Saturday, March 31, 2007

Marketers target Wal-Mart's in-store TV network

Wal-Mart's initiative for it's in-store TV network is being noticed for its huge target audience. Marketers are increasingly realising the value and reach of retail-based TV networks to target new and hard-to-reach consumers. Wal-Mart has 125,000 screens in 3,100 of its stores, giving marketers an audience of 127 million shoppers each week. Wal-Mart's in-store TV network system offers much more than store discounts, it has the news, weather, entertainment programs mixed in with paid advertisements and has become the country's largest and most sophisticated in-store TV networks.
The network, operated by Premiere Retail Networks, is about to get even more sophisticated with a systemwide upgrade from satellite broadcast TV to an Internet-based system. The change will give advertisers, who now can deliver messages to different store departments, the ability to target individual screens, says Keith Daly, PRN head of programming strategy and broadcast production.

Long checkout lines are customers biggest pet peeve

No one likes standing in long lines and according to a study by National In-Store and M/A/R/C Research if your store has long checkout lines, you're likely to have lots of unhappy customers. The study found that 1 in 10 customers leave stores without making a purchase due to long waiting times at the check out counter. The study was conducted using 3,500 in-store audits and responses from over 17,000 shoppers in six categories, such as grocery, drug, consumer electronics, office supply, mass merchants and club stores.
More than 90% of shoppers were extremely satisfied with a checkout of 1-3 minutes. After 4-5 minutes, satisfaction levels fall below 80% for all but club stores, where shoppers are slightly more tolerant of longer checkout times. Satisfaction declines sharply for waits longer than five minutes.

Men are more likely to forgo a purchase because of long checkout times, as are women in the 35-54 age group, the study found.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Will US customers go for 'unlocked' cellphone plans?

Chinese cellphone manufacturers, Alcatel Mobile Phone and Haier Group, are showcasing their cellphones at CTIA Wireless 2007, a gathering of the cellular industry. Haier is introducing cellphones that have very distinctive handsets called Elegance and Sterling that will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile although they will not be sold with any service provider package and will be "unlocked" so consumers can select their own service provider and add the "SIM" or the subscriber identity module into the handset. Alcatel will be offering cellphones with wireless providers to consumers. Unlocked cell phone plans are common in Europe and Asia, where consumers have the choice to buy any cell phone and select any service provider.

America's Internet users

I was quite surprised by these numbers. According the a study conducted by Parks Associates as part of its National Technology Scan, 29% or 31 million households in the US that do not have Internet access and have no plans to get it anytime in the next year either. The main reason for not having Internet at home for 44% of these households was "that there was nothing in cyberspace that interested them", along with other reasons such as not having enough information on how to use it, or not being able to afford a computer, or using the Internet at work already.
Age was an important factor in determining a household's interest in the Internet. The two age groups with the highest percentages of non-subscribers were those who were 55 to 64 year olds (18.8 percent), and those 65 years old or more (38.7 percent), according to Parks.

"There's a generational effect going on," Barrett said. "There are some people that because of their age, the Internet really doesn't appeal -- doesn't resonate that well with them."

As the portion of the population born before the Internet shrinks, he said, so too will the number of households that don't have an Internet connection.

Future Group to open cash-and-carry business

Kishore Biyani’s Future Group will be entering the cash-and-carry segment to compete head-on with Reliance and the Wal-Mart and Bharti JV. Future Group's new cash-and-carry business is to be named KB’s Wholesale after it's founder and promoter Kishore Biyani and will be opening in April. Approximately 15 stores will be opened in the next 18 months. The first store will be in Burdwan in West Bengal and a second store will open in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.

Kirby Building Systems looking to enter consumer durable retailing

Kirby Building Systems, the Indian division of one of Asia's largest business houses Alghanim Industries, is looking to enter the retail sector. Kirby is interested in becoming a 'multi-brand consumer durable retailer' although the government has not permitted FDI in that area as yet. According to Srikant Gokhle, CEO of Kirby India, “Our retail plans are still very preliminary. We are exploring ways to enter Indian retail in tandem with existing policy regulations.”

HighFivez: a place to vote or plug blog posts

There can never be too many social networking sites for bloggers, since a major reason to blog is to interact with other bloggers. HighFivez is a new community where you can submit a blog, read other member’s blogs and vote for or against a post or a blog. It's also a great place to keep all your favorite blogs in one place for easy access and quick viewing. Members themselves do all voting and ratings so users will get a true idea of their blog or post instead of a computer generated rating.

Andrew Gilmore founded in his quest to create an option of finding blogs with similar interests and categories without going through he millions of blogs. What really makes HighFivez interesting is that real people rate all posts and blogs and not computer robots, with the end result that is much more attuned to your own preferences. To be a member you have to be a blogger and have an active blog. The navigation is really quick, so with one click you can go to the most popular posts or the most popular blogs and vote or plug them. It looks like a winning idea and a nice twist to the run-of-the-mill social networking scene.

Retailers use Esops as bait to retail talent

I found this rather interesting since most retailers are struggling quite a bit to come up with a fool proof plan to attract and retain its employees, especially those that the top rung. Nationwide most companies are lowering the value associated with giving employee stock option plans as fringe benefits due to the government's decision to include them in the tax net, but retailers are still finding them a useful tool in retaining employees. Leading retailer Provogue has just installed its own Esop plan. According to Salil Chaturvedi, promoter of Provouge, “Besides controlling attrition, Esops help in aligning the interest of the managers with those of the owners. Whatever be the outcome of FBT on Esops, I feel Esops are worthy of investment in our human resources.” Other retailers using Esops to attract and retain talent are Reliance Retail, Shoppers’ Stop, Future Group and Piramyd Retail.

Finding localized information

The Internet has made it possible for people from across the world to connect, but what about those at a local level. Do you know what is happening in your local community? Can you locate a local servicemen such as plumbers and electricians easily? Localized focus sites are a great way to connect even small communities so that residents can easily find out about upcoming events as well as find a good contractor to take care of that leaky roof. UK based company does exactly that and much more. Besides a community website there is a section on local news and weather, an event guide, local blogs, local classified ads and even a dating section. This was an area of the market that had been ignored, but there was definitely a need for such services. Even if you are not a local, you could find pertinent information localized to the area, such as bed and breakfasts to stay in.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Make money online with Fummo

Have you heard about Fummo ? It's the newest kid on the block in the business of making money online. The company will officially be launching on 20th May, but you can still earn money by referring your friends till then. Fummo will pay you $5 for each referral and a 10% commission on their earnings, so you could have a pretty tidy sum waiting for you by the time Fummo officially launches. Check it out and sign up to make the most of this incredible deal.

Increase your client database

Do you run a small business and want newer and a greater number of visitors to your site? A lot many small and medium businesses underestimate the power of technology and making contact via email based marketing. As consumers increasingly get accustomed to the online world, the worth of email marketing is growing although the trick is in the selection of respondents in making it ultimately successful. Email Express Direct offers a simple way for small business owners to build their customer and visitor database. The company will be able to create and deliver professional style email campaigns and newsletters in an affordable and effective manner. If you're not sure, then try the system out for a month for free for up to 30 contacts. Make as many campaigns you like in your free trial month without risk or obligation.

Sprint cuts cost of music downloads to 99cents

Good news from Sprint customers who like downloading music. The company has decreased its charges to US99cents for all songs purchased from the Sprint Music Store. The new charges will be effective from next month. Sprint has over 1.5 million songs at its music store, which can be downloaded at 99cents a price that matches what Apple charges for downloads from iTunes.
Sprint also said it will give its customers some freebies: up to 10 preselected songs each week for no additional charge. Provided through a partnership with independent music labels, "this unique offering allows for the discovery of new music and demonstrates how simple, quick and entertaining the Sprint Music Store is to use," Sprint said.

Its new Sprint Music Manager allows the easy transfer of songs from a PC to a Sprint mobile phone via a USB cable, according to the company. "It also enables digital music to be managed all in one place on the PC through an intuitive interface," Sprint added.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Online shopping increasing in Switzerland

The Swiss are catching up with online shopping, with sales close to doubling to US$3.47 billion in the past three years. One of the foremost reasons for this increase has been the lessening of fears regarding internet security. The new results have been published by St Gallen University's Institute of Marketing and Retailing. Switzerland has 5 million internet users and according to the study, 40% of all Swiss internet users buy flights online. According to Thomas Rudolph, director of the institute, "There are still concerns about using credit cards and security is still a problem, but this is decreasing."
According to a report last year on online trade in Europe by Forrester Research, retail sales topped €100 billion (SFr162 billion) last year and will reach €263 billion in 2011.

Forrester predicts that sales in Switzerland will be more than €5 billion in 2011. This year the Swiss are expected to account for 1.3 per cent of Europe's €130 billion online sales.

This puts Switzerland roughly on a par with Denmark, ahead of Ireland, Portugal and Greece, but well behind big-hitters Britain and Germany.

Abel prize awarded

The Norwegian Abel Prize has been awarded to Srinivasa S R Vandhan for his ‘fundamental contributions to probability theory and in particular for a unified theory of large deviations’. The Abel Prize is widely regarded as the Nobel Prize for Math. Vandhan teaches at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. His theories have been used in fields such as quantum field theory, statistical physics, econometrics and finance.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Google is changing the online ad business once again. Its new model is based on giving advertisers more choices, such as if an advertisement does not get any results, then advertisers do not have to pay for it. So instead of paying per click, advertisers will pay based on the action, such as filling a form, that users take on their website. Google said that it's new model will not replace it's existing online advertising system but rather add to it. According to analyst Rob Enderle, "The ability for advertisers to pay on a cost-per-action basis should provide them a more effective way to track their ad dollars."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Jayalalitha against corporate groups entering retail sector

After Kerala, now its Tamil Nadu that might be opposing organized retail. It's really quite ironic, since organized food retailing started in the south and it might be where it gets the shunt first. AIADMK chief Jayalalitha announced that that she is against corporate groups entering the retail sector as it likely to cause small retailers and traders to lose their livelihood due to the leverage large corporate houses have to sell commodities at lower prices. She also said that large retailers had wiped out small retailers in countries such as Japan, China and Canada and the same could happen here too.

A simple way to stay in touch while traveling

The few things we make sure we have when we travel are our passports, our money and our calling cards. To be connected is one of the top priorities for anyone of this generation and using a Pingo calling card is the simplest and cheapest way to keep in touch. Yes, it's simpler than a roaming cell phone which is going to pile up humongous bills, just for being available, forget about talk time. Pingo's virtual VOIP calling cards have no hidden fees and have the most competitive rates in the market.

They'll also throw in $5 in free calls on signing up as well as up to 4 hours of free international calls. How do I know this? Well, I've used their International prepaid phone calling cards several times and have been happy with the quality of the audio, and the cost as well. Like me, 90% of Pingo's customers reorder calling cards from them, quite a rarity in this highly competitive telecom market. Read up on some details on Pingo and works at their site and start making calls, simply and cheaply.

Recylcing their way to profit

This is a pretty interesting idea, recycling based on incentives to attract new consumers to the concept. A Philadelphia based company called RecycleBank has started a system where households who participate can earn RecycleBank dollars which redeemable discount coupons at certain stores. All consumers have to do is to put their recyclables out to be collected by RecycleBank. It's also a great way for a community to work together to be a part of something larger.
How does it work? RecycleBank containers are embedded with identifying barcodes, and households can throw all of their recyclable waste into one bin (single stream recycling system, also known as making it easy for customers to be green). Collection trucks scan and weigh the containers to track how much each household is recycling. The more customers recycle, the more they earn in RecycleBank dollars—up to 35 USD per month.

Industry specific icons

There are sites that make you click away as soon as you get to them and then there are those that draw you in immediately. So, what is the difference that just a few seconds can make? It's a question of attention to detail, of the little touches that make a site more professional like having high quality Vista Icons that make a site different from all others. Iconplant has some of the largest range of icons for a variety of industries such as hotel and travel, telecom, medical, real estate, windows, banking, education and, even my field of work, retail icons.

The icons are affordable as compared to other sites offering similar products and have some detailed and high quality artwork, using rich colors and shadow work to add dimensions. Iconplant is owned by Crewind Communications, a notable software and graphics development company that has completed project across the world and has detail oriented employees who are experts in their specific fields. There is also an option to download some sample icons from the Iconplant website so that you are certain of the quality and the look of the icons. Iconplant offers great support if required. So, if this could be a reason for a visitor to stay longer on your site, then it's definitely worth a visit.

Godrej to open boutique home focused stores

The Godrej Group announced that it will be opening specialty stores in four categories of home appliances, home furniture, office furniture and non-apparel lifestyle products. The stores will operate through its flagship company Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. The first 20 of these stores will be opened by 2010 in major retail markets such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.

Retail surplus finding its way to wholesalers

Excess stock from organized retail stores is ending up at wholesalers who are selling it at huge discounts. There seems to be an informal cash-and-carry business going on, where organized retailers are dumping excess stock to wholesalers. According to KS Ramesh, the former COO of CavinKare, “Dumping stocks back into the channel is a regular method to get rid of the excess inventory. But it’s mainly companies that don’t have a strong management direction that would let this continue.”

Metric conversion calculators: the simplest way to convert

The metric conversion calculator is a superb product that makes perfect sense for me. Last year when we drove from Toronto to NYC, we printed the map and directions from the Internet from a US based company, but all the distances were in miles and since we had rented a car in Canada, it's meter was in kilometers. So we had to do lots of conversions along the way. Same thing happened when my parents spent a month driving in the UK, from London to the Lake District to Scotland and back, they had to keep converting distances from miles to kilometers and back and forth.

The 1-Step Metric Conversion Calculator is a great tool to have, especially if you travel as much as we do. It would even help me in the kitchen since I have recipe books from the US and the UK, which use different systems of measuring. The calculator is extremely simple to use, has intuitive error messages, hundreds of conversions, color-coding for ease of use and a full featured decimal calculator. The Instant Metric Magic calculator is just a great tool to have to help make those complicated conversions, for everything from temperature conversions from Fahrenheit to Celsius, pounds to kilograms, miles to kilometers and much more. I can't wait to get one!

Liberty from UK keen to invest in Rajasthan

One of the UK’s biggest retail and real estate companies, Liberty International said that it would be putting in close between Rs 10-20 billion in investments in the state of Rajasthan. This will not the company's first investment in the country as it already has ties to the Indian retail sector, through a JV with Provogue, a leading domestic apparel manufacturer and retailer. David Fishel, the CEO of Liberty International, met the Chief Minister of the state, Vasundhara Raje to discuss plans.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Reliance Retail opens in Bangalore

Reliance Retail opened 11 pilot stores in Bangalore this week and will be opening additional stores in cities such as Mysore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum and Mangalore later this year. The total number of Reliance Fresh stores goes up to 80, including the new stores in Bangalore, in just four months since the launch of the first Reliance Fresh store in Hyderabad. The company plans to have a store in every 2 km radius. At present, stores are located in Hyderabad, NCR, Jaipur, Ranchi, Chennai and now Bangalore.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The fate of traditional news channels!!

Have You Seen CNN Lately?

Password management

Running a small business is much harder and complicated that it seems. As companies are using the increasingly using Internet for business, it is essential for them to increase security, decrease risks and eliminate intrusions. Skymark's solutions include providing identification, authorization, authentication, Password Management and technologies for audits that protect Unix/Linux data centers.

With these systems companies can ensure they are protected against insider threats, can improve efficiency of operations, reduce time and cost of system administration and meet all data privacy and compliance requirements according to federal and industry regulations. Spymark Software is the leading provider of Unix and Linux security systems announced that its PowerBroker and PowerPassword-User Mangagement Edition (UME) would support HP's new Integrity servers that run the HP-UX 11i v3 system. The PowerBroker and PowerPassword-UME management systems and control solutions are able to protect the root account, which is the most targeted administrative account.

Increase in page rank

Time for a mini celebration. My blog has been give a Page Rank of 1 in Google's latest update a few days back. Although I have been blogging since August 2004, this blog was started a year later in July 2005. I started to write regularly on it late last year and seriously promote it only a few months back, so it's validation time. Just goes to prove that if you are serious about blogging and devote enough time to it (and I really mean enough time, ie. 4-5 hours daily) then it can be done. Here's to reaching my next goal!!

Team buying for higher discounts

Interesting find this on It has generally been seen that groups are more powerful than the individual, and in retail it's even more so. Consumers are forming groups to combine buying power and increase their chances of getting a bargain. Even strangers can take part in this exercise of team buying. How it works is that groups of customers wanting to buy similiar products meet at designated shops and mob the seller into giving them a bulk discount. The trend is especially popular in China where there are several such sites such as TeamBuy, Taoboa and Liba, which already have hundreds of thousands of members and even earning money from ad revenue and commission from supplers.

POS systems from the small retailer

A lot of small retailers overlook the importance of having a high quality point of sale system that helps keep track of sales and inventory. Often small retailers want to keep their business as simple as possible and regard relying too much on technology as something of a waste. As a retail analyst, I have met several small retailers who just don't know how to get started installing such as system. I think part of the problem is that a lot of technology sites cater to those who already understand the product and are either familiar with new software and technology or are able to adapt easily.

Sites that cater to those who are unfamiliar with technology and have no interest in knowing too much is where a site like MerchantOS comes in as they make it absolutely simple and straightforward to understand and get started in installing a POS system. The MerchantOS website is informative without an overkill of information on its home page, so if you need more information, you can go into the detail, but if you want the basic gist, you are not going to get lost in the technicalities.

The layout is clean and simple, the font easy to read, making it a site that draws you in without having to dig too deep. I simply love the box that they have on the number of current customers, ongoing sales and locations that continuously gets updated. Another great feature is the section on some current customers, which can be the for the final push to selection. There is a MerchantOS blog too, which is a great way to read company news, tools and tips for running a business. For more details have a look at their POS system prices and product details.

Consumer durable retailers target small format stores

Some of the larger consumer durable retail chains such as Croma and Next are keen on expanding their business by buying out small retail chains across the country to expand their business. Several of these companies are having discussions with small regional players like Mumbai based Sumaria, Sony Mony and Kohinoor, Hyderabad based Shah’s and TMC, and Bangalore based Shubham.

On the other hand several larger regional consumer durable retailers such as Vivek’s and Vijay Sales are keen on tying up with international retailers such as Dickson and Best Buy. The recent sales at Gudi Padwa festival which is the traditional time to purchase electronics, showed that consumers prefer organized formats such as Croma, Next and Vijay Sales where sales were significantly higher than small consumer durable stores.

Trade favors at Zakle

I've been writing a lot about social networking lately. The thing is that the Internet is full of lots of interesting people and social networking is the best way for them connect and interact. It really is the essence of the online world, it's most attractive feature and also its most impacting. Just imagine that through social networking you might get someone from across the world to offer you a job or make a book offer. Social networking makes distances obsolete. It doesn't matter if the person you are connecting with is in the next room or all the way around the world.

One of the new social networking sites is offering a new twist, seeking and giving favors. Check out The company has just launched its public beta and is looking for people to try it out. How it works is that once you register on the site, you can barter products and services with other members. Based on the principle of everyone helping everyone, Zakle is a new thrust in this social networking with a humane touch.

I liked the thought behind the system and am looking forward to using it creatively, such as my request on finding the best cheesecake in Dubai, since we'll be moving there in a few months time. I also offered to return a favor by giving travel advice to anyone interesting in planning a trip here. When you sign up on a referral you receive bonus points so you can start trading favors and requests straight away. Zakle's definitely worth checking out, since it's a completely new concept and is likely to snowball into something pretty big.

Working as usual

OK, so you can see, I'm not taking part in the Shutdown Day social experiment. Since I work on a project by project assignment, I get to take time off in slow times, but when I have work, I can't afford to goof off. So there it is, I am going about my usual routine of morning blogging before I get started on work.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Counting down to Shutdown day....

It's 40 minutes away and I still haven't made up my mind.

Shutdown Day officially is on March 24th and although I really, really want to participate, I am worried about the TON on work I will be left to catch up on Saturday.
Hence the hesitation....

San Francisco's bedouins

Working at home is getting passe. In San Francisco, there is a new trend of working in coffeehouses that has been getting very popular, especially with people who are opting out of the rat race or working with large corporations. Interestingly, these so-called nomads who roam from cafe to cafe have become known as 'bedouins'. But these are no old fashioned bedouins, they have all the accouterments to run an office and are able to work no matter where they are.
San Francisco's bedouins see themselves changing the nature of the workplace, if not the world at large. They see large companies like General Motors laying off workers, contributing to insecurity. And at the same time, they see the Internet providing the tools to start companies on the cheap. In the Bedouin lifestyle, they are free to make their own rules.

"The San Francisco coffeehouse is the new Palo Alto garage," declares Kevin Burton, 30, who runs his Internet startup Tailrank without renting offices. "It's where all the innovation is happening."

Social networking on news sites now

The rise and widespread adaption of social networking sites has led to traditional news organizations to change the way they perceive the web. News companies such as Fox, CNN, USA Today and MSNBC have all introduced networking tools in their websites, and are asking viewers to contribute to the news. Traditional news channels have a high believability factor that is still missing in social networking when it comes to news. Fox News which owns MySpace introduced its UReport service this week to get people to contribute and share content on the web.

Renting computer equipment for conferences

Planning a corporate event takes a lot of work and equipment. The communications company where I worked in Kansas City had planned such an event in California and we had to plan everything from 1,500 miles away. Luckily, we had found a company to provide us with computers, laptops, and audio visual equipment on a rental basis, so one of the main concerns was taken care of quite simply. Companies such as ComputerRentals are experts in the field of taking care of all technology equipment one might need for a conference. It's possible to get such equipment at Anaheim computer rental stores or in other cities such as Burbank, Glendale, San Diego, San Francisco etc. The company has been in the business for over 25 years and are the leading providers of such equipment.

Employer branding is here to stay

Employer branding is the new buzzword. What is it? Employer branding is a way to brand a company in terms of being a good employer, besides the brands that it has. Wal-Mart is on the lookout for an advertising firm who will be able to change the company's perception in the market from negative to positive. The concept is also being used to attract and hold on to talent, earlier in the IT industry and now in retailing, both sectors that have notoriously high attrition rates.

Never go shopping alone again

Some of the world's top retailers are hooked on social retailing. Huh, what? Social retailing is an in-store experience that combines social networking with shopping. Using social retailing technology, consumers can be photographed by an intelligent mirror and have the pics sent to friends and family for feedback. Bloomingdales started using this new technology in its stores last week and others are keen to adopt it too. Developed and trademarked by IconNicholson, a US based company, who first demonstrated the concept at the 'Store of the Future' conference a few months ago. The interactive mirror is placed outside trial rooms, from which videos and pictures can be sent to computers or mobile phones.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nokia releases N95 series

Did you hear that the NokiaN95s are out? I love Nokia cell phones and have used them for close to five years now and each time I think of switching to another manufacturer, I somehow am not able to adjust to the menu systems and functions of other cell phones. Nokia cell phones are simply the most user friendly phones and can take quite a beating. The problem generally with Nokia phones has been that they have not been as trendy as some of the other phone companies, especially in the West. In the East in Asian markets, Nokia rules absolutely.

The N95 series hope to address this problem as they are super stylish. With a 5 megapixel digital camera with a Carl Zeiss lens no less, autofocus and flash, you probably will not need a regular camera any more. A handy tool for the world traveler, the N95 comes with GPS support so you can check maps in over 100 countries on the phone. I especially like its connectivity, since you can synchronize it with your PC to work with Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. Read up on these and other features on their new minisite about the N95.

Subhiksha ties up with vJive for integrated media solution

Subhiksha and vJive Networks have tied up for an integrated out-of-home media solution that will run at all of Subhiksha's stores in the country. VJive Networks is the country’s largest broadband based out-of-home media and digital sign company that has a network across the country. Currently Subhiksha has 650 stores in 30 cities for which this new system will be used and has plans to expand to 1000 stores by the end of the year. The agreement between the companies states that vJive will supply Subhiksha with constant audio and visual banners, displaying advertisements to shoppers. These advertisements will be carried on an Internet based system that will simultaneously stream advertisements to screens in all their stores across the country.

Disney opens stores in India

Disney has opened its much anticipated stores here. The company had tied up with Devyani International Ltd (DIL) some time back and now has opened its first retail store. DIL is the master franchisee and will be opening an estimated 300 Disney stores in India over the next five years with an investment of Rs 1.5 billion. The first 22 stores will be operational by the end of this year. Stores will be located in metros and tier II cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

How to find the right contractor

Building a home or planning a remodeling project is an extremely stressful time for most people. The best way to deal with it is to find a reliable contractor, someone who has been recommended and preferably a contractor who has done work for someone you know. It's the best way to ensure that the job will be completed on time and according to plan. A more modern way is to find a company through OnCallContractors who are one of the best and easiest contractor matching services. All you have to do is to set your criteria and you will be connected to the best Home Improvement Contractors that fit your requirements. OnCallContractors list contractors for both commercial and residential jobs. All contractors are thoroughly screened and can only join the network after a strict review and application process. Contractors are also licenced and insured, so you don't need to think of anything but what the finished result will be.

Market yourself optimally

I read a great article on using the web on how to market your company, yourself or your brand on ECommerce Times. While a lot of new and smaller business owners think that your work is done once you have a website set up, it is essential to utilize the power of the web to continuously promote your business. There are a lot of tips, both free and paid on how to maximise your marketing on the web, including things such as visiting others blogs and forums, asking visitors to bookmark your site and much more.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Low cost sourcing unlikely to last last

Global retailers sourcing products from India and China might have to rework their strategy as low cost sourcing is unlikely to last long. The recently released Deloitte 2007 Global Powers of Retailing study, reports that the combination of political and economic factors will soon increase the cost and reduce the access to imports heading to the US, Japan and Europe, forcing retailers to look for domestic sources which will be at higher prices.

The report adds that “China, Mexico, Brazil, India and even Vietnam are places that run large trade surpluses with the rest of the world that in the aggregate are no longer sustainable.” Sudhir Dhingra, MD of Orient Craft, one of India's largest suppliers of apparel to The Gap and Banana Republic, says that “India has barely scratched the surface. It is China which has run a huge trade surplus, driving corporations to spread their sourcing across the world. India continues to enjoy the preferred destination status.”

Building a website

I built my first website last month, after a lot of trepidation and thought. I consider myself quite adaptable to technology, although I am not a technical or software person. I had done a basic website building course several years back and was relying on knowing something from then too. This morning I came across a site that helps users to build websites and it definitely seemed much less complicated than what I had done myself. The Website Builder from Flare9 is perfect for creating professionally styled websites even if you know absolutely nothing about HTML. Using a integrated content management system, the Flare9 Website Builder is a great way to promote yourself or your business without spending too much.

There is a one time registration fee of $299.95 and a monthly charge of $39.95 for the Website Builder. If you need to register your domain there is an option for a 2 year domain registration for $24. With features like an unlimited choice of website template to select from, a secure contract form, integrated blog with unlimited posting, SEO compatibility, Comment and Spam protection, and control of the Title, Description and Keyword META control it offers the very best of options of creating and managing a website. Investing in a website is an extention of a company and one should consider the long term effects of promoting a business vs the costs involved.

Branding through good deeds

Do brands that contribute to society gain more than just profits? Yes, according to research that shows that humanitarian efforts are being applauded the world over. An estimated 60% of adults above 18 feel that they would trust a company more if they know about its work for the environment and the world at large. These findings come from the Lifestyles of Health & Sustainability (LOHAS) Consumer Trends Database conducted by the Natural Marketing Institute in Harleysville, Pa.
In Kenya, Coca-Cola is helping teach children how to test drinking water for contamination. The company also is providing water-purification systems for some of the country's most poverty-stricken areas.

In India, Starbucks is addressing sanitation-related health problems by donating $1 million to WaterAid. With World Water Day looming (March 22), Coca-Cola and Starbucks have taken the opportunity to illustrate the good they are doing for the 1.1 billion people who lack access to clean drinking water.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Travel planning

Looking to make the most of your trip to see NY Yankees? Check out a great site where you can get some insider tips on the city from locals and those who have visited themselves. The New York Sports and Travel site is a great place to start planning your trip to the city, make an itinerary of must see sights and mustn't miss events. New York City has one of the highest number of tourists visiting in the US, but what a lot of people don't know is that a lot of tourists come for sports related activities and are looking for specialized information for these events. The NYC sports & travel site is the perfect place to find all that you need for fixing to go see all the games that you want. I personally really liked the variety of information covered on the site, so you don't need to look for information on other sites for things like where to stay, how to travel within the city and much more.

Reliance Retail holds talks with global luxury brands

As its domestic focus is on the mass class, Reliance Retail is looking to form some upscale tie ups with global retailers. The company is interested in tying up with several luxury brands and has held talks with companies such as Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, Prada, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren. Industry sources report that, "Reliance Retail is talking to a large number of global luxury brands to tie up for its luxury retail venture as part of its retail initiative." The company is planning to market these high-end brands in two formats, hypermarkets and speciality luxury stores. The company’s first hypermarket will be opening in July this year, with a total of 700 such stores being planned that will be opened in the next three years.

Brand name eyewear from OpticsPlanet

Don't you just love buying sunglasses? I can't resist buying new sunglasses, since I like to change them quite often and it gets boring to wear the same sunglasses after a while. I have found some really great sunglasses at OpticsPlanet which is one of the leading online supplier of eye wear, including sunglasses and prescription glasses. I wear contact lenses but I like to have a pair of prescription sunglasses to wear if I decide not to put on my lenses and OpticsPlanet has a great range of these types of glasses too. Their free UPS on all orders above $29.95 and unbelievably low prices make it so much easier to decide. Besides fashion sunglasses, OpticsPlanet has lots of utilitarian items like safety or shooting glasses and Binoculars. With the best of the brand names available, including Body Specs, Bobster, Wiley X, Serengeti and Bolle, you can't go wrong buying glasses at OpticsPlanet.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Retail spies everywhere

Retailers are facing tough competition and with it the focus is increasingly on prices, which have become one of the key decision making factors that brings in customers. To check on rival's prirces, retailers have taken to visiting rival stores to keep a tab on prices. Key items that prices are checked for on a regular basis include, essential commodities such as rice, dal, oil and sugar.

According to S Raghunandan, an independent retail consultant and former HyperCITY CEO, “Every retail chain would have people who scout around for prices and offers in other stores. The consumers often know of the best prices and retailers can’t afford to be more expensive than the other stores in the catchments.”

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Do retailers discounts mean anything?

Retailers are concerned about the reaction from customers on deals and discounts that they offer consumers. With so much information available in the media and comparison shopping, consumers often know the prices of the products and realize that they are not really getting a discount. The recent expose about Tesco doubling its prices of fruits and vegetables one week and then offering a 50% discount a few days later has caused discontent among consumers. The problem could be attributed to the fact that consumers expect discounted prices regardless of what price they are paying or what product they are buying.

Online gift baskets

Another example of superb use to technology and communication to reach out to customers who aren't physically located in the same place as a business. I have used such services quite often and have found them to be the best way to tackle special occasions when one cannot be present oneself. Sending online Gift Baskets has simplified my life to a great extent and I love the variety of baskets that Gourmet Gift Baskets offer, like Tex-Mex gift baskets to New England style breakfast gift baskets. Sending gifts to loved ones is a universal concept but as friends and families are more spread out over the world, it has become harder to be physically present on all occasions. Sending a gift basket is a great way to make the day special and memorable.

Social networks becoming increasingly niche

Social networking sites are going through a segmenting of sorts, with lots of smaller and niche networks being formed which are growing in popularity. While MySpace still commands roughly 84% of the entire social networking market share, smaller and newer entrants like Buzznet and iMeem are gaining in popularity each week. According to LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise, "Social networking has been rising in popularity steadily for the past two to three years."

The Hitwise survey tracked visitors at the top 20 social networking sites which rose by 11.5% from janruary to February, with the largest increase belonging to Buzznet, which grew 148.4% and iMeen which grew 145.7% during the period. MySpace users also increased by 10.2% during the same period.

Several factors likely contribute to the increase in site traffic, including a recent increase in the number of users in their 20s and 30s coming around to the technology, as well as the genre's ever-growing teen market, according to Amanda Vega, a principal analyst with Vega Consulting.

"Kids have a circle of influence that spreads rapidly," Vega told the E-Commerce Times. "Now, we are seeing older users finally coming around."

In addition, the growth hangs on the use of social networking sites in the U.S. political process -- national political campaigns have been adopting the technology as a marketing Free Trial. Reduce returned mail by verifying addresses before they enter your database vehicle and a way to broadcast political messages.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Back from Goa

Ah, Goa, nothing quite like it to spend time in Goa. I find that there is something magical about the place, that pulls me back with great gusto each time. Varca Beach is a really unspoilt beach, which is still not too crowded as yet and with Club Mahindra's direct access to the beach, it's one of the best places to stay in Goa.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Away to Goa

Time to go to Goa......

Time to do nothing at all, but listen to the waves, wade into the water, nap under the palm trees....

The only agenda of the be at the beach to see the sunset, sinking into the sea in a ball of fire....

Time to disconnect from everything and anything connected to our daily lives.....

Time to rejuvenate.....

Time to go to Goa....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Credit card company ease rules and penalties

Credit card companies are giving up some the the highly criticised ideas such as raising interest rates of customers who pay their bills late, even though it might be to another bank credit card, simplifying procedures on credit card disclosures and reducing over-the-limit fees.
"The Senate hearings are having an impact," says Kirsten Keefe of Americans for Fairness in Lending, an organization of consumer advocates. "Consumers are fed up."

In recent years, banks have become more aggressive in imposing fees and raising interest rates, says Robert McKinley of Many banks now hit you with fees of up to $39 per incident if you pay your bill one minute late or spend $1 past your credit limit. On top of this, some banks impose record-high penalty interest rates of up to 32% on those who pay late or spend past their limit just once.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Reliance Retail searching for warehouses

With the growth of modern retail stores, the need for warehousing facilities continues to grow. Reliance Retail reportedly wants to lease the government-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) storage facility to supplement its capacity for stocking foodgrain. The FCI warehouse is a 300,000 tonne storage facility that is located outside of Lucknow, strategically located to several sourcing hubs.
Sources close to the development said Reliance was planning to hire this capacity and talks were on between the government and the company. “The terms for renting out the facility are being negotiated between the two parties,” said an industry source. So far, FCI has rented out 7.7 lakh tonne capacity in the current financial year and has earned Rs 12.58 crore revenues. FCI is renting out storage capacities as it is carrying low foodgrain stocks due to a reduced procurement of wheat.

Spencers' to invest Rs 2,500 crore for expansion

The RPG Group announced its plans to invest Rs 2,500 crore to expand its Spencers’ retail chain. The company will be setting up 1,000 stores by the year 2009, a significant increase from its current 125 stores. The company will be expanding the Spencers’ brand in two phases, the first phase completing by 2009 where an investment of Rs 1,000 crore will be made to increase the number of stores to 1,000. During this period the Spencers’ brand will be made the company’s flagship brand. The second phase of expansion will take place from 2009 to 2011, when the company will invest Rs 1,500 crore to further expand its operations.

Goa countdown

Counting down to Goa.
Just one day till we head there for our 5 day vacation.
Looking forward to being disconnected from work and am seriously debating keeping my cell switched off for the entire trip, like I did for our trip to Koilwar at the end of December. It's the only way I will be able to really relax and forget completely about work for a while.

Cost effectiveness of online advertising

WebProNews writes about the increase in online ads, with advertisers spending $12.5 billion and revenues from the industry growing 34% for the year 2005. The effectiveness of online advertising has often been questioned, but with figures like these even the sceptics have to agree, online advertising has become one of the most cost efficient forms of advertising. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Internet Advertising Revenue Report which is collaborated with PricewaterhouseCoopers, online advertising is here to stay and get more entrenched for newer sections of the market.
The multi-billion dollar market has been a big driver of the activities of the big Internet players. Google of course has made its fortune from online ads, which deliver 99 percent of the company's revenue.

Yahoo spent 2006 feverishly reworking its Internet ad system to more closely emulate Google's relevance model for delivering advertising to viewers. Early accounts have been favorable as ad agencies start to see greater activity on Yahoo ads.

Staying connected with your smartphone

Our quest to remain connected at all times has given rise to the smartphone. I work from home and one of the hardest things I find is the stop working through the night or first thing in the morning, but if I had a smartphone I wouldn't be off work anytime, which is a bit scary and workaholic I think. Smartphones are a great help when you are traveling, since it's the easiest thing to keep track of your mails and stay connected, but I'm not sure if I would want to use one all the time.

Well, I am in the minority on this one, as smartphones are rapidly increasing in sales and being adapted by users who normally would not use them. Isn't that the great praise for the product? I think that when a product starts being used by consumers outside of its usual circle, it is definitely more than a phenomenon. Wirefly Top 5 Smartphones of the year, which include the Cingular BlackJack, BlackBerry Pearl for Cingular and T-Mobile, Motorola Q for Verizon Wireless, # 8700 series for Cingular, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon and the Cingular BlackBerry 8800. Sales of smartphones grew by 70% in the first quarter of 2007, as compared to the last quarter of 2006, due to growing awareness by consumers, an increase in advertising programs and a greater selection of thinner and more stylish phones.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Spoke to soon about Tata Indicom

I had written on the 27th of February about Tata Indicom being a good option for Bombay, but it looks like I spoke too soon. My internet connection with them has been off since sunday and they are not able to fix it. The craziest was that when I called them this morning to see if they had found the problem, they told me they had called and spoken to my husband on the 5th on our landline and explained to him that the issue was being investigated and would be fixed shortyly. Well, the truth is that my dearest hubby was in Dubai at that time and they were spewing absolute lies. When I confronted the customer service person on this, he was absolutely flumoxed and fell back on their old favorite, "I'm sorry ma'am I have to put you on hold"!

UPDATE @ 2:30pm
My Tata Indicom Internet connection is working again!

Retail to propel real estate boom

It is said that organized retail will be the catalyst for the real estate industry. According to a study by ICICI Property Service and Technopak, it is estimated that India’s retail sector will grow from its current level of US $330 billion to US $500 billion by 2011, creating the need for an additional 500 million sq ft of retail space.

at present there are only 137 malls in the country, while the study estimates that the country can actually support 1,000 malls and shopping centers in more than 500 towns and cities. There is likely to be investment of over US $30 billion in the next 4-5 years from major companies such as Reliance, Aditya Birla Group, Metro, Carrefour, Auchan, Wal-Mart and Tesco.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Delta Chelsea

On our trip to Canada we researched and booked our hotel online a month before, so we didn't have to worry about finding a place to stay at the last minute. Although I have travelled to Canada several times, I've usually stayed with friends and family and so I've never looked for hotels to stay in there. When I searched online, I found that there are some really great hotel chains, such as Delta Hotels, that are unique to Canada. Mostly located in ski resorts such as Whistler and Sun Peaks, there are lots of golf resorts and bed and breakfasts too. Delta's hotel in Toronto, Delta Chelsea is located in downtown and is the company's premier entertainment hotel, and is located close to the theatres, malls and several of the city's tourist attractions. With its mix of activities, the hotel is popular with both families and business people.

Starbucks plans

The Starbucks cafe chain will be focusing on the metro cities of Delhi and Mumbai to reportedly start its India operations with Pantaloon, a division of The Future Group. According to a company spokesperson, Starbucks will be opening outlets by the 2007 end, although it is not certain whether it will start in Delhi or Mumbai. While media and other reports have said that Starbucks has already tied up with Pantaloon, there is yet to be a confirmation from either of the companies. Starbucks will be targeting young adults in the metros and hope to catch the trend of coffee drinking in a traditionally tea drinking country.

Online strategies

I've been writing a lot lately on online business strategies, service providers, marketing companies and success stories. A lot of companies, especially small and medium sized businesses underestimate the value of these services and the amount of business they can bring in and buzz they can create. In the same vein, DiscountClick provides online marketing services for online clients, to promote websites in search engines. Search Engine Optimization is the key method of achieving online success.

You could have the greatest product but if no one can reach your site, then it's of no use, right? That is what DiscountClick fixes for you. Their range of service include list management, search engine submission to all major sites such as Google, Yahoo, Ask, Alta Vista etc, online marketing services, link building, keyword ranking tools and other SEO services. The monthly charges are nominal considering the amount of work they do. The difference will be easy to see in just two to four weeks.

Vacationing with the family

Did you know that you could save up to 50% on, the leader in the all-inclusive travel experience? The company has recently launched a new website where it has redesigned the search engine, making it intuitive and user friendly, so it will find offers specifically suited to your needs with percentage off promotions, free nights and other special deals. Choosing a vacation spot has become so much easier with the great images of the resorts, information on the local history, culture, customs and activities all listed on the site. You can even go on a virtual tour of resorts, look specifically for a Family Vacation Resort and get detailed information on room amenities and much much more. With resorts located in some of the most beautiful part of the world such as the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico, you just cannot miss this experience.

Counting down to Goa

Three more days for our vacation to Goa.......This time we'll be staying in south Goa, near Varca Beach, which is one of the nicest beaches I have seen in Goa. I haven't been to all of them as yet, but it sure does beat Calangute, Candolim, Vagator and Palolem. North Goa has become just too crowded and too dirty with vendors of all kinds at the beach. The one attraction of Calangute is Sousa Lobo's restaurant, which is located at on the beach and is one of the best places to eat in all of Goa.

Online presence is essential even for store based sales

If sceptics need further proof that having an online presence is essential, then here it is: 50% of broadband Internet users have been influenced by the Internet for a recent purchase. The number will probably increase if you count all Internet users and not just broadband users who generally are more tech savvy and spend more time online. This new research comes from market research firm Media-Screen.
50% of broadband users in the U.S. say the Internet influenced a recent purchase, according to the study. 36% were influenced by online shopping sites and 15% by search engines. That compares with 11% for television commercials and 6% for magazine advertisements.

“Online sources are eclipsing traditional media and advertising channels, like radio and television,” says Cate Riegner, director of research. “Retailers need to recognize this trend and adjust their marketing and advertising strategies accordingly.”

Online discounts

I got a Casio digital camera in January and am thrilled to bits over it. It's one of the most fun gifts I've ever got. Now I am looking for a good printer so I can print out all my pictures on my own at home. Since the Internet is a great place to look for deals and steals, I started my search there and found that if I set up an account with Ebates, I could save quite a bit, up to 25% on some products like digital cameras, printers, clothing, gifts and many more items. What you have to do is to become a member at Ebates and then each time you are going to buy something online, go back to Ebates to complete the transaction, and viola, you get some discount. Simple, isn't it? How they do it is that they earn sales commission from their partners and pass on some of the commission to customers as discounts. The system is so good that even CNN called it "A No-Brainer"!

Internet: growing faster and faster

Internet users in India are increasing faster than anywhere else in the world, more than even the US, China and Japan. Worldwide Internet users grew by 10% reaching 747 million users while India Internet users increased by 33% according to a report by comScore Networks. India now has 21 million Internet users over 15, an increase of 5 million over last year's figures. The US has 153 million Internet users, which grew only 2%.

China has emerged as the second biggest Internet population with 86.8 million users, followed by Japan with 53.6 million, Germany (32 million) and the UK (30 million) in the top five. India has been ranked eighth ahead of countries like Canada, Italy, Brazil, Spain, Russia, the Netherlands and Mexico.

Wal-Mart offers free shipping

Wal-Mart is giving free shipping to customers if they agree to pick up the product at its stores, in a new program called Site to Store. The company may be the world's largest retailer, but has been struggling to balance its mix of low prices while still pursuing an upscale strategy for its online division, where it sells higher quality products including cashmere items. Most products purchased online arrive in stores in 7-10 days, when customers will be informed via email. The company has made this service available at over 750 stores and will be introducing it in over 3,300 stores later in the summer.

Orlando properties

Orlando is known for it theme parks and tourism industry today, but at one time it was just another cow town, more in common with town in the Midwest than its counterparts in the genteel southern states. Orlando history is over 150 years old and first came to be known for its citrus industry, that received a boost when the first railroad was built to the city in 1880. The citrus industry led the city to become a center for business and commerce in the region. Today, tourism is the state's largest industry, with more than 43.3 million visitors coming to Florida each year (2000 statistic). Orlando is the number one destination in the world, in terms of number of visitors it receives.

Other than the tourist industry, retiring senior citizens have made Florida their number one destination, making real estate one of the major economies of the state. Did you know that Orlando was one of the fastest growing cities in Florida and the US. Central Florida is a great place to raise a family and the variety of options for housing is vast, since you can have a totally urban area like downtown or live in one of the historic neighborhoods like Thorton Park. It's a good idea to find a house using an Orlando Real Estate Agent who will be able to guide you through the process of purchasing a property.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Researching tech investments

Most small businesses don't bother doing enough research before making an investment, especially a technology based investment. It is one of the major factors of start up failures. As a small business owner, you must be prepared to deal with vendors that are reliable and reputable, they must also have a good backup and support system. What is their after sales service like? Do they even offer it? Don't skip asking these questions or you're likely to regret it later on. And remember, its not just for the large investments, this is applicable to small purchases like a printer or fax machine too. Gene Marks writes about some of the important questions to ask before making a tech investment in Ecommerce Times. Read it to know what you're doing wrong and how to fix it.

Mega blogging day yesterday

Yesterday was a mega blogging day, as you can see from the number of posts I did. It was my most prolific day yet, and yet at the end of the day, I still thought of a couple of additional things that I could have blogged about. It seems that I suddenly have lots to say, lots to highlight and lots of promote. All the better I say. It will kind of make up for the week of vacation that we'll be going to Goa, where I have promised not even to so much as glance at a computer, and not even utter the word Internet. The focus then is to be on beaches, waves, chilling out, margaritas and pina coladas.

Setting and achieving goals

Working from home makes you realize the importance of managing time and setting goals. It is essential to keep a professional work environment despite the casual setting. Many small businesses start from home and having a goal setting software is one the key reasons that they are able to become successful. I have been using Time Thoughts resources ever since I did a project on leadership and vision, and so when I heard about their new goal setting software I was very pleased, since it is a company that I already trust and find very reliable. The thing about goal setting is that although it might sound quite simple, it actually is much harder to set specific goals and keep track of progress towards them. Using such a software, not only gives a new business a greater chance of survival but also gives it a professional edge.

A digital restaurant experience

A restaurant with waiters? reports a new business sighting, a restaurant and gaming bistro where customers place orders on touch screen terminals and your food is delivered by a food runner. You can also get your drinks or anything else you need for your meal by touching the screen. Besides eating, customer can also play games, table-to-table trivia tournaments, browse the Internet while they wait for their meals. The uWink Bistro is the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell, the visionary being Atari video games and the Chuck E Cheese pizza chain. The first uWink Bistro opening in LA in October 2006.

Golden investments

Have you ever invested in gold before? I have and I found it a great way to balance my investments. There is a certain charm to owning gold, whether it is in ingot, coin or bullion form. There has been a lot of attention on gold price recently, especially prices of jewelery which is quite popular these days, which works as an investment as well as a fashion accessory. The question that usually arises, is that where does one buy gold from, and how does one store it? Here is the solution: Monex Deposit Company (MDC) is a reputable company that has been dealing with gold, silver and other precious metals for more than 30 years. At Monex you can buy gold and have them store it for you at an independent bank or depository.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Feed readers

Which feed reader do you use? I've been using Bloglines for two years or more and really love the way reading all my feeds has become so simplified. I usually have 40-70 sites that I have on my list, the variation due to daily additions and deletions. Also not everyone posts every single day, so I generally read around 25-30 feeds. Try out Bloglines if you haven't already.

Is modern retail still an urban phenomenon?

Retail has been and still is focused on the metro cities, while the real consumer is in smaller cities and rural areas. So far, the rush or retail still remains in the cities, but with the exorbitant real estate prices in urban areas, retailers are moving towards tier II and tier III cities. Cities like Ludhiana are booming, consumers have lots of money and an even greater will to spend it. The sooner retailers set up shop there, the better it will be.

Credit card selection

What are your criteria for selecting a credit card? Is it the special deal on at the time, or its limit? Here's a better way to select credit cards, using you can decide on factors that will ensure that your personal credit does not go down the drain due to bad choices that were made in card selection. The Best Credit Card Offers Effective tool is a great way to define goals so that you are able to find the best credit cards for your needs and spending habits. There is a great tutorial for both beginners and advanced users on credit. Card Fusion finds the best deals by monitoring the credit card markets, so you will find the best deals only. So how are you be deciding which credit card to take from now on?

Going to Goa!

Less than a week to go for our vacation to Goa!

It's been too long in the waiting. We've been wanting to go since September, but something of the other has kept coming up and we've had to postpone the trip. Well, the timing couldn't have been better now. It's been over two months since our last break and with me working most weekends too, it's been just work, work, work. And there simply is no better place to relax and forget about work than Goa.

Organized retail winning over kirana store owners

The Reliance Fresh stores are barely 3 months old and they are already the stores of choice for many customers as well as small scale retailers. Reliance Retail has won over many kirana store owners, with several shop owners doing their shopping at Reliance Fresh stores to resell the products such as edible oil, rice and other items at their own stores. With Reliance Fresh selling fresh vegetables at less than 50% of the price than mandi rates. In its first 10 days, the Reliance store in a Delhi suburb had over 3,000 customers a day and sales of over Rs. 400,000.

Sending flowers online

I find that thanks to the Internet, it is unbelievably easy to send flowers or gifts anywhere in the world. You no longer need to be in that location yourself, or even have their telephone number to call them personally, all that you need is an Internet connection and that's it. I often send flowers to friends and family all across the world, and for the US I use Dot Flowers which makes flower delivery just so simple. They have elegant flower arrangements and gift baskets that you can be designed either at your local floral shop or sent straight from their growers' farms. Dot Flower's customer service department is superb, so if you haven't sent flowers online before, there's no need to worry at all, they will take you through the process. Besides flowers, there are gift baskets, gourmet food and other interesting gifts that can be delivered.

Indian retailers are most agressive

Indian retailers are the most aggressive in pursuing real estate transactions as a method of expanding store operations. According to the 3rd annual Jones Lang LaSalle Retailer Sentiment Survey-Asia, which was conducted in three Asian sub-regions, India, greater China and South East Asia, 45% of Indian retailers were expanding rapidly, followed by 27% in greater China and 6% for South East Asia.

Kirana stores sitting on gold mines in real estate

One of the biggest problems that our retail industry is facing is the severe shortage of retail space in central areas of cities, areas where the kirana (mom-and-pop) stores are already established. So instead of competing with the organized retailer, kirana store owners are opting to lease space to them, giving them a ready made market and local customer base. Food and grocery retailers like Subhiksha, Spinach and Spencer’s are signing long leases with kiranas that are over 1,000 sq ft in space.

Find freelancers at Elance

Working from home is one of the greatest switches I ever did. I'm not alone in this phenomenon, as the number of people opting to work from home, providing professional business services is rapidly growing. Elance is one of the foremost online companies for services in five key categories: programming, design, websites, writing and business consulting. Elance has been in this line for 10 years and has done more projects in more countries than any other freelance service provider. Its reverse bidding system is the perfect way to find the best freelance professionals for your requirements. The service is really great for smaller businesses, who don't need to set up their own departments for design and websites and can just have it done by a professional at Elance. The have people for the entire range of service such as logos, brochures, corporate identity packages, business plan writing, legal representation, data entry and much more.

Private label Vs branded

Private label categories such as women’s luggage, fashion accessories, corporate clothing, gym and yoga wear are a few of the niche segments that retailers are targeting. While some retail chains still price their private label brands lower than branded products, the emphasis is no longer on saving costs but on developing a specialized portfolio.

Does big retail undermine known brands?

Yes, according to industry analyst and president of IMRB International, Thomas Puliyel, who writes about how the entry of large retail companies will change the way Indian consumer make purchasing decisions. Currently, consumers are opening their wallets like never before, mostly putting purchases on credit cards, but over time it is likely that consumers will become more conscious of the power they have to decide between these stores and medium sized newer entrants.

Theme park vacation

One of the best places for a family vacation has to be the Orlando area. You just can't beat 52 theme parks in one area, can you? Add beaches, golf, great weather and you have a mix that very few other places in the world will give you. Disney World is the largest theme park in the area, but there are lots of small parks too, just waiting for you to discover them. The Orlando area is even great for conventions and has the second largest convention center in the world. Hotels are also a great draw. Orlando and Kissimmee hotels are a great place to stay for a family vacation. The city of Orlando is fast changing, with new businesses coming up, especially for all things recreational, since tourism is such a big industry. Competition between parks ensures that new rides and attractions are always being added and being a family vacation place, pretty much everything is child friendly.

Retail merry-go-round

There's been lots of talk on international tie up in the retail sector. Tatas and Tesco, Bombay Dyeing and Carrefour.....and many more. It is clear that all domestic retailers are talking to all international retailers, where ever they strike a deal doesn't really matter, the names are all big and to the Indian customer, one doesn't differ from the other. Wal-Mart was the only large international retailer that has it's own identity amongst consumers and they have already tied up with Bharti Enterprises.

Is Google's rein over?

Search engine optimization was one of the most significant phrases last year. There has been innumerable research and study on how Google sorts its pages. The question that comes up is that will Google always remain the best in this area? Ecommerce Times reports that last year, James Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, announced that he would be launching a new search engine, which has brought about a lot of interest and speculation on Google's long run at being number one as finishing. This new search engine that James Wales is developing will cover a wide range of fields.

"It cannot stay on top forever. Yes, it is in the spotlight now, but a lot
of smart and well-funded companies are developing technology that is different
from what Google offers," he noted. "Many of these firms are focused on solving
niche or smaller or industry-specific issues. They are not necessarily big
enough for Google to focus on now, but perhaps down the road they will be
developed for general use."

Giving back to society

Peter Belisi is one of the great brands that have come out of Palm Beach. He has single handedly created an empire of sorts from nothing apart from his drive to succeed and his sense of style. Starting out as a bartender, Belisi wanted to live the life of the customers he served and started to design ties in an effort to support his family. He wore his ties at work, which got him noticed by several prominent people, who placed orders and slowly the word spread about him and his designs. Besides ties, also has a range of accessories such as scarves and handbags. A guiding principle in his work has been Luxury with Meaning, giving back to society and to those less fortunate. It's a great success story that will hopefully inspire lots of people to follow Peter Belisi.

On trends and technology

Trends and technology are my two favorite topics for this blog and I simply love to find new products and services that are being created. It's a really great combination of stuff to write about, especially in this age of communication, connectivity, interaction and networking. That is a trend in itself, actually.

Self-publish your blog

Another great new idea thanks to technology on You can now self-publish your work just by sending an email. While the concept of self-publishing is not really new, its how it now works is what makes it so doable, so user friendly and so adaptable to today's needs. At Life Trackers, you can email a copy of what you need published and you will get a printable PDF file of the book for free. All you have to do is create an account at Life Trackers, then each time you update your book, email them a copy with the text in the body of the message.

Besides publishing regular books, this is also a great way to compile letters and other information. Just imagine if you could have all your special letters and email published as your own book. You can also add photographs to the text. There are options to get a softcover or hardcover copy if you prefer, instead of a PDF file. It's also a great way to turn blogs into books. Maybe someday, this blog might end up as a book too!

Name debate continues

Bharti Enterprises is still conducting market research on whether it should use Wal-Mart's name for its retail stores here. Both benefits and negatives of using the Wal-Mart brand name for its store chain are prominent, the publicity of its name for low prices as against its bad press and hype as a company that will drive out all the competition. The companies are still in the process of finalizing a joint venture deal where Bharti Enterprises will look after the front end of the stores and Wal-Mart will take care of back end processes such as its supply chain and logistics support.

Cleaning mantras

The amount of information there is on the Internet about how to fix things, how to do things, how to build things is quite amazing. This segment of the industry can be an extension of the DIY sector, but the Internet has given it a whole new push. In this regard, I found The Housekeeping Channel that prides itself in becoming the most comprehensive source of information on how to keep your home clean. I found it to be quite a narrow segment, but the need for this type of information is lapped up really quickly, since consumers today are so busy and are always looking for ways to do all they can for their homes and family in a quicker and more effective manner. It's a great niche offering that is sure to do fantastically well, with the kind of tutorials, tips and tools they provide.

Café Coffee Day on its way to becoming a separate identity

Some news on the coffee chain front. Amalgamated Bean Coffee announced that it was planning to spin off its café chain, Café Coffee Day, to form a new company. The company is being segregated so that it can become a listed company in three years time, by when it is expected to reach more than Rs 800 crore.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Customize your sunroom

One of the best ways to spend the winter months in the hills is to have a sunroom where you can enjoy the warmth of the sun, while keeping out the cold winds. Growing up in the hills, we generally used to have sunny winter days, even though the temperatures might go down to zero and below. A sunroom is simply the best way to enjoy the winter. One of the leading sun room manufacturers is SunPorch, a company that has more than 34 years of experience in the industry. The company has now brought out a new and major design change, with its easy slide window that lets you have total control over the air flow, by opening the upper or lower windows and making it a screen room. Visit the SunPorch Home page for more information on the 10% discount offer and other great deals and demos on converting your sunroom to a screenroom. The company is holding a promotion to celebrate its new designs and is offering 10% discount on any order placed before April 30th, 2007. Enjoy your rooms to the fullest by installing this great new system of sliding windows so that you can customize your airflow.

March 24, 2007: A day without computers

My latest project involves a lot of Internet and computer work and I've been working non-stop for the past week. To the point that I'm going to say no more computer for a day, which is really perfect since I heard about the Shutdown Day social experiment that is taking place on March 24th, 2007. The experiment revolves around the fact that we are getting too dependent on computers and are not able to do anything without them. They have and are continuously shaping the way we live, work and communicate and I think this is a great way to mark just how much our world has changed due to the computer. Do go to Shutdown Day and vote yes or no, on whether you would like to participate or not.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Equipping a kitchen

They say living in India spoils you for all its comforts and luxuries, if you can afford it, that is. Well, we've been living in India for just over 3 years now, after a long stint in the US, and one of the perks of living here, besides friends and family, is being able to hire help for the house. We have had two maids who do all the cooking and cleaning, but my cooking maid left in late January and so I have been doing all the cooking, rediscovering the joys of the kitchen so to say.

On my past two trips to the US and Canada in June and December, I did a lot of shopping for the kitchen, but since I had a cook, I never bothered using any of the stuff I brought back. Well, in the past month, I've used all my new gadgets and equipment and thought of a bunch more to get on my next trip.

One of the best things I got was a waffle maker, something that is not easily available here. My concern was regarding the voltage difference between the US and here, so I wanted something that had a universal voltage system that could be used anywhere in the world. While I didn't get that, I did get an adapter to control the voltage supplied to it. Traveling between countries, it really is important to know how to choose and buy cooking appliances that will work no matter where you live. We've been moving quite often and will probably be moving to an international location quite soon, so its no point buying things that will only work in one country.

Are these sites gaming Google News?

WebProNews has an interesting article on 'foreign' sites that are possibly gaming Google Adwords to be included in the top 10 stories that Google links to. The article has brought out lots of opinions on whether it is correct or not, and even the validity of a foreign news or other source linking to a US based news. I personally think that these companies are motivated by the links they will get and not for any other reason. Foreign news sources have a right to write about anything in the world, but I agree with the author Rich Ord, the CEO of iEntry Inc, that these sites look like they only exist for Google Adwords.

Save your wine preferences online

Did you know that you could save your wine preferences at, so when you go back and see the rating you had given a particular wine, and make cellar notes? As a result of offering personalized services, sales improved by 5% in 2006. Existing customers have responded positively to the changes and newer customers have increased due to them. Using cellar notes, registered customers can print ratings, prices and notes of their favorite wines, rather than just relying on memory.
“Our growth comes from having information about our wines that enables people to find new wines and try new things,” Bergsund says of, No. 182 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. In addition to wine ratings from magazines such as the “Wine Spectator” and “The Wine Advocate,” customers can tap the recently added Ratings Pedigree feature. They gain access to more information, such as winemaker notes and customer reviews, and can sort wines by a variety of means, including type, winery and price. That data, in turn, can be sorted by popularity based on a 30-day window of’s top sellers, Bergsund says.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Selecting a printer

The kinds of printers that are now available are quite amazing. We've been shopping around for anew printer for using at home, and have been quite impressed at the selection and prices. For some reason though, we have not been able to decide which one to get. Our printer needs are pretty basic, so the choices are wide open, as there are lots of new printers coming in at the lower end of the market. The way I see it is that with the way technology keeps changing, I don't want to invest too much in a product that I consider just utilitarian. Searching online, I found some great Circuit City coupons at Coupon Chief. So, it looks like the deciding factor in my decision was price, and now that is settled, I can look forward to getting my new printer. I have searched for deals on Coupon Chief before too, and have found that they always have several super deals going on at all times.

DCM Shriram to tie up with retailers

The Economic Times reports that DCM Shriram Consolidated Ltd will be tying up with retailers to source fruits and vegetables for them. The company is already sourcing fresh fruits and vegetables to Food Bazaar, Subhiksha and Spencer. According to Ajay S Shriram, chairman of DSCL, “We are working at strengthening the supply chain so as to achieve scale in this segment.” Sourcing and supplying produce to retailing stores is one of the key areas for establishing a successful supply chain and will be an extension of DCM's work in rural areas, its Hariyali Kisaan Bazaar stores, where the company provides a meeting and learning ground for farmers as well as a place for them to purchase agricultural goods and services.

Wireless connections growing in the US

The growth of wireless Internet connections has been rapidly rising. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, close to one third of online surfers in the US connect to the web via a wireless connection, from a place other than work or home, using a laptop computer or a personal digital assistant. It was also found that consumers who have wireless access also check their email more and have greater online activities than other consumers. The report estimates that 40% of Internet consumers use a laptop, with over 80% using a wireless Internet connection. I do all my work on a laptop, as does my husband and between the two of us we have three laptops, two Internet connections and one wireless connection in the process of being set up. Using a laptop makes it so much easier to travel and connect with ease no matter where you are.

Looking for an ad agency in London

My research on advertising agencies entered its second phase this week. While I had been focusing on the US market earlier, now I am studying the UK and European markets to find a company that my client can tie up with in a strategic alliance. We have a lot of parameters on which we need to make our decision, so the niche target is being narrowed down quite a bit. One of the new sources of information I have found is the London Advertising Directory that lists some really great but little known advertising agencies.

The US market was very ease to analyse and research, since there is a lot of information about it on the Internet, but the UK advertising industry is still quite under wraps as yet, with so many agencies preferring to keep doing business in a small way, agencies who might not even be aware of the enormous interest that there is for them in the international market.

So, finding these niche advertising agencies, who do high quality work for a few select clients is not always an easy task. That's where this new directory listing of advertising agencies in London, comes in to help. My favorite feature is the number of clicks each agency has received, which is a great measure to gauge popularity and branding. Another new and interesting feature is the option of leaving a comment for an agency listing.

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Reliance Retail to service cars while you shop

Reliance Retail said that it was planning to start offering servicing for automobiles at its hypermarkets and supermarkets. The company would like auto servicing to be completed with customers are shopping at their stores. The company has held talks and is currently in advance stages of discussions with Italian company, Corghi SpA to sign an agreement. The Reliance spokesperson declined to comment on the plan. Corghi is a leading manufacturer of tyre changers, wheel balancers, wheel aligners, lifting and testing equipment.