Archive for November, 2010


Monday 29 November 2010 is predicted to be the busiest day of online shopping in 2010, as shoppers attempt to beat the Christmas rush.

Kelkoo’s study has predicted that £22.4m will be spent every hour on that date, totalling £537m overall. Households in the UK are expected to spend almost a quarter (22%) of their entire Christmas budgets online, with Internet sales predicted to rise by 29% compared to Christmas 2009.

The report, prepared by the Centre for Retail Research, forecasts UK household spending for Christmas 2010 and also includes comparisons with other European countries including France, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands.

Offline shopping is expected to reach its peak on Saturday 18 December, with 10 million shoppers predicted to hit the high street and spend an estimated £1.11 billion.  The average UK household will spend £673.56, 28% higher than the average European household spend of £528.13, while more than half (62%) of all spending will be on gifts.

Richard Stables, CEO of Kelkoo, said of the research “Online retailers can see sales rise by up to 60% in the six weeks running up to Christmas compared to the rest of the year, and at no time is this more evident than on Manic Monday, when online sales are forecast to peak at £22.4 million per hour.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

We are heading into a cautious Christmas period this year with people expected to spend 6% less on gifts than in previous years.

That is the conclusion of a recent survey carried out by the international consumer research company Intersperience, which showed that the average amount people are prepared to spend is £241 per person, with 45% of those interviewed admitting that the uncertain economic climate was impacting their shopping plans.

The Chief Executive of Intesperience, Paul Hudson, said “If that pattern played out uniformly across the 35million or so people of working age in Britain, the result would be a drop in total high street spending of more than £500 million.”

The biggest drop in spending plans is among those over 25 who, are expecting to spend £287 per person, almost £35 less than in 2009. The spending plans of  18- to 24- year olds in contrast, has shown a marked increase, with people expected to spend £189 this year compared with £168 last year.

Hudson added “Spending predictions are the lowest we have ever recorded, so it is clear that retailers are going to have to offer deep discounts in the next few weeks to generate an acceptable level of sales”.

The research also found that there was a significant shift towards online retailers this year, with 54% of people expecting to shop in stores and in websites doing so online. This increase is driven primarily by a 30% uptake in under 25s spending online compared to 2009.

Hudson stated that 2010 is a crucial time for retailers, “They did not do too well last year. There were big problems with stocking levels and delivering goods before Christmas Day and that drove people back to high street stores. The problems meant that one in five people spent less online than they had anticipated”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Facebook has announced that its virtual currency “Facebook Credits” will be available in the UK, with gift cards for the new currency available in Game and Tesco stores.

Facebook credits can only be used on virtual objects, such as in games, and can also be collected through many applications in the same way that air miles are earned. More than 200 apps and games currently accept the credits and 22 of the 25 Facebook apps use them. Farmville, Facebook’s most popular game, is one of more than 50% of games to adopt the currency.

Deborah Liu, manager of product marketing for Facebook Credits and games at Facebook said that although Credits could currently only be spent on Facebook.com, their reach could expand beyond the main site using Facebook Connect, which allows users to login to other sites with their Facebook ID.

Ms Liu added that offering gift cards gives parents peace of mind in what their children are playing online, while also allowing children freedom to spend credits where they wish. The use of retailers such as Game and Tesco is intended to to give small developers who sign up to use Credits a wider reach into a new source of income.

The so called “digital goods economy”, is thought to generate hundreds of millions of pounds per year and is now focused in the UK and US on digital gifts as well as screensavers. In other countries users can sometimes also exchange their virtual currency for real money.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Earlier this month in New York, Google launched boutiques.com, its latest e-tail venture combining celebrity and fashion.

A virtual shopping centre full of individual stores, but with the benefits of search engine technology attached, it allows people to look for clothes by genre, silhouette, pattern, size and shape. Customers will, the creators have said, be able to run their own personalised boutiques by drawing up lists of their preferences, following celebrities and designers, and by teaming up with “taste-makers”.

The search engine giant has said that the site will be aimed at 13- to 34- year olds and will predominantly include high-end designers as it looks to rival eBay and Amazon.

The site’s creators have said it is a commercial attempt to create a kind of order for women who feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of choice they are given both on the high street and by the average fashion e-tailer.

For those unsure about creating a style unique to them, boutiques.com will offer recommendations and match up outfits. It will also remember your likes and dislikes and try to get a measure of taste.

Features on the site include filters as well as visual searches, which analyse the photograph of a clothing item and then return similar items. Consumers can also pull up outfit ideas to the right of search results, and can complete a look by using style rules, which suggests items to match.

Google is by no means alone in the internet fashion retail market, with Asos expected to launch Asos Marketplace expected to launch before Christmas. The new site will allow people to sell their own designs or their secondhand clothes alongside big retail names.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Retail sales increased in the month of October with many suggesting that consumers moved forward purchases ahead of January 2011’s rise in VAT to 20%.

An increase of 0.5% as reported by the Office of National Statistics represents a turnaround from the previous two months of decline, despite the performance being 0.1% lower than October 2009.

The growth was buoyed by an increase in sales volumes in non-food stores, including demand in textile, clothing and footwear shops.

Howard Archer, chief European economist at HIS Insight said the sales growth was “decent but unspectacular”.

He continued adding “ It is likely that retail sales will benefit to a limited extent in the final weeks of this year from consumers looking to make purchases of more expensive items ahead of the January VAT increase from 17.5% to 20%.

“ Retailers will also be fervently hoping that consumers decide to splash out and have a good Christmas despite their worries and uncertainties over the economic outlook.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Visual merchandising is the activity of promoting the sale of goods, specifically the way they are presented in retail outlets. In other words how we present items in retail stores to promote them to customers; combining products, environments, and spaces to create stimulating and engaging displays to encourage the sale of products or services often does it.

This is a concept that retailers of all walks of business are familiar with and something that many of them will use visual merchandising to create compelling promotions. But how can this be transferred to a web site ? How can online retailers adopt this? It certainly makes sense for retailers to look to improve visual stimuli online given the ever increasing online shopping community.

Online merchandising platforms can provide an etxtremely effective and flexible way of delivery retail visual merchandising on any eCommerce site. Systems can be configured to work automatically or can be done in conjunction with manual merchandising efforts by the retailer.

In some respects Visual merchandising is as simple as driving how visual elements are displayed on a give page or site. It can also be as complicated as you make it, with functionality available to determine sequences of products on category pages to create a more sophisticated service.

There are a number of ways of effectively using visual merchandising on eCommerce sites:

  • Weighting – by weighting site metrics data, visual merchandising can determine how products are displayed on web pages by margin, stock availability, popularity and even how new the product is to the site.
  • Visual Elements – customers can be driven to product pages and site sections by tools such as banner ads based on a page or category selected.
  • User selection – metrics drive data allows an entire page to be generated by a user selecting a category.
  • Customised merchandising – using seasonal themes and promotions, retailers can display a different home page, banner ad or landing page based on a date or time trigger.

In essence the key to creating relevant and effective visual merchandising solutions for eCommerce sites is to apply the same principles you would for a physical retail store using technology that allows you to dictate how you want your merchandise to be consumed by customers.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Social commerce is set to take the retail technology market by storm in 2011, according to Ovum’s latest report published earlier this month.

The independent technology analyst has predicted that social commerce will be the biggest story of next year, with an increase of m-commerce and a move towards shopping via television.

Shopping shaped by social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook is predicted to finally start to be considered a serious avenue for retailers in 2011, with the industry set to dismiss the initial scepticism over its potential.

Christine Bardwell, retail technology analyst at Ovum said ” Contrary to the current waves of cynicism in the UK retail sector, 2011 will be the year when social commerce will really take off”.

” In the UK, the leading retail brands have been slow to adopt a strategy for social commerce and the success stories have been few and far between. However, it offers good sales potential in 2011 and will be the big story in retail technology. It definitely should not be disregarded as a fad”.

2010 has seen an huge increase in the number of retail services delivered via mobile phones and Ovum expects this trend to continue and for m-commerce to become standard practice across the industry in 2011.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Sales of luxury items have shown good signs of recovery in the aftermath of the global recession, a study by Verdict Reseach has found.

The UK’s jewellery and watch market is currently the second largest in Europe, while the global market for the sector is expected to increase by more than 50% over the next five years.

Verdict reported that since 2007, the luxury items sector has shown less growth than predicted, but believe that the tide is turning and sales of watches and jewellery should total $28bn (£17.6bn) in 2010 in Europe alone.

One analyst at Verdict, Ruta Perveneckaite, said ” We expect to see a return to growth for the UK jewellery market this year with the luxury market stealing market share from the mass market.”

It is believed that Luxury goods manufacturers will continue to focus on the recent upsurge in branded own stores, which are expected to multiply in the coming years, with many brands finding that sales from these stores have been more fruitful than sales through department stores.

Online trade is another area that is expected to grow, with many people, Verdict included, seeing this as a channel which has not been fully utilised. This would seem the logical step as consumers continue to increase their online spending.

Perveneckaite continued ” So far many brands are missing an opportunity by not launching into the online space. Consumers are now increasingly willing to buy big ticket items online so brands should change their approach to capitalise on this”.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Behavioural merchandising is the process of using a customer’s behaviour to promote, place and display products to maximise retail sales revenue. For online retailers, this can be as simple as using data on where a site visitor has been directed from, what they search the site for, what products they click on and most importantly what they buy. Knowing the answers to these questions can dictate what product promotions and services each visitor should be driven towards at every possible point of interaction.

It effectively offers customers a personalised shopping experience that is highly relevant, trustworthy and adapts to ever changing customer needs and preferences automatically. Being automated, it also means that it can offer retailers a more cost effective merchandising solution to manual merchandising.

Effective behavioural merchandising is done through the creation of algorithms which provide real-time recommendations based on users’ behaviour on any given site. These algorithms can provide both generic recommendations based on the site’s collective intelligence and also deliver more personalised recommendations based on an individual’s past behaviour and also their current behaviour.

Three ways in which Behavioural merchandising can be effective:

 Weighted User Journey

  • Algorithms track users’ actions on a site and give a weighting for each action. These recommendations are based on what has been viewed, searched for, added to a shopping basket and also what has been purchased by the user with regards to both that users’ previous actions and the actions for all the other users on this site.

Previous User Behaviour

  • When it comes to previous user behaviour, the weighted user’s journey algorithm is used to create product recommendations based on previous actions in comparison to the collective intelligence of all site users.

Google Referrals

  • Recommendations are constantly being updated which means that actions such as viewing, purchasing or adding to a shopping basket will affect recommendations in real-time. What a customer typed into Google to arrive at a website can be searched to determine that product recommendations are suitable for each individual customer.

Some people have questioned the worth of Behavioural merchandising in the past but when considering if it is right for you, think about the following proof points:

  • Behavioural merchandising is extremely trustworthy. It is generated by peer consumers, not marketing professionals. Consumers are far more likely to trust their peers than online marketers.
  • Behavioural merchandising is flexible and adaptive. Being able to take into account collective behaviour in real-time means that it can respond and change quickly to preferences of visitors.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The Royal Mail has launched a trial of evening deliveries to aid people not at home during the day to receive parcels and other items.

The trial, which will last for six months, will be available to anyone living within the M25 area in London and the South East, and will cover goods ordered online with House of Fraser and beauty firm L’Occitane. Discussions are said to be ongoing for further retailers to take part.

Royal Mail director Mike Brown said “Consumers increasingly want more control over when and where they receive their orders, and Royal Mail is looking to fit the online delivery experience around the shopper, enabling them to select, rather than being told, when their goods will be delivered.”

Research carried out by the Royal Mail revealed that the online retail market is expected to have sales of £56 billion in 2010. The research also found that 58% of people would shop more online if they had more control over delivery options.

The announcement follows the news that the company’s operating profits declined by more than 70% to £52m for the six months to 30 September 2010 compared to 2009 interim operating profits of £184m.

The decision to offer more flexible deliveries, albeit only on a six month trial basis, should be applauded as a definitive effort to meet the needs of customers and the recognition that a vast majority of people are not able to take delivery of items during working hours.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com