Category Archives: Business

Countering fast retail

Bicycle shop with search bar
A bicycle shop with search bar

I was working on a piece of work recently with a colleague about the retail industry. Our thinking was moving into fast fashion, or more like “fast retail” – a made up term describing the sales of low-cost goods increasingly quickly, probably through subscription channels.

We started to consider the counter this trend, but the following piece was dropped. I recently picked it up again when I saw an article about UK retail sales.

Countering fast retail

The Guardian article “Charity shop and antique purchases drive up UK retail sales” is interesting because it’s such a counter balance to the constant product advertising and marketing culture we live in: “Buy more”, “buy it cheaper”, “buy the latest version”, etc. etc.

There’s usually a counterculture that either stops, or prolongs, a trend. With retail sales it might be a combination of Minimalism, the book and Netflix documentary; and Marie Kondo or KonMari – her process of tidying up to create joy. (If that sentence looks peculiar, then watch one of the programmes to get the picture).

Minimalism and Marie Kondo both recommend buying fewer high-quality goods rather than lots of poor-quality goods.

Maybe this explains the increase in charity shop purchases. In the Guardian article, Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said “…households still have the ability to spend and remain the strongest part of the economy.” In other words, people are choosing to go into charity shops over buying brand new goods. Continue reading Countering fast retail

Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

It’s been an interesting week at Netflix, with US subscribers falling by 120,000.

Another interesting piece of Netflix news has been about password sharing. According to analysts MoffettNathanson, 14% of Netflix subscribers share their password, and only 6% share their Amazon password to access Prime video.

The reason why password sharing on Amazon Prime is much lower than Netflix is probably because it’s easy for a friend to purchase an Amazon product once you give them your password. Possibly just as undesirable – it’s straightforward for people to review purchases on your account once you have given them your password!

I’ve been asked a few times this week, why Netflix and Amazon don’t clamp down on password sharing. I think the answer lies with a comment from Spotify.

Think of those Netflix users who are using someone else’s password as ‘freemium’ subscribers. Spotify encourages freemium (non-paying, or trial) accounts to learn “that music is an important part of their life worth paying for”. And consider the data from those listeners, how Spotify can “learn from the biggest possible group of music fans in the world.”

Freemium places a user on the path to a sales conversion. It’s a far better path than traditional or digital marketing channels. When people share a password, it shares the value of the product, that might want to make them ultimately go and buy the product.

Netflix has a vastly different strategy to Spotify though. Netflix is testing the maximum price that users are willing to pay for the service. It recently increased the monthly subscription cost in the US from $11 to $13. Continue reading Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

I was on a webinar panel earlier today discussing legacy systems and their role in innovation in the insurance industry.

The premise was simple. Given the hype around digital you might be excused for thinking that you need to re-platform everything, rip out what you currently have – and start again – to remain relevant in the modern insurance market.

Especially given the threat from fleet-of-feet start-ups operating with a clean piece of paper and no legacy technology.

But it should not be forgotten that as a legacy organisation you have a number of things that start-ups would love to have. Including data and customers, and that is just for starters.

Here are some of my notes from the webinar. You can also watch the full feature length video with your family tonight. Continue reading How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue

Facebook investors are going to like this announcement

Facebook has announced the most exciting new product of all the recent FAANG press releases. From “Sign In With Apple” to Uber’s IPO, this one beats them all.

Until now, Facebook has been reliant on advertising spend. In Q4 2018, Facebook’s advertising revenue was $16.6bn, of a total revenue $16.9bn.

Facebook has always received poor press coverage over its collection, harvesting and commercialisation of our data. What’s the best way to avoid this type of brand coverage?

Rebrand.

Enter Calibra. Or at least, Calibra will enter next year.

Continue reading Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue

Why the 20% of UK homes that own a voice assistant don’t read the terms and conditions

Alexa prank to set an alarm at 3am
Alexa practical jokes were invented in 2014

Highlights from Richard Watson’s latest Brainmail:

  • In the UK, 5.5 million homes (around 20% of all homes) now possess a voice activated assistant.
  • 20 per cent of 3-5-year-olds now own their own iPad.
  • Google and Facebook have more than a fifth of the world’s advertising spending (they have 50-60 per cent of digital advertising spend).
  • The terms and conditions for Amazon’s Kindle are 73,198 words long and would take around 9 hours to read. I checked this out (link) and the terms are made up from 20 documents, plus the privacy notice.
  • Compared to the 400 deaths per year from terrorism, more Europeans drown in their own bathtubs, and ten times more die from falling down the stairs.

Continue reading Why the 20% of UK homes that own a voice assistant don’t read the terms and conditions

Top 10 favourite digital blogs

Photo by Tamás Mészáros

It’s time for my annual blog/ RSS feed clean up, and to share my preferred thought-provoking digital news feeds:

1. Chris Matts (The IT Risk Manager). Chris regularly updates his blog with practical advice for technology teams and senior managers such as “executives and transparency”, and he focusses his agile transformation articles on business managers rather than technology teams. That said, there are also a fair number of more technical articles about automated testing and development. https://theitriskmanager.wordpress.com

2. Doc Searls. Doc has several interests, mainly in privacy, photography and technology. Whilst I don’t agree with his extreme views on privacy and anti-advertising, his blogs and other feeds are very interesting to read occasionally. http://blogs.harvard.edu/doc/

3. Google Webmaster Blog. there are several skills everyone in the digital industry should have, and one of them is an overview of search engines and how they work. The search engines are the key footfall, entry point, gateway and provider of revenue to almost every digital company. Stay up to date with Google on this blog. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/ Continue reading Top 10 favourite digital blogs

2019 Digital Trends and Predictions

Here are my predictions for the digital and online industry for the coming year.

Every year I score my own previous year’s predictions– see how I fared for digital predictions for 2018 and work backwards.

1. Foldable/ rollable and other-able screens

Having been teased with foldable, rollable and extendible screens for several years, I think we’ll finally start to see them next year.

I hope the phones look nicer than the Royole. And I hope the televisions looks as nice as the LG rollable, especially in that low but wide position.

And if you’re thinking that TVs might disappear soon, it looks unlikely, because 70% of Netflix binging still happens on a TV. Continue reading 2019 Digital Trends and Predictions

Review of 2018 predictions

Time to look back on the 2018 predictions from 12 months ago…. how many of the predictions came true?

1. Tesla share price to drop significantly

Tesla stock was $312 on New Years Day 2018 and finished the year at $333, so on the face of it, the prediction was incorrect.

However, on 7 August, Elon Musk made the headlines by tweeting that “funding secured” at $420. The share price jumped 10% to $379. He was personally fined $20 million, and the company was fined the same amount.

Two months later, the stock was $250. The stock has been relatively volatile since then, climbing back to $376 and back down to $333.

Amazingly, the offending tweet is still live.

I also mentioned how “2017 was generally a good financial year, and if consumer confidence drops in 2018, people will buy fewer cars.” Ford stock started 2018 at $12 and is now under $8. General motors started at $41 and is now $33. Jaguar Land Rover (which is a private company) made a pre-tax loss of £90m for the three months to end of September, compared to a profit for the same quarter in 2017. The firm’s Solihull plant, where it makes Range Rover and Jaguar models, was closed for a two-week shutdown due to “fluctuating demand”. That followed a move to a three-day week at JLR’s Castle Bromwich plant.

Prediction rating: 5/10 – Tesla stock has been a volatile stock in 2018 but has actually finished higher Continue reading Review of 2018 predictions

How crowdfunding is competing with insurers

Lovely image courtesy of Wikipedia

Almost half of the projects on GoFundMe, the fundraising website, are to pay for medical bills. That’s $930m out of $2bn (Source: Business Insider).

That’s over 250,000 campaigns a year, raising $450m per year (Source: GoFundMe).

Another way to look at this, is that consumers now prefer to have cheaper, or no insurance, and raise funds after a claim would have arisen.

Note: this applies to the UK, not just the US.

Privacy: the update

Personally I’d rather see a bike advert

Since the early days of Internet services such as Google and Facebook, we’ve accepted that in return for these amazing services, we have to give some of our data away. It’s a value-exchange. We get to perform a search about anything, or store and share photos for free in return for the website having some data about us and selling that to advertisers. It’s a fair value-exchange.

It’s value because our advertising tends to be personalised toward us. I’d rather see relevant adverts, for example new bicycles products from my favourite brands, rather than tampons. Continue reading Privacy: the update