Chinese Store Association Urges Cuts in Transactions Fees

The China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) on Sunday urged the government to pass plans to cut bank card-swipe fees charged to merchants as soon as possible in order to shore up consumption.

Secretary-General of the CCFA Pei Liang told Xinhua that a proposal for cutting card-swipe charges issued by authorities is currently seeking opinion from commercial banks.

“China’s retail sales growth has slowed from a year earlier, so the government should step up the implementation of the plan with a view of promoting consumption,” Pei said.

Data from the statistics bureau shows the country’s retail sales of consumer goods expanded by 13.2 percent year on year in August, down from a rate of 17 percent last August.

At present, fees charged to supermarkets and stores for transactions made with bank cards range from 0.5 percent to 1 percent of the transaction value.

Transactions made with bank cards are growing at an annual rate of 30 percent, and bank card transactions currently make up 35 percent of all supermarket transactions and more than 60 percent of all sales in stores, according to a survey conducted by the CCFA.

However, Chinese merchants are seeing their operational costs growing at an annual rate of more than 15 percent and their average profit margin is around 2 percent, according to the survey.

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Amazon launches standalone Kindle Store in India

Twenty-four percent of Indian adults with Internet access have bought an ebook. Now that group could get a lot bigger: Amazon has launched a standalone Kindle Store in India and is selling Kindle exclusively through Indian electronics chain Croma.

Kindle 1photo: Amazon

Amazon does not yet operate a general e-commerce site in India, but it is now selling ebooks there. On Wednesday the company launched the India Kindle Store (www.amazon.com/kindlestoreindia), which sells over a million titles priced in Indian Rupees.

Indian customers can’t buy a Kindle through the store, but they can get one at Indian electronics chain Croma for 6,999 Indian Rupees (USD $126). It looks as though Croma is selling the basic, non-touchscreen Kindle that retails for $79 (with ads) in the United States.

In June, I wrote about the ebook transition in India. In a presentation at Publishers Launch BEA, Bowker’s Kelly Gallagher said that 24 percent of Indian adults with Internet access have bought an ebook. It’s key to look at the size of the overall population combined with the Internet penetration rate: “Suddenly, India becomes the second largest potential market” after the United States. The transition is primarily led by professional, business and academic ebooks, he said — 80 percent of Indian ebook buyers have bought an ebook in one of those genres.

In February, Amazon launched the Junglee.com marketplace in India. The site aims to match sellers and buyers. Many Indian customers already use Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk offers free super saver shipping to India. Amazon is also building a fulfillment center in Mumbai.

Wincor Nixdorf High Speed Checkout with 360 Scanners.

360 Scanners Revolutionize Checkout With High-Speed Automatic Scanning

360 Scanner from Wincor NixdorfFor many people, grocery shopping is a dreaded chore. It means having to make a list, fight traffic, snag a parking spot, bump your way through a labyrinth of aisles, shoppers, and shopping carts and sort through thousands of products, brands, and prices in order to collect your necessities and hopefully stay within your budget. By the time you are ready to check out and pay, having to choose between a long line of overflowing carts and a persnickety old self-checkout machine might be enough to make you cry.

Here at The BarCode News, we are always on the lookout for new technology that will improve the shopping experience for customers, and increase efficiency for business owners. Once in a while, something comes along that seems revolutionary. 360 scanners for checkout lines indeed fits that category.

Imagine, instead of a cashier having to handle every item in your cart, or you having to play spin the bottle with your ketchup at the self-checkout, you simply place your items on a conveyor belt where they are automatically scanned by the time they get to the bagging station. This is possible with 360 scanners.

As the name denotes, 360 scanners are capable of scanning a product bar code from 360 degrees, so it does not matter how the item is placed on the conveyor belt. The machines perform automatic scanning on multiple bar codes at a time, processing items at a speed twice as fast as traditional scanners (up to 60 items per minute), with 98 percent accuracy. If an faulty bar code cannot be scanned or an item requires age-verification, then the 360 scanner snaps a picture of the item and displays it to the checkout attendant for quick resolution.

Both Wincor Nixdorf Inc. and Fujitsu have introduced 360 scanners for use in grocery and high-volume retail environments.360 Scanner from Wincor Nixdorf

Wincor Nixdorf developed the 360 Scan portal as part of their advanced Automated Checkout Suite, with the partnership ofDatalogic Scanning andRoyston LLC. Wincor’s 360 Scan portal is built with the new 360-degree automatic scanning technology, to speed up checkout lines, improve the customer experience as well as increase operational efficiency.

The software is flexible so that the 360 Scan Portal can be used either as a self-checkout or with an attendant during high-traffic hours. Since the attendant does not have to scan the items, he or she can simply bag up the groceries so that the customer is ready to pay and go by the time the cart is unloaded. The system is so efficient that it can allow one attendant to serve two lines at a time. It is also customizable for different retail environments and multiple payment methods.

Fujitsu also introduced a 360 scanner at last year’s NRF. Fujitsu’s 360 scanner also boasts 98+% scanning accuracy and the ability to manage faulty bar codes and restricted items with ease.

The Advantage Checkout 360 scanner enhances the customer checkout experience and potentially reduces the number of checkout lanes, allowing staff to move to other valuable activities. The checkout system’s Metrologic scanner/scale functions with six-sided, 360° scanning and integrated electronic article surveillance (EAS).

Watch this video from Wincor to see how the 360 scanner works:

www.wincor-nixdorf.com/usa.

http://solutions.us.fujitsu.com

(Images courtesy of Wincor Nixdorf Inc.)

Taming the Data Deluge

Marketers and consumers struggle with the volume of data the world now generates. David Benady asks how the two sides can jointly control the tide, including the advent of brand ‘data stores’.

Data is inundating the economy, overwhelming consumers and businesses with swathes of information that they struggle to comprehend. The overload is set to spiral as social media, mobile and geo-location technologies spew forth yet more reams of data.

With billions of web searches made every month, more than 20,000 new books published weekly and more texts sent daily than there are people on Earth, data is increasing exponentially. The number of exabytes (EB – equal to 1bn GB) of information created in 2011 hit 1750, double the 2009 figure, according to IDC estimates. There is twice as much data as storage capacity.

This torrent of data makes it hard for marketers to ensure their brand messages are heard above the noise. Consumers have become reluctant to open the floodgates to receiving more irrelevant information, and some are wary of providing personal details.

Research company TNS has analysed the way in which consumers ‘eat’ at this table of information and created five consumer segments based on their readiness to absorb data. It calls the data deluge ‘information obesity’, and looks at the way people create their own ‘eating plans’.

You are what you ‘eat’
‘Fast foodies’, it says, consume the easiest, lightest data they can find. ‘Supplementers’ devour as much information as they can. ‘Carnivores’ consume only meaty chunks – whole books and in-depth research. ‘Fussy eaters’ are loath to consume information from any source, while ‘balanced dieters’ never consume too much information; what they do take comes from a variety of sources.

TNS marketing sciences director Russell Bradshaw says these ‘eating plans’ are a good way for marketers to target resistant consumers. ‘By understanding the predominant “eating plans” that exist among their brand franchises, brand managers and chief marketing officers have a tool for maximising the reach, resonance and values of their campaigns,’ he says.

TNS analysis suggests that ‘carnivores’ are more likely to shop at Marks & Spencer, while ‘fussy eaters’ tend to stock up at Asda. This gives M&S leeway to bolster its communications, giving customers big, meaty chunks of information they can savour slowly. Asda, meanwhile, would do well to deliver information in bursts and offer online nuggets such as tweets to appeal to voucher-hungry customers.

Marketers acknowledge that segmenting consumers by their propensity to consume information can be useful, but many see it as an add-on to the already tough task of identifying relevant audiences.

David Torres, global manager of chemicals technology at Shell Research, says that Shell intends to embed the TNS eating plans into its work, adding that brands need to search the data they have for clear and relevant insights.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Maurel, head of retention at Sport England, says the ‘eating plans’ could be useful if blended with other tools. ‘The TNS data obesity segmentation makes a lot of sense and rings true anecdotally. It is a great idea to segment by the information consumers are prepared to receive, although perhaps this is an extra step to be added to current tools,’ she adds.

Maurel’s role at Sport England is to use data to help various sports’ governing bodies to increase participation and attendance, a challenge for smaller sports, such as hockey. One solution is to take data from grassroots sources, such as social media, and integrate it with i n fo r m at i o n from elite sports events.

While small sports may be unsophisticated when it comes to data collection, Maurel says some governing bodies are using real-time data to build their popularity.

British Cycling, for example, gets feedback from locally organised Sky Ride mass-cycling events and feeds it through to its board meetings. This, in turn, helps it shape the way in which Sky Rides are organised.

For many brands, the UK’s data-chain is dominated by retailers. They control the all-important information about sales, which they then sell back to brandowners. Nonetheless, retailers, too, are suffering from information overload, according to Chris Osborne, retail principal at software supplier SAP. A recent survey by SAP found that more than half of retailers believe they have more information than they can handle. ‘Structured’ data – such as till receipts showing items purchased, times of day, quantities and prices – has been around for decades. Osborne advocates combining this information with ‘unstructured’ data – such as the random chat of social media – as the next great challenge for brands and retailers.

The prize will be to build a total view of each customer’s likes, behaviour and loyalty, and target offers accordingly. A crucial step is ensuring both types of data are gathered and acted upon in real-time.

Osborne believes the development that will enable this is ‘in-memory’ data analytics, where the data is stored in the computer’s memory for quick retrieval, rather than on a conventional database where it is stored on a hard disk, making it harder to access and wasting capacity.

He envisages a two-track economy where success will depend on efficient use of data. ‘The retailers that win out will be the ones that are very careful about how they use data and don’t swamp consumers with irrelevant offers,’ adds Osborne. ‘Retailers that create competitive advantage are (also) careful about how often they communicate with consumers.’

Useful data vs ‘noise’
Given the retailers’ iron grip on data, some brands have turned to comparison website Mysupermarket.co.uk to gain access to information about their own performance through mini-shops on the site. Reckitt Benckiser, Kellogg, Danone and Nivea are among those to have created such stores.

James Foord, vice-president of business development at Mysupermarket.co.uk, says brands are only just beginning to grasp the distinction between ‘data noise’ and what is useful. The site allows brand-owners to create a direct relationship with consumers and thus control their data. Brands can analyse the battle between their products and stores’ own-label versions, for example – data retailers rarely release. ‘This is the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. Brand stores will open up a whole new level of insight that has real value,’ adds Foord.

The battle for data control is about more than simply capturing as much information as possible and keying it into a database. Finding ‘smart’ data can save time and money in research and bring significant benefits for brands. The challenge is to find the pieces of information that help a brand locate its best customers and give insights into their motivation for buying a product.

Mike Dodds, chief executive of integrated agency Proximity, recalls a cat-food brand’s CRM programme in which customers were questioned about their behaviour. The question that delivered the best data was: ‘Do you celebrate your cat’s birthday?’ The responses helped the brand discover the most involved and valuable customers.

A potential barrier to the development of data-driven marketing will be consumers’ attitudes to privacy and control of their personal details. The online giants, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, have built their businesses on getting users to give up their data in return for ‘free’ services. If the public refuse to play, this could put a spoke in the wheel of the data economy.

Chris Combemale, executive director at the Direct Marketing Association, says brands have to be upfront about privacy and make their policies simple and readable: ‘If you can’t put the policy on one page and make it clear, you have an issue.’ He also warns brands to avoid being ‘creepy’ online – by serving ads based on details consumers thought were private – which, he argues, can make digital marketing appear intrusive.

Modern marketing is essentially a battle for data. However, consumers themselves have the ultimate weapon: to switch off and stop sharing their information.

Technology was supposed to make life easier, but, in reality, it has made the world far more complex. The task of creating marketing campaigns that get heard above the din will only get harder still in a society deluged with data.

Marketing © Brand Republic

Retail chains adopt prepaid cards to retain customers

Prepaid cards have become the latest retail tool to keep consumers hooked to brands. They offer convenience and safety, because customers don’t have to carry cash, and they often come with a variety of offers, including discounts.

Brands like Café Coffee Day, Pizza Hut, Provogue, Kaya, Fastrack, Gili and a host of others have launched prepaid cards. A prepaid card works like a debit card with a PIN number that can be redeemed at the brands’ outlets. The cards in India are based on the closed loop model — that is, they can be redeemed only at the brand’s stores. “When I have money loaded on the card, the tendency to come to the same place is higher,” says K Ramakrishnan, marketing president at Cafe Coffee Day. The brand’s card Cafe Moments, launched this month, offers a 5% bonus on cards with a value of Rs 100 to Rs 499, 7% on Rs 500 to Rs 999 and 10% on Rs 1,000 and above.

A prepaid card obviates the need to pay cash every time, and it also enables faster accumulation of bonus points or other offers. Prepaid cards in India are currently being used more as gift cards. Some brands have used it to launch a promotion or a service. What the prepaid gift card did for Kaya was to generate incremental walk-ins,” says Suvodeep Das, marketing head at Kaya Skin Clinic. In Kaya prepaid cards, currency can be reloaded in multiples of Rs 500 to up to Rs 2 lakh. Kaya sells about 250-300 gift cards a month.

Global Prepaid Exchange recently estimated that the size of the organized prepaid gift card and gift voucher market in India is Rs 2,000 crore and would grow to Rs 8,000 crore by 2015. “The acceptance of gift cards in proportion to vouchers has increased significantly,” says Pratap T P, chief marketing officer at QwikCilver Solutions, a provider of prepaid card solutions.

However, Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight, says growth in prepaid cards would be restricted by the fact that they can be used only at a particular brand’s outlets. “Also, a customer cannot claim the minimum residual value in the card. He will have to top it up to redeem it,” he says.

WalMart leads latest m-payments initiative

Store giant joins with two dozen US retailers to take leadership of NFC wave away from Google and Isis

Mobile payments’ progress has been held back by the sheer number of vested interests battling to take the upper hand in driving the platform. This is seen best in the US, where the main parties each have one or more initiatives – three of the top four cellcos in Isis; Google Wallet; schemes led by the credit card giants such as Visa; and separate programs by PayPal and others. Now the retailers, too, want a say, and about 25 stores, including Walmart and Target, have formed a consortium to develop their own m-payment system.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing several unidentified sources with direct knowledge of the deal, the retailers are eager to limit the influence of either Google or the operators in this area. They would have various advantages in bringing store-based mobile payments, such as NFC-enabled systems, to market. They have an existing trusted brand for consumers, and would get round one of the major blocks in NFC’s path – merchant indifference or unwillingness to deploy terminals.

There are few details as yet, but Target said in a statement to the WSJ: “We are exploring potential solutions that would help us to deliver the fastest, most secure mobile-payment experience possible for our customers.”

However, Google claims 22 large US retail chains now support its Wallet initiative, even though that suffered recently from security issues, and is available only on the Sprint network and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset. Google is working with MasterCard and its PayPass network, while Isis is working with most of the major card processors, including Visa, MasterCard and Amex, and will start trials of its services this year.

‘Smart’ packaging opens digital opportunities for food brands

As noted in our recent trend report on food, packaging can be a gateway to more information and content via QR codes and similar technologies. The idea isn’t new (especially in some markets), but consumers are only gradually taking to it—5 percent of American adults with a mobile phone scan any kind of 2D barcode, up from 1 percent in 2010, according to a recent Forrester study—and brands are still testing ideas around it.

Games are one value offering. In the U.K., Cadbury uses Blippar technology to enable augmented reality-style games on chocolate bar packaging. Tic Tac recently launched an AR game in which the mint box serves as background as the player tosses mints into the mouth of a 3-D character. Codes can also lead consumers to more information, like recipes or sourcing. Kraft recently added QR codes to several cheese products, giving users ideas about how to use them. In Vancouver, Foodtree is teaming up with restaurants to offer QR codes on menus that tell diners about where ingredients come from.

Another idea: General Mills’ CMO suggested to USA Today that the traditional surprise inside a cereal box could become a phone-based “visual surprise.” The cereal box is an appealing platform, with plenty of real estate and a spot in front of people eating breakfast. Last year Kellogg’s saw a respectable response to QR codes on its newly launched Crunchy Nut cereal in the U.S.

Watch for a wave of experimentation from brands seeking to tap new opportunities to extend their message and create a new channel for everything from coupons and loyalty rewards to education and entertainment. See “What’s Cooking?” for additional examples.

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