A pot purl of things that just don’t fit any where else. Enjoy…

8 Retail Trends In China – No 5. Execute To Survive

In Store Execution

As success outside ‘traditional’ bricks and mortar retailers continues, we anticipate increased pressure on manufacturers to conjure up growth. This is most likely to be achieved through a combination of basic marketing principles and decreasing costs in the system which, in turn, will demand greater sophistication in retail execution and sales forces across China. However, this kind of expertise and culture is not developed overnight, and it’s reasonable to speculate that specialists in this area will start taking over from the distributors that typically undertake this function. This does not bode well for these distribution companies that, until now, have had significant power – handling everything from the book, to the movement of physical stock, to in-store dealings. All this has been done with very little visibility for the brand owner, but as growth was so good, everyone was happy. Now, with the slowing in retail sales, we predict that a laser-sharp focus will be on delivering growth at lower cost. What will this mean? More science in field sales operation, better technology to drive execution, and complete visibility for the brand owner in terms of what it is paying for. All of these demands present a very real problem for distributors that are currently not geared for this level of in-store implementation. Don’t be surprised if there’s a sudden growth of outsourced sales force specialists, and an increase in the standard of in-store execution as a consequence.

8 Retail Trends In China – No 4. Local Retailers Become Masters Of Their Own Universe

Local Retailers

You can safely assume that local retailers will continue on their path of extraordinary evolution to becoming world class. Undoubtedly, they will become more sophisticated in their deployment of systems, stricter in their management and begin to deliver better value than the international retailers currently fighting for market share inside China. Local retailers, either national or region-specific, are already starting to outstrip their international counterparts and in the Year of the Horse you can expect this to accelerate, with geographic expansion and increased output through existing sites. Local retailers already have the ability, through multiple means, to extract more profit from their locations, with the added advantage of ‘neighbourhood’ knowledge and connectivity. As they absorb elements of global retailing best practice, we forecast an ever-improving performance.

8 Retail Trends In China – No 3. A Bank In The Hand

Digital Banking

As e-commerce continues to develop fast, so too will the ability of Chinese consumers to bank via mobile platforms. we’re already seeing this happening in multiple ways, from street vendors processing credit cards via their android tablets, to e-commerce companies like Alibaba offering their consumers small savings accounts, to phone-to-phone SMS transfers. Tencent (China’s largest internet portal) has started offering customers a banking platform and with its 400million+ users, it’s destined to have a big impact. In the Year of the Horse we’ll witness consumers being able to use, share and spend money faster and more easily, leading to more transactions in more locations. This is good news for small businesses that have previously been constrained by payment issues, and might well regenerate the steadily shrinking small, informal trader. Just imagine how the ability to transfer a relatively small sum of money with a simple cellphone connection will enable transactions that were simply impossible in smaller rural areas. We expect to see points of purchase springing up virtually anywhere – not just in markets, but even on the most remote street corner. Such is the growing power of digital and peer-to-peer banking.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Cowrie Shell



It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects  post – This weeks object is The Cowrie Shell. In the earliest civilisations the concept of ‘trading’ was well established, but there was no equivalent to money for use in such transactions. To get your food you would ‘barter’ an item such as fish, fur, clot hes, decorative items, tools or even weapons. From 9,000 to 6,000 BC the nearest equivalent to currency was cattle. Archaeological evidence suggests that the first widespread form of currency was introduced around 1200 BC, through the adoption of the cowrie shell as a trading ‘token’. These shells shared many of the attributes of modern coins – being durable, portable, easily recognisable and hard to fake. As well as being counted out in payment, they could also be traded by weight. The cowrie shell was indigenous to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but its use as a trading token spread and it became the most commonly used means of payment across large parts of Asia, Africa, and some of the outer reaches of Europe. The significance of shell trading in China is evidenced by ancient artefacts that show simplified representations of the cowrie used as part of the characters for words with economic meaning – such as money,coin,buy. Just as with currency exchanges today, the value of the cowrie shell could fluctuate, depending on where it was being traded. For example, in some places a few cowries would buy a cow; whereas in the Maldives (where cowrie shell collecting and trading was a big business), several hundred thousands of cowries would be required in exchange for a single gold dinar. The Portuguese, English, French and Dutch played a significant role in promoting the cowrie as a currency for commercial transactions, including using it for trading in slaves. In Western Africa, ‘shell money’ remained legal tender right up until the mid 19th century.

Contribution to Retail History

As the first recognised ‘common currency’, the cowrie shell played a vital contribution to the development of commerce and early formal retail. Non-perishable, lightweight and robust, it opened up international trade opportunities by enabling transactions to be carried out across continents and between different cultures.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Shelf


It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects  post – This weeks object is The Shelf

The shelf is a fundamental component of the store experience and allows retailers to display products and encourage sales, impart information and deliver promotional incentives. The type and quality of materials used in the fabrication of shelves contributes to perception s of the retailer and the products offered for sale. Shelves were created in ancient times out of a desire to elevate and protect valuable objects, which at the time tended to be scrolls or other types of written documents. Advancements in printing which made the publication of books possible meant libraries needed extensive shelving for storage. The application of shelves was readily apparent to retailers who equipped stores with horizontal surfaces to store products in back rooms and display products to customers so they could easily be retrieved by clerks. The boom years for shelves arrived with the birth of self service shopping in department stores in the 1800s and later in supermarkets. The new approach to retail meant shoppers needed to be able to see and touch products and shelves were the solution. Shelving materials can consist of wood, metal, glass, plastic, stone or composite materials and come in an endless array of finishes. Shelves perform the most basic of functions within a retail environment, but the combination of materials, finishes and configurations present retailers with an infinite number of options when it comes to creatively merchandising a store. In addition to their important contribution to merchandising, shelves play an important role in supply chain management. Different categories require specific shelving solutions which can vary widely from car batteries and cans of paint to folded shirts and delicate ceramics. Shelf design must account for the unique characteristics of each, to enable effective merchandising while providing adequate holding capacity to maintain acceptable in-stock levels based on anticipated rates of sale and the retailer’s replenishment capabilities. An amazing array of shelving is evident in the retail industry today.

Contribution to Retail History

Early shelving options allowed retailers to increase the inventory capacity of their stores and the productivity of selling space. Chain stores who made use of consistent shelving configurations were able to optimise product assortments and increase sales. The extensive range of shelving materials, finishes and configurations also advanced the practice of visual merchandising which greatly affected store experience.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Market


It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects  post – This weeks object is The Market

The principle of the market is as old as civilization itself. Markets and market places are still to be found everywhere and each country has its own tradition s and customs. In China, every neighbourhood has its own little vegetable and meat market, selling local produce. These Chinese markets are a focus of activity and noise, and modern Chinese supermarkets still reflect the look and feel of these original markets with stores housing ‘mini’ markets and stalls within them. In Moscow, 21% of all retail trade takes place in markets and indeed markets continue to occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of Russian shoppers. About half of all clothes and shoes sold in Russia are brought at markets – the prices are cheaper and sometimes the goods are newer and more plentiful than in retail outlets. Although perishable goods are also offered, grocery retailing has expanded significantly to the extent that now only about 11% of all food is sold at markets. For centuries, across every part of India, weekly Haats or ‘gatherings’ would see vendors gathering in market places. As towns and cities grew, small retail stores began stocking more goods, and high street bazaars were formed where traders sold a range of goods, food, and perishables. In 1869, the Mumbai Crawford Market could be said to be the first form of shopping centre in India, then in 1874, the Hogg Market was built in Calcutta. Now known as the New Market, it was designed by an East Indian Railways Architect, R.R. Banya, and named after the municipal commissioner of Calcutta, Sir Stuart Hogg. The Hogg Market had a garden, a red brick Gothic clock tower and benches for shoppers to rest upon. Just a decade ago the majority of Indian shoppers still relied on street markets. But shopping traditions here are changing too. The street markets are still appreciated for their colourful displays and merchandise, but new shopping malls offering entertainment and experiences for all the family are also attracting many customers through their doors. Retailing is now the largest private industry in India and the second largest employer after agriculture.

Contribution to Retail History

Markets have existed throughout human history. Often centrally located or in an area of optimum footfall – at a port or roadside – wherever buyers and sellers could get together a market could be created. The focus of economic activity for the surrounding area, markets were also and remain today, a focus for social events, customs and traditions.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail

Get Ready For More Of This


It was not that long ago that, when it came to technology, Korea was viewed as a slow follower and not an innovator.  This has changed and Samsung has been leading the charge. Today Samsung is on the cutting edge in many aspects of technological innovation, style and consumer electronics “fashion”. Giving others a run for their money, including Apple. It is also helping Brand Korea to change its image from slow follower to an innovation engine.

China at the moment is very much seen as the manufacturing engine of the world. Taking others innovations and mass-producing them at scale to make them affordable, and they are good at it, indeed they are world class.

But we are going to see changes here that will follow the Korean example.

Enter Haier, one of China’s leading domestic appliance (and a lot more) manufacturers. Chinese Haier became the first appliance company to be accepted into Apple’s MFi licencing program. The Apple MFi program grants certification to create AirPlay products that connect to iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

With Haier it’s not just acceptance it is product as well. At the massive Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier in the month the Haier’s Tianzun air conditioning units were launched and on display. They are the first appliances to be accredited and they carry the MFi branding and functionality built in.

MFi makes things simple, easy and efficient to connect and control.- bringing the connected home and the Internet Of Things to reality.

There will be more Haier home appliances that will follow. Expect to see it MFi in Haier’s water heaters, ovens and a lot more.

It’s one small step, Chinese companies being the first to implement new technologies and not lagging behind. As China rebalances prepare to see more…

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Balance Scales



It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Balance Scale

Balance scales were in use in Mesopotamia as early as around the year 4000 BC . They were probably derived from the principles of a yoke, whereby two equal weights would balance if suspended either side of a central beam. Early balance scales measure relative weight (as opposed to actual weight). Measures were calculated by putting the object measured on one plate, and stones (the counterweight) on the other, until equilibrium was reached. In the late 18th century, a way to measure absolute weight was developed by Richard Salter when he invented the spring scale. This calculated the weight of an item by measuring the pressure it registered when hung by a hook attached to the spring. Around the same period (in 1897), one of the first commercial price-indicating scales was being developed in America. A weighed cursor, graduated vertically into prices per pound, was slid along a steelyard, which is a device with a short arm taking the item to be weighed, and a long graduated arm along which a weight is moved until it balances. The price of the goods could be read off the chart at the point where balance was achieved. Slow to actually provide a reading, it failed to catch on. From the 1940s, scales were incorporating electronic devices to make them more accurate. Today, the traditional balance scales so associated with grocers, butchers, confectioners and a myriad of other retailers, have been replaced almost entirely by digital scales. These scales not only weigh to a tenth of a gram, but by communicating with the retailer’s pricing system also print labels, instantly giving the weight and associated price of each weighed purchase. Scales are also integrated into supermarket checkouts, greatly streamlining the process.

Contribution to Retail History

Scales are one of civilisations most important developments. For centuries, traders have bought and sold goods according to weight and today all trade depends on having a fair system of weights and measures controlled by law. The food we eat and many of the products we use will have been weighed and measured – probably many times – in their journey through the supply chain. Without the ability to measure weight and ascribe a value to it, commerce would not have progressed beyond the basic bartering system. Thus, the scales became the principle way of determining the cost of an item, and a cornerstone of retailing as we know it.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Cuneiform Tablet


It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post –  This weeks objects is- The Cuneiform Tablet.

Civilisation ’s need to write things down , make a list, keep a record, categorise data and thereby pay taxes, goes back to the earliest times. The first system of writing used to record this information (that is known to us) is called ‘Cuneiform script ’. Cuneiform used pictorial symbols set out in columns on clay tablets, using a blunt reed for a stylus. The blunt reeds left a ‘wedge shaped’ impression , and this is where the name cuneiform comes from, the Latin for ‘wedge’. This writing system began in Sumer, in Mesopotamia, as long ago as 8000 BC. The early tablets were in their simplest form principally used for record keeping – agrarian inventories for grain, animals and equipment. But as the ancient world increasingly urbanised, these writings took on a more commercial form and were employed to record bargains sealed, ships’ cargoes, and lists of manufactured goods. Early Sumerians used cuneiform to list the clay tokens they used to exchange and store their agricultural and manufactured goods. The clay tokens were put in clay containers and they impressed onto the sealed containers, one picture for each token inside the container. As time passed, it became a standard practice for the major cities to date documents by year, names, and their respective kings. It also became a way of calculating how much people should pay in taxes. These early writings in turn led to their use for everyday purposes, not least in shopping. Dr Irvine Finkel, of the British Museum and noted Cuneiform scholar, has established that some of the earliest tablets he has examined are shopping lists!

 Contribution to Retail History

Cuneiform tablets highlight our shopping journey from the ancient world to modern times. The shopping bag and the shopping list have survived the journey of time and civilisations. Both have been in use for millennia and whilst we have little evidence of an ancient bag, it is interesting to see from the many clay tablets that have survived, that the ancients wrote out their lists just as we do today.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail

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