Tag: shopping

The way that cryptocurrencies have been implemented – with blockchain technology – is absolutely not a viable consumer product, says South African entrepreneur Hannes van Rensburg.

Van Rensburg, who sold his payments platform Fundamo to Visa for $110 million (R1.4 billion) in 2011, was speaking at StartupGrind Cape Town on Thursday evening, reports Ventureburn.

He said that cryptocurrrencies that use the blockchain won’t see the same kind of adoption as credit or debit cards because of the impracticality of settling payments on the blockchain.

“I think there are a lot of things that could happen in the back. I think there’s a lot of things that could happen around settlement of transactions and so forth, but it is a fallacy. I know people are going to shoot me, but I am just a straight shooter,” said Van Rensburg.

One of van Rensburg’s biggest sticking points is the way in which cryptocurrency transactions take place – also arguably one of their biggest selling points.

“If I do a transaction in Bitcoin it means that before it is actually concluded with the text in the distributed ledger, 50% plus one of the participants in this ecosystem have to acknowledge that they have written it into the ledger,” he said

“Now just consider if you were to run it as a global currency where, before you walk out of the shop having bought my packet of chips for a dollar, half the population has to acknowledge that I bought a packet of chips. It isn’t going to work in that environment.”

Van Rensburg said that he still believed that blockchain was an important technology – just not one that is consumer-driven.

Good for business but not for consumers

Van Rensburg’s viewpoint is not a unique one, with many financial experts around the world voicing their concern about the commercial applications of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Regulatory uncertainty is a big hurdle, especially in the financial-services industry. Legal frameworks, globally, will have to change to adapt to the growing use of the new technology, said a former former US Reserve official speaking to the Wall Street Journal.

There are also issues of cybersecurity; despite backers of blockchains claiming that they are secure by design, the technology hasn’t been adopted widely enough yet for it to be seriously tested.

Source: BusinessTech

Value for money is always going to be a key motivator when it comes to shopper behaviour. But to keep customers loyal over time, their overall emotional connection with your shopping centre is vital, says one veteran shopping-centre manager.

“The most significant positive impact of a great customer experience is long-term loyalty,” says Olive Ndebele, general manager of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre in Pretoria. And one of the many challenges facing shopping centres today is how to consistently give their customers this great experience.

The 37-year-old four-level Menlyn Park mall has just undergone a two-year, R2-billion, three-phase expansion and refurbishment project that will position it as the largest shopping centre in Africa. Usually during giant projects of this kind, shoppers tend to swap loyalties to other malls to avoid the chaos and inconvenience of construction but footcount numbers to the centre actually increased during some phases of the building at Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, showcasing unusual resilience. Included in the reasons Ndebele cites for this atypical customer behaviour is the fact that the centre went to great lengths to ensure their customers were inconvenienced as little as possible, and to keep them engaged throughout the process. “We ensured that our customers continued to have great customer experiences in our mall, regardless of what was happening behind the scenes,” she says.

This philosophy is being carried over into the new Menlyn Park mall, which is much more than “just” a shopping centre: aside from a greatly expanded fashion wing hosting a range of international and local fashion brand stores, there’s the reconfigured two-level food and entertainment hub that includes 3D Nu Metro cinemas and the massive Fun Company centre, and a number of restaurants situated around a beautiful outdoor piazza. And, acknowledging the ever-growing number and diversity of its client base, a Prayer Centre will cater to Pretoria’s growing Muslim community.

The key to delivering a great customer experience, says Ndebele, is finding out what your customers need and want, and giving it to them. In the case of Menlyn Park Shopping Centre, which has long been a popular mall in the country’s executive capital with its 100+ foreign embassies and consulates, customers include “residents of all the surrounding and outlying suburbs of Pretoria, a large contingent of foreign business people, diplomats and holidaymakers, and keen shoppers from other African countries, such as Nigeria and Mozambique, where big-name items are hard to find”, according to Ndebele. And, she adds, “We’ve put together a comprehensive tenant mix that caters to all our shoppers.”

But having great tenants doesn’t necessarily automatically translate into a great customer experience. “We live in a dynamic age of technology and innovation, and one in which caring for our customers has never been more important,” says Ndebele. “An unhappy customer can instantly share a negative experience with thousands of people through social media – but so can a customer who’s had great service. Customers are always looking for ways to feel valued, and ways to make their lives easier.”

Delivering this, says Ndebele, comes down to the personal touch – arguably, the one thing that online shopping can’t compete with in the bricks-and-mortar version. As an example Ndebele cites Menlyn Park Shopping Centre’s lightbulb concept of a “concierge service” during the last phase of the refurbishment, when friendly, efficient and well-trained staff members were stationed at busy nodes in the mall to answer queries and give directions, spoil shoppers with refreshments, and generally make sure that everybody felt genuinely cared for.

While many of today’s shoppers regard a visit to a mall like Menlyn Park Shopping Centre as an outing in its own right – during which they not only treat themselves to luxury purchases, and perhaps see a movie, play games or have a meal with family or friends – there are still those who want to simply “get in and get out”. “Career and business people, especially, don’t regard grocery shopping as a social event,” Ndebele points out. “They’re just trying to get a lot done in often very limited time.” For these shoppers, convenience and accessibility are paramount, and that’s the essence of the thinking behind the mall’s “Grocery Avenue”, with a Checkers Hyper, a Food Lovers Market and a Pick n Pay alongside each other in one section, with easy access to parking. The Pick n Pay offers even more for the busy shopper: banking services, drawing social grants, booking flights and car hire.

And proving that Menlyn Park Shopping Centre truly has gone the extra mile to cater for everyone, there are options, too, for those who like to shop at leisure while they stock their kitchen cupboards, says Ndebele: “There’s an in-store coffee shop and a take-away burger bar in the Checkers Hyper, and a seated eating area in the Food Lovers Market.”

Save money on back-to-school shopping

BTS shopping will soon be in full swing, and parents are undoubtedly looking for ways to save money on school supplies.

According to a recent study from Ebates released by Consolidated Credit, 34% of Canadian parents surveyed will spend less than $100, and 22% plan to spend more than $200 per child.

Of the parents in British Columbia who were surveyed, 20% say they plan to spend more than $200 per child and 41% said they plan to spend less than $100 per child.

Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit, says that back to school season is one of the busiest shopping times of the year behind the winter holidays.

Parents with kids heading back to school this fall should make sure they take stock of what supplies they already have at home before going shopping.

“If you’ve got more than one child, that can get pretty expensive and take a bite out of your budget around this time of the year,” he says.

Schwartz suggests families go into stores with a plan and stick to it in order to keep costs down.

“Don’t go overboard. A lot of schools will provide lists that you need and sometimes those lists don’t come out until after school started,” he says.

Families should also go through their homes to take stock of what they already have and items they can potentially reuse.

“Recycle, reuse and rummage,” says Schwartz. “That means going through everybody’s backpacks from last year. Maybe you’ve got a drawer that you have in the house that’s full of pencils and pens and some of the staples that you might need and see what you can reuse there so you can avoid buying it altogether.”

Schwartz also suggests involving kids in the decision making process.

“Give them a budget. Give them a list. And perhaps even split some of the savings if they come in under budget,” he said. “It’s a fantastic learning tool for the kids around this time of year.”

Families should also keep an eye on any drops in price on items they’ve already purchased. Many stores will give shoppers back the difference.

According to research from MarketWatch, parents also make the mistake of shopping at dollar stores assuming they will have the lowest prices on everything, which isn’t always the case.

Big box stores can offer good deals on items by offering them as “loss leaders” for incredibly low prices. Their research also found that Amazon can also offer good deals if you buy in bulk but not necessarily on individual items and that a majority of consumers plan to shop both online and in-store.

By Ross McLaughlin & Carly Yoshida for www.bc.ctvnews.ca

Tech is top-of-mind for BTS shoppers

Nearly three of every five back-to-school shoppers this year expect to purchase some type of technology item, be it a smartphone, tablet, portable memory drive, calculator or headphones, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

That figure (59%) is a full 12% higher than consumers who said the same thing last year, according to the CTA. All told, consumers are expected to spend $18.5 billion on back-to-school tech products this year (up 6.5% over last year).

“This growth in tech spend is a reflection of tech becoming a frequently used medium for learning and commonplace in schools across the country,” says Janvier Depeazer, senior research analyst for CTA.

“At this point, tech is being used for teaching all different ages, and for many older students it’s becoming a required need for success in high school and college.”

Among the top items shoppers are expecting to purchase are portable memory sticks (71% of consumers expect to purchase them), basic calculators (55%), headphones (52%) and laptops (44%).

“Compared to last year, the top anticipated back-to-school tech purchase remained the same as portable memory, and the top five tech items remain the same but the order differs,” Depeazer says.

Other expected purchases include carrying or protective cases (48%), software (39%) and product subscriptions (22%).

Nearly all (95%) of BTS shoppers plan to visit brick-and-mortar stores to make these purchases, including mass retailers (88%), office supply stores (56%) and department stores (47%). Only 36% plan to visit a consumer technology store, according to the organization.

“Generally, a tech purchase decision that involves more research may result in an in-store purchase after a chance to interact/demo the product and ask questions to salespeople,” Depeazer says.

Even so, nearly half (49%) of shoppers will also hit online retailers including online-only retailers (80%), retailer Web sites (69%) and auction Web sites (35%).

By Aaron Baar for www.mediapost.com

The Back-to-School (BTS) season is officially underway in the United States, and more than one-third (34%) of consumers have already begun shopping, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers’ (ICSC) BTS Consumer Spending Survey.

Consumers still prefer physical stores for BTS shopping, with 83% of their purchases involving physical stores, including 7% of purchases that will be made online and picked up in-store. Of those who will order online and pick-up in-store, 79% said they are likely to buy additional items once in the store.

Driving in-store BTS purchases in 2015 are the 42% of respondents who still prefer the opportunity to physically examine merchandise before purchasing, while 37% like the convenience of one-stop shopping. The importance of omnichannel continues to grow significantly, as 79% of respondents plan to use a mobile device while shopping in-store for BTS.

Of those planning to use a mobile device while shopping in a physical store, 44% will use their phone to compare prices, 28% will use digital coupons, 26% will check ratings and reviews, 24% will check inventory and availability of items and 17% will email or text friends and family for a second opinion on an item. As expected, millennials are the most likely demographic to use their smartphones while shopping.

“Retailers are enjoying a strong start to the BTS shopping season after a sluggish first quarter of 2015,” says Jesse Ton, spokesman for ICSC. “While typically viewed as an essential expenditure, BTS shopping also highlights many of the trends occurring in the shopping center industry. As physical spaces merge with digital to further enhance the omnichannel experience, consumers are shopping in physical stores, participating in webrooming and using mobile technology at shopping centers. It’s good news as we progress into the all-important latter half of the retail calendar.”

The share of consumers expecting to spend more this year increased significantly year-over-year to 67%, compared to 50% of shoppers in 2014 and 39% who expected to increase spending in 2013.

When discussing why consumers plan to spend more this year, 29% of respondents stated it was because of a need to replace wardrobes and school supplies, while 30% cited a change in school requirements. Additionally, 12% of respondents plan to spend more to keep up with changing fashion trends.

BTS shoppers are planning to buy a variety of products, including school supplies (76%), apparel and shoes (75%), electronics – including computers, phones, accessories and wearables (53%), backpacks and bags (45%) and eyeglasses (22%).

Marketing, deals and trends drive BTS shopping

Marketing appears to be the main driver of BTS shopping, as 74% of consumers report that they will likely start BTS purchasing when advertisements from major retailers begin to appear. While those cues from advertising play a major role in consumers’ decision to start BTS shopping, the survey found that nearly half (46%) of consumers believe they will get the best deals in August, compared to 30% in July and 15% of respondents who believe the best deals will be found Labor Day weekend or in September.

The results show August leading the BTS season, with 53% of BTS spending taking place in late summer, and the remainder of shopping split between June (10%), July (21%) and September (17%).

Discount retailers prevail

ICSC found that discount stores are still the leading BTS shopping destination, with 77% of consumers turning to discount retailers for their BTS shopping needs. Another of this year’s winners is apparel stores, where one-quarter (25%) of consumers plan to shop this season.

Overall, BTS shoppers plan to shop at a variety of store types that also include office supply stores (40%), online-only retailers (29%), department stores (38%) and wholesale clubs (22%). Only five percent of respondents indicated they would use catalogues.

When choosing a retailer, the top three factors indicated were price (76%), convenience (48%) and quality (41%).

Beyond a place to shop

The survey found that most BTS shoppers (88%) plan to go to a mall or open-air shopping center during the BTS season, and many will do more than shop. More than half (53%) of shoppers surveyed plan to dine at the food court and nearly one-third (30%) plan to eat at a table-service restaurant, while 28% will see a movie and 17% will attend an event such as a concert, go to the gym or do an activity such as bowling.

Source: www.businesswire.com

The back-to-school season is a crucial time for the traditional supplies industry, accounting for 35% of the $11,8-billion in yearly sales and nearly half of unit sales in the US, according to global information company The NPD Group.

While the season’s importance to the industry is consistently high, at the same time how and where consumers shop, combined with other influencers from teachers to online shopping, is shaking up the industry.

“To the average consumer, back-to-school shopping may seem like a fairly consistent and predictable routine, but for retailers and manufacturers it is an extremely dynamic environment,” says Leen Nsouli, director, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Birth of a back-to-school season online
While back-to-school shoppers are still shopping primarily at brick-and-mortar, they are increasingly purchasing supplies online. From July through September 2015, the e-commerce channel gained $90-million in dollar share growth versus brick-and-mortar.

“Consumers are spending more online and it is occurring later in the season, with a seasonal arc forming from the first week of August and lasting through mid-September. Back-to-school online share will continue to grow, making it even more essential for retailers and manufacturers to optimize their omni-channel strategies,” says Nsouli.

Shifts in school start dates and tax-free holidays
School start dates differ by region and grade level around the US, causing variations in spending patterns and influencing when consumers are in stores and shopping for supplies.

Areas such as New York and Seattle are among the latest start dates, while Atlanta and Phoenix are among the earliest. This year there will be two less shopping days between the Fourth of July and Labour Day. “Each year back-to-school spending occurs later, and a late Labour Day holiday in 2015 pushed out the spending even later than prior years. I anticipate this will also be the case this year,” says Nsouli.

At the same time, there will be differences in the handful of states that offer tax-free days during July and August. This year there will be nine less days by state versus 2015, and some others have shifted their days. This pertains not only to brick-and-mortar stores; e-commerce sites will also be offering tax-free savings on items. “All of these factors reinforce the importance of timing for retailers and manufacturers as they plan their assortments, in-store and online merchandising, and back-to-school marketing campaigns,” added Nsouli.

Influence of school lists and supply packs on purchases
“With 70% of teachers providing school lists and 30% offering school supply packs, it is no surprise that these are the primary stimuli for back-to-school supply purchases,” says Nsouli. K-6 school list items vary by region, which impacts the demand and sales for certain items in those areas.

For example, a higher percentage of thesauruses are on school lists in the Northeast, and watercolours in the West, according to NPD’s Back-to-School Supply List Database 2015. There is also a regional relevance when it comes to school supply packs, which are offered to parents for purchase by the school. According to NPD’s Back-to-School Monitor 2015, nearly 50% of consumers with this option purchased one for all or some of their children.

Inspiration from social media
“Social media engagement has added yet another dimension to every industry and season, and back-to-school is no exception. A perpetual stream of trends on platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram means that teachers and other consumers alike are being influenced in new and different ways. This has also helped to put the fashion back in function when it comes to supplies; consumers are willing to spend more on aesthetically pleasing, or fashionable, products,” says Nsouli.

In fact, last year NPD found that over one-third of US teachers used Pinterest and 20% used Facebook for classroom curriculum and school list inspiration.

Source: www.npd.com

The changing face of retail

The local online shopping pool has increased drastically in size since 2014, with savvy South African consumers taking advantage of this quick, easy way to scratch their retail itch. E-commerce in South Africa is to reach a milestone this year, by reaching 1% of overall retail, according to research by Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx.

This amounts to consumers spending over R9-billion online. But by the same token, the average busy consumer doesn’t want to waste time on a site that doesn’t provide enough information or, worse, under-delivers.

The challenging economic climate in South Africa due to a weaker rand, increasing costs of energy and higher interest rates, has added pressure to consumers. Because of this 3,2=million South Africans are shopping online, and are driven by lower product costs, faster and flexible delivery and safer ways to pay.

“Millennials are the main online shopper, and most of them do research before making a purchase,” explains Michael Richards, MD of SiteMeUp Online Marketing.

“This means that well written content with thoughtful planning into user navigation is required to improve the user’s experience.”

A well-designed site also needs to carry across the companies brand message quickly in order to give the user peace of mind that they are on the correct site and they will find what they are looking for.

“Our research has shown that 50% of beauty shoppers don’t know which brand they want to purchase, so we have channels of communication set up to answer any queries, and help them make an informed choice,” says Dr Nikolic, executive director of SkinMiles.com, a new online store selling high-quality skincare products at competitive prices.

Goldstuck states that South African ecommerce is relatively conventional, and has not seen the level of innovation brought to bear on most product categories in major Western markets. This indicates that there is tremendous potential in this market for new business models and even underexposed product categories.

With this in mind South African ecommerce entrepreneurs’ can tap into the over 3 million online shoppers in South Africa with their innovative and stress-free Web sites.

One of the most important global trends in e-commerce is the focus on the customers’ journey and ensuring that their needs are met from start to finish.

“We want our customers to feel as if they have been given the same personalised service as if they’d been for a consult and received the advice from an expert in the skincare field,” says Dr Nikolic.

“The personal touch is very important to us and we feel that we meet that need for individual attention with the Face2Face skin assessment and the personal contact with me. I check each assessment and examine every photo sent to me before providing a tailor-made skin regime.”

Another concern of the online shopper is having peace of mind that their personal details will not be used fraudulently. A recognised and secure payment gateway is essential. Many Web sites are Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encrypted and use a strong protocol version and cipher suite.

Credit card payments are processed on a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)-compliant gateway with 3D secure transactions, where users require a One Time Pin (OTP) to complete the transaction.

Can you shop online safely?

In our modern society, shopping and the Internet go together like bacon and eggs. After all, why leave home when you could be eating said food items and shopping simultaneously? To this end, shopping online is one of the most convenient things that modern technology has brought to us.

What makes online shopping so attractive is that it is convenient and it is instant. But is it secure? Yes and no. Remember, online security is only as good as the amount of effort expended and the systems put in place by the merchant to ensure you enjoy a secure experience.

“In recent years, shopping online has become much more convenient via mobile payment solutions,” states Gregory Anderson, country manager at Trend Micro South Africa. “However it’s important to note that when you are dashing through multiple sites on the Web from the comfort of your armchair, your accounts and financial transactions could be compromised by countless prying eyes. Due to the nature of e-commerce and the thousands of options for online shops, it can sometimes be hard to tell if you’re dealing with a legitimate merchant or a bogus one.”

According to Anderson, shopping online bears the same perils as shopping in store. You as an individual can’t rely on the merchant to shoulder all the risk; you need to become just as savvy as you would be if you were shopping in modern-day Hillbrow. What’s more, while we are all keen to secure our credit card information, online shopping doesn’t just pose a threat to your credit details but to your general privacy too.

Now that data breaches and incidents of hacking and identity theft are becoming more common, online shoppers should protect themselves against likely attacks that could threaten their privacy. There are a number of different methods that can be used to invade a user’s privacy and, sooner or later, an unaware user is bound to run into threats such as phishing, online scams, spam, Internet fraud and malicious URLs.
Here are a few general tips on how to secure and maintain your privacy and security when shopping online:

• Double-check URLs – if you hadn’t already bookmarked your favorite shopping site’s payment page and still rely on typing in names, always double check the URL. Cybercriminals can easily replace payment pages and apps with fake ones. One way to tell if a site is secure is by checking the security lock indicator (HTTPS instead of HTTP). HTTPS is more secure.

• Use an official online shopping app – if you’re an avid mobile shopper, make sure to use the official online shopping app and avoid third-party apps for secure transactions.

• Always use strong and secure passwords – attackers can easily hack online accounts, including banking and social media accounts. Since these accounts contain sensitive and personal details, it’s important that you use unique hard-to-crack passwords across all devices and change them regularly.

• Use a secure network – if you’re using a mobile device to pay, make sure that you are using the official payment app, and that you’re accessing a secure and private network.

• Think before you click – being scammed online could translate to an eventual invasion of your privacy. Before you click on unverified posts, messages or ads, think twice and stay away from suspicious-looking offers. They’re most likely used as bait to lead you to phishing sites. Check with official sites rather than relying on social media posts.

“Shopping online can be safe. But just be alert and be aware. Web threats are no longer limited to malware and scams. Attackers know that the more you perform any online activities, the more you increase the risk of revealing information about yourself – especially when you’re looking to make a purchase. Searching for items alone could lead you from one Web site to another, which increases the chance of stumbling upon a malicious one.

“So set yourself a small regime of ensuring the above each time you enter a new site. If you can do that, you will almost be assured of shopping securely and with the peace of mind you crave,” Anderson concludes.

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