Opportunities galore on the EXPO floor

It just keeps getting bigger
  Shop.org Annual Summit



This year’s EXPO features 200+ of the best solution providers for digital and multichannel retailers and tons of educational and networking opportunities, too:

There’s no way one person (even you) can take in all that the Annual Summit offers, so you’ll want to bring a team. For junior team members, exploring the EXPO is an education in itself—and it’s FREE for all retailers (like you).


  28 Days Until the Summit - Register Now

Retailer Free
Enjoy the exhibits, educational opportunities and tours — all for free.
Shop.org 325 7th Street, NW, Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20004
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blog

To unsubscribe from this email communication, click here.
To unsubscribe from all NRF email communications (including ARTS, LP Information, NCCR, NRF Foundation,
RAMA, Shop.org, and STORES Magazine) click here.

325 7th Street NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20004

Retail gift card programs saw rapid customer acceptance and usage almost immediately after being launched in the mid 1990s. In recent years, however, card use has grown at a slower pace.

Now proponents of gift card programs are talking about them in a different light: Rather than a substitute for a gift certificate, entirely new applications are being considered. Some retailers are looking to tie gift cards to store loyalty and rewards programs; others are looking to move the product into digital, where gift cards reside on cell phones and the phone can be tapped or scanned at the point of sale for redemption.

“We’ve seen steady growth despite the recession,” says Bryan Wang, director of marketing for gift card company Givex. “Nearly every retailer realizes that gift cards are essential to their business, and customer loyalty is a big part of that.”

Gift card purchases are no longer tied to holidays and special occasions. A recent study by First Data, a payments processing company that also operates gift card programs for retailers, found that nearly 20 percent of gift cards were purchased for no particular reason.

“More people are purchasing the card to say thank you to a friend … [or] for themselves to use as spending cards,” says Mike Hursta, vice president of prepaid solutions for First Data.

One sign that more customers are purchasing gift cards for themselves is the fact that more cards are being reloaded after the original value runs out. In 2011, customers put an average of $211 on gift cards, compared with $161 in 2010, according to First Data.

“Some stores and restaurants are telling their customers that they will give them an extra $5 if they go online and register their cards,” Wang says. “Once they can track their purchasing behavior, they can notify the customers of specific promotions and offer rewards that are likely to fit the customers’ wants and needs.”

First Data has also seen more interest in tying gift cards to rewards.

“Our research found that 71 percent of people who have a gift card spend more money in a store than the amount retained on their card,” Hursta says. The desire to get customers into the store and have them buy has retailers looking to add value to their card programs. “Savvy retailers want to be able to create incentives to get customers to … reload their cards,” he adds.

Extending customer usage after the original card value has run out is usually accomplished by offering financial rewards, such as dollar bonuses or free products, or special events or information available only to cardholders.

Hursta says a recent study by his company found that two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they would reload value onto a gift card if there was some type of reward tied to the action.

Added benefit
Smaller retail chains are also beginning to offer gift cards. Many previously believed their operations were too small to support a gift card program, but new offerings by gift card companies and payments processors have been geared specifically to smaller retailers.

“There is a greater recognition now that it does not matter what size a retail operation is: It has to be prepared to offer gift cards because customers will ask for then,” Wang says. “The newer programs for smaller retailers are less complicated to run.”

First Data’s Hursta says challenges remain for smaller retailers offering gift cards. Many card purchasers want to get their cards from national chains, so recipients can redeem the card if they live far away from the purchaser. And small retailers can have a more difficult time promoting their card program, often relying on word-of-mouth. That is another reason why offering rewards tied to gift card purchasers can have an added benefit, Hursta says.

Digitizing cards
Another major development is digital gift cards, which customers receive via text message on their mobile phone. When retailers are equipped with near field communications (NFC) technology, customers can simply tap their phones near the POS system to redeem the card value.

But the reality is that few retailers have such systems in place today. Some have scanners that can read a barcode displayed on a phone; in such cases, retailers can put barcodes on their digital gift cards. A clerk then scans the customer’s phone to get the information required for redemption.

While digital gift cards hold a lot of benefits — especially among those consumers eager to find new uses for cell phones — there are some obstacles. “Digital gift cards are waiting for mobile payments to take off,” Wang says. “Customers may want to transact via their mobile phones but the systems are not quite ready yet.”

Complicating matters are multiple operating systems for mobile payments; retailers want to be sure one standard applies before they make the investment. “All the players need to get in line for mobile payment first,” Wang says. “Once mobile payments take off, we expect everyone will want to jump into the market and offer digital gift cards.”


Source: http://www.stores.org/STORES%20Magazine%20July%202012/just-because?adid=ST_Weekly

Walmart Q2 Global Round-Up

“We’re expecting another solid quarter with further signs of a domestic recovery bolstered by strong growth from overseas. Despite setbacks in Mexico and South Africa, Walmart International remains the company’s growth engine and we are anticipating strong numbers coming from the UK and Latin America in particular.


A continuation of the positive comp trend in the US is also to be expected, which would mark four consecutive quarters of comparable sales growth and indicate stability in Walmart’s domestic strategy. That said, we remain doubtful over the longevity of Walmart’s back-to-basics approach. Low prices are no longer a USP, but an expectation from shoppers. The recent closure of an Express store indicates that the format, despite being profitable, is a long way from perfection. Walmart needs to accelerate its multi-channel initiatives in order to sustain the current positive momentum.” 

Natalie Berg, Global Research Director

Download full PDF

Opportunity for innovative new apps and user interface design overhaul


By Simon Bestbier, Account Director Realmdigital


For more than a decade, mobile retail occupied a very narrow, highly profitable but insignificant niche involving small-ticket items like ringtones and wallpaper.


Unstructured and fragmented, the industry doddered around in extended infancy, suffering reputational challenges along the way due to the unscrupulous practices of some merchants who largely escaped accountability.


Hit by a tsunami of change

But with the rapid rise of mobile platforms such as the iPad and the success of the app store model this has changed irreversibly.


Just as the Internet shook the foundations of bricks-and-mortar retail, so mobile presents a tsunami of change. Once again, retailers are reconsidering how best to get in front of the tablet and smartphone generation.


What has changed?

The rise of the iPad and the app store model was massively influential in legitimising mobile retail and giving it formal structure. How did this happen?


·         First, new addictive hardware formats (tablets, Kindle-like readers and a new generation of smartphones taking advantage of the app model) took the market and retailers’ interest away from Web-based online commerce and feature phones.

·         The app model, in which content is verified and controlled centrally, brought respectability and trust to content distribution, driving downloads.

·         Lastly, the capabilities of the new hardware took higher-value content mainstream.


How to get in front

What’s becoming apparent now is the need and opportunity for new apps and new user interface design tweaks.


­New design considerations

Selling on mobile (hardware other than desktops and notebooks) brings with it a number of caveats – especially in the African context.


Firstly, mobile data is more expensive than fixed data, and secondly, screens are frequently smaller. For this reason, design bloat must be avoided as far as possible, and uncluttered, simple interface designs will always trump busy, bitty pages.


A mobile screen, manipulated by touch and not mouse clicks, is further subject to a number of new restrictions, such as size of active elements and the use of drag-and-drop.


A new design direction called adaptive design is becoming a requirement for small-screen tablets and smartphones, where the angle at which the device is held determines display orientation and, accordingly, the dynamic arrangement of page items.


New apps

Another area of consideration is the whole new vista of apps becoming possible as tablet and phone owners take their devices everywhere with them.


Offline retail companion apps are of particular interest. Shoppers browsing a retail store are free to either buy online on the same store’s website, or do comparative browsing online and shop elsewhere. In this scenario, mobile loyalty schemes are becoming a must. Coalition loyalty schemes like Shopkick offer rewards (‘kicks’) for merely walking into stores, with ‘kicks’ redeemable on any partner merchandise.


With Apple’s iOS 6 out later this year, Apple Passport will allow storage of electronic loyalty cards on the phone, taking this idea one step further. Near-field communications (NFC) in upcoming devices will add the final piece of the puzzle to close the identification-authentication-payment-loyalty loop.


Let’s roll

While the mobile world brings many challenges to retailers, the opportunities inherent in the accompanying new content model far outweigh the hassle.


The return on investment of innovations such as NFC may be under scrutiny for a while in Africa, but not all apps require a high-LSM client base or anything fancier than a feature phone. Already there’s talk of bringing something similar to Shopkick into South Africa.


It’s time to roll with a whole new crowd.

DURABLE extends its Szczecin facility in Poland, utilising the very latest ecotechnology with a combined heat and power generation system! 

Iserlohn/ Szczecin, 9 August 2012. 

The DURABLE brand stands for intelligent office solutions for clipping and binding, organising and sorting, as well as information and presentation. The leading manufacturer of professional office organisation and presentation systems is now expanding its production capacity. 

In 2006, DURABLE opened its production plant in the Polish city of Szczecin. Although at the time the plant capacity was sufficient, with the continuous extension of the company’s product portfolio as well as the recent acquisitions of Idealplast and Atlanta it become inevitable to extend both the production and storage capacity. With a vision of doubling the existing space the construction of the new plant was carried out earlier this year. The design of the new building upholds what is the essence of DURABLE’s corporate mission statement, the “Style of Success”. It symbolises the company’s corporate goal of achieving the economic success but Durable is also passionate that its operations have a minimal impact on the environment, so it remains worth leaving in for generation to come. When planning this new building DURABLE has, therefore, particularly concentrated on innovation in ecotechnology, A major challenge was finding innovative ways to save energy. Here, a cogeneration unit fuelled with natural gas is making a substantial contribution. Its special feature is the simultaneous generation of heat and electricity, where the electricity generated can be used within the plant. This reduces the amount of power which needs to be used. 

Besides this innovative technology, heat recovery from compressed air generation has also been implemented (the waste heat generated by the compressed air in the aggregates is used as an additional source of heat during the heating period), and the compressed air generation system has also been equipped with demand-based regulation. Moreover, DURABLE has installed a modern lighting system with energy-efficient T5 tube technology, which enables demand-oriented reduction of the artificial light depending on the incidence of natural daylight. In July, DURABLE started to bring the new plant into operation. 

With the concept for its new building in Poland, DURABLE has demonstrated the high level of priority it gives to environmental responsibility and expressed its determination to integrate this responsibility into all areas of life. 

OS X Mountain Lion has arrived. And so have three better-than-ever Mac notebooks. Which means there’s never been a better time to upgrade your current Mac or get an amazing new one.

Great new features come to the Mac. Send iMessages. Set reminders. Get notifications. Tweet straight from the app you’re in. And with iCloud, your Mac works even better with your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.1 Available now in the Mac App Store.

The all-new MacBook Pro is the ultimate high-performance notebook. It features a stunning Retina display with over five million pixels, an ultra-fast all-flash architecture and the latest quad-core Intel processors – all in an incredibly thin and light design.

MacBook Pro is ready for anything. Now featuring faster processors and the latest graphics, it gives you the power you need for advanced photo editing, music composition, HD movie editing and more.

MacBook Air is thin, light and durable enough to take anywhere. And with the latest Intel processors and faster flash storage, it has even more power for everyday things like email, web surfing, photo organising and editing, and FaceTime HD video calls.


Learn More at www.apple.co.za

Do the best salespeople make the best sales managers? Almost unanimously, when we ask sales leaders this question, the answer is “no.” Yet paradoxically, and too often, sales leaders look for candidates among the sales ranks and select the best salesperson for the manager job. They assume that because an individual was successful in sales, that individual will be successful in management too. 

Of course, many great salespeople can and do become great managers. But this is not always the case. An associate from AMP Payment Systems warns that too often, when a super-salesperson gets promoted to manager, one or more of the following happens:

  • He (or she) can’t let go of his old role. He takes charge of customer relationships and jumps in to close deals, undermining salespeople’s motivation and confidence and weakening their relationships with customers.
  • He manages by results only. He expects everyone to produce the same results that he got as a salesperson, but isn’t good at coaching and giving people constructive feedback on how to get there.
  • He avoids administrative responsibilities. He becomes frustrated by the many routine but important tasks that headquarters requires of him.

Before long, the salespeople he manages stop learning and growing. They become disenchanted, disengage from their work, and may even leave the company. Soon, district performance is in jeopardy.

What it takes to succeed in sales is different from what it takes to succeed in management. Salespeople succeed when they meet customer needs while achieving the company’s financial goals for their territories. Sales managers also succeed by meeting customer needs and achieving objectives linked to company goals. But the manager is not the hunter, the playmaker, or the center of action. Managers contribute to customer and company success when their team of people is successful. 

Managers are coaches, not players; they get satisfaction from achieving objectives through others. When a salesperson gets promoted to manager, it’s no longer about “me” — it’s about “the team.” Managers help people grow by walking around with a watering can in one hand and a bag of fertilizer in the other.

Unless you select salespeople who have the characteristics it takes to do the next job well (not just those who have demonstrated success in their current job), your sales management team will be average at best.

What can you do to ensure that the right people get selected for the sales manager job?

Medical device company Boston Scientific has a formalized corporate program for selecting and developing internal candidates for sales manager positions. According to Chris Hartman, Vice President, Central Zone, for Boston Scientific’s Cardiology, Rhythm and Vascular Group, “We seek candidates from the sales ranks who have demonstrated excellence not only by generating strong sales results, but also who have demonstrated success in teaching others to sell by acting as a mentor to new salespeople, and who have demonstrated success in managing through exposure to leadership opportunities such as a field training role or participation on a sales advisory board or steering committee. Our management assessment and development program tests and trains candidates on competencies such as coaching, performance management, interviewing, and negotiation. The program provides many opportunities for both the candidate and the company to evaluate fit with the sales manager job.” Salesforce Consultant, Salesforce Headhunter & Staffing – VALiNTRYcrm will also help to bring the expertise in-house.

What should you do if an excellent salesperson who lacks managerial characteristics wants to become a manager and threatens to leave if not promoted? 

Sometimes, just talking to the individual about what the manager role entails and what it takes to succeed in the job are enough to encourage an unsuitable candidate to withdraw from consideration on her own. Some people prefer to work with a career coach who can help you set a plan and get you where you want to be. Find your Executive coach in New Jersey to achieve your objectives quickly. If that doesn’t work, test her in the role; say by giving her responsibility as a mentor or field trainer, in addition to her sales job. She may discover that the role is not something she enjoys. It’s also possible that you’ll find out that your initial assessment was wrong. If that’s not the case, summon the managerial courage to tell the individual that she is most valuable as an individual contributor. It’s better to lose one good salesperson now than it is to risk losing an entire district down the road due to ineffective management. 

Cardinal Health uses dual career paths as a way to address the situation. “This enables our sales organization to keep many of the best and brightest salespeople who are most valuable as individual contributors,” says Sandy Cantwell, Vice President of Sales Operations. “You can succeed by becoming a manager or by becoming a ‘super salesperson.’ We have a formal career road map for both management and individual contributor roles. Our top sales role, the Strategic Account Vice President, is roughly equivalent in level to a Regional Vice President on the managerial side.”

Select and develop those salespeople who have strong managerial tendencies for sales management positions. At the same time, understand that success as a salesperson alone is not a good predictor of success as a sales manager. 


Source: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/think_twice_before_promoting_your_best.html

Arguably, any company with a growth plan needs to look at Africa as a potential business option, as it is one of the few places that are currently showing growth.  Business in the region is however very different, says Rory Twort, the Area Manager for Africa at AxizWorkgroup.  “The African business landscape is definitely more relationship-driven in addition to being extremely price-sensitive, and with more and more companies piling in, it is very competitive,” states Twort.

a leading IT infrastructure and software distributor, currently has branches in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.  In addition, the company is presently negotiating further developments into Mozambique, Kenya and Angola. AxizWorkgroup is currently supplying Africa with hardware product brands such as Acer, HP, IBM, Samsung and Lenovo, as well as software brands the likes of Microsoft, VMware, Norton and Adobe.


“It is important to stay abreast of the legislative requirements of each country and also to understand the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, which can impact profitability rapidly.  From an AxizWorkgroup perspective, we ensure that our branches not only abide by legislation, but we also prefer to employ locals from each of the countries we operate in. Not only does this afford locals the opportunity to assist in the economic upliftment of their own country, but it also helps us to better understand and deal with local business issues,” explains Twort.



“It is however crucial to do your research and to have solid financial controls in place before embarking on an African business venture”, says Twort.  “The money trail is certainly a great deal harder to track in Africa as you don’t have agencies and companies that can readily do a credit check on a prospective client.  Business transactions can be very large, and companies often find that they will not be insured on a transaction for the full amount or not insured at all.  It is therefore of paramount importance to have an airtight financial management system in place.”


Finding a balance between too rigid an approach to financial control systems and the building of a lasting relationship can be tricky though.  “It literally boils down to having sufficient country knowledge on your side that needs to be supported by a strong ability to build lasting relationships and trust.  People in Africa are generally great to deal with and the cultural experience is fantastic, but it takes time and presence in a country to gain enough of a foothold to comfortably partner with prospective clients,” says Twort.


The logistics of doing business in Africa is a complex dynamic that needs to be considered.  “By definition, you will be dealing with custom officials and varying country regulations on a regular basis, which in itself poses an element of risk.  Do you then deliver directly to the client or do the products become the property and responsibility of the client once it enters the country?  All of these logistical factors need to be considered and planned for when it comes to the establishment of a distribution network that works,” suggests Twort.


Keeping cash flow liquid in Africa is another challenge to contend with.  “Financial transactions are a great deal more complex in Africa, but very rewarding.  Some countries are quite prompt with their payments whereas you can wait up to 90 days for payment from others, which diminishes your profits in the low-profit market quite significantly. We also find that the government and parastatals in each of the countries are big drivers of technological business,” explains Twort.


The infrastructure within Africa is steadily increasing with connectivity improving a great deal.  Education standards, unfolding opportunities and the size of the economy in each of the countries act as a barometer to how Tech-savvy a country is.  “All the countries are however growing with leaps and bounds from a technological point of view, which provides a perfect platform for AxizWorkgroup to expand its footprint on the African continent,” concludes Twort.


About AxizWorkgroup

AxizWorkgroup is a leading IT infrastructure and software distributor that unites cutting-edge hardware and software. The company’s portfolio includes servers, storage, networking and communication infrastructure, desktop computers, notebooks, printers, PC components, virtualisation, security and infrastructure software. AxizWorkgroup has long-standing relationships with leading global vendors such as Adobe, Acer, Asus, Citrix, EMC, HP, IBM, Kingston, Intel, Logitech, Lenovo, Lexmark, LG, McAfee, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Samsung, Seagate, Symantec and VMware. AxizWorkgroup is a fully owned subsidiary of JSE listed Pinnacle Technology Holdings and is headquartered in Gauteng, with regional offices in the Eastern and Western Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. (www.axiz.com)

Africa, with its over 1 billion people, has reached a 13.5% Internet penetration rate, and there are plenty of big websites about the continent. But where are those sites hosted? It would be safe to assume that there are big sites about Africa hosted outside the continent, but we identified the top 100 websites actually hosted in Africa. In fact, 2,670 websites out of the world’s top 1 million sites are hosted in Africa.

You can find our complete study at http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/06/26/tiny-percentage-of-world-top-1-million-sites-hosted-africa

When it comes to webhosting, arguably the US and Candid Hosting Delhi in India are the go-to place due to their excellent service and also due to the variety of hosting platforms they provide. The different reasons for selecting a particular hosting provider are many, including price, functionality, reliability, and, of course, geographic location but for any new business, the best way to optimize finances for the future is by choosing for a Pay Monthly Websites from the very start. For example, it might be awkward for a local city council somewhere to host its website outside the country, although, sometimes, it may have no other choice.

We scanned Alexa.com’s top 1 million sites (you can read more about our methodology further down), and here are some quick facts revealed by our study:

  • 34 countries in Africa host one or more sites in the top 1 million.
  • These 34 countries host a combined 2,670 sites.
  • That means, 0.27% of the world’s top 1 million sites are hosted in Africa.
  • South Africa is the clear leader, hosting 1,852 sites, or 69%, out of the 2,670.
  • Egypt is in second place with 276 sites, followed by Morocco with 97 sites.
  • The biggest site is masrawy.com, hosted in Egypt, which comes in at position 632 in Alexa’s ranking.
  • Out of the world’s top 10,000 sites, only 33 are hosted in Africa.
  • Out of the world’s top 100,000 sites, 250 are hosted in Africa.

To get a sense of what sites are actually hosted in Africa, we focused on data for the 100 biggest sites. Here’s a breakdown of in which countries we can find the top 100 sites hosted in Africa, in alphabetical order:

  • Algeria – 1
  • Egypt – 22
  • Kenya – 1
  • Libya – 1
  • Morocco – 5
  • Nigeria – 4
  • Seychelles – 7
  • South Africa – 58
  • Sudan – 1

As you can see, South Africa hosts the most sites. In fact, 58 of the 100 biggest sites hosted in Africa can be found in South Africa. Egypt is in second place with 22 sites, followed by Seychelles with 7, Morocco with 5, Nigeria with 4, and Algeria, Kenya, Libya and Sudan each with one site.

Put in another way, South Africa and Egypt together account for 80 of the top 100 sites hosted in Africa.

If we look at individual sites, Egypt is taking the top two spots. The biggest site hosted in Africa is masrawy.com in Egypt, and number two is ahram.org.eg, also hosted in Egypt. Out of the top 10 sites, South Africa hosts five, with Egypt and Seychelles hosting the remaining 5. The biggest site hosted in South Africa is news24.com, which lands in the number 3 place in the top 100.

That South Africa is in the clear lead in terms of actually hosting websites comes as no surprise. What did surprise us, in a good way, was how many other African countries host one or more sites in the list of the top sites in the world.

Even though the percentage of big websites hosted in Africa is rather low, one encouraging conclusion we can draw from this study is that Africa is clearly capable of hosting busy websites, and not just in South Africa.

So often when we see Africa mentioned in the tech headlines, it’s related to mobile technology and how it has taken off across the continent. And that’s a great development, but it’s worth remembering that however great that is, it still requires backend infrastructure, including webhosting.

Therefore, it would be encouraging to see Africa making strides in this area as well, in the future.

About the data: The data was collected June 6-8, 2012, with a Pingdom-developed script that scanned 945,472 out of Alexa’s top 1 million sites. The remaining sites failed for various reasons. We then identified the top 100 sites hosted in Africa, and each of those sites was checked again before publication. We should point out that webhosting is a constantly moving target, so where a particular site is hosted may have changed by the time you read this.

Magnus Nystedt, Analyst – Pingdom.com

Email: magnus@pingdom.com

Twitter: @pingdom

Pingdom is a company founded by Sam Nurmi. Sam Nurmi is also the founder and previous CEO of Sweden’s biggest web hosting company, Loopia, which he sold in 2005.

Pingdom has a very strong and narrow focus. That focus lies on covering the uptime monitoring needs of 90% of the companies in the world. Instead of branching out into other areas, we will instead place all our efforts into maintaining the best uptime monitoring service available.

The technology behind Pingdom is developed in house, which gives us an unparalleled ability to satisfy both the current and future needs of the market.

Timberland recently announced that it has launched an interactive in-store shopping experience using digital signage to help shoppers discover the great outdoors with Timberland gear, technologies and brand storytelling. 

The retailer worked with Apologue Experience Design Firm to create an interaction between product and digital signage innovation, which it said transforms “the typical retail touch point into a more meaningful communication tool that delivers relevant information and emotional branding to Timberland’s global consumer.”

According to the announcement from Timberland, Apologue, in collaboration with Automata Studios, Iron Claw and Audio, Video & Controls, designed a custom, open-source cloud-based HTML5 system that is able to dynamically retrieve remote data and create real-time, uniquely generated storytelling at every interface touch point, in every store at any location around the world. The systems allows Timberland to add and tag assets for immediate integration into the storytelling all around the world in real-time, while being managed and monitored from a central location.

Timberland said the aim of the interactive touch points is transcend traditional retail models by transforming the shopping experience into a dialogue between the brand and the customer. The system is designed to adapt, capture and learn from each store globally, providing unique, location-specific content to individual stores and inviting customers to provide meaningful feedback about Timberland products and initiatives that can then be converted into meaningful data for the brand.

Stores in Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. are testing the system. 


Follow us on social media: 


View our magazine archives: 


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective