Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘retail

Holiday Shopping And Streaming

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Santa brought Turbo a new (used) set of vintage 1988 Ben Hogan "Redline" blade golf clubs...whether or not they'll do anything to help lower his handicap remains to be seen!

Santa brought Turbo a new (used) set of vintage 1988 Ben Hogan “Redline” blade golf clubs…whether or not they’ll do anything to help lower his handicap remains to be seen!

Well, I hope you and yours are having a happy holiday season, wherever in the world you may be.

I just returned from a wonderful visit to see my parents and some extended family up in my hometown of Denton, Texas, where we were treated to our first white Christmas in three years, the snow billowing down starting around mid-day Christmas Day, and plunging the Dallas/Ft. Worth roads into a virtual ice skating rink.

As for the Christmas holiday shopping season, Sarah Perez with TechCrunch just reported that Amazon.com once again came out on top, in terms of online satisfaction.

No big surprise there.  I conducted a large portion of my own holiday shopping via Amazon, and received everything I ordered within a few days. I also treated myself to a set of Ben Hogan 1988 “redline” blade golf clubs, which I discovered on eBay for a very agreeable price. Unfortunately, the weather in Texas has kept me off the golf course (now back in Austin, I hope for that to change in the next few days!).

Of course, if you were trying to watch movies on Netflix on Monday, you might have found yourself watching a blank screen. Due to an Amazon Web Services outage, Netflix viewers were treated to bags full of coal starting around 3:30 PM on Monday, AWS’s third major outage this year.

Myself, I went on a “Redbox” binge over the holiday, discovering some recent titles for $1.20 a pop (including the latest Spiderman!), only to discover they’ll be bringing some competition to the streaming realm with the introduction of “Redbox Instant,” expected to go into private beta sometime soon. Redbox Instant is expected to match Netflix’s monthly streaming subscription price of $8 U.S.

Whatever your preference, it certainly looks like more and more Americans will be viewing filmed entertainment on devices other than their TVs. Another TechCrunch story reports that one in four Americans now owns a tablet computing device, with such devices now even having overtaken the number of e-reading devices like the Kindle (again, I did my fair share here over the holidays, giving out two Kindle Fire HDs as family gifts. Now I can only cross my fingers my family will use them!)

Regardless of your preference, the story goes on to say that one in three people in the U.S. now owns some kind of tablet or e-reading device, and this data before the full gamut of holiday shopping data has hit analysts’ spreadsheets.

One such analyst, Strategy Analytics, has Apple’s iPad still leading the pack, with Amazon and Samsung quickly narrowing that lead.

So what did Santa bring YOU for Christmas, and better yet, what did Santa YOU give others???

Written by turbotodd

December 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

(Not) Home For The Holidays

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I’m pretty happy I don’t have to travel today.  I’m going to wait until tomorrow, when all the turkeys have gotten off the road.

Of course, watch out for Wal-Mart and other big retail parking lots.  The consternation about having to work on Thanksgiving is pervasive, and I wouldn’t want to see any customers attempt to play Frogger in those big parking lots.  It’s dangerous enough just trying to get through the doors and into the store!

As always, my wise counsel is to shop from the comfort of your couch.

Walt Mossberg, the ever-dependable tech journalist with The Wall Street Journal, has written an article about “Making Sense of All the New Laptop Flavors.”

He goes on about the various flavors of Windows 8 PCs and tablets, before concluding that the “least costly Mac laptop” is the 11-inch MacBook Air, for $999.

I bought one just about a year ago, and I maintain it’s still the best, fastest, lightest, most dependable computer I’ve ever owned, and I’ve owned plenty.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have splurged for more SSD, but that’s it.

If you want to make sure your personal shopping engine is fully revved before Black Friday, Gizmodo’s providing its Ultimate Black Friday guide for geeks, grouping deals by category, and offering a list of when every retailer is slated to be open on Black Friday, just in case you prefer shopping in a mosh pit.

As for an update on my new Apple Mini-me “mini,” otherwise known as the 5th generation iPod touch, I can only say I have no buyer’s remorse, even now after having seen the iPad mini in the flesh.

The retina screen and the small form factor on the newest touch are working perfectly for me thus far. I bought a new “Need for Speed” racing game just to be able to check out the graphics in full force, and the retina screen is simply stunning (as are movies and Netflix streams). I’ve always read what a great gaming platform the touch is, but playing that racing game has cemented it.

Over the next several days, if you want to keep pace with IBM’s annual holiday campaign “Digital Analytics” benchmark, just follow IBM’s e-shopping analytics guru, @jay_henderson (a fellow Texan!).

Jay and his team will be working and posting reports throughout the weekend and into next week to keep us all informed how the holiday e-retail season is going. Jay’s already indicated we can expect to see growing numbers on the mobile and tablet shopping footprint this year.  You can read Jay’s holiday set up piece here.

That said, don’t ignore those retail emails piling up in your in-box — email continues to be the e-retail Trojan Horse, with lots of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already being distributed. From Amazon to Golfsmith, I’ve received a number of holiday email deals, and it’s all I can do to keep my credit card filed away in my anti-scanning wallet!

If you’re looking for gainful employment this pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday, you might want to try somewhere other than LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s Website had a “service unavailable” message this morning, and TechCrunch has been reporting a LinkedIn site outage.

As for me, I’ll be (mostly) disappearing from the cyber maze over the course of the next week. It’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, and I’m taking them on a cruise in the Caribbean to celebrate. I may send a post or two via email if I’m so inspired, but mostly I’ll be spending some quality time with my parents and some extended family, and gazing out at the Gulf of Mexico in a pina colada-induced haze (virgin pina coladas, of course).

For all of my readers here in the United States, I wish you a very happy and restful holiday weekend. For those of you outside the U.S., enjoy the email and conference call silence from your U.S. colleagues…it won’t last long!

Scanning For Deals

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A sample IBM self-checkout system. In partnership with Honeywell, a new smartphone application will let shoppers scan items as they move through the store, then check out themselves using a similar IBM self-checkout system.

One of my first jobs in school was bagging groceries at a local grocery store.  The irony was, it was one of those grocery stories where you were supposed to sack your own groceries, and, presumably, save some money doing so.

But the store was so popular when it first opened that it had its store assistants sack groceries to help move the lines along.

Those were the days when they didn’t have the fancy scanners — everything was still checked by hand.

So when I saw this announcement this morning IBM made that allows consumers to scan items as they move through the store, all I could think about was the Jetsons.

This new retail technology not only allows consumers to scan items with their mobile phones as they move about the store, it then lets them check themselves out at an IBM self-checkout station (yes, those exist today, but not with technology that allows consumers to scan the items as they’re shopping!)

Designed to help retailers provide a more customized in-store shopping experience for smart phone shoppers, the IBM Mobile Shopper application incorporates Honeywell mobile scanning technology capable of scanning virtually any bar code, no matter what background it is printed on, the direction it faces, or the packaging covering it.

The solution currently runs on the Google Android and Apple iOS operating systems.

According to a recent IBM Institute of Business Value study, self checkout is the preferred way to shop for most consumers today, and they are very specific about the way they want to use mobile technology while shopping.

More than 50 percent say they want to use a mobile device to scan while shopping, and to do final checkout at a self-checkout station.  More than 40 percent want to scan samples and retrieve shopping items for pickup, or have the items delivered directly to their homes.

“Retailers can now deliver a more personalized shopping experience that is less of a chore and more of a convenience for consumers,” says John Gaydac, vice president, IBM Retail Store Solutions.  “By enabling consumers to scan and check-out a wide variety of products at their own pace, retailers can not only create a more customized shopping environment, but also increase in-store traffic.”

The new mobile phone application is powered by IBM ACE Store Integrator software and the newest release of IBM Self-Checkout software, which provides shoppers the same access to digital coupons, loyalty programs and special promotions at self-checkout stations that is traditionally available at fully-staffed point-of-sale checkout lanes.

The IBM Mobile Shopper, or “digital shopping assistant,” incorporates Honeywell’s high-performance SwiftDecoder Mobile bar code decoding software, one of many patented technologies that have helped secure the company’s  leadership in camera-based bar code decoding.  Among them is the practice of decoding bar code-related information from a real-time video image, such as the display of a smart phone or other mobile device (U.S. patent 6,015,088).

The IBM Mobile Shopper solution with Honeywell mobile scanning is available immediately.

IBM To Acquire Procurement And Retail Analytics Firm Emptoris, inc.

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IBM today announced a definitive agreement to acquire Emptoris Inc., a leading provider of cloud and on-premise analytics software that brings more intelligence to procurement and supply chain operations with spend, supplier and contract management for Smarter Commerce. The acquisition is the latest addition to IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, launched in March 2011, which is aimed at helping companies respond to shifting customer buying patterns.

Emptoris, Inc. is world leader in strategic supply, category spend and contract management solutions that enable companies to maximize financial performance and optimize commercial risk. The company’s suite of award-winning and industry-recognized sourcing, contract management, spend analysis, supplier lifecycle management, services procurement and telecom expense management solutions are successfully used by Global 2000 companies.

Emptoris brings to IBM Smarter Commerce a set of new, flexible and integrated solutions that orchestrate and manage the sourcing and procurement of goods and materials as part of supply chain management. Supply chain intelligence using these solutions enables better inventory management and can create large savings opportunities.

For example, a large global oil and gas company established a centralized sourcing network across its entire enterprise operating in more than 80 countries, which enabled them to focus on the most strategic, highest cost, frequently-purchased items.  This brought speed, transparency and simplification to the sourcing process.  As a result, the company runs thousands of sourcing events per year managing more than 15,000 suppliers in 10 languages, achieving more than 9 percent reduction on managed categories of goods.

The Emptoris acquisition also will complement IBM’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) Business Process Outsourcing capabilities within its Global Process Services organization.   Emptoris’ expertise and technology enhances IBM’s Procurement and Supply Chain services, including its ability to apply category expertise and global operations to help clients streamline and automate supplier interactions, resulting in improved strategic sourcing, reduced service costs, and greater savings from spend with suppliers.

A $20B Market Opportunity

IBM has estimated that the Smarter Commerce initiative is a $20 billion market opportunity in software alone.  Smarter Commerce helps organizations that are struggling to meet the demands of rapidly shifting customer buying patterns in the era of mobile and social networks.

This new digital marketplace requires companies to respond rapidly to customer demands by automating their buying, marketing, selling and service processes.  Developing the right procurement strategy and an adaptive supply chain are keys to success in this evolving environment.  According to industry analysts, IBM is a recognized leader in multiple categories within Smarter Commerce.

With this acquisition, IBM builds on its capabilities in the “buy” aspect of Smarter Commerce and extends it to a new line of c-suite executives – chief procurement officers.  This growing list of decision makers includes chief information officers, chief financial officers, chief supply chain officers and chief marketing officers.

Existing Customers, Global Reach And Recognition

Procurement and sourcing professionals increasingly need better supplier management, spend analysis and contract management solutions to lower sourcing costs and risks.  Emptoris is a leader in delivering these benefits by automating vendor selection, negotiation, management and compliance.

Emptoris’ global clients span multiple industries including consumer products, financial services, healthcare, telecommunications, chemical/oil/gas, utilities, construction and industrial manufacturing.

Emptoris’ spend management solutions complement the existing B2B integration and supply chain management capabilities IBM acquired through the purchase of Sterling Commerce in 2010. The Emptoris acquisition will allow IBM to deliver more solutions focused on the needs of sourcing and procurement professionals.

Founded in 1999, Emptoris has over 725 employees around the world. The acquisition is anticipated to close in the first quarter of 2012, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and applicable regulatory reviews.

With more than 350 customers in 75 countries, Emptoris is based in Burlington, Mass. with offices in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia, India, Brazil and China.

Emptoris was recently honored by Red Herring as one of its “Global 100” winners for 2011.  The Global 100 are selected and judged on a range of qualitative and quantitative metrics, including but not limited to, technology innovation, financial performance, growth criterion, management’s execution standards, potential globalization of the strategy and market share improvement.

IBM Helps U.K. Retailer Marks & Spencer In Digital Multi-Channel Evolution

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If you’ve ever gone shopping in the U.K. (And perhaps even if you haven’t), then you’re well aware of U.K. Retailer Marks & Spencer.

World renowned U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is using IBM software for Smarter Commerce to transform its Web site into a global marketplace where customers can seamlessly shop from any country, device or channel regardless of whether they are calling, viewing, surfing or walking in from the street.

M&S has recently partnered with IBM to improve its online shopping experience.  Specifically, M&S is now using IBM software for Smarter Commerce to transform its Web site into a global marketplace where customers can seamlessly shop from any country, device or channel regardless of whether they are calling, viewing, surfing, or walking in from the street.

Now that, my friends, is a true multichannel retail experience.

Here’s how it works: The IBM software provides integrated purchasing, order management and customer service capabilities across all of M&S’ sales channels. This helps them capitalize on the growth of mobile, social, and multi-channel purchasing by customers in the digital age.

They hope to appeal to these increasingly online audiences domestically and establish a global customer base for its online store.

With 64 percent of consumers making a first purchase because of a digital experience, it’s critical that retailers understand this online behavior and refine their marketing and ecommerce activities appropriately.

M&S aims to become the U.K.’s leading multi-channel retailer, growing sales to between 800 million pounds Sterling – 1 billion pounds by 2013/2014, up from 543 million pounds in 2010/2011.

But M&S needed to capture its customers’ behavior accurately in order to be able to personalize its communications with them and to provide the same level of service to shoppers, regardless of their mode or channel of interaction.

M&S selected IBM Sterling Order Management for its ability to provide inventory visibility across all channels and for its transaction scalability needed to meet seasonal requirements.

M&S also chose IBM WebSphere Commerce, for its comprehensive personalization capabilities and because it can be deployed worldwide in different ways across all sites to serve different brands, regions or targeted groups of customers.

“The explosion of personalized data now accessible to consumers through social media, online and mobile interactions is causing fundamental changes in the way retailers operate,” said David Hogg, commerce solutions lead, IBM.

“It requires a new approach — which IBM calls Smarter Commerce – that puts the customer at the center of its business. With the new software now in place, M&S can take action based on a consistent view of a customer’s order across any of the sales channels they have chosen. In this way, customers can continue to enjoy the high levels of service they have come to expect from this major U.K. retailer, while M&S can expand its business by increasing sales worldwide.”

IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiatives draw on its market-leading WebSphere Commerce platform and a $2.5 billion investment in on-premise and cloud-based software from IBM’s acquisitions of Sterling Commerce, Unica and Coremetrics.

And IBM Global Business Services is expanding its consulting and solutions capabilities with 1,200 dedicated practitioners for Smarter Commerce.  Over 2,000 of the world’s top brands rely on IBM to help improve their brand and marketing execution.

Go here to get more information on IBM Smarter Commerce solutions.

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm

You Can’t Take A Guess? And Don’t Call Me Shirley

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Needless to say, I was totally bummed to hear that Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen passed away over the U.S. holiday weekend.

I was a big fan of Nielsen’s stretching all the way back to the original “Airplane.”  Man, that movie still cracks me up, and I was a wee lad when it first came out and probably had no business watching it at that young ripe age.

But I did — on videotape, no less.

For those of you who don’t know what a VCR videotape is, it’s kind of like the audio version of an 8-track tape, except it didn’t switch scenes in the middle of the tape like the 8-track did for music.

And for those of you who don’t know what a hospital is, it’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now!

Ah, what the kids these days missed out on!

Mr. Nielsen, we salute you and hope you Rest In Peace, preferably with that ubiquitous flatulation machine you liked traveling with during your last years.

And don’t call me Shirley.

Meanwhile, back at the IBM holiday shopping bean counting ranch, the data wizards at IBM Coremetrics have an update from “Cyber Monday.”

As of 12:00 AM PST last night, here’s what they’re seeing in terms of trends and points of comparison:

Cyber Monday 2010 Compared to Black Friday 2010

  • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 31.1 percent, with consumers pushing the average order value (AOV) up from $190.80 to $194.89 for an increase of 2.1 percent.
  • Luxury Goods Continue Comeback: Jewelry retailers reported a significant jump of 60.3 percent in sales.
  • Social Shopping: The growing trend of consumers using their networks on social sites for information about deals and inventory levels continued on Cyber Monday. While the percentage of visitors arriving from social network sites is fairly small relative to all online visitors — nearly 1 percent — it is gaining momentum, with Facebook dominating the space.
  • Mobile Shopping: Consumers continue to use mobile as a shopping tool. On Cyber Monday, 3.9 percent of people visited a retailer’s site using a mobile device.

Cyber Monday 2010 Compared to Cyber Monday 2009 (year/year):

  • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 19.4 percent, with consumers pushing the average order value (AOV) up from $180.03 to $194.89 for an increase of 8.3 percent.
  • Luxury Goods Report Big Gains: Affluent shoppers opened their wallets wide, driving sales of luxury goods up 24.3 percent over 2009.
  • Shopping Peaks at 9:00 am PST/Noon EST: Consumers flocked online, with shopping momentum hitting its peak at 9:00 am PST/noon EST. But consumer shopping maintained stronger momentum throughout the day than on Cyber Monday 2009.

“Cyber Monday came in as the biggest shopping day of the year so far,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer, IBM Coremetrics.

“Consumers this year appear much more willing to open their wallets and are turning to online stores for the convenience of shopping wherever and whenever they like,” continued Squire, “but also as their primary source of information about products and inventory levels. Retailers have done an exceptional job across the board of appealing to consumers with highly personalized promotions and a slew of free shipping promotions.”

According to an analytics-based forecast from IBM’s Global Business Services division, in-store sales in the consumer electronics and appliances sector are expected to increase 3.5 percent this year compared to last, with consumers spending a larger-than-usual share in November.

U.S. consumers have been increasing their savings relative to disposable income, from 2 percent in 2007 to nearly 6 percent today, leading to strong pent-up demand this holiday season for consumer electronics and appliances, both of which are typically seen as necessities in the present-day economy.

So, for those of you who were asking why the American consumer was spending more this holiday season, this should help at least partly explain it.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this last small back and forth from “Airplane” (Nielsen’s character was Rumack):

Rumack: “Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can’t tell.
Rumack: You can tell me. I’m a doctor.
Captain Oveur: No. I mean I’m just not sure.
Rumack: Well, can’t you take a guess?
Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours.
Rumack: You can’t take a guess for another two hours?

Written by turbotodd

November 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm

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