Cool way to learn Retail concepts and Retail Technology

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, October 29, 2007

A company called Retail Hero recently released an online flash game to teach Retail and Retail Technology concepts. I tried the same (did not play all levels though) and it looks to be quite good, especially for beginners in retail space.

Retail Hero recently released a very special online game for retailers. The interactive game is designed to give retailers a better understanding of the foundations of retail management from the ground up. Starting out with a simple hot dog stand, the game teaches the principles of how adding technology can help to succeed in the retail business.

The game has five levels starting the player out as a hot dog vendor and gradually working up to a pawn shop retailer, then a grocery store, and onwards until you own a national franchise. As your store grows you have more opportunity to purchase technology (such as a POS system, barcode scanners, pin-pad's, weigh scales etc) all of which help to reduce your shrinkage and increase your revenues. But just as in real life there are obstacles to overcome. You might be selected for a random tax audit or you could be sued for selling a counterfeit item, all of which affect your bottom line. Also, you can borrow money and invest it in the technology that will help your retail business to succeed.

The colorful graphics and real-life sound effects all add to the authenticity of the game, which has been received enthusiastically by the retail sector. The only drawback to the game is that retail staff might become less productive if they have Internet access at the till.

The game is free to play and is available only from Retail Hero. So what are you waiting for? To find out if you have what it takes to succeed in the retail industry follow the link below and start playing!

Wal-Mart wants to keep it a surprise

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wal-Mart has sent legal notices to websites who leak prices or flyers about the Black Friday sales.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has threatened legal action against Web sites that leak prices for or flyers about its post-Thanksgiving sales in advance, a practice at dozens of large and small Web sites that collect information on deals.

Retail chains typically start advertising in newspapers and elsewhere a few days before Thanksgiving with special deals for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Premature release can give competitors a jump up on the prices and dampen marketing campaigns.

This year for the first time, Wal-Mart has sent legal notices to at least three sites that have obtained Black Friday ads in advance and posted them days or weeks ahead. The letters cite the company's rights under trade-secret and copyright laws. Typically, retailers wait until information has been posted to take action.

This will surely take away fun searching for Wal-Mart offers and one will have to do with rumors this time.

Email Marketing Metrics

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, October 18, 2007

MarketingSherpa is reporting six actions that can help increase the number of open & click-through rates of Email campaigns and newsletters. The findings are from MailerMailer's new Email Marketing Metrics Report, in which they analyzed nearly 270 million opt-in email newsletters and campaigns sent by a sample of over 3,000 MailerMailer customers in the first half of 2007.

The report provides some good insight into Open & Click Rates by Industry, Open & click rates by day, Open rates by Subject Line Length and open rates by day of the week emails were sent. Retail Industry is doing pretty well in second place by click rates.

Lots to get and improve by getting the report. Highly recommended.

L. L. Bean's really really Free Shipping

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, October 15, 2007

Reality check (emphasis mine).

EVEN in a country where Christmas trees start appearing in October, L. L. Bean may have set a record for beginning the holiday marketing blitz early by starting a free shipping promotion last month.

But the promotion also set the bar higher than many competing online retailers might have liked.

Bean’s free-shipping offer comes with no minimum purchase requirements. That is in stark contrast to the strings-attached shipping offers used by more than 80 percent of online merchants last year, which left some consumers wondering about the exact meaning of “free.”

Nothing Says ‘Buy’ Like ‘Free Shipping’ - New York Times

PIM in context of multi-channel strategy of Retailers

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dominic Citino of Microsoft has an refreshing blog called Retail Rumblings on Retail Technology topics. In his latest blog post he deconstructs PIM needs in the context of multi-channel strategy of Retailers. He writes (emphasis mine),

We need to deconstruct PIM a bit to understand why retailers are finding it so critical to their multi-channel capabilities.  PIM, as a concept, seeks to extract item management from the application environment.  Go back in time to the era of the merchandising system/ERP boom.  Retailers were buying or building big merchandising applications and/or ERPs focused on providing 'foundation data' to run their enterprises.  These enterprises were almost always focused on the store and warehouse environment.  Every merchandising application has some form of an 'item master'.  This data store typically comes with a big list of fields and in some cases some basic hierarchies.  Retailers typically use some basic editor screens to manage and manipulate this data along with any automated data feeds that they have.  The data in the item master is the core of a retailer's foundation data. 

As application environments became more complex, retailers needed to disseminate this item data to many other systems and tools.  Worse yet, the functional needs of each system often varied greatly.  For example, a supply chain execution system, like a WMS, needs a vast array of handling rules and dimensions that merchandising applications are often blind to.  So the retailer had to decide to build these new fields into the merchandising application (and the ability to maintenance them) or build application-specific item attributes that sit in the application that needed them.  Multiply this scenario exponentially across application environments and functional areas and retailers ended up with a mess. 

The final nail in the coffin of the application-centric item data store was the emergence of multi-channel retailing.  The ability of retailers to syndicate item information in a channel-specific manner was very low with core merchandising applications.  Each channel may require different versions of item information.  For example, the Web may require rich product descriptions and images, while the logistics applications require dimensions and other physical data.  A shopping affiliate partner may require an XML feed, limited to certain fields that they support. 

While Dominic nailed the PIM + Multi-channeling, PIM also needs to be looked upon as an enabler to data synchronization and to improving supply chain collaboration.

According to a recent report from AMR Research, A Sell-Side Product Information Management Vendor Landscape (Robert Bois, Eric Newmark and Jim Murphy, 3/16/05), "Companies that react now and build a pragmatic PIM system will dramatically increase their agility for deploying future product-related initiatives such as dynamic catalog generation, multichannel product syndication, or more effective print catalog creation. . . As e-commerce standards continue to evolve, and the balance of power between buyers and sellers oscillates, the agile company with a sound PIM strategy will enjoy a significant competitive advantage."

Pasted from <>

Retail + Retail Technology Search Engine Update

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, October 07, 2007

As I posted few weeks back, I created a Google based search engine just to search Retail & Retail Technology Websites. Over the weekend I updated the search engine to add 7 more websites to it taking the total to 50 Retail websites the search engine will search on. Give it a whirl and let me know how it works out. Also, if there is a website that you want me to add to the Search Engine, please let me know.

You can access the search engine at

Good luck selling toys this holiday season

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, October 06, 2007

USA Today is reporting how even after multiple toys recall, you may find it difficult to buy US made toys. Reasons being 80% toys sold in US are made in China, most of the toy recalls in last 20 years have been because of design problems by US toy makers and US toys being very old-fashioned.

After recent high-profile recalls of some Barbie, Polly Pocket and Thomas & Friends products, you've vowed not to buy Chinese-made toys this Christmas.

Good luck.

Even though it's shaping up to be the "anti-China Christmas," your kid's stocking likely will be stuffed with Chinese-made toys — unless you put oranges in it. That's because 80% of all toys sold in the USA are made in China. Some internal toy-industry estimates show only about 10% are actually made here.

More important, there's mounting evidence that avoiding Chinese-made toys may not be worth it. New research shows that most of the toy recalls in the last 20 years were due to design problems by the U.S. toymakers, not manufacturing problems that were the fault of Chinese or other foreign plants. U.S. toymakers also are far from immune to safety problems and may have at least as high a percentage of recalls as China when the USA's small market share is considered.

And if you do go the U.S.-made route, be ready for limited choices and, perhaps, a tough sell to the kids. Most U.S.-made toys are wooden, old-fashioned "nostalgia" toys, such as blocks or puzzles, that may not hold the interest of kids older than toddlers. There's Slinky, the twisty-wire-walking toy from the 1950s, and some plastic toys like K'Nex construction sets.

All these reasons will make it difficult for US Retailers to sell toys this season. With around $22.3 billion at stakes, it remains to be seen how Retailers fare on this front this holiday season.

Retail sales in the U.S. toy industry declined less than four percent in 2005 to just over $21.3 billion compared to $22.1 billion generated the prior year, according to The NPD Group.

Taken from <>


U.S. toy sales made a slight comeback in 2006 and are poised for a sharper rise this year, according to data released on Tuesday by market research firm NPD Group.

U.S. toy sales crept up to $22.3 billion in 2006 from $22.2 billion in 2005, helped in part by a 22 percent increase in the youth electronics category.

Taken from <>


What toys do the experts plan on buying?

Retail Design Solutions in Indian Retail

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, October 01, 2007

The Retail Boom in India is giving push to many different businesses, one of them being the Design Solutions Firms like Co-Design, Idiom among others. Yesterday, Economic Times carried an article on how these firms are engaged in designing Retail Spaces using emerging techniques like Interaction design.

The Rivet in Bangalore's Leela Palace Hotel is not your usual Levi's brand store. Step in and you are sure to be taken in by the 34-feet-long Heritage Wall - a visual and virtual walk through a hundred years of Levi's heritage and corresponding world history. With touch-sensor links depicting individual decades from the 1850s to the 2000s, the installation is a virtual scrapbook on Levi's past.
The Rivet is the iconic denim jeans maker's first heritage store in South-east Asia. And the man who created this installation is Rajesh Dahiya, founder of Co-Design.
Dahiya specialises in interaction design, an emerging tool that's catching the fancy of retailers these days. Simply put, it's about exploring new ways of enhancing the experience of interacting with other individuals, with products and with the environment by blending traditional design techniques, an understanding of human behaviour and modern technology.
"The user-centric nature of interaction design makes this new field important for retail development. An interaction designer has a strong understanding of the customer, the client's needs and the latest technology," says Dahiya.
Among the scores of retail designers who are sprouting across the country, Dahiya's work symbolises the change that's sweeping the Indian retail landscape. Retail design has come to mean more than wall graphics, in-store displays and signages. With availability of technology tools, designers are now helping marketers and retailers create unique experiences that connect with customers on a deeper, emotional level. Ergo, plenty of small design firms are gearing up to deal with this growing opportunity.