Archive February 2016
There is a long list of household names that have vacated the retail world. Dick Smith and Masters are now on the list and others are likely to follow.
New retailers are pushing out more familiar names.
More household names could be set to disappear into Australian retailing history following the demise of Dick Smith this week.
The electronics retailer had been a stalwart of the market for 48 years, but the Dick Smith name alone proved not to be enough to save the ailing company and the jobs of nearly 3000 people.
Masters, the ill-starred hardware start-up owned by Woolworths, is another name that will vanish without trace when the stores close in coming months.
In a move that will be particularly galling to its owners, 14 of the Masters stores will be rebadged by its major competitor Bunnings, the main factor in its failure.
Australians are world-class shoppers – the nation’s 1370 shopping centres is the highest number per capita in the world – but that hasn’t been enough to save some of our favourite stores.
Offshore retailers have arrived
The Australian shopping scene has become a magnet for offshore retailers in recent years with some big names entering the market and winning a place for themselves. European groups like Zara, H&M and Topshop have made a particularly big splash.
“Those overseas players have been reporting strong trading results, up about nine per cent when the average for Australian retailing is more like three per cent,” says Brian Walker, principal of advisory firm Retail Doctor Group.
That growth is having a big effect on some players in the market.
“Target is mid-range in clothing and it used to have little competition. But in recent years you’ve had competitors like Zara come into the market. Target has fallen back and has suffered as a result,” business futurist Morris Miselowski said.
This new competition appears to be having an effect inside Target’s management.
Its owner, Wesfarmers, announced this week that Kmart CEO Guy Russo would now have oversight of Target as well, ending the group’s traditional independence within the Coles group.
Eventually, that may lead to a merger with Kmart and the end of the Target name.
“I think a melding of the two should have happened years ago,” Mr Miselowski said.
Another independent retailer that may disappear is Myer, which Mr Miselowski believes will have to merge with David Jones.
DJ’s was bought by South Africa’s Woolworths (not related to the Australian supermarket group) for $2.2 billion in 2014 and it has recently outperformed Myer.
Myer has struggled for years and is in the middle of a restructure that will see it close 20 per cent of its stores while upgrading those that remain.
It’s share price at $1.10, is far below the $4.10 it was floated at by private equity group TPG back in 2009.
Other hard-fought areas in recent years have been toys and books. The book market has been hit by the double whammy of international online sellers like Amazon while at the same time the disruptive technology of the ebook has made itself felt.
Big book store Borders was forced out of the market five years ago and 42 Angus & Robertson stores were closed at the same time. The ABC is also closing its iconic ABC shops leaving its book sales with only an online presence.
Toys are tough
It’s tough in the toy shops.
In toys, “the big players are pushing out the smaller players”, according to Russel Kingshott, lecturer in retailing at Curtin Business School in Perth.
“Small specialist hobby shops are doing well and Kmart is doing well online,” Mr Kingshott said.
To succeed in this hyper competitive world retailers need “omni distribution arrangements”, he said.
“It’s not necessarily only about internet sales as online sales are only six to eight per cent of the retail market,” Mr Kingshott said.
But a good online presence, a well recognised brand and “great service” are vital for retailers, Mr Kingshott said.
Retailers overseas are already starting to rely on virtual stock, where products are viewed in a bricks and mortar store digitally and ordered for quick delivery, Mr Miselowski said.
Report claims the tech giant is getting thrashed in an emerging area it tried to claim.
Apple has lost the battle of the wrist to Fitbit, which is now arguably synonymous with the word ‘wearable’.
New data from an international research group confirmed this week the company’s dominance. In the final quarter of 2015, Fitbits outsold Apple Watches two-to-one.
Fitbit shipped 8.1 million devices between October and December last year, giving it nearly 30 per cent market share, compared to 4.1 million Apple Watches, International Data Corporation (IDC) reported on Wednesday. Close behind was Chinese brand Xiaomi (9.7 per cent) followed by Samsung (4.9 per cent) and Garmin (3.5 per cent).
Sure to irritate Apple further, the free Fitbit app was the most downloaded from the Apple app store on Christmas and Boxing Day in Australia, the USA and Canada, according to research firm App Annie. Clearly, many gift recipients were excited to try out the devices after unwrapping.
Fitbits are wireless, portable devices that track the user’s food, water, sleep and exercise. They range in price from A$82 for a Fitbit that clips to clothing to about A$400 for the most expensive watch.
The Apple Watch is an expensive niche product, whereas Fitbits appeal to the masses, an expert says.
A tech futurist told The New Daily that the company has captured the dominant market position, not just through savvy marketing that has made them “almost synonymous with the industry”, but also by giving consumers what they want – simplicity and affordability.
“The Fitbit is an off-the-shelf product. You don’t need to know or have or do anything. You just have to buy it and shove it on your hand. It doesn’t necessarily have to connect to a laptop or anything elaborate if you don’t want to, although it can of course,” futurist Morris Miselowski said.
In contrast, the Apple Watch is “really an entry product” for early adopters, not the mainstream market, he claimed.
“Apple doesn’t fit in that broader market place. It still only plays to its ecosystem with a limited range of possibility – and it’s expensive.”
Apple Australia responded to The New Daily‘s request for comment by pointing to CEO Tim Cook’s remarks on quarterly earnings from January.
“We expanded distribution of Apple Watch to almost 12,000 locations in 48 countries during the quarter. As we expected, we set a new quarterly record for Apple Watch sales, with especially strong sales in the month of December,” Mr Cook said.
Why are we buying them?
Compared to Fitbits, the Apple Watch does far more. It tracks health data like its main competitor, but can also send texts, make calls, run apps, give directions and perform internet srches when connected to an iPhone.
It is also far more expensive. The most costly Fitbit, the Surge watch, starts at A$400, whereas the cheapest Apple Watch starts at A$499.
Fitbits are specifically marketed as health and fitness devices. They are able to track calorie intake, water intake, steps per day and sleep patterns.
As confirmed by Wednesday’s IDC report, consumers have clearly indicated their preference, although an expert said the average buyer may not be entirely sure why they are buying these wearables.
“I’m not sure consumers know why they want them, to be truthful,” tech futurist Mr Miselowski said.
“It’s a new technology we never knew we wanted or needed. It just wasn’t anything that was in our mindset. All of a sudden we’ve become aware that for a couple of hundred bucks we can do something unusual that we’ve never been able to do before, so we have our early adopters jumping in.
“I think they’re seeing that everybody else has them, and that they’re inquisitive.”
Will the novelty wear off?
Research firm Endeavour Partners estimated in 2014 that about a third of trackers get abandoned after six months.
You may lose interest in this generation of wearables, but what’s to come will ‘change the market forever’. Photo: Getty
Mr Miselowski predicted a similar “disillusionment phase” this year after the hype of Christmas, but was convinced the devices would stand the test of time.
“My concern is that we will drop off into a disillusionment phase this year – that people who have bought these devices, worn them for a couple of months, counted their steps or done whatever and thought, ‘Is that all there is to it?’” Mr Miselowski said.
“Three or four months down the track, they may look at it a little bit less, get a little bit disillusioned with it, but I’m fairly sure that will take care of itself when we start to see more purposeful uses for it.”
Fitbit will continue to dominate the market, at least in the short term, Mr Miselowski predicted – and that wearables would eventually make other forms of technology obsolete.
“In many ways, they’ll do away with our mobile phone as we know it now.”
click here for original article written by Jackson Stiles, The New Daily, Life Editor
Airports should evoke a sense of excitement as we dash off to a new destination or start a grand adventure, but for numerous travellers airports are overwhelming and stressful.
For those who cannot escape to the sanctuary of an airport lounge, there can be long lines and pushy passengers.
But soon airports could become a destination themselves: a bright and airy haven of comfort and calm.
Travellers will be able to glide through with limited human interaction armed only with a smart phone and a smile.
And don’t worry about your passport because by 2050 they’ll be outdated and totally in the cloud, or wherever we choose to store them then.
Michael Williams of ABC Radio National BluePrint for Living and I chat about the Future of Passports and the near future when passport will no longer exist.
Listen now – 11 minutes 35 seconds
In the last few weeks there’s been lot’s of chatter about some IPhone 6 owners being bricked, or not being able to access their phones and instead getting an “Error 53” message. Radio HK3’s Phil Whelan loves a good conspiracy theory and asked me to look into whether this was Apple’s way of punishing people who had taken their broken phones to non authorized repairers.
Alas, there doesn’t seem to be any truth in it, instead it seems to be the result of the fingerprint scanner not working properly or becoming damaged, which leads it to believe its being hacked and shuts it down.
It’s an interesting dilemma, because any device that stores sensitive information including credit card details should have safety measures in it, and that appears to be what has triggered it. But yet most comments are heaping it on Apple for not knowing what the problem is, not resolving it well and in most instances having to replace the phone as the only resolution.
FWP – First World Problems – comes to mind here, it is serious, we do rely on the phone for a great deal now days, but shouldn’t safety and security override any other issues? Anyway that’s where we started our regular chat and as usual we meandered down a few other roads including the safety of cloud computing and where all our information is stored.
Have a listen now (15 minutes 52 seconds) and then share your best tech conspiracy theory story with me.
With the onslaught of Virtual Reality headsets in the first half of this year, there’s a lot more interest in what it is, why it is, what we might do with it and will it take off and this week in our regular catch up Austereo’s Anthony Tilli and I caught up to chat all things Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
So our first task was to tell the difference between AR and VR.
AR takes the real world and adds stuff to it, think Minority Report and heads-up car displays, whilst VR requires you to put on a helmet or similar and replaces the real world with a digital one.
Psychologists have proven that regardless of which method the human brain is fooled within a couple of minutes (but usually much sooner) into believing the digital world is real and the body and brain then reacts accordingly
And if you’re not sure it makes sense – you wouldn’t fly in a plane if the pilot hadn’t spent lots of hours training in a virtual cockpit.
Already many Surgeons trial their operation on virtual patients using virtual scalpels and instruments to make sure that when they get to the real thing they’re ready and know what to do and when.Today some teachers learn to control virtual students (as if they can) in virtual classrooms so they know what to do in the real world and some psychologists are already curing phobia patients by immersing them in virtual fear experiences so that they can get used to and overcome their anxieties in the real world.
Tommy Hilfiger recorded last years New York Fashion Show and allows customers in its 5th Ave store to put a headset on and watch the show and the examples go on.
It’s early day, headsets will come out, people will buy them, they will try them, there won’t be enough interesting / purposeful uses for them and we’ll get disillusioned and complain and then a year or so from now content will increase, purpose will be found and the technology will come back with force.
My long-term money however is on Augmented, because as much as I love VR, and I do, I don’t want to wear a helmet or goggles ongoing.
So have a listen now (5 minutes 27 seconds) and then decide for yourself AR or VR or both.
With Australia’s population tipping over 24 million this week (take a look at ABS’s video on this milestone by clicking on the image to the left), ABC’s Phil Staley and I, in our regular catch up, looked at where we would put all these people and how we might be living in the future.
The great Aussie 1/4 acre block dream was the trophy many of aspired to prove a life well lived and earned is now on the decline for economic, demographic, work, culture and lifestyle reasons and even in Far North Queensland, where land is in abundance, we see the beginning of a movement to smaller properties, multi generational homes and multi purpose dwellings.
As we grow our population, increase our housing prices, change our demographics, see more young adults live at home longer, have numerous generations living together under one roof, and see many other co-habitating models rise we are slowly beginning to talk ourselves out of the necessity to live on a detached block complete with garden and garage.
Instead we will increasingly choose to live in semi-detached, row style and apartments, predominantly 4 – 6 stories high, in mixed purpose buildings (shops, offices and residences) which is a return to the 1940’s and 50’s when many people lived above the shop, but then the great dream was to get out of there and into a stand alone dwelling and now it is to return to it.
That’s not to say we won’t have stand alone houses, but rather that the great cultural norm of having to have it will disappear and it will increasingly not be seen as necessary, or important.
This is not just a question of housing, but it speaks to a changing life and work style where we will not all work 9-5, where more people will be using the home throughout the day for a multitude of purposes, where technology will be able to digitally change the internal decor to suit the immediate needs before instantly changing to suit the next set of purposes.
In this new world of housing it is also likely that we will adopt the Asian habit of eating out more and using our neighborhood and its parks and infrastructure as our backyards, where local shops become important as meeting places and the people around us become our extended family.
A fascinating discussion that we have to continue if we’re going to get our planning right, so have a listen now (13 minutes 46 seconds) and then share your thoughts on tomorrow’s homes.
written by Emma Reynolds news.com.au
THEY’RE derided as lazy and selfish, but it turns out we may be better off when millennials run the world.
While Gen Y has been called materialistic, entitled and uncaring, increasingly experts claim the exact opposite is the case.
As “Generation Me” grows up and takes control of our governments and biggest organisations, they are adapting to be ideal leaders, The Economist reported recently.
They switch jobs constantly not because they are overprivileged, but because work structure is flexible, they leave the office early because they can be productive at home and they refuse to do as they are told because they care about new ideas.
Millennials, on the whole, don’t question the concept of rights for women, gay and transgender people, that climate change is a reality or that every race is equal.
Their focus as leaders will be less on arguing a point than doing something about it. “One shift is wanting to create a better world,” prominent futurist Ross Dawson told news.com.au. “It’s exceptionally difficult to hire talented young people if they don’t feel their work is making a positive difference. Social enterprise and innovation is very apparent in Silicon Valley but also in Australia.”
Whether it’s Uber-style car sharing, distributing restaurant leftovers to the homeless or creating forums for marginalised groups, there is a sense that far more is possible.
With a global perspective, they may even be warier of going to war, The Economist suggests, although Dr Dawson warned that there are “some fundamental aspects of humanity” and we are “in the process of discovering what will change”.
Millennial leaders have a social conscience, like Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.
FAST AND FLEXIBLE
Younger generations are always accused of impatience and short attention spans, and that’s only amplified by our frenetic world, says Dr Dawson. But impatience doesn’t have to be a bad thing. “It can make things faster and better.”
Baby Boomers and even Generation X have a far slower and more cautious attitude to change than connected, purposeful Gen Y.
Business futurist Morris Miselowski told news.com.au: “They won’t agree to something until there’s a strong case for the likelihood of its success.
“Traditionally, Baby Boomers only had one or two ‘horizon technologies’ — fax, radio, TV. It would take a long time for things to be ingested and become fashionable, ordinary, respectable.
“Now people are working with all social media and have an ability to make decisions quicker based on more opportunities.
“We have robots on our doorstep, new horizon spaces and something I find joyful is what I call the ‘Wild West’ of business. It’s so unknown, There are millions of different spaces for the young, entrepreneurial and proactive.”
For Gen Y, the idea of the 9-5 day is over — work can take place anywhere, anytime. This gives them a more fluid approach to the work/life balance, a bonus since they will be living longer lives and spending more years in the workforce.
Staff won’t need to travel in rush hour so traffic will lessen and activities can be spread over the week. “Their mindset goes far beyond the geographical,” said Mr Miselowski.
Open-minded millennials could make our world one big Glee club.
“[Millennials] are meritocratic, want to be experts in their field, and want to work with and be mentored by experts,” Jane McNeill, director of recruiting experts Hays, told news.com.au.
“This will help them reach their career goals and in turn make genuine improvements to their world of work.
“Given that they are more open to new ideas, they will also be able to cope well with a globalised world of work that is changing rapidly.”
People born between 1981 and 1997 are more often bilingual or want to work overseas at some point in their career, added Ms McNeill.
As many as 70 per cent have their own business or want to have one in the future.
If Gen Y seems demanding, that’s because “they rate interesting work before personal wealth” and “they want to feel valued and appreciated”.
“They are also entering the workforce as more confident communicators who can contribute to group discussions and share their ideas because they are used to having an opinion and adding their voice to discussions on social media from a young age,” said Ms McNeill.
Garry Adams, Mercer’s talent business leader for the Pacific, told news.com.au: “They travel a lot more than we did and are more open to global influences, which are strong positives.
“The dominant pattern was being an employee in a corporate environment, now there’s a greater range of choices. There’s a focus on operating with a greater sense of social purpose and sustainability.
“This generation has an extraordinary potential and a sense of moving forward, that they don’t want to replicate their parents’ mistakes or live in a world created for them. They want to do things differently.”
And if Generation X and Baby Boomers are feeling devalued by the prediction that Gen Y will run things better, Dr Dawson explains we are all shifting to become like millennials.
“It’s important to recognise that people of all ages are changing their attitudes to work, organisations and their role in society and the environment,” he said.
“Social attitudes are shifting across all generations.”
Welcome to the world of the millennials.
In 2030 Hong Kong will have one of the most elderly populations in the Asia pacific region with 1 in 4 people over the age of 65 and 6.8% (550,000 people) over 80 years of age.
It’s population will have risen from 7.264 million today to 8.2 million, males life expectancy will rise to 83.5 years and females to 89.9 years. On the back of this in 2030 the annual population growth rate will only be 0.6% due to birth rate declines, increasing death rates requiring active immigration to maintain its population and workforce.
On the back of a recent report I put out on Australia 2030, Phil Whelan of Hong Kong Radio 3 and I took a look at Hong Kong 2030 and compared it to Australia 2030 to find that there were similarities in our aging populations, our changing workforce and our global positioning.
We also asked the question of what the Chinese government may be and look like in 2030 and what Hong Kong’s status within China might be in just 15 years from now.
A fascinating chat of two cultures facing one future landscape, have a listen now and then share your thoughts (13 minutes 50 seconds).
Imagine travelling at the speed of 1 kilometre every 3 seconds, or Sydney to Melbourne in 47 minutes, according to Hyperloop it’s not a dream, it’s a near future reality and it’s where Hong Kong Radio 3’s Phil Whelan and then later on Anthony Tilli of Austereo and I started our on air journey’s this week.
This new vacuum tube transport system was floated by Elon Musk a couple of years ago and was taken up by Jump Start Fund who is seriously touting this tech to the governments and infrastructure builders around the world, with the first installation due in Quay Valley California within the next 3 years and other major announcement imminent.
From the ground into the skies, with the stat that every 15 years our airline passenger numbers double taking us from a current 3.3 billion annual passengers to 6.7 billion in 2032 and most of that driven by the rising middle class in the Asia Pacific region, especially China and India. With this kind of growing demand, air travel still remains the dominant long haul transport method, but will it be done on the planes we know and use today?
Richard Branson, Jeff Bazos and lots of others, hope not and they’re working on vertical sub orbit travel promising flights between Australia and London of around 2 hours, it seems as if they may have something, but even if they do, it’s some decades away before we get to regularly fly in it.
Two great chats and a solid look at transport past, present and future, so have a listen and let me know what mode of transport you’d most like to see invented.
Hong Kong Radio 3 – Phil Whelan – 23 February 2016 – 12 minutes 46 seconds
Austereo WA – Anthony Tilli – 29 February 2015 – 4 minutes 00 seconds
reprinted from The Times of India Technology Section,
CHENNAI: Connect with a homemaker 500 miles away to buy a customised brocade potli bag through a chat app or order your favourite grande latte with skimmed milk from Starbucks by simply typing ‘coffee’.
Conversational commerce’ – through spin off technology on chat apps for e-tailing – is emerging as the next big thing in ecommerce.
Consumers and companies, both ecommerce and essentially brick and mortar firms, are increasingly using messaging apps to discover content, browse merchandise, discuss business ideas and negotiate deals. Facebook-owned WhatsApp announced last week that it would do away with its $1 subscription fee so people could “use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from. That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight”. Which, essentially , is to allow businesses to connect with customers.
Chinese success story WeChat is already in the game. Instant messaging was WeChat’s earliest core function, but users can now use it to chat, search for people nearby , distribute or collect money , pay restaurant and utility bills and order groceries. report by Ericsson suggests that A smartphone users in India spend 47% of their time on communication apps. Players in the space are riding on this habit to engage with their customers. Flipkart has introduced ‘Ping’, an inapp chat feature that allows users to share product images and chat with each other while shopping.
Several startups and firms with a proactive online presence have chat op ions on their websites. A handful of start ups are using the technology as the primary medium for business, harnessing he power of chat apps.
Bengaluru startup Goodbox uses a chat-based app to connect small and medium enterprises with customers. Goodbox, with a partner app and a consumer app, acts as a liaising enabler. Businesses hat use Goodbox pay the company a commission; it’s free for consumers.
“Not all businesses have an apps and Goodbox offers this service to that segment so they can reach out to more customers,” Goodbox cofounder Mayank Bidawatka said. Shoppo, a zero-commission service from Snapdeal, helps connect individuals and micro-businesses from over 868 cities, giving these firms an online presence.
“Shopo acts as medium to take specialised not available on regular e-commerce websites,” Shopo senior vice-president Sandeep Komaravelly said.
Some startups help small businesses get on the app bandwagon, others offer to be personalised assistance like Bengaluru-based Joe Hukum, a chat-based order taking and concierge service.
The startup uses technology to offer hyper personalisation.
“The consumer today is very clear about what he wants but does not give much thought to where it is coming from,” With fading brand loyalty , satisfying consumers is about delivering a product or service at the right price with maxi mum convenience,” Joe Hukum co-founder Arihant Jain said.
From local shopping to movie ticket booking and delivery , the startup provides end-to-end services through a chat app that customers can customise according to their preferences.
Delhi startup Helpchat partners with cab aggregators, ecommerce websites and food brands such as Mast Kalandar to provide customers a one-stop app for all their needs.
“We’ve added an intelligence layer that anticipates a customer’s order based on previous orders,” Helpchat VP (marketing) Kali Charan Shukla says. ” A customer looking for a product on an ecommerce site will get the price options on all websites that the product is available.”
Shukla says the app offers hyper-personalised search results and a variety of options, with comparisons on the deals and offers available.
A combination of chat-based e-tailing apps and hyper-personalisation: That’s where experts see the future of ecommerce. “This new world of hyper-personalisation, precision retailing or me-tailing,” `full-stack’ business futurist Morris Miselowski of businessfuturist.com notes, “recognises that a consumer’s mobile device is increasingly at the centre of any retail interaction.”