the influence that online retailing offers by touting “click & collect” options, whereby customers shop online and pick up their items at a nearby store. This innovation is quite powerful, as it improves convenience dramatically for shoppers who find it inconvenient to wait at home during broad delivery windows.

European retailers such as Carrefour and Auchan are particularly advanced in the click & collect arena. France-based Auchan, for example, offers a drive-through service with spacious collection points, allowing shoppers to collect pre-ordered baskets without leaving their cars. Visible from the road, the service is ultra-convenient and serves as a powerful advertisement. But these trends aren’t just popping up in Europe. In the U.S., drug retailer Walgreens offers shoppers a variety of in-store and curbside pick-up options.

VIRTUAL SHOPS DELIVER REAL CONVENIENCE

Some innovations forge entirely new roads. The virtual supermarket, designed by Tesco and launched in South Korean subway stations in 2011, is one such example.

For Koreans, shopping is a much-dreaded task, so Tesco decided to offer them the convenience of browsing through displays of the same merchandise offered in its stores. To make purchases, consumers simply scan QR (quick response) codes of the items they wish to purchase and then click the send button on a smartphone app. Tesco then delivers the merchandise to the consumers shortly after they get home. The results speak for themselves: online sales increased by 130 percent and site registrations grew by 76 percent in just a few months.

By taking a dramatically unique step outside the box, Tesco, which later teamed up with Samsung to later open a more robust version of the virtual store concept in Seoul, debuted an experience that has since been mimicked by several other retail companies. Eighteen months later, Peapod (U.S.), Cold-Storage (Singapore), Woolworths (Australia) and Yihoudian (China) had created virtual platforms of their own.

Are there more convenience roads to explore? Of course. Recent offerings essentially make it easier for consumers to purchase and receive. Today’s tools, however, offer companies and brands insight into when consumers will need to replenish. The ability to make these types of predictions will likely put retailers with loyalty data in an advantageous position. Notably, we’ve already seen how Amazon walks people through the process of choosing goods, quantities and a delivery schedule on a “save, set and forget” basis. So brick-and-mortar” players will need to respond to stay competitive.

In today’s digital world, the one thing traditional retailers have that online operators don’t—physical stores—needs to be an asset rather than a liability. And those assets need to include entertaining, exciting, and emotionally engaging experiences.

Much waited PlayStation 4 is launched by Sony

 

playstation4-580x323

 

Sony has launched the PlayStation 4, its new gaming console in the Indian market for Rs 39,990. The console will be available in stores starting January 6, 2014.

Sony also said that the PlayStation camera will be retailed at Rs 4,990. The PS4 controller has also been priced at Rs 4,990 in India. PS4 exclusive titles Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall would be available at a price point of Rs 3,999.
photo_1387391567_temp.jpg.pagespeed.ce.J74LNvtS6T
The PlayStation 4 was released in November for $399 in the US market. The eagerly-awaited PlayStation 4 sold more than 2.1 million units after less than three weeks on the market after its November 15 debut in North America and Sony said it was on track to hit a worldwide target of 5 million units by March.
The PlayStation 4 is powered by an eight-core AMD Jaguar CPU, and features 500GB hard drive, 8GB of unified memory, built-in Blu Ray drive and the new DualShock 4 controller. The PlayStation 4 also features 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connectivity option, an Ethernet port, Bluetooth 2.1, and two USB 3.0 ports.
Sony has streamlined the PS4’s on-screen user interface, and the menu features large app and games icons in a horizontal bar with another line of smaller icons above it that let users connect with other gamers, tinker with system settings and access the PlayStation Store, to download new games and buy or rent multimedia content.
The launch lineup includes 22 games to attract fans of just about any genre, from military shooters to sports simulations to family-friendly adventures including “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” and “Drive Club.” It also offers media apps, including Hulu and Netflix.
The PlayStation 4 competes with the Xbox One, Microsoft’s next-generation console, that has been priced a $100 higher. Microsoft also claimed it sold 1 million units in in 24 hours following its November 22 release.

Black Friday ‘Discount’: Secret can be Dirty !!

black-friday-2013

When shoppers head out in search of Black Friday bargains this week, they won’t just be going to the mall, they’ll be witnessing retail theater.

Stores will be pulling out the stops on deep discounts aimed at drawing customers into stores. But retail-industry veterans acknowledge that, in many cases, those bargains will be a carefully engineered illusion.

The common assumption is that retailers stock up on goods and then mark down the ones that don’t sell, taking a hit to their profits. But that isn’t typically how it plays out. Instead, big retailers work backward with their suppliers to set starting prices that, after all the markdowns, will yield the profit margins they want.

The red cardigan sweater with the ruffled neck on sale for more than 40% off at $39.99 was never meant to sell at its $68 starting price. It was designed with the discount built in.

Buyers don’t seem to mind. What they are after, especially in such a lackluster economy, is the feeling they got a deal. Retailers like J.C. Penney Co. JCP +7.69%who try to get out of the game get punished.

The manufactured nature of most discounts raises questions about the wisdom of standing in line for the promotional frenzy that kicks off the holiday shopping season. It also explains how retailers have been able to ramp up the bargains without giving away the store.

phpzciqmz (1)

The number of deals offered by 31 major department store and apparel retailers increased 63% between 2009 to 2012, and the average discount jumped to 36% from 25%, according to Savings.com, a website that tracks online coupons.

Over the same period, the gross margins of the same retailers—the difference between what they paid for goods and the price at which they sold them—were flat at 27.9%, according to FactSet. The holidays barely made a dent, with margins dipping to 27.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 from 28% in the third quarter of that year.

“A lot of the discount is already priced into the product. That’s why you see much more stable margins,” said Liz Dunn, an analyst with Macquarie Equities Research.

Retailers including Best Buy Co.BBY -0.03% , Wal-Mart Stores Inc.WMT +0.31% and Macy’s are warning this will be an unusually competitive holiday season and that all the deals could hurt margins. That can happen when chains have to fight hard for sales or get stuck with excess inventory and have to take heavier-than-planned markdowns. Stores also field loss leaders, true bargains that pinch profits but are aimed at getting customers into their stores. Most deals, however, are planned to be profitable by setting list prices well above where goods are actually expected to sell.

Retailers could run into legal trouble if they never try to sell goods at their starting price. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with the practice. Companies can be pretty frank about how things work.

Here’s how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer. A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50. The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup. A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99. That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product.

Retailers didn’t always price this way. It used to be that most items were sold at full price, with a limited number of sales to clear unsold inventory. That began to change in the 1970s and 1980s, when a rash of store openings intensified competition and forced retailers to look for new ways to stand out.