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Jack Wynn

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Weak pound leads to Brexit boom

High street spending on non-UK cards rose by 22% year on year last Christmas as tourists took advantage of a weaker pound, new figures reveal.

According to data from payments processor Worldpay, non-UK spending in December rose by £130 million compared to last year, with London’s West End benefiting the most from the boost in spending.

High-end boutiques and department stores in the London district made an extra 35% entirely from the tourism boost, but retailers outside of London also saw extra spending – Manchester and Edinburgh both saw around a 20% rise in figures.

However the numbers boom wasn’t enough for most retailers, as sales figures dropped for the fourth year running this December, reaching lower numbers than the 2008 recession.

“The influx of free-spending tourists we saw in December will have been a welcome boost for retailers looking to balance the books,” said UK CMO of Worldpay, James Frost, commenting on the increase in Brits shopping online, and described London’s West End as “a magnet for visitors from all over the world, made all the more attractive by the bargains on offer as a result of the weakened pound.”

“High-street retailers must now seize the moment to consolidate their global standing by investing in technologies to help them deliver the quality, experience, choice and convenience which will keep tourists spending.”

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Customer service to ‘compete with Amazon’

Self-serve locker systems are being prepared to allow rival online retailers to compete with Amazon Go.

Apex Supply Chain Technologies have revealed their new Apex AnyWhere line of self-serving automated systems at this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Convention.

The customer-facing, click and collect lockers aim to speed up and improve customer experiences with food and retail services by focussing on improving ‘last inch’ delivery, streamlining mobile ordering and working to ensure products reach customers as simply as possible.

“The technology Apex has on display at NRF shows the breadth and depth of our response to the rapidly changing retail landscape,” says Kent Savage, Apex Supply Chain Technologies founder and CEO, “they need to automate inefficient, manual processes and leverage the power of accurate inventory data.”

Traditionally manual processes such as managing handheld scanners, tablet computers and other inventory-tracking techniques run the risk of wasted time, which in turn wastes money.

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Apex aims to boost productivity and convenience in order to cause a decrease in customer queue times as well as allow employees to serve customers more quickly.

A large and increasingly growing competitor is Amazon, who already offers a highly streamlined and customer friendly interface.

Already implementing click and collect technology, drone delivery on the horizon and the announced Amazon Go to take on the high street retailers, Apex is hoping they can level the playing field.

“As bricks and mortar retailers race to reimagine and reinvent themselves to compete with Amazon and other ecommerce competitors, they must think differently,” said Mr Savage, “they can develop a competitive edge by embracing [online]-connected devices, like those we are showing at this year’s NRF show.”

 

 

Genration Z

‘Digitally Native’ generation still prefer shops

New figures reveal the first fully ‘digitally native’ generation still prefer brick and mortar shopping to online browsing.

Released by IBM and the National Retail Federation, the study reveals a massive majority of ‘Generation Z’ consumers between the ages of 13-21 still prefer physical shopping environments.

Specifically described as being born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Generation Z are the first children to grow up into the digital age, into a world of mobile phones, home computing and the internet.

67% of Generation Z prefer shopping in-store most of the time, with a further 31% still often shopping on high streets, indicating that just 2% of the ‘always on’ generation only shop online.

“Just as Millennials overtook Gen X, there’s another big buying group retailers need to plan for, and it’s even larger: Generation Z,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “They appreciate the hands-on experience of shopping in a store.”

The global population of ‘Gen Z’ is set to reach 2.6 Billion by 2020, and are expected bring a huge amount of buying power, as estimates suggest the new generation have access to around $44 billion in disposable income.

66% say that product quality and availability are the top factors when choosing brand, although value is another major focus as over half admit to a lack of brand loyalty compared to other generations.

As technology is continuing to evolve, and eCommerce has changed to reflect that, a main concern for retail has been to not get left in the dust, with Mr Shay explaining that retailers need to continue to be “agile” if they want to stay relevant.

“Retailers are constantly focused on experimenting with new innovations both online and in-store to remain relevant to evolving consumer demand.”

 

Yankee Candle

Yankee Candle teams up with Toshiba for service revamp

Yankee Candle is preparing to deploy 1,400 Toshiba systems across stores in order to future-proof its business.

As it modernises its retail offering, the leading candle company will transform its point of sale with the Toshiba TCxWave.

“As the most recognized brand in the candle business, we are delighted,” said Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions’ US head of sales VP, Bill Campbell, who believes Toshiba will help Yankee Candles deliver “enriched shopping experiences for their customers, as well as a frictionless checkout.”

The technology offers a versatile design, and gesture touch-based screens, and will be set up across stores in the United States as well as Britain.

“We selected Toshiba’s [point of sale] solutions to support our new retail infrastructure,” explained Dave Harris, vice president of IT at Yankee Candle, who chose the company due to the “unique design, durability, product road map and ability to strengthen our customer engagement.”

Yankee Candle currently sells its products across 35,000 stores worldwide, but is hoping that further improvements to their own stores will encourage more customers to shop direct.

 

 

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Sports Direct Founder Targets Fellow Shareholders

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley has taken a swipe at the ‘rebel’ shareholders at the company, while rescuing embattled chairman Keith Hellawell for a second time who was voted down for reappointment.

A vote in September by shareholders at a tumultuous AGM had seen 53% of independent investors oppose Mr Hellawell’s stewardship of the company – beset by allegations of corporate governance and working practice failures.

He was saved then mainly because of billionaire chief executive Mr Ashley’s dominant voting rights.

Shareholders have now once again delivered a blow to the company after a further vote on his re-election to the board – under City rules – at the firm’s Derbyshire HQ, which also contains its controversial main warehouse.

Some 54% of shareholders rejected his reappointment in the second vote. Investors such as Aberdeen Asset Management and Royal London had publicly opposed him prior to the vote.

Mr Ashley said: “Keith has my full backing and will be continuing in his role on the basis that he has the unanimous support of the board.

“I note that many of those who voted against Keith have acknowledged that we have made positive progress since the AGM.”

Mr Ashley, who also owns Newcastle United, ordered an overhaul on pay, governance and working practices after admitting some staff were being paid less than the minimum wage.

However, a 25% dip in half-year profits announced in December prompted a backlash from Mr Hellawell who accused the media, unions and politicians of ‘giving the company a bad name’.

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Forum Insight: Top tips for social media success while attending B2B events

Whether you’re going to a big industry expo, specialist conference or attending one of our Forums or Summits, social media can help you get the most out of the event.

So we’ve pulled together five top tips to get you going…

  1. Get yourself up to date

Whether you’re an attending as a delegate or a supplier, make sure your personal and company social media profiles are up to date.

That’s everything from the logo and description to posting a few things to the account (whether that’s Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) to make sure it looks active.

Don’t forget, a lot of the people you meet at the event will do some research on you and your company by way of a follow up ­­– you want to ensure they have a great first impression when they stumble across your social media on Google.

If you don’t have a social presence, you really, really, should. It takes no time at all to get the basics set up on Twitter or Facebook and there are plenty of ‘how to’ guides out there if you need some help with brand pages and the like.

  1. Do some research

So your social media accounts are up to date and ready to go, now you need to find out where the conversation’s going to be happening.

Twitter is will be where you’ll see most activity during a live event, so spend a little time before you get there doing some research – find out what the event Twitter handle is (follow it if you haven’t already) and what the official hashtag will be.

Also, make sure follow a few industry media outlets ­– this will help you keep track of what’s happening at the event while you’re ensconced in meetings all day.

  1. Start the pre-event hype

During the lead up to the event let everyone know you’re going – @mention the official account and use the hashtag. Let the world know you’re super-excited, particularly if you’re exhibiting or speaking – tell them what you’re going to being talking about or the products you’re going to be showing off. You can do this across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Also, think about using a company or campaign hashtag if you’re going to be doing special promotions during the event.

If you are promoting specific products or services, create a landing page on your website with data capture, just for the event in question – you can then push people there via social media so they can request more info.

  1. On the day…

The first thing to do is to check yourself in virtually across your social accounts – you’re in the building and you’re ready for business.

Now, if you have a busy event itinerary you’re not necessary going to have time to live tweet the entire thing. If that’s the case, say it with pictures – busy stand? Take a picture. See a great product on display? Take a picture. Sitting in an interesting conference session? Take a picture. It’s a quick and engaging way of getting your message across.

And if you spot something compelling, post a video.

You can also schedule posts in advance using tools such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to drive stand traffic or promoting products – and don’t forget to push people back to that website landing page.

Keep an eye on those industry news feeds – retweet or pass comment on any big announcements and get involved in the conversation.

  1. After the event

This is when you can have some fun. If you have a company blog, write up your experiences of the event. You don’t have to write an essay – 350-500 words would be sufficient – and then push that article out across your Twitter, Facebook and Linked in accounts.

Perhaps the most important post-event task is to follow up on all those delicious new leads and contacts you made – make sure you follow and like their social media accounts, both personal and company.

Finally, it’s worth searching the event hashtag and scrolling back through its timeline to catch up on the show news and, perhaps more importantly, see what your industry peers were up to…

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Industry Spotlight: Technology Trumps Tradition

With retailers constantly seeking new ways to interact with customers, digital technology has emerged as a way to deliver more relevant and engaging content. But how much notice do customers actually take?

A report released by global marketing solutions and communications provider, APS Group, uncovers some of the mysteries of customers’ interaction with store signage.

By using eye-tracking technology to measure the reactions of more than 1.6m shoppers, the study finds that almost double the number of people looked at and engaged with shop window displays if the retailer used animated, digital content instead of traditional print.

Results also demonstrated that not only are digital screens more appealing, but they also enable brands to tailor their messages and offerings to give customers what they want, when and where they want it.

 

To download a free copy of the whitepaper click here.

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Tesco launches new ‘Food Love Stories’ campaign

Tesco has today launched ‘Food Love Stories brought to you by Tesco’, a new campaign which aims to highlight passion, care and nostalgia in food.

Each month, the campaign will introduce food love stories to emphasise the importance of food and the effects it brings.

The stories aim to capture the mind-set of its customers throughout the year, from wholesome, hearty meals in January, to fresh, vibrant meals perfect for a summer evening.

“We’ve always taken great pride in the quality of our food” explained Michell McEttrick, group brand director at Tesco, adding that the campaign aims to put food at “the very heart of our business and tells the stories behind the meals we all make for those closest to us.”

The ad campaign will appear online as well as with spots on Coronation Street, Emmerdale and The Undateables. Recipe cards and ingredients are expected to be available at all large stores, as well as online at tesco.com

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UK Car Market Reaches “Peak Demand”

The UK new car market prepares for a fall as record breaking sales mark fifth year of growth.

Demand for new cars in Britain has reached its highest ever at 2.69 million in 2016, with a 2.3% increase on last year continuing the market’s steady rise since 2011.

With one of the most diverse car market in the world, nearly 400 different models are currently on the market and a further 70 are planning to be introduced in 2017.

However, between the length of the growth period, the drop in the strength of the pound and the uncertainty of the political landscape, this year is not expected to perform quite as well.

“We’re talking about a market that is at peak demand,” said head of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Mike Hawes, “There is undoubtedly a levelling off.”

More than 85% of cars sold in the UK imported, making trade post-Brexit vital, according to Mike Hawes, “Looking longer term, the strength of this market will rest on our ability to maintain our current trading relations.”

There’s a predicted 6% drop in sales in the year ahead, but with such record highs, this will not necessarily mean a crash on the road ahead.

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High Streets Disappoint at Christmas Again

Christmas shop sales have dropped for a fourth year in a row following a boom in online shopping.

According to BDO’s High Street Sales Track, December’s growth ended on a relatively small -0.1%, but it follows last December’s -5.3%, the worst Christmas growth since 2008.

The unfortunate streak was nearly broken by a surge in lifestyle (+2.4%) and homeware (+2.6) sales, but they were eclipsed by a year on year decline in fashion of 1.07%.

Online sales increased massively this year, with the week before Christmas increasing to 51.1%, with an overall growth of +19%.

The falling strength of the pound could lead to further decline this year, according to Sophie Michael, head of retail and wholesale at BDO, who believes this year will be a ‘critical juncture’ for retail.

“With such a weak base for December 2015, any further decline can only be seen as a poor result for retailers,” she explains, “this fourth negative December in succession highlights the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead for 2017.”