RetailBiz Round Up for Wednesday 5 February 2014 – with Patrick Avenell
oday's ASX results are here

Another day, another set of retail trends for the year ahead. Today’s 2014 prognostication comes from Manhattan Associates, an American firm specialising in supply chain commerce solutions. Considering that speciality, it is surprising that only two of Manhattan’s five predictions relate to logistics:

Personal and Profitable: “Consumers are now more demanding than ever before and expect a personalised and fast service from their favoured retailers. There is an expectation for retailers to deliver a wider range of products, faster, and in a more targeted manner.”

Faster Fulfilment: “In order to bring high speed innovation and break the practice of slow delivery service, retailers need to have a 360-degree view of their channels. Greater visibility will allow retailers to manage inventory as a single, centralised pool and dispatch stock quickly and efficiently.”

Greater Supply Chain Control: “As a result of globalisation, products are now crossing more international boundaries than ever before as retailers seek to reduce costs further. This means supply chains are getting longer and more difficult to manage.”

Social Shopping: “Social media's power to influence customers purchase decisions has taken the retail world by storm. The next development is likely to be retailers using social channels to take customer orders.”

Hyper Targeting: “The proliferation of mobile devices has allowed shoppers to interact with brands through multiple channels. In the past, tracking shoppers' activities over different channels has presented a huge challenge. However with data analytics, retailers are armed with invaluable insights to track shoppers’ buying patterns and preferences in real-time.”

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One of these trends is already being explored by Twitter, arguably the world’s second biggest social media, after Facebook. The microblogging platform loved by global brands and media types has quarter of a billion users and is looking to increase its profitability.

Imagine a Tweet for a new pair of sneakers or gym equipment or a coffee machine, accompanied by a ‘buy now’ button taking the follower directly to a transactional site. The pro of this system is that it can instantly trigger impulse purchasing, especially among cashed up youngsters. The downside is that, to a man, these same uses begrudge push-selling tactics in online communities.

Read more about Twitter’s supposed plans here

Employers sick of dealing with staff losing receipts should take a look at The Image Module software from Spendvision. This company with a name that sounds straight out of The Simpsons has come up with a novel approach to keeping track of expenses: simply take a photo of your freshly printed receipt on your smartphone and it will be added to your expenses profile.

There’s also a whole heap of associated accounting software for analysing expenses to create accurate auditing trails, as Shane Bruhns explained.

“As a veteran business traveller myself, I remember the hours spent processing a pile of paper receipts after a long trip,” he said. “Thankfully, our Image Module has eliminated the need to retrospectively reconcile the paper work.

“The enhancements we’ve introduced in the latest release make the process of digitising this element of expense management even smoother. This is good for employees, who want to interact with Spendvision on the move, and for finance teams who will benefit from greater accuracy, tighter audit trails and even greater visibility of spend in real-time.”

David Kirk has replaced John Harvey as the chairman of Kathmandu Holdings, a 120-store retailer specialising in adventure and travel products.

“I have been greatly impressed by the results achieved by the company since it listed in 2009, and, in particular, the significant progress it has made in growing its online sales through Kathmandu’s own platform and global marketplace websites,” Kirk said, presumably from the top of Mount Everest.

John Hughes, managing direct of retailer and financial services provider The Thorn Group, is delaying his retirement to assist in Thorn’s succession planning. “We are very pleased that John will continue to play a part in Thorn’s future and provide valuable input and support,” said Thorn chairperson David Carter.

Did you know that shortly before entering administration in 1995, Brashs apparently came up with an ingenious way to stay in business? The story may be apocryphal but the classic ads featuring Tony Barber definitely happened.

The Reserve Bank of Australia maintained a cash rate of 2.5 per cent yesterday, which did not please the Australia Retailers Association (ARA):

“We were…hoping for a reduction in the current cash rate in order stimulate employment, particularly youth employment which has recently hit an 11-year low,” said executive director Russell Zimmerman.

Contrasting this view was the much happier Trevor Evans, CEO of the National Retail Association (NRA): “We welcome the Reserve Bank Board’s decision to leave interest rates on hold this month as any tightening of monetary policy at the wrong time could instantly reverse all the gains made in recent months.”

And right in between these two was the circumspect Margie Osmond from the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA). “The RBA's decision to leave rates on hold at their first meeting for the year was the result retailers were expecting.”

Video of the Day

The ASIC has taken the unusual and completely unnecessary step of reading out its David Jones/Myer decision in a YouTube video. Feel free to see for yourself right here but — spoiler alert — no charges will be laid:

Image of the Day

Vocollect by Honeywell has teamed up with Voice Interface Design to help retail businesses use voice to manage entire distribution cycle more effectively. Vocollect improves warehouse productivity and overall accuracy while driving improved customer service levels, the company said.

Quote of the Day

“Leading Australian women’s fast-fashion boutique retailer Princess Polly launches Polly the label.  The label is dreamed by the creative team and designed for their young customers, combining fast-fashion trends with their fun brand personality.”

-Princess Polly doesn’t just have a new brand but also a whole new take on the English language.