BEST OF THE REST: April 14

April 14, 2011: We had to scratch around a bit to find stories which could pass muster this week, and frankly wouldn’t have bothered if we hadn’t made a commitment in last week’s editorial. (Note to self – don’t do that again!).

Anyway, it seems like every second story is a rerun of a press release on how online retailing is either good or bad for you, with the main angles being:
– Australian retailers are crap at online retailing;
– Australian consumers are deserting stores in droves and purchasing online;
– Australian retailers aren’t too worried about online retailing and/or have a cunning strategy in place to deal with it.

There’s a similar trend in stories about social networking, and how if your store doesn’t have a Twitter account, the end is nigh. In fact, if you haven’t got a sophisticated social media strategy by now you may as well shut up shop, ‘cos you’ve missed the boat.

Then there are the consumer confidence stories.

Consumer confidence is down. No it’s up. No, it’s definitely down. But it’s only a matter of time before it gets back up again, so it’s no big deal.

– In short, consumer confidence is moving up and down with the regularity of the trousers of a person suffering from Bali belly! .

Connected Australia ran a story today about how increasing consumer confidence was making retailers happy. Apparently there was a 1.2 percent increase in confidence in April. That’s good. But city dwellers suffered a confidence slump of almost 5 percent. That’s bad. Anyway, it’s a good time for consumers to buy, because ‘the index remains strong’.

(It’s always a good idea to check the Westpac Index of Consumer Sentiment before making any major purchases – you wouldn’t want to be out of synch with society, after all!)

But on the same day Connected also ran a story reporting Myers boss Bernie Brookes’ concerns that poor consumer confidence was adversely impacting foreign investment decisions. That’s bad. Give those foreign investors a copy of the Index and set ’em straight, Bernie!

But it’s not all gloom and doom. With incisive insight, Mr Brookes noted that with autumn coming on, boot and coat sales might improve, along with small heating appliances. That’s good.

Connected Australia also reported on the Camera House half-yearly meeting in Coolum.

Many websites reported on the sudden demise of the Flip camera, with CRN getting the prize for the best headline: ‘Cisco’s Flip flopped’.

Many outlets also reported on Harvey Norman’s entry into the deal of the day business, including The Age.

New competitor Catch of the Day’s principal Gabby Leibovitch responded in http://www.powerretail thus:

‘At the end of the day, these slow moving retailing conglomerates are known for inflating their prices to protect their margins. They do not have the agility, entrepreneurial spirit and strong relationships with suppliers, like we do, to be able to deliver the best deals to shoppers over and over again.’

– Ouch. Where’s that saucer of milk?

(Photo Counter is more interested in Harvey Norman’s apparent entry into the pro lab business – but more of that next week!)

One story we almost missed from about a week ago, reported in Channel News and others, was the move by Panasonic to outsource its sales function to Crossmark, after laying off over 20 sales and marketing staff.


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