Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Happy New Year Resolution And Message From Joe

Hello everyone,

We’re counting down the hours until the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

Did 2013 go the way you thought it would?

What did you like most about 2013?

What do you think you could have done better in 2013?

Do you plan on the above being a New Years’ Resolution for 2014?

Please take a look at the following two photos:

Banji resting on the morning of March 11, 2012.
Banji resting on the morning of March 11, 2012.
Teddy Bear stretching out in the early-morning hours of August 9, 2013.
Teddy Bear stretching out in the early-morning hours of August 9, 2013.

These were my two cats; I say “were” because over the last 18 months, I’ve lost both of them. Banji was lost on July 3, 2012, while Teddy Bear was lost on December 6, 2013 (less than four weeks ago).  You’ll note by the dates of the photos above that each of those were taken less than four months before their respective deaths.

I think you’ll agree with me that they look very happy, content, and healthy in those photos, no sign of what was to come less than four months later.

That’s exactly the point I want to make.  We have no idea about the future; our time is fleeting and limited.  Hopefully, you spent time with loved ones (2- and 4-legged) over Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, and you will do so again over New Year’s and in the coming year.  You never know when they may no longer be here, or, when you will no longer be here.

This is also why it’s important to make the most of each day and to do your absolute best to achieve your goals each day.  Whether that’s to be the best business owner, the best employee, the best spouse, the best significant other, the best son/daughter, the best parent, the best friend, or any or all of the above, you owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to give your best effort always toward your goals.  You never know when you won’t have the chance to do it again, or for them to be here to appreciate your efforts.

That is why I encourage you to spend time with your loved ones (2- and 4-legged) when possible, and also to strive toward your goals in 2014. Perhaps 2013 didn’t lead to the results and successes you wanted, but you can make your New Year’s resolution a determined and renewed effort to let nothing stop you in 2014 from achieving those goals that escaped you in 2013, as well as achieving new goals.

In fact, I believe my New Year’s resolution will be to learn from the successes and failures I’ve had in 2013 and to use that new knowledge to improve my efforts toward reaching all of my goals in 2014.  In addition, I will take more time out for my loved ones, as I was reminded by the aforementioned events that time is fleeting and that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

Therefore, I encourage you to look back at what you did and didn’t accomplish in 2013, learn from those successes and failures, then take that knowledge and improve your efforts to achieve further successes in 2014.  I also encourage you to not spend all of your time working toward your goals, but instead to spend some time with your loved ones, as our lives are finite, and the time our lives end is never known ahead of time, no matter how much we might try to predict that end.  When that time is here, it’s here, and there’s no going back and redoing things you wish you would have done.

I hope this post helps to provide you with some inspiration and hope toward the coming new year and that you will make it your best year yet.

To all of you: Thank you for reading – I wish you all a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2014!  Make it your best year yet!

Joe Chengery

 

 

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Why I think Apple’s new 12.9″ iPad may be more than just for the educational market

If you have not heard, Apple is rumored to be working on a new 12.9″ iPad for the educational market. This new iPad is to be released in October 2014 according to PCMag.com.  Samsung is also planning on 12- and 13-inch devices for that market as well.

That (Samsung planning on introducing similar devices) is one reason why Apple is doing it.  The other main reason, I think, is because Apple is trying to create a new trend, just as they did with the iPhone and iPad, something that their recent products (the recent iPhone and iPad versions) and planned products (the Apple TV and the rumored iWatch) really aren’t doing or probably are going to be able to do. (I’ll explain why I think none of those aforementioned products will help Apple have a big 2014, if it has a big 2014, in a future post).

I think Apple is looking to do three things with this new iPad:

1. Try to establish a strong presence in the educational market, as the rumor says.

2. Try to take a bigger bite out of the laptop/notebook market, which would really do damage to Microsoft.

3. Try to counter the Microsoft Surface tablets, especially the Pro 2.

I say #2 because most of the laptops and notebooks that are still being produced run on Windows.  Yes, Apple has MacBooks, MacBook Pros, etc., but Apple sees the future just as much as the other companies (including Microsoft) see it: There will come a point in the near future where the traditional notebook/laptop is just a chapter in a school textbook (or tablet book in all likelihood, since traditional textbooks will probably be a thing of the past in the coming decade or two).  So, all makers of notebooks/laptops, including Apple, will no longer have that as a viable product line and income stream.  However, Microsoft is still the predominant operating system for notebooks, so this would really take a big bite out of them than it would for Apple.

Apple (as is Samsung) is trying to accelerate the demise of the laptop/notebook by creating a larger portable tablet that can be carried around and used.  Yes, it might be for the educational market at first, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple (and Samsung) both put larger tablets on the overall market if the “test” in the educational market works out well.  More on the challenges facing this below.

As for saying #3, I think Apple and Samsung are both trying to come up with larger tablets that can do more “work.”  Many of the complaints toward such devices as the iPad, Google Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HD and HDX is that they are not very intuitive to do such tasks as creating documents and publishing them.  Even writing simple emails is pretty challenging.  Microsoft has, arguably, been the best at that because of the Microsoft Office Suite, something that the Microsoft Surface tablets can offer, whereas the other tablets cannot.

There’s office apps available at the App Store, Google Play, and the Appstore For Android on Amazon, but none of them really match the intuitiveness and functionality of Microsoft Office.  My thinking is that Apple and Samsung are attempting to provide larger tablets that have greater processing power (which the Microsoft Surface tablets have) and greater storage capacity (Microsoft Office does take up quite a bit of room on those Surface tablets) to counter those Surface tablets both in terms of functionality and capability.

Provided this is true, and these tablets will be for the overall market in the future, the challenges that Apple and Samsung will face with the production of these tablets:

1. Can they make the tablets light enough so that you don’t feel like they are weighing you down and are a bear to carry?

2. Can they make the tablets powerful enough to handle applications (equivalent or comparable to such applications as Microsoft Office) easily that a laptop would be able to do with ease and that you would use in school or work settings?

3. Can they come up with a viable alternative office suite to Microsoft Office, or at least, come up with an agreement with Microsoft to provide Microsoft Office on their tablets? (Samsung could, being that they already have a working relationship with Microsoft for their notebooks, but the same can’t be said for Apple, Google, or Amazon).

4. Can they enable the tablets to remain cool enough so that the tablets are not only comfortable to carry while performing these applications, but also ensure that the tablets remain in good working order and not overheat? (Some Microsoft Surface Pro users who have provided reviews have complained of the tablets getting quite warm and even overheating from time to time).

These are the questions that Apple and Samsung will have to deal with as they create these new, larger, and presumably, more powerful tablets.  While the educational market may be the initial staging ground for these tablets, I suspect that these larger tablets will hit the overall market in the not-too-distant future, probably either in 2015 or 2016, as both want to establish the future of the tablet as the only real “computer” you need and not any type of laptop or laptop-tablet hybrid that are still prevalent in retail and online retail outlets today.

UPS’ Shipping Mishap: Damage To Retailers’ Future Holiday Seasons?

A further update from yesterday’s post, http://wp.me/p47TSP-o: UPS says that “most packages will be delivered today.”  Two questions come to mind:

1. Why weren’t all of those packages delivered yesterday, as yesterday was a normal shipping day?

2. Why is it “most packages” and not “all packages”?

This goes to show that there was a much bigger backlog and much underestimation of how many online orders there would be late in the season than was previously thought.  As I mentioned yesterday, this oversight and system backlog really needs to be corrected and updated for next season, as the season is only one day longer than this year.  And, I think it’s safe to say that not only will people be ordering online late again (as they do virtually every season), but that there will likely be more online orders overall next year.

I read somewhere (can’t remember or find the source at the moment) that mobile orders are up 15% from 2012, quite a substantial jump.  While expecting a 15% increase Y/Y in 2014 is probably unlikely, expecting a mid-single digit to even around a 10% increase in 2014 is likely not out of the question, especially since all-time commerce is going to become even more prevalent in 2014.

All-time commerce is where a retailer (offline or online) can reach you from virtually anywhere because the retailers have sales channels across all devices, including television, desktop/laptop, and mobile (including both smartphone and tablet).  In addition, there will be different points of the sales funnel across all devices, whether that’s the consumer looking for information about a specific product, looking at reviews of that product, comparing prices across different retailers, or looking to purchase the product.

Tablet commerce, especially, is really ready to start exploding in 2014, further increasing the likelihood that mobile orders should see another sizable rise next year.  We’ve already seen signs of this in 2013, being that the average purchase price of transactions on tablets was higher than it was on smartphones.

This is all the more reason why retailers (offline and online) and shippers need to get this mishap fixed and the systems updated right away, as this trend of online shopping late in the season is only likely to increase in the coming years, especially since it’s so convenient for people to shop from virtually anywhere so long as they have an Internet connection.  It’s really in the best interests of retailers, shippers, and consumers that the problems that caused this shipping mishap to occur are correctly identified and addressed so that such a shipping scenario does not occur in 2014.

Otherwise, retailers may suffer the sting of not having as many orders coming through late in the season because, many people can’t do much late-season in-store shopping, and they won’t trust the online ordering process, which would result in fewer overall sales, and thus, a greater likelihood of retailers falling short of expected sales marks for the whole season.

What Retailers and Etailers Can Learn From The Christmas Delivery Mishap!

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are getting ready to say good-bye to 2013 and say hello to 2014!

Hopefully, you were not one of those who had a delivery not arrive by Christmas.  As you may have heard, there was an overload of deliveries on both UPS’ and FedEx’s systems, thus causing some packages that were ordered well in advance and even with priority shipping that were not delivered by Christmas.  You can read more about that here.  Talk about a “bah humbug!”

UPS and FedEx are blaming it on not anticipating as many orders due to projections that were off-target.  They also blamed it on poor weather.  As the article referenced above shows, there were people in at least 11 states (including my home state of Ohio) that did not receive presents in time for Christmas.

There was an interesting dichotomy in how these two main shippers approached this.  UPS had considered calling in drivers and having them ship to customers on Christmas Day, but decided against it.  It’s understandable in the sense that they did not want to call in workers who were expecting to get a scheduled day off, and likely a rare day off at that.  UPS did call in workers to their Louisville, Kentucky hub to sort packages for Thursday and Friday delivery.

FedEx didn’t call in drivers either, but some customers were able to pick up their packages on Christmas Day at their local FedEx Express centers, so FedEx was able to come through to some extent for some customers, whereas UPS (to my knowledge) did not.

In addition to the overloaded systems and poor weather, some analysts placed some blame on consumers who waited until the last minute to order gifts, though as mentioned above, most who had their packages delayed ordered in plenty of time under normal circumstances, so most customers were not very forgiving and understanding about not having their packages delivered by Christmas, especially those who paid for upgraded shipping.

Thus, what can we learn from this mishap, and what can retailers and online retailers learn?

We can learn that waiting until the latter stages of the shopping season may not always be the best choice if we’re shopping online, even though many of us like to do it either because we’re too busy and/or we feel we can get better bargains later in the season.  With that said, hopefully retailers and online retailers (along with their shipping partners) have learned to have enough capacity and capability to handle large-volume orders late in the season.  They will need to prepare quickly, as the 2014 Christmas shopping season is only 1 day longer, as Thanksgiving 2014 is on November 27 (versus 2013’s being November 28).

Some analysts think that this mishap could help offline retailers make more sales late in the season because more people could be willing to enter stores and malls later in the season to avoid this type of potential mishap from happening again.  Conversely, however, online sales could be higher earlier in the season (including during the Gray Thursday-Black Friday weekend) to ensure that such packages from online retailers and retailers’ websites are delivered in plenty of time for Christmas, so I think both retailers ane etailers could benefit long-term over this mishap, especially if they make the necessary adjustments to avoid this situation next year.  It’s certainly vital that they do so, as the Christmas shopping season will be relatively short in 2014 as well.

It is a little surprising to me that retailers and shippers were not better-prepared in terms of their ordering and delivery systems; after all, online shopping and delivery continue to rise with each passing season, and this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.  People’s lives are busier than ever, and with “all-time commerce” becoming a more prominent capability in people’s everyday lives, it’s become even easier for people to do their holiday shopping from virtually anywhere, whether that’s waiting for a business call or eating in the cafeteria at work to watching the children or even while watching a movie on the sofa at home.

Certainly, the weather didn’t help, and that’s something that can’t be predicted, but this mishap really has to be a wake-up call for retailers and etailers (along with their delivery partners) to be better-prepared for late-season online orders, as this trend will only continue, and the 2014 shopping season will not be much longer than this season.  We can only hope that there are no lumps of coal and “bah humbugs” for people on Christmas Day 2014.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All of You- a Message from Joe

'Tis The Season! (Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11250735@N07/11338452985/)
‘Tis The Season! (Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11250735@N07/11338452985/)

Hello everyone, I hope you are all ready for the festivities of the holiday, as it is knocking right on our front door (or is that coming down the chimney, lol).

I apologize for my absence – I’ve been busy copyediting two books (I will be published in both of them, along with others), of which we are now in the final stages, with them to be published either in late 2013 or early 2014. I’ve also worked on some other projects.

My plans for 2014 include posting to this blog much more frequently – at least 2-4 blog posts most weeks. Some topics I’m considering include about Apple, Amazon, retail, and more. I hope you will join me.

Even with the best of plans, now is a time to take a breather, reflect back on the year that is almost completed, and prepare ourselves for 2014 and our efforts to make it even better than this year. That includes spending time with family, friends, and loved ones, which I will be doing. I hope you will be too!

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Joe Chengery

Why Retailers’ Thanksgiving Day Plan Should Be Digital, NOT Physical

Editor’s Note: I thought I had published this before Thanksgiving, but something went awry (whether it was human error, technological error, or a combination of both, I can’t say for certain – my apologies for its tardiness.  I hope this article still proves useful and insightful to all who read it, despite its later than intended date – thanks for your understanding).

There has been much debate over whether retailers should open on Thanksgiving Day.  Employees, at first, didn’t want to work on this day, which started to cause a backlash amongst the population.  This resulted in retailers providing extra pay (from overtime to time-and-a-half to even more), a free traditional holiday meal, and even discounts off of purchases in an attempt to smooth things over so that people would not boycott their stores.  Retailers’ main reason for opening on Thanksgiving is because they want to get customers into their stores right away and get them to spend their limited discretionary income in a cautious economic environment with them.

The thing is, in this day and age, retailers don’t have to incur the costs of paying their employees extra, providing holiday meals, and offering discounts, not to mention incurring utility costs for opening the stores.  Retailers should be focusing on their websites and mobile apps to help drive sales on Thanksgiving.

According to a USA Today article, a recent email survey by RetailMeNot.com reported that 64% of people plan on shopping from home on Thanksgiving, while 37% of people will use mobile apps to scan or purchase items on Thanksgiving.  Let’s assume that half of the mobile apps group, about 18.5%, will be those who use mobile apps to purchase items and not to scan items in-store.

Retailers don’t have to force employees to come to work, causing them to lose time with their loved ones and paying them greater amounts for missing that precious time.  They don’t have to incur additional costs of full electricity or heating.  Yet, they can still gain the sales and brand loyalty that they want from customers by utilizing technology and digital marketing tactics.

The future will only get more digital over time. In fact, I could see the following scenario being a more likely event on Thanksgiving than people heading out after Thanksgiving dinner.

While the guys are in one room watching the end of the second football game (on CBS or Fox) and the beginning of the third one (on NFL Network), the women are in another room, sitting on the sofa and in chairs around a coffee table. They put down their drinks and begin talking. One of them mentions about shopping for her husband and pulls out her tablet from her purse, describing what she found online as she heads to the website on her tablet. The other ladies immediately start pulling out their tablets, following suit to see what their family member or friend had found out about a particular sale that was occurring right then and there. Then, another of the ladies mentions another sale, and the ladies begin checking out that site and the deals it’s offering on Thanksgiving.

I see this type of scenario being much more likely of occurring on Thanksgiving than people rushing out to stores to pick up deals for the following reasons:

1. Most people get tired from eating turkey due to the tryptophan; as a result, they won’t be as eager to go out.

2. Many families will enjoy alcohol on Thanksgiving. Most will not want to risk going out on the road after having one or more drinks.

3. Especially in northern cities or where there is bad weather, people will be much more likely to stay in and shop via mobile sites and apps than racing to get “DoorBusters” (that they’ll have to wait in line for, hoping they can get them). How ironic that a major snowstorm is expected to hit parts of the Northeast (including my area in Cleveland), while New York City, Boston, and the East Coast could get around 3 inches of rain, certainly enough to cause flooding issues and travel delays.

4. I see the above scenario being similar to Tupperware parties from earlier decades. Women, especially, will be eager to talk with each other and determine what they are going to purchase for their loved ones. A recent eMarketer article reported that an Adroit Digital poll said that 7/10 moms are responsible for 75+% of the gift purchasing. Talking with each other will help them learn more about the sales on various websites, with the ability to even purchase right then and there.

5. People are busier than ever in our increasing technologically advanced age. People are working more hours, have less down time, and have less time to spend with their families. This is all the more reason why retailers would be wise to start focusing more on a digital marketing plan utilizing their mobile sites and apps for future Thanksgivings than focusing on opening stores for a relatively small portion of the U.S. population and being lucky to break even or gain a tiny profit. They also risk alienating some people from shopping at their stores for the entire season because they disapprove of retailers that open on Thanksgiving.

The world will only become more digital over time, with more advanced mobile sites and apps that will save more time and make purchasing even easier from the comforts of our homes. Retailers can accomplish the goals and profits they want to achieve and be likelier to do so by employing more of a digital plan than a physical plan on Thanksgiving.