Quoted – AOL Back in Black – Ecommerce Times

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AOL Back in Black

AOL posted a slim profit during its first quarter on its own again, even though its revenue was down from a year ago, and subscriptions continued their sharp decline. Cost-cutting — particularly by reducing its workforce — is credited for the improvement.

AOL’s profit could also be attributed to some savvy financial management — at least from the perspective of shareholders.

It significantly reduced its headcount as it launched.

“Employees are usually the biggest expense for these companies, so that was a smart move,” noted Scott Testa, a business professor at Cabrini College.


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Quoted – Want Free Delivery? Send It to the Store – SmartMoney

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It’s a common conundrum of holiday shopping: Shop in the store and save on shipping, or shop online and boost the odds of finding the item you want.

Now, there’s a third option. More retailers are offering free ship-to-store service, in which customers order items online and have them sent free to a nearby store for pickup.

Why are retailers providing the service at no cost? In a year when online holiday sales are critical, a ship-to-store option can give some stores an edge over their competitors, especially web-based ones, says Scott Testa, an assistant professor of business administration at Calibri College in Radnor, Pa. (A quarter of consumers plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping online, according to a survey by Deloitte LLP.)

“With this [service], you have the best of both worlds, online and store shopping,” Testa says. Consumers can take advantage of broader availability and cheaper prices online, without paying for shipping or worrying about delivered goods sitting unattended on the stoop all day.

Know the pickup policy

“Make sure the experience is [that] you literally walk in the store and pick it up,” Testa says. Wal-Mart has a separate Site-to-Store pickup counter, but in most other cases, users are forced to wait in line at the customer service register with everyone else looking for a refund or waiting on a complaint. Minimize the hassle by showing up early in the day, when the line is likely to be shorter, he says.


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Quoted – Cheap Reads: 6 Tips to Save on Books – SmartMoney

Buying a book at the suggested retail price might be a bigger mistake than judging it by its cover.

Flat sales, savvier readers and the emergence of new players in the retail and online marketplace are keeping the pressure on sellers to offer more books at a discount.

Book sales have held steady over the past year. Consumers spent roughly $2 billion on books in August 2009, about the same as August of last year, according to the National Retail Federation, which tracks sales.

Booksellers are also betting customers will buy more than one deeply discounted bestseller, says Scott Testa, an assistant professor of business administration at Calibri College in Radnor, Pa. “Retailers know consumers hate to pay for shipping,” he says. A customer who buys Amazon’s $9 copy of Dean Koontz’s “Breathless” might be tempted to spend another $16 on other items during that transaction to get free shipping on the whole order.


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Quoted – Amazon offering Private Label Products – ECommerce Times

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Quoted – Amazon offering Private Label Products – ECommerce Times

Amazon is raising hackles among some of its partner manufacturers by cutting out the middleman with its new AmazonBasics line of consumer electronics products. Amazon is attaching its own branding to inexpensive cables and blank DVDs at the moment, but it plans to expand the line of offerings soon.

Offering a private label is a smart move for any retailer, said Scott Testa, business professor with Cabrini College.

“Private-branded items generally have higher profit margins,” he told the E-Commerce Times, pointing to private label products from retailer Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) More about Best Buy as an example.

Amazon has benefited from decades of watching as other brand names have outsourced the manufacturing process while maintaining control of the customer Boost customer satisfaction + retention with Salesforce.com Service Cloud 2. Click to learn more. — Testa cited Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) More about Dell as an example.

Amazon’s fundamental business model — as aggregator of other manufacturers’ products — may pose some challenges for the retailer.

“No manufacturer wants to see a retailer coming out with its own private label goods,” Testa explained. “It is the retailer who will have the best leverage with the clients.”

In the case of Amazon, that leverage is huge, he added. “For all intents and purposes, a retailer like Amazon is perfectly able to cut out the middle man and feel few ramifications.”


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