Archive for May, 2011


The owner of fashion brands Coast, Oasis and Warehouse, Aurora Fashions, has announced it is now offering a new delivery service which brings items to a customers’ doors in only 90 minutes.

The service is currently only available in London with plans to roll out to other locations in the coming months, according to internet start-up company Shutl, who are running the service.

As part of the ordering processes customers on the any of the group’s websites can now choose the fastest delivery option when checking out their items, and Aurora claimes it is the first retailer to make this possible.

Hash Ladha, Group Multichannel Director at Aurora Fashions, said: “Our customers want the freedom and flexibility to shop and buy in whatever way best suits their lifestyle.

“They can now order a product across any of our brands in the afternoon and be wearing it that same evening, which is a fashion first.

“We have upgraded all our delivery options and we now provide the widest range and fastest options available to our customers with both same day and 90-minute delivery.”

Aurora has also improved its in-store payment systems with the help of technology provider DigiPos, as it continues to reshape and improve its business.

In addition to the 90-minute service, Aurora has developed a new premium next day delivery option which allows customers to ensure they receive their items the next day from making the purchase even if the order was placed after normal working hours.

Ladha continued: “Premium next day delivery uniquely extends normal next day ordering hours to midnight, seven days a week.

“Combined with 90-minute deliveries, this positions Aurora at the forefront of new developments in multichannel retailing in response to customer demand.”

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

Toy retailer, Early Learning Centre launched a new mobile commerce website earlier this week, including its full product portfolio.

Customers are now able to browse for items and use all of the the retailers’ online services via their mobile phones on a specially designed site.

The new platform has been created and delivered by Javelin Group, which also developed the retailers’ main website. The new service is fully integrated with the main site’s background systems such as call centre, order management and fulfilment.

Jas Virdee, Executive Director at ELC’s parent company Mothercare, said: “In January this year, we made a tough request of Javelin Group to help us move into mobile commerce by delivering our mobile site by April.

“They met this challenge, working efficiently with our team to deliver a high quality site within our budget and timeframe. We have already seen an uptake of the site with orders being taken on the first day of our soft launch.”

This is certainly a positive move for the Mothercare group which has come under increased pressure in recent months from supermarkets undercutting them on price and a number of pure-play e-tailers which can offer a more specialised service.

Tony Stockil, CEO at Javelin Group, said:  “So far, relatively few retailers have successfully built a fully-integrated mobile site on their base ecommerce platform.

“We are very pleased to have delivered such a high quality solution on time and within budget.”

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

With the increased usage and rapid growth of activities like shopping for clothes and groceries on mobile phones it was only a matter of time before consumers began asking retailers for more from their m-commerce offerings.

A recent study by eDigital Research has found that although many retailers, such as e-retail fashion specialist Asos.com and Marks & Spencer are considered cutting edge and are held in high regard for their mobile sites, there is an increasing amount of pressure on retailers to meet higher consumer expectations when it comes to technology.

The top score in the m-commerce benchmark study, achieved by Asos, fell by three per cent to 85.7% compared to an initial survey carried out in 2010.

Some companies only offering click and collect services and limited product lines available via their mobile sites were considered to be missing out on potential revenue streams.

Mobile phone giants Carphone Warehouse and O2 have reported in recent months that sales have been driven by the popularity of smartphones and the eDigital Research study certainly supported these claims.

More than half of those surveyed now own a smart phone, with just over one third (35%) of people already using their handsets to shop online and a further 18% planning on doing so in the near future.

The top five companies to come out of the survey were Asos, M&S, Play.com, Amazon and House of Fraser; with all of them being commended for the new features developed to support the mobile platforms and provide an improved online shopping experience.

Derek Eccleston, Research Director at eDigital Research, said: “We are witnessing the dawn of Me-commerce, where the consumer now holds the power in the palm of their hands to dictate to retailers when, where and how they want to shop.

“As more and more people begin to use their smart phones to shop and browse online, it is crucial that retailers begin to operate in their customers’ spaces, developing mobile sites and investing in mobile strategies as consumer behaviour continues to evolve.”

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

Cookie laws on hold

The Information Commissioners’s Office has announced that websites in the UK have been given an extra year to comply with EU cookie laws and advised that there won’t be any “overnight changes.”

The EU’s Privacy and Communications Directive, which came into effect on 26 May, requires user’s consent before using cookies. Cookies are the text files that help organise and store browsing information.

Although all firms must technically comply to with the law, the UK has said that more time is needed to find a more workable solution.

The government stated that it is looking at “business-friendly” solutions and also that it believes in a light-touch regulatory approach.

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “We recognise that some website users have real concerns around online privacy but also recognise that cookies play a key role in the smooth running of the internet.”

He continued “But it will take some time to for workable technical solutions to be developed, evaluated and rolled out so we have decided that a phased in approach is right.”

To attempt to move things along, the government formed a working group with the leading browser manufacturers to evaluate if a browser-based solution to the issue can be found.

Both Microsoft’s IE9 and Mozilla Firefox offer an ‘opt-out’ functionality with a setting available to protect users from services which collect and harvest browser data and Google has said it is working on integrating “Do Not Track” technologies into its Chrome browser.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport admitted that there may be “other technical solutions” but that the browser solution was the only one it was currently pursuing.

It will certainly be interesting to see if the one year deferral is something that is achievable or if this is something that will continue to be put back and delayed.

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

Topshop has announced it is this week launching the “Topshop Secret Store”, a concept store that will be open in the Oxford Circus and New York Store’s for two weeks from Thursday 26th May.

The shop will feature a mixture of designer collaborations and designs unique to Topshop and offers customers the chance to own exclusive items.

Secretly hidden in TopShop Oxford Circus and New York, shoppers will find what appears to be a florist, within the florist there will be a door which leads to the secret shop. Once inside the store shoppers will find pieces on sale from designers including Nasir Mazhar, Meadham Kirchhoff, Emma Cook, Ann-Sofie Back and Pamela Love amongst others.

The shop is believed to be the first of its kind and will only be open for two weeks from the 26th, with a limited number of pieces also available on line. Although not the first to set up a concept store, Topshop have certainly taken things to a new level, with many previous creations by other retailers “popping-up” in different locations and at events but never within an existing retailers own store.

Madelaine Evans, Head of Buying at Topshop, said: “We’re thrilled to be the first high street store to introduce a pop-up concept space of this nature. It’s an exciting project for Topshop and I hope it will surprise and delight customers both old and new.”

She continued “It’s a great opportunity for the designers we collaborate with to produce something unusual that they’ve not done before, and also a chance for our in-house design team to let their imaginations run riot.”

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 fifth annual UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report has found that companies are looking to their local and mobile search activity more than ever before.

The study found that the proportion of client-side marketers who say they’re utilising mobile searches has doubled from 8% in 2010 to 16% in 2011, with an additional 45% admitting they are planning to invest in it.

The Econsultancy report, carried out in association with Guava is based on a survey of more than 600 advertisers and agencies in February and March 2011.

Despite the developments in mobile search technology over the last 12 months, only 2% of client-side marketers’ paid search budgets are spent on mobile search, with supply-side respondents saying the average for their clients is 5%.

Nearly one third of companies (30%) conduct local search, with a further 21% planning to do so. Agencies reported wider use of local search than client-side marketers, with 62% of supply-side respondents reporting their client targets by locality.

The proportion of firms planning to increase their investment in social media decreased slighty in 2011 to 63%, from last years total of 65%.

Despite this decrease, 88% of agency respondents said they expected their clients to increase budgets over the next 12 months, compared to 62% who planned to increase their SEO budgets. More than one third (37%) said they expected clients to ramp up paid search spending.

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

Orange and Barclaycard have launched what is believed to be the UK’s first contactless mobile payments service, enabling customers to make purchases in shops with their mobile handsets.

More than 50,000 retailers across the UK, including Pret a Manger, Subway and McDonalds, will now accept the new form of payments technology.

The new technology, similar to MasterCard’s “Pay and Wave” format for its credit and debit cards, allows shoppers to buy goods up to £15 by tapping your phone against a payment reader.

This form of contactless technology will initially be available on Orange’s Samsung Tocco Lite, but is expected to be developed for other manufacturers handsets  throughout 2011.

David Chan, CEO, Barclaycard Consumer Europe, said: “This is the first time that customers can use their mobile to pay for goods and services in shops across the UK rather than using cards or cash.

“They’ll be able to do this, safe in the knowledge that this is a secure technology brought to them by the biggest names in payments and mobile technology.”

Contactless payments for mobile phones has always been considered the logical step following the success of the technology via credit and debit cards, and is being launched at a time when smartphones are becoming more and more prevalent.

Recent research by eDigitalResearch and Portaltech found that the number of people who have bought goods via m-commerce sites on their mobile phone increased by 20% between June 2010 and March 2011.

Pippa Dunn, Orange Vice President, said: We no longer use our mobile mobiles simply for talking and texting – apps, cameras and music players allow us to use them for a lot more.

“So, making contactless payments with your mobile is a natural and really exciting innovation which we’re pleased to be leading in the UK.”

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 Co-operative supermarket recently launched its first ever mobile proximity marketing service in a joint venture with Coca-Cola and O2.

The initial deal saw selected O2 mobile customers receiving text messages allowing them to claim a free bottle of Dr Pepper when they came within half a mile of a Co-op store.

The database used for the trial was made up of 16 to 34-year-olds who had previously chosen to receive location-based marketing messages with O2 media.

Sean Toal, Commercial Director for the Co-operative Food, commented: “The Co-operative is keen to make use of cutting-edge technologies, and mobile proximity marketing means we can target customers with specific offers and engage with them directly.”

The trial was part of a larger initiative being undertaken by the supermarket to improve its in-store technology offering, with Mood Media providing the capability to broadcast the Royal wedding in its outlets in April.

Co-op is also the first supermarket to introduce contactless payments, with 150 stores trialling the system from September this year.

The supermarket has also had to set up what are known as ‘geo-fences’, or virtual perimeters, around its stores which activate the text messaging service once a participating customer ventures into one of these ares.

Toal continued, : “The Co-operative has almost 3,000 stores nationwide, many of which are at the heart of local communities and on high streets, which makes this initiative and technology ideal for us as a community retailer.”

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

With the number of retailers opening Facebook stores or alligning their online strategy towards the social networking site increasing by the day, it begs the question, can we just set up business online and not worry about any other online channels?

Social networking expert, Gareth Mee, believes can and should extend their social commerce strategies beyond the the realms of the world’s most popular social networking site.

Social commerce has long been heralded as one of the major trends in ecommerce for 2011 and to the surprise of few experts, Facebook has positioned itself firmly in the driving seat of this phenomenon, but they cannot focus solely on Facebook as the be all and end all for social commerce.

Mee said : “2011 is already heralding the start of a new era of online shopping that is both social and collaborative. Purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by trusted recommendations and brands are competing based on the value and experience offered on their website.

“As the use of social networks continues to become part of our everyday lifestyle, the ecommerce industry increasingly looks to this channel and how it can effectively capitalise on this opportunity. However, with increasing usage comes increasing noise and enabling social discovery with improved content relevance will be important to cut through this.”

He continued: “The move towards social commerce has intensified, with online retailer ASOS launching a full transactional Facebook shop in January 2011, allowing customers to buy from its whole range without leaving the social network. French Connection has also announced that it is following suit, however, perhaps retailers should step back and think their social commerce strategy through before putting all their eggs in Facebook’s basket.”

Mee and other leading industry experts all agree that it would be a mistake to avoid selling on Facebook, with the value to be had from using social networks evident for all major brands, the problem they agree is that retailers cannot solely rely on Facebook as the sum of their social commerce strategy.

Mee added : “Retailers should be looking to bring social elements into their own stores, combining social shopping baskets and personalised recommendations. A Global survey by Nielsen Online revealed that recommendations from person acquaintances are the most trusted form of advertising with 90% of consumers affirming their trust in this. Companies that sell online can differentiate themselves by developing their own communities, which leverage users existing social network connections. This would create a more personal and meaningful experience for customers aiding social discovery and improving the relevance of recommendations.”

Facebook has created an exiting opportunity for many retailers, one which a number have embraced and welcomed with open arms… however… increasing reliance on a third party which dictates prices and cut through is not a wise move.

Retailers all have a community of followers and loyal supporters who regularly shop with them, buy their products and recommend their products to friends and family. Mee believes these pre-existing communities can play a big part in the social commerce strategies they are developing.

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

Disposable income per household is at its lowest level for more than a quarter of a century and will continue to fall in 2011, the Deloitte Economic Review has revealed.

Economic Adviser for Deloitte, Roger Bootle  warned that UK household finances are set to drop by as much as two percent this year, taking them on par with the lowest level since 1977, not including the depths of the recent recession.

With inflation continuing to rise, overall consumer spending across the UK is expected to drop by at least one percent over the year and if interest rates also rise over this period, Bootle believes the circumstances for families could be at their worst since 1952.

Bootle said : “I think this year will see falling real earnings, falling real house prices and rising unemployment.

“Of course, not all households will be affected equally. Attention has focused on the ‘squeezed middle’, but pretty much all households face a further squeeze over the next year or so.”

The majority of the UK retail sector has been feeling the effects of declining sales and reduced footfall since the beginning of 2011, despite the recent boost as a result of the royal wedding, this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.

It looks like retailers will have to deal with cautious consumer spending in the short term, but Bootle is confident that things will start to improve in 2012.

He predicts that inflation will fall sharply in 2012 and be below its target by the end of the year, this will mean real incomes will start rising and taxes could start to fall rather than rise by 2015.

Bootle continued: “We need to remember that the big picture is that the recent and looming falls in real incomes will reverse only a small part of the gains in both real incomes and living standards achieved over the past few decades. And more favourable conditions lie further ahead.

“But for those households struggling to make ends meet, that may still seem an age away.”

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