Convenience food group Uniq has announced its first quarter group sales were up 4.2%, compared to the first three months of 2009.Its food-to-go sales, including its sandwiches wraps and deli-fillers business, increased by 12.5%, which the firm said reflected its business wins in 2009, which included £15m-worth of new sandwich business with Marks and Spencer.Sales in its desserts arm were down 2.2%.The company also announced its preliminary results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2009 on the same day as its Q1 interims. Revenue stood at £287.2m compared with £286.7m in 2009. Food-to-go revenue was up 2% to £136.9m, and operating profit stood at £7.3m – up 0.4%.In January 2010, Uniq revealed it was back in the black, after increased food-to-go sales saw the business return to positive sales growth. Following the decision to dispose of its French, German, Polish and Netherlands business units earlier in 2009, the business is now focused on the UK chilled prepared food market.
Short-sea and feeder operator Seago Line, a part of Maersk Group, has introduced a new vessels, the Vistula Maersk, to its North Europe feeder link between Rotterdam, Netherlands and St. Petersburg, Russia.The recently-delivered Vistula Maersk, which is the first in a series of vessels purpose-built to serve the North Sea and Baltic Sea, made a maiden call to Petrolesport and First Container Terminal (FCT) in St. Petersburg on April 20.In the Russian Baltics, where harsh winters and icy waters pose challenges for container shipping, ice-class vessels “bring a very important value proposition to the market.”Vistula will shortly be joined by its sister unit Volga Maersk and these vessels will together be the only two to operate on the North Europe Feeder Link 1 service.During the coming months, five other sisters, namely Vayenga Maersk, Venta Maersk, Vuoksi Maersk, Vilnia Maersk and the last one still to be announced, will join Vistula and Volga in enhancing a number of Seago Line services in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.Seago Line informed that the new ships are the world’s largest ice-class container vessels, designed specifically for operation in winter conditions and temperatures pof down to -25 degrees C. Apart from their stronger hull, they are characterised by high refrigerated cargo intake.Vistula Maersk and Volga Maersk will operate on Seago Line’s L16/L01 service, which calls Rotterdam’s APM Terminals 1, Delta Container Terminal and APM Terminals Maasvlakte 2, before calling Port of Ust-Luga and then Petrolesport and First Container Terminal in St. Petersburg.Image Courtesy: Seago Line
If it’s true that “IoT is the senses and big data is the fuel” of a smart connected world, then what’s the role of big data and IoT in today’s ever-evolving e-commerce industry? First of all, IoT is about the deployment of smart devices that use data and connectivity. The real value of the Internet of Things for businesses and, e-commerce platforms, in particular, is the delivery of intelligent insights that can provide new business outcomes. As more devices get connected, the inflow of various types of data gathered grows exponentially. This can bring multiple advantages to any e-commerce businesses willing to harness the power of big data for providing their users with an improved online shopping experience. In fact, gathering big data can have an enriching effect on users’ ability to find the things they need in an easy, quick, and personalized way. Here are some of the most crucial advantages that big data and IoT can bring to e-commerce businesses:Source: Pexels.comA More Personalized Shopping ExperienceHarnessing big data for improving users’ online shopping experience, is a practice every e-commerce business should be constantly relying on. When a user searches for a specific product or service, every e-commerce site should have access to as much data on the user’s internet habits as possible, in order to provide him with personalized search results. If on the one hand, this process benefits customers because it allows for an easier and faster research, on the other hand, it contributes to increasing customers’ engagement which, translated, mean increased revenues for businesses.Data analytics can be incredibly accurate in providing users with targeted search results on e-commerce platforms. Amazon, leading platform for online purchases, is a great example of how big data should be used for products’ recommendations. When looking at a specific product on Amazon, users are being presented with other “similar products” they might be interested in, based on purchases made by previous customers. A countless number of e-commerce platforms have taken advantage of the outstanding power of big data for products recommendations and other targeted marketing purposes. Seasonal personalization, for example, is another really powerful targeted marketing strategy. The idea behind it is, again, the analysis of customers’ browsing history and past behavior, but this time the seasonal element comes into play. Seasons and holidays are taken into account by the recommendation algorithms in order to maximize the effectiveness of these recommendations. Customers behavior changes during specific times of the year and well-tuned algorithms can recognize these changes. During the winter holiday season, for example, users tend to buy gifts for other people, rather than purchasing products for themselves – recommendations are thus shifted to feature products that are popular during the holiday season. Data is also key when it comes to taking products recommendations a step further. This means that users historical shopping habits don’t simply allow e-commerce platforms to recommend similar products but also provide them with the ability to make predictive offers for what online shoppers might want and need. The Shopify App Store, for example, enables retailers to predict customer behavior by recommending the most convenient products for their users. The predictive model for each online retailer is defined based on its products, users, and sales forecasts.Even though most e-commerce businesses are already aware of the power of harnessing big data for products recommendations and predictions, what’s the role of IoT and connected devices in personalizing users’ shopping experiences?Data from IoT connected devices will be increasingly used to receive insight into users lifestyle habits and to build targeted marketing campaigns. Possibilities for e-commerce businesses are endless, starting from the central role that IoT plays in predicting users’ needs and delivering a solution even before the problem occurs. Connected objects use data in an even more efficient way because they provide insights on exclusive information such as brand preferences, products conditions, and environmental factors. Is there a more personalized shopping experience than one that sends a product replacement even before the user realizes the current object is outdated? Once again, Amazon has proven to be one of the first players enhancing the power of IoT in the e-commerce arena. The introduction of Dashbuttons, Wi-Fi-connected devices, has allowed consumers to order their favorite products with the press of a simple button. Each Dash Button is paired with a product of choice, which is selected during the setup process. More than providing users with considerable time savings, Amazon is thus able to gather a lot of data regarding consumption patterns for each brand and each product.Source: Amazon.comImproved Clients’ Satisfaction and EngagementQualitative feedback from customers is one of the most powerful tools e-commerce businesses have to increase clients’ satisfaction and engagement. In this case, the human insights can play a really central role in a data-driven business strategy because they can give businesses a qualitative glimpse into a customers opinion about their products and services. That’s why so many e-commerce sites encourage customers to provide detailed feedback on their purchases, even if that means highlight potentially negative aspects about their experience, as this represents a hard evidence to make necessary changes. Once customers have shared their thoughts and insights, businesses can combine this valuable qualitative feedback with analytics to make necessary changes and thus, improve client’s satisfaction and engagement. In the long run, providing an honest feedback is in the users’ best interest as it can prevent other users from buying questionable products. There are many online resources to draw from when it comes to gathering and analyzing reviews, for both businesses and users. Product Review Monitoring, for example, is a platform that automates customer reviews research, analytics and provides intelligent answers to the most important questions around products’ performance.Customers, at the same time, can tap into products’ reviews sites such as Best Reviews Guide, for making wise decisions about which products to buy, based on plenty of other users insights and suggestions. However, there’s more to customers’ engagement than just reviews. IoT enables e-commerce businesses to analyze customers buying patterns and behavior in order to understand their level of satisfaction. For example, Walmart uses IoT to learn about their most popular products social media. IoT allows retailers to deliver a comprehensive shopping experience, based on consumers’ preferences, for improved clients’ satisfaction and engagement. This has positive effects on customer service too, as it enables businesses to anticipate possible complaints, leading to easy and prompt resolution and a smoother customer experience.Source: Pexels.comMore Accessible Inventory Management and Faster DeliveriesThe use of RFID chips, tags that can exchange data with a reader using radio frequency signals, and IoT sensors have drastically lowered the hours required to track inventories, and provided businesses with more accurate results. RFID chips can also assist warehouse workers in finding the correct items and detecting when they’re running low on a product while automatically ordering more. In this case, IoT plays a crucial role in drastically reducing the workload associated with managing a stock and the risk of losing potential customers. In fact, when an item on an e-commerce site is sold out, chances are that customers will start looking for it elsewhere. A more accessible inventory management, for e-commerce companies, means more time to focus on other key aspects of the business. At the same time, RFID and GPS can help e-commerce businesses in tracking and monitoring deliveries in real time. Not only it provides businesses with a precise estimate of when the delivery will reach the destination but it also puts an end to the issue of losing shipments or misplacing them. Real-time delivery tracking has been possible for a while now, but the use of RFID can finally add the capability of managing bigger issues such as the route and speed that logistics crew are allowed to handle.Source: Pixabay.com 4 Ways You Can Make Your Workplace an Engine of… Roberta Rottigni To sum up, e-commerce is expected to become the future of retail, as more and more customers understand the benefits of shifting to the digital shopping arena. As this happens, online retailers will necessarily need to adapt their sales strategies and methods to the ever-evolving technological landscape. Big data and IoT undoubtedly play a central role in this ongoing technological disruption. At the same time, users shouldn’t underestimate the essential impact of their data contribution, as this can benefit them in the first place, by allowing for an enhanced, customized shopping experience. Related Posts CEOs in Troubled Waters (with Myriam Joire from… A Review of Instagram Marketing by Matthew Lucas Roberta Rottigni is a tech blogger. Born in Italy but adopted by Israel, she loves writing, traveling, and learning about innovative, tech-related trends. She doesn’t leave the house without a good book in her bag! Uber vs Lyft: Battling for Supremacy
In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I wrote about possessing the right mindset, skill sets, and tool kits, but I didn’t emphasize how important is to get these things in the right order.The mindset comes first. Before anything else, you must have the right beliefs and attitudes, as well as all of the behaviors that result from possessing them. This is about who you are at your core. If you want to be a person of influence, things like character and integrity matter a great deal. You have to be the kind of person with whom other people want to do business.You bolt the skills on top of this foundation. What makes the skills work is the person who possesses them. It means nothing to know how to gain commitments if you are not the kind of person that people trust with their business. The activation of skills like presenting, negotiating, and managing change are only as valuable as the person who possess them. Skills in the hands of someone who lacks the character traits to make them work is an exercise in futility.With the mindset and the skill sets in good order, tools can be a force multiplier. The technology can help people produce better results, and in the right hands, it does. What good is a CRM in the hands of someone who lacks the discipline to keep records of their most important possession, namely their relationship. How does email help the person who chooses to hide behind it because they seek to avoid the conflict that is part of doing business? How do the social tools help someone who doesn’t have the business acumen—or the will—to become a peer, someone their clients look to for advice?Right now, because we are in the very early phases of a technological transformation to match the transformation that led us into the Industrial Age, there is propensity for companies to weight their bias towards improving sales by leveraging technologies. And there are many technologies that are worth considering. But to put technology first in the order in which you need to make improvements when it comes to generating business results is to get things exactly backwards.The Air Force Colonel, John Boyd, used to admonish the United States Military with this idea: “People. Ideas. Technology. In that order.” Boyd was right then, and he is right now. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Now
Sloane Stephens, 19, continues to show a champion’s mettle in her rise to prominence in women’s tennis. What she overcame in beating Bojana Jovanovski to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open told a lot about her growth.In defeating Jovanovski 6-1, 3-6, 7-5, Stephens overcame temperatures in the 90s, Jovaovski’s incessant grunting on every shot and the pressure that comes with playing in a Grand Slam event.“I just had to find a way,” Stephens said. “I think mentally it was pretty tough. I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, this is for the quarters of a Grand Slam and I’m completely just like not here right now.’ I was like, ‘I need to refocus.’ I was playing my own self, I guess you could say. But I managed to get through, so that was good.”Here’s the even more fun-interesting-symbolic part: If Serena Williams defeats Maria Kirilenko, as expected, she and Stephens will face each other to get to the semifinal. Williams (and her sister Venus) inspired Stephens as an African-American young woman to take up the sport. Serena Williams has shared bits of wisdom with Stephens as she continues to climb the ATP rankings.“Obviously every match is a learning experience,” Stephens said, who lost to Serena Williams, 6-4, 6-3 in their only match. “But, I mean, you’ve just got to go and treat it like another match. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, my God, I played Serena, I’m going to be so great at all these other things because she just taught me so much.’ It was just another match, regular match. Little things that you just take and move on.”The 29th-seeded Stephens displayed veteran aplomb in her cruise-control first set against Jovanovski, but dropped a notch in energy and aggression as her opponent adjusted and began dictating the points. She dropped three service games in the second set and clearly was battling her own passivity as well as Jovanovski’s laudable groundstrokes. When Stephens cracked a volley winner in the late going — her seventh net point in as many tries — it raised the question of why she wasn’t coming in more.“I was going cross court on all my shots,” Stephens said. “That was safe. Can’t lose with that. She was going down the line on every shot … She’s hitting it with everything she has, every muscle in her body, and hitting it unbelievably.“I couldn’t find a rhythm, couldn’t find anything. But sometimes you just kind of got to stick it out, and hopefully she comes down off her throne.”