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February 25, 2013

Oh my god - new definition for a sweetheart (Retail shrinkage)

Sweethearting is a term used in the retail shopping industry to mean intentional margin loss/shrink through employee theft at the cash register or the cash counter. Sweethearting is the most common type of employee theft.
Sweethearting is unauthorized giving-away of merchandise or products without charge to a "sweetheart" customer (e.g., friend, family, fellow employee) by the fake scan or ring-up of merchandise by the cashier or the stores payment clerk. Employees operating cash registers can create numerous ways to sweetheart
  • Scan avoidance: By deftness of hand the product is not scanned at all.
  • Price overrides: Price is shown less than what it should be
  • Refund fraud, gift card fraud: create a fraud with a refund of a merchandise or fraudulent uses of a gift card
  • Invoicing scams: Happens at the input level or at the time of receiving the material from the supplier.
Sweethearting can be difficult to detect. Common countermeasures include use of CCTV surveillance cameras and security guards checking customer receipts at exits.
So Sweethearting exists and what do we do about it? First tell the employees that they too are being watched and at all the time. Second thing is to tell the employees that shrinkage means reduction of profits and that means less salary and less commission or incentives.
If the employees are vigilant the shrinkages will get reduced. Pay the employees a part of the money saved due to reduced shrinkage. So instead of having the employees work against you, make them part of the team that works for you cracks the menace of Sweethearting.

Alive App - Innovation in Print Media - Times of India shows the way

Things are changing and so are the customers. Keeping the changing times and keeping in view of possibility of dwindling readers and reduced advertising revenue Times of India has hit upon a novel idea. To attract the young and restless Times of India launched a new application called Alive.
Alive would let the reader view videos, photos, and polls related to a news item  just by pointing the app at a newspaper item with Alive logo. This app is available for Android, iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia Symbian Smartphones and would offer a captivating experience for the users than just reading a newspaper.

The app has crossed 250,000 downloads on the launch day, leading to 300,000 augmentation views on a single day. Augmentation view is a view where the reader would have seen the news on the physical newspaper and would have tracked the same from his Alive app. The readers can also head to from their mobile phone to download the app.

Benefits of Alive app

Transforms text, image, symbols, patterns or objects into a virtual experience

View videos and picture gallery of the actual news items in the newspaper

Voice your opinion immediately and make the newspaper more interactive;

Make the best use of two media that is the reliability and credibility of the newspaper and the multimedia capacity of the internet with moving pictures sound and animation.

Keep track of the story as it develops and not a static news item as in a traditional newspaper

Share the newspaper news item on the go

View history of the news items you have viewed

Save the multimedia content for future viewing

February 23, 2013

Auto, Auto

“Auto Auto”. The passengers would call out. Loud and clear. The Yellow autos (the three wheeler bike or vehicle) spring into action. Autos are India’s lifeline. In a country where public transportation is either scarce or over crowded Autos provide an easy, cheap and an affordable way of travel. Autos or Rickshaws as they are called have become inseparable with the Indian culture. 
Autos have been associated with India and Indians. Right from the time when a traveler lands in the city to the time when they leave, autos become a part of you. Autos come in many shapes and the drivers can be as colorful as the auto itself.
Auto drivers can be rude, friendly, and smart or just like any one of us. They might be willing to ply on the government regulated fare, demand a hefty premium (extra) on the metered fare or simply demand a flat amount. They can be eager beavers smartly hailing you the minute they see you. Or they could be lords of all they preview – refuse to ply even you go up to them and plead your case. Your amazement would double when you see they still in the stand on your return trip. They just don’t seem to care or mind. Let us see how the auto owners have used innovative marketing to make more money or just stay ahead of the competition.
Stage Carrier instead of a contract carrier: By government rule autos are contract carriers and not stage carriers. Autos can take passengers from one destination to other and can’t pick up passengers from one bus stop and drop them at an other bus stop.

But many autos have become stage carriers and compete with local city bus service for the passengers. This is not legal but prevails in many parts of India. In many cities these autos are the only form of transport that the passengers can avail. Called seven seaters, Vikrams, sharing autos these are very popular.   
Carry school children: Many auto drivers have fixed income along with variable income. This is to buffet themselves from the vagaries of nature and sudden disturbances. Many auto drivers drop children to their school on a monthly basis. This assures a monthly business but the auto driver is tied up with a route on the morning and in the evening and this inhibits his flexibility and the routes that he can ply.  
Call Auto service: Prevalent in Gurgaon, call auto service is a new innovation. These auto drivers are better behaved, have genuine auto meters and come to your residence for a pick up. They would charge a premium of just 20/- Rs more for the service.
Flat amount charged per day: (double up as a tourist guide): Very popular in the tourist destinations the auto can be engaged for a fixed time and fixed amount, let’s say 400/- rupees and 4 hours and 40 kilometres. The auto can be used anywhere in the city and the bonus is that the auto driver would become the tour guide.

Contract with a company for a month: An interesting variation. This was deployed by one of the Territory managers that I worked with at Network limited. This TM had employed an Auto driver on a monthly basis. The auto driver had become so smart and so well versed with the happenings of the company that he almost became the personal assistant of the TM. Autos are also hired by companies for canvassing their products and services. A person with a loud speaker would slowly go from one locality in to another in an auto canvasing and displaying the products and explaining the services.

Conversion of old motorcycles such as Harley’s and Enfield bullets as autos: These converted autos called Phut Phuti (converted Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield bullet motorcycles) would chug along making “Phut Phut” sounds. This amazing contraction had the driver on his seat totally exposed to the elements of the nature. All his passengers would sit behind him. They are well protected and had a shade over their head. The Phut Phutis are no longer being used as they were not very stable and caused huge environmental pollution.

Autos as moving advertisements: Many auto drivers use the back side of the auto as a space for advertisements. Autos being very numerous are a very good method of promotion. Placing tourism brochures, brochures of hotels, visiting cards of shops selling trinkets and souvenirs in a pouch in front of the passenger seat also have been tried by enterprising auto drivers.

February 21, 2013

Direct Mail - Products from your post box.

Direct mail: “All types of promotion sent directly to readers or prospective customers using the postal service or using any other private operator. These can include.
  1. Catalogs
  2. Flyers
  3. Folders
  4. Postcards
  5. Inclusions
  6. Reprints
  7. Sales letters
  8. Self-mailers
Direct response advertising: All forms of advertising designed to obtain an immediate, direct response by mail, telephone, the Internet or personal visit from audience members.”
  • TV advertisements and infomercials selling products by phone or mail order.
  • Newspapers, magazines and other  print media advertisements with send-in or call-in coupon order forms
  • Direct mail pieces and inserts soliciting inquiry from the viewers or readers.
  • Cards, coupon booklets and mini-catalogs seeking orders for one or more products.
  • E-mail messages to computer users
Telemarketing:  is one of the most popular and intrusive forms of promotion. These can become a nuisance but have become part of life. All telemarketing activities can be classified as,  

Outbound calling: Telephone calling by the marketer or marketer’s agent to individual prospects, seeking purchase, subscription, membership, or participation by the call recipient. The focus is on the sellers trying to market the products services.
Inbound calling: Marketers’ facilities and invitations to prospects to call a central location or long distance number or by toll-free, 800 or fixed cost 900 number. Here the focus is on the buyer to solicit and buy the product from the seller.

Internet related: Electronic business – use of the Internet to conduct business activities, Electronic marketing – the use of the Internet to conduct marketing activities.
Electronic commerce – use of the Internet for buying and selling products and services

Electronic media – using the Internet as an advertising medium and a way to disseminate information to consumers
Sponsorship: Ownership of an entire site or page

Banner Ads: A portion of another owner’s page

Pop-Ups: Small windows that appear automatically

Interstitial: Ads appearing while waiting for a page to load

Push Technologies or Webcasting: Automatic or unsolicited message delivery

Links: Hypertext links to other sites, pages or locations
Catalog Marketing: Catalog marketing is a specialized branch of direct marketing. The two disciplines share many of the same characteristics. Like direct marketing, catalog marketing is based on interactivity, or one-to-one communication between the marketer and the prospect or customer. Catalogs always include response devices, and catalogers are able to measure the response to any and every mailing they make.

With the coming of the mail order, consumers could get attractive goods and prices whether they lived in the city or in a remote rural setting. The postal system allowed direct-mail companies to operate on a national basis.

With economies of scale working in their favor, mail-order houses could undercut the pricing of local stores. In 1897 bicycles were selling for $75 to $100 and more, until Sears started offering them for $5 to $20 in its catalog. Sears could offer those low prices because it sold thousands of bicycles every week.

Even in India Catalogues were popular with Burlington catalogue being the most famous which was used by consumers to order the latest products.