Tag Archives: Business

Toys ‘R’ Us Regains Ground On Wal-Mart


Citing a recent ReutersreportRetailWire editor-in-chief George Andersonkicked off  last week by bringing an oddity to the attention of our insider retail industry audience:  “Something unusual happened this past holiday season. Walmart gave up share of toy category sales.”

Apparently, a series of missteps, including cutting product selection and failing to add floor space before Christmas, contributed to a less than Walmart-like performance for the selling season. Toys ‘R’ Us took full advantage of the opportunity, in many of its stores offering a selection of 7,000 toys to Wal-Mart’s 1,800. Research by NPD Group pegged toy stores as gaining a half-a-point share during the holiday season while mass merchants lost three percent.

Further, Toys ‘R’ Us brought in a large number of exclusive toys to make sure there would be further differentiation from Wal-Mart and Target.

TRU, which filed for an IPO in May of last year, now has a solid holiday season under its belt. Its U.S. sales were up 5.4 percent in December. After years of learning lessons the hard way as Wal-Mart undermined its business, gaining a bit of market share back from the Bentonville Behemoth at a time when the retailer is looking to raise up to $800 million is good timing indeed.

We asked our RetailWire BrainTrust panel of retailing experts if they thought toy stores as a channel have regained the advantage lost over the past couple of decades to mass merchants.

“Walmart’s poor showing in the toy category and loss of market share can be, in my opinion, directly related to the lagging affects of John Flemming’s ‘Project Impact’ debacle,” wrote Charles P. Walsh, president, OmniQuest Resources. Mr. Walsh spent 15 years working in the Wal-Mart offices, specifically in its Global Procurement Division.

“Walmart plans and executes merchandising strategies a year in advance, and while able to affect assortment changes closer to events, the assortment and shelf space were determined under a different executive leadership direction,” commented Mr. Walsh. “In addition to the reduction in assortment and shelf space, Walmart also made a critical mistake in placing a large portion of their assortments in the indoor garden section which quite possibly rendered it invisible to many shoppers.”

TRU’s concentration on making exclusive deals was seen as a key strategic move by many of our commentators.

“TRU gained share by returning their focus to what they began with—the assortment,” wrote Bill Emerson, president, Emerson Advisors. “They returned to being the ‘toy expert’ as opposed to trying to compete on price with the masters of that game. There’s a lesson here for all retailers struggling to compete with the mass giants—it’s the product, stupid. Give customers a superior alternative in product assortments and you will succeed. Try to compete solely on price and you won’t.”

A number of panelists pointed out an element absent from the Reutersarticle; the influence of online sales on holiday shopping habits.

“As a retailer, toys are a hugely inefficient category,” commented independent consultant Gene Detroyer. “Inventory has to be built and can get out of balance easily; sales are concentrated, price-cuts are common and leftovers are more than prevalent. Given a choice between toys, groceries and consumer electronics, there is no choice. Why turn your store upside down to accommodate toys, especially when the consumer is going online?

“Walmart and Target are likely the winners here. They didn’t risk margin. They didn’t risk shelf space allocation and come January, they didn’t have to deal with toys.”

Certainly, not all BrainTrust panelists took TRU’s recent victory as a harbinger of a sustained trend, nor indication that the big boys are incapable of scrappy innovation.

“If sales were not up at TRU, it would be a death knell in the wake of previous losses and the deployment of hundreds of holiday pop-up stores. (What was the ROI on that?),” quipped Carol Spieckerman, president, newmarketbuilders. “I think Target has done a great job of differentiating its toy offerings through exclusives and going a bit old school/retro with classic and developmental toys while offering at-a-price options to keep traffic flowing. Walmart is not ceding its hard-won toy gains to anyone and a wee uptick from TRU certainly doesn’t prove that Walmart has.”

 


Developer Preview of Google Chrome Web Store Now Available in India


Google has finally opened up the developer preview of the Chrome web store to India (and 14 more countries).

Starting today, when you upload an app via the developer dashboard, you’ll have the option of selecting from the following sixteen countries to list your app: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. If you are using Chrome Web Store Payments to charge for your app, you will also be able to set the app price for each country although if you’re not based in the United States you will not be able to complete your merchant account sign up just yet (this will be enabled soon).

 


Obama to Meet With Zuckerberg & Other Tech Execs During San Francisco Trip


U.S. President Barack Obama is paying a visit to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbuerg and a roster of other technology executives during a trip to the San Francisco Bay Area this week.

On Thursday, February 17, Obama is slated to sit down with Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs at a private dinner during his overnight trip to the West Coast. President Obama will not be making any public appearances in the San Francisco area.

According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, “The focus of the discussion is innovation and job creation, and these are representatives of businesses… who know a lot about private sector job growth.

 


Apple Now The Most Valuable Tech Company By $100 Billion


Apple as the most valuable tech company would be short-lived, let’s look at where we are today. As of market close this afternoon, Apple is now a full $100 billion past Microsoft.

Yes, Apple is the most valuable tech company in the world by $100 billion dollars.

 


EBay says PayPal revenue will double by 2013


The company expects PayPal’s revenue to reach $6 billion to $7 billion by 2013, PayPal President Scott Thompson said. Revenue in the unit was $3.4 billion in 2010.

PayPal, which is used by 59 percent of the top 100 online merchants in the United States and 40 percent in Britain, is on track to gain market share of up to 24 percent by 2013, executives said.

EBay investors are anxious to see stabilization and growth at the company’s marketplaces site, which represents the bulk of revenue — $5.7 billion in 2010.

PayPal mobile transactions are estimated to double to $2 billion in total payment volume this year, executives said. The company has already announced that mobile on marketplaces will double to $4 billion in gross merchandise volume this year.


Rising wages in China, Toy Industries in shock!


Rising wages in China are sending a jolt through the world toy industry, prompting a revival of factory capacity in the West, industry leaders are saying ahead of the Nuremberg Toy Fair.

The bulk of dolls on view at the annual toy expo, which opens Thursday in Germany, traditionally are western-designed and carry western brands but are churned out by low-pay, plastic-moulding factories in southern China.

Chinese factories saw timber into wooden blocks, they weld and bolt together ride-on tractors and scooters. They assemble diecast toy cars and electronic robots. In Germany, Europe’s biggest toy market, nearly 80 per cent of today’s toys are Chinese made.

But not for much longer.

For a start, western shoppers are suspicious after several toy-safety scares in recent years involving toxic paint and small, detachable parts that babies might swallow. Chinese factories were blamed.

Now inflation in China is also driving up both wages and factory- gate prices. Officially, Chinese inflation is running at 5 per cent for consumers, but the true figure seems higher. The renminbi exchange rate is up, and China’s supply of cheap labour is running out.

Retail toy prices in Europe seem likely to jump as much as 30 per cent this year, and vendors say China is a major reason for that.

German companies say the prices Chinese factories are asking are getting steeper, and some believe that manufacturing in Europe is affordable by comparison. European inflation and pay are flat.

The trend is likely to be a hot topic at the toy expo, which is only open to the wholesale trade. German professional buyers returning from China say the days when southern China’s factories could rely on an endless supply of cheap migrant labour are over.

‘The workers are leaving to move over to higher-value manufacturing,’ explains Martin Boeckling, chief of a German purchasing cooperation, Spiel und Spass. He says Beijing no longer recognizes toys as a priority manufacturing sector.

Although an estimated two-thirds of toys sold worldwide are Chinese made, the sector contributes only 1.5 per cent of China’s gross domestic product.

Beijing has decided that its available labour resources need to be redirected into manufacturing types that add more value, including cars and electronics.

China is leaving the low-profit toy business behind and there is no obvious successor in the low-wage countries.

In centralized fashion, Beijing would also like to spread factories back to the places where Chinese people live, and reduce the vast migrations by China’s job nomads at times of festivities.

Reducing the concentration of manufacturing in the south would help stop some of the snarl-ups on China’s roads and railways. The rebuilding of those same roads and railways is also sucking away labour.

Otto Umbach, chief of another German purchasing cooperative, Idee und Spiel, adds another point: ‘Chinese universities are graduating 6.5 million people per year. They don’t want to work on factory assembly lines.’

China, he forecasts, faces a shortage of unskilled manual labour. Toy factories will have to hike pay 10 per cent this year.

European importers might be able to absorb that, but not combined with a jump in the price of raw materials and the cost of sea- freight.

‘At the start of 2009 you could land a shipping container in Europe from China for about 600 dollars,’ said Boecklin.

‘Today it’s costing 1,400 or 1,500 dollars.’

Several European companies are thinking of manufacturing closer to home.

Simba Dickie Group, a German company based near Nuremberg, has set up a new factory in France and has modernized its German plants.

Paul Heinz Bruder, head of a small German company, Bruder Spielwaren, is one of those who does not need to return. He never left. He said the logistics of supplying European shops from European plants always made better sense and ensured quick order fulfilment.

 

 


LinkedIn into IPO


The flotation, expected to value founder Reid Hoffman’s $21.4% stake at up to $642m, is thought likely to happen within the next few months and will involve the sale of at least $175m of new shares as well as the disposal of some existing stock by LinkedIn’s current investor

LinkedIn is growing at breakneck speed, almost doubling its membership to more than 90 million users last year in 200 countries. Speaking about the relative merits of LinkedIn and Facebook at an Internet conference in San Francisco in November, chief executive Jeff Weiner said the secret to LinkedIn’s long-term success would be that people like to keep their professional and private lives separate. “While many of us in college probably were at parties having a good time, I don’t know that many of us would look forward to having a prospective employer have access to pictures of those events,” Weiner said.

LinkedIn inched into profit in the first nine months of 2010, recording a $10m surplus, as revenues more than doubled to $161.4m. It offers a free service allowing members to create personal profiles emphasising their business qualifications, but makes its money through a premium subscription service, costing up to £63 a month, which gives members a greater level of contact with potential business contacts and employers and offers up its database to help users locate the people they need.


Free Blog submissions


Wutzle

http://www.wutzle.com/

Wutzle is both a free blog directory and a blog search engine where you can find relevant blogs that match your interests and also submit your website to get more traffic and exposure. You need to register to use Wutzle and you can submit up to three websites.

To submit your blog to Wutzle, you need to add the URL, the title and a description of your blog. Then, grab the HTML code for the Wutzle logo and rating link (which allows readers to rate your site and increase its ranking inside Wutzle) and paste it on your website.

Click here to submit your blog to Wutzle


Delightfulblogs

http://www.delightfulblogs.com/

Delightfulblogs is a human-reviewed blog directory where you can promote your blog to get more traffic. There are two URL submission options available: Regular ($15/one-time fee) and Featured ($45/three months + one free month). The Featured option allows to have your website displayed at the top of the category page and also to have your site featured from time to time on the homepage of the directory. Please note that Delightfulblogs lets you submit your blog only if it is at least three-month old.

To submit your site to Delightfulblogs, first choose a submission plan. Then, enter the name and URL of your blog, select an appropriate category and write a brief description for your blog. Last, provide your name and email address.

Click here to submit your blog to Delightfulblogs


RSSFeeds.org

http://www.rssfeeds.org/

RSSFeed.org is an RSS directory where you can submit the URL of your website or blog RSS feed to receive inbound links, more traffic and gain more visibility for your original content. You can submit either RSS or ATOM feeds and no registration is requested to add your RSS feed to the directory.

To submit your RSS feed to RSSFeeds.org, send an email message with your feed title, URL, a brief description and a suggested category to rssdirectory@usguides.net.

Click here to submit your RSS feed to RSSFeeds.org.

 

BlogRollCenter

http://www.blogrollcenter.com/

BlogRollCenter is a content submission directory where you can promote both the url of your blog and the RSS feed of your site to get more visitors Registration is mandatory to submit your website and to rate / review the other websites featured inside the directory For each website you can also access some useful stats that help you evaluate the credibility of the website itself and its popularity.

To submit your website url to BlogRollCenter, just enter the url of your blog site and then the system will automatically extract the metadata of your site (title and description). Then you can edit the info provided, select a relevant category, add the url of your RSS feed, email address and last, select the country of origin of your site.

Click here to submit your blog to BlogRollCenter.

 

Anatech.NET

http://anatech.net/

Anatech.NET is an RSS directory where you can promote your own website and get more traffic. Three submission options are available: Free, 1 Year ($5), 3 Years ($10), Lifetime ($30). Only paid submissions allow you to have your website featured on the homepage of Anatech.NET.

To submit your RSS feed to Anatech.NET, just provide the url of your website and the system will automatically extract the metadata of your site (title and description). Then you can edit the info provided, add a category, your email address and then submit the RSS feed of your website.

Click here to submit your RSS feed to Anatech.NET.

 

AddYourBlog.Com

http://www.addyourblog.com/

AddYourBlog.Com is a free blog directory where you can promote your blog and receive more traffic. You can also submit your regular website, as long as your site has a blog in it and you link specifically the blog. For your blog url to be added to the directory you must provide a link back to AddYourBlog.Com on your own blog.

To submit your blog to AddYourBlog.Com, first copy the reciprocal link on your blog. Then choose a category where your blog content best fits in and provide the title and URL of your blog. Last, add a description, provide the RSS feed url of your blog, your email and a set of relevant tags.

Click here to submit your blog to AddYourBlog.Com.

 

EZE

http://www.ezedir.com/

EZE is a free, human-reviewed website directory where you can submit the URL of your website to gain more exposure for your content and reach a wider audience. EZE also provides an automatic submission tool that allows you to submit your site to multiple search engines and RSS directories in one shot.

To submit your website URL to EZE, first provide your name, email address and website URL. Then add the title of your website, write a brief description, add your geographic location and (optionally) provide additional info about your site. The category where your website belongs will be manually chosen by EZE editor during the review process.

Click here to submit your website URL to EZE.

 

DirectoryBlogs

http://www.directoryblogs.com/

DirectoryBlogs is a human-edited blog directory where you can find a selection of blog sites related to business. All submitted blogs are divided in categories and ranked for their PageRank value. Multiple submission options (paid and free) are available for you to submit your own business-related blog site and gain greater exposure.

To submit your blog to DirectoryBlogs, first choose your pricing plan. Then click on “Get Your List” and provide the following info: name, company, email, website, category, title and description.

Click here to add your blog to DirectoryBlogs.

 

Quick Blog Directory

http://www.quickblogdirectory.com/

Quick Blog Directory is a blog directory where you can showcase your blog site to get more visibility. All submitted blogs are featured on the homepage, where there is also a list of the top blogs rated by the users of the directory. No registration to Quick Blog Directory is needed to submit your blog to the directory.

To submit your blog to Quick Blog Directory, provide first the title and URL of your blog, then select your country and the category your blog content belongs to and, last, write a brief description of your blog site.

Click here to add your blog to Quick Blog Directory.

 

BlogRateDirectory

http://www.blogratedirectory.com/

BlogRateDirectory is a comprehensive blog directory which is already counting more than 5,500 blog submissions and you too can add your own blog site to get more exposure for your content. BlogRateDirectory also provides a list of tools like blogging platforms, search engines and feed readers. You are not required to register to submit your blog to the directory.

To submit your blog to BlogRateDirectory, you only need to provide the full URL of your blog and your own email address.

Click here to add your blog to BlogRateDirectory.

 


Myspace.com sale is likely in near Future


MySpace CEO Mike Jones has confirmed what we’ve suspected all along: The company is looking for someone to buy the failing property before it’s too late.

“News Corp. is assessing a number of possibilities including a sale, a merger and a spinout. The process has just started,” MySpace’s Rosabel Tao recently told Bloomberg after a company-wide briefing from Jones.

At this point, there’s little doubt that News Corp. wants to unload the money-draining Internet property. News Corp. could once justify its MySpace acquisition just from the hundreds of millions that Google paid it as part of its multi-year search deal.

However, while MySpace renewed its ad deal with Google last month, the terms were shifted significantly in Google’s favor. In the old deal, MySpace was guaranteed around $900 million in search revenue. In contrast, there is no guaranteed money at all in the new deal. MySpace’s revenue stream has been greatly reduced, and no redesign will bring Google’s money back.


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