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Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Atlanta’s Kanga takes on the $86B local delivery industry

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

By Allan Maurer

Everett Steele

Everett Steele

Can a crowd-sourced start-up in Atlanta outfox the $86 billion courier and local delivery service industry? Kanga, which launched in March (2014) and has $1 million in seed funding, is using mobile crowdsourcing technology to match consumers with local drivers who bid to provide the delivery service requested.

After the consumer selects the preferred driver, an order dispatches the delivery location and timeframe. Kanga says it also benefits local or independent retailers seeking a competitive edge over Internet retail giants by offering affordable professional delivery services.

This “last mile” delivery service is so important it has firms such as Amazon considering using drones to speed it up locally. But Kanga has a different concept, innovative in its own way.

“It feels good to interact with local shops you enjoy but with the convenience of eBay or Amazon,” says Everett Steele, Kanga president and co-founder.

An appetite for innovation

Kanga, one of the intriguing startups you can meet at the upcoming Eighth Annual Southeast Venture Conference in Atlanta, May 6-4 in Atlanta,  already has 35 drivers in the Atlanta Metro area and expects to kick that up to 100 over the next quarter or so, according to Steele.

“Atlanta has a strong appetite for innovation and a passion for all things local, which makes it the perfect test market for our launch,” says Everett Steele, Kanga president and co-founder, said at the time of the seed funding in March.

Steele tells us he comes from an entrepreneurial family. “My grandfather went from rags to riches,” he says. “He grew up in a dirt floor house in Columbus, Georgia, then at one point owned the baseball team and hotel in Columbus. My father built a huge transport company (Sunbelt Transportation). So I’m following in their footsteps.

He started his own entrepreneurial career early going door-to-door on his bicycle selling candy as a kid and says, “I’ve been in just about every genre of business since. Sales, marketing, technology, lots of different things.” Most recently that included Baby Robot Industries in Atlanta – which is a marketing agency.

A Hip-Hop cookbook?

Steele tells us the idea for Kanga came from an incident when he left his cell phone at a barber shop and had to pay someone to bring it back.

The service is looking at expanding into other markets, including Charlotte, Austin, Texas, and Tuscon. “We’ll be expanding aggressively over the next year to 18 months,” says Steele.

Steele himself – who once wrote a Hip-Hop Cookbook (“Bon Rappetite: The Hip Hop Cookbook,”) as a lark, says he is a diehard Braves fan and a mediocre guitar player.  But he clearly loves Atlanta. “I love the history, the food, the innovation…and it’s bottom line friendly,” he says.



IBM nudges Microsoft from top spot, SAP advances, Amazon debuts on top 50 IT firm ranking

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

MicrosoftThings are changing in the digital world as tech companies jostle each other for top position. IBM has bumped Microsoft out of the top spot in the Booz & Co. second annual ranking of the world’s top 50 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies that provide the building blocks to increasingly digital businesses.

Oracle held fast at #2, while IBM leapfrogged from #3 to claim the top spot, fuelled by its strong product and service portfolio and global presence.

“This volatility is not surprising given the vast changes sweeping this sector.

These companies are being forced to rapidly transform their business models, product portfolios, service offerings and global footprints in order to stay one step ahead of their clients’ needs in the evolving digital world.. Add to this financial pressures in an uncertain economy, and the fact that boundaries are gone and more players are competing for overlapping, converged markets, and it’s no wonder new winners are emerging,” says Richard Bhanap, partner at Booz & Company.

Key Findings:

  • Software and Internet companies and hardware and infrastructure providers are dominating the ICT industry, claiming the majority of spots in the top 20
  • Integrated solution models are continuing to gain ground over IT services, especially those IT service providers with more traditional outsourcing and managed services businesses
  • AmazonSeveral software and Internet businesses are making big advances, including SAP, which jumped three spots, to #4, Google, which moved up to #8, and Amazon, which debuted in the top 50 for the first time at #13, driven by its rapidly growing cloud services business
  • Dell and HCL took the biggest falls, each dropping five spots, to #20 and #18, respectively

Market going through dynamic change

“This market is going through dynamic changes; primarily because so many companies are expanding and reshaping their portfolios and pushing for global scale and reach at the same time. As a result, many smaller IT service providers are under pressure, being acquired or disappearing completely. On the other hand, ‘digital first’ players like Amazon are coming in with integrated solutions or compelling cloud offerings. We will see even more convergence in the future, and the winners will be those who can build integrated solution ecosystems around an innovative software or hardware core,” says Richard  Bhanap.

  • This year’s Global ICT 50 companies took in total revenues of US$2.07 trillion, a 3 percent increase over the prior year’sUS$2.01 trillion, and a slight slowdown in growth compared to the previous year. Average margins remained steady at 15 percent. Software and Internet companies (e.g., Adobe, Google, Microsoft, SAP) and offshore IT service companies (e.g., TCS, Infosys, HCL, Cognizant) were the only two groups to achieve double-digit revenue growth for the fifth straight year
  • The same two groups saw stagnating to declining EBIT margins, albeit on a very healthy >20% level, which suggests early signs of business model maturity and increasing competition
  • Hardware and infrastructure companies claimed the middle ground in financial performance, achieving continuous margin improvement and stable growth over the past five years
  • Global IT service providers and telecom companies were the weakest performers and the only groups whose growth and profitability remained almost flat in 2013, although they did manage to stabilise their margins

Google ranks number one among MBA students asked to name ideal employers.

In addition to assessing financial performance, portfolio strength, go-to-market footprint, and innovation and branding for company rankings, the study also identifies six business models to create value in the ICT industry. This analysis reveals that players that base their value creation approach on innovation (like Apple and Google), global sourcing (such as Infosys), and digitisation models (including SAP) are the most successful financially, followed by large market consolidators such as Oracle.

Read the full study here.

Industries and companies MBA students see as ideal employers

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Google ranks number one among MBA students asked to name ideal employers.

MBA students no longer see the financial industry as the golden path to riches, apparently. It has seen a steady decline in the ranking of ideal employers by Universum Global since 2009.

The 2013 rankings saw just one bank, Goldman Sachs; hang on to its coveted Top 10 spot – no other bank made the Top 10.  Of the students who still consider banking a top industry, one of the top three employer attributes attracting them is prestige.

Technology is still an attractive industry, if the MBA student rankings of their ideal employers is a guide. Among the top ten are Google, Apple, and Amazon.


The most preferred industry for MBA students, Management and Strategy Consulting, sees prestige as the 10th most important attribute, behind others such as leadership opportunities, a creative and dynamic work environment, and challenging work.

Consulting secures the top industry title

Management and Strategy Consulting is the top industry of choice for MBA students and elite strategy consulting firms McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group have all retained their Top 10 positions this year, but broader professional services firms are gaining ground.

Deloitte“What is interesting as you look at the data is that the elite strategy consulting firms have stayed stable or decreased in the rankings; however, other professional services and consulting firms (Deloitte, IBM, PWC, Accenture) have all risen in the rankings,” saidMelissa Murray Bailey, Universum President of the Americas.

“As leadership opportunities are one of the key attributes attracting MBA students to this industry, this trend could be a result of the larger firms’ concerted focus on offering a greater variety of career paths than before.”

Strong consumer brands make an impact

AppleApple’s MBA ranking stayed steady at #3 this year and Amazon was right behind after having jumped two ranks from #6 to #4. Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, LVMH, and Unilever also featured within the 2013 Top 30. Similar to Management and Strategy Consulting, the attributes attracting MBA students to Consumer Goods (the second most preferred industry) are leaders who support development, leadership opportunities and a creative and dynamic work environment.

While all of the Top 30 consumer goods organizations obviously have strong consumer brands, this doesn’t always correlate with a strong employer brand.

“A strong consumer brand is a blessing and a challenge when it comes to managing an employer brand,” advised Bailey. “I would go as far as to say that when a company has a strong consumer brand, it needs to work even harder to make its employer brand known to potential candidates.

“Otherwise, there is the risk of disappointment and high turnover when students have jumped to the wrong conclusions based on what they know about an employer brand. The two can and should complement each other, but the messaging needs to be focused and deliberate to ensure success.”

Top 10 Ideal Employers for MBA students:

1. Google, 2. McKinsey & Company, 3. Apple, 4. Amazon, 5. The Boston Consulting Group, 6. Bain and Company, 7. Nike, 8. Walt Disney, 9. Deloitte, 10. Goldman Sachs. Please visit CNN Money for full list:

Retailer efforts fail to slow “showrooming” trend

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Digital shopping cartHave you gone to a store, examined a potential purchase, then bought it online? Many Americans have and continue to “showroom.”

Despite brick and mortar retailers’ best efforts to keep consumers buying in-store, forty percent of Americans have “showroomed,” or tested out a product up close in a store but then purchased it online.

Showrooming was a hot topic back in December, as many shoppers were using the tactic during the holiday shopping season to snag the best prices.

According to a recent Harris Poll, which set out to determine whether the issue still remains, Best Buy, Walmart and Target are the most likely brick and mortar stores to get showroomed, with 23%, 21% and 12%, respectively, of showroomers choosing these stores to most frequently physically examine goods before buying online.

Among these showroomers:

  • Men prefer showrooming at Best Buy over Wal-Mart or Target (28%, 19% and 10%, respectively)
  • Women’s first showrooming destination is Wal-Mart (23%), followed by Best Buy (17%) and Target (14%)
  • Men’s average spend the last time they showroomed ($210.10) is significantly higher than women’s ($137.10)

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,114 U.S. adults surveyed online from April 15-17, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings and data tables available here)

Death of a Salesman

Amazon continues to be showroomers’ dominant destination, with 57% identifying the online retail giant as site where they most often make their showrooming purchases.

“You’ve got to hand it to Amazon: they are truly a retail darling that knows how to deliver on customer expectations,” said Mike de Vere, President of the Harris Poll.

“The company led the rankings in our annual Reputation Quotient study, as well as taking the E-Retailer Brand of the Year title in our annual Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study; these results further stress the company’s clout, by displaying its ability to pluck customers right from their competitors’ stores.”

What reasons cause consumers to buy online? Are pushy salespeople preventing customers from completing their purchases? Almost six in ten showroomers with smartphones (59%) prefer looking up product information on their phone to asking a salesperson for help.

Give ‘Em What They Want

How can brick and mortar retailers change consumers’ behavior and get them to make their purchases in stores? A majority of showroomers (57%) will be more likely to make purchases in brick and mortar stores that have implemented permanent price matching policies in order to compete with online retailers.

Retailers can also benefit from allowing consumers to place orders online that can then be picked up in a physical store – half of Americans (50%) have made purchases this way, and nearly all of those who have (93%) report being satisfied with the process. What offerings won’t bring consumers in? The idea of charging consumers to physically examine a product in a store before purchasing at a different online retailer proved to be unpopular, with only 15% of consumers willing to be charged for showrooming.

Over eight in ten Americans consider the following factors to be very important or important when deciding to purchase in a store rather than online:

  • Being able to take the item home immediately (86%)
  • Taking advantage of sales in store vs. prices online (84%)
  • Not having to deal with the hassles of returning online such as paying for shipping and/or having to pack item (83%)
  • Ability to touch and feel item (83%)

Amazon gobbles up the most e-commerce sales

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

INTERNET RETAILER TOP 500 GUIDEWho’s your competition in online retailing? It’s probably Amazon.

With total sales that grew year over year 27 percent to $61.09 billion and North American sales that increased 30 percent to $34.81 billion in 2012, Amazon continues to dominate the ranks of America’s biggest web retailers, according to Internet Retailer’s 10th anniversary Top 500 Guide.

It ranks the 500 leading e-retailers in the U.S. and Canada based on their annual web sales and other key metrics.

Amazon has remained the top-ranked e-retailer in the Top 500 Guide for a decade and built on its market leadership in 2012 by singlehandedly accounting for 15.4 percent of all U.S. e-commerce sales of $225.54 millionand 28 percent of all collective Top 500 sales of $216.17 billion, according to the 2013 Top 500 Guide.

“Besides being the only real growth segment of the retailing business, e-commerce has also changed the very nature of retailing, fundamentally redefining how products are marketed, how markets are defined, how shoppers interact with merchants and how goods are delivered to consumers,” says Jack Love , Internet Retailer chairman and chief executive officer.

“It’s amazing to think of the ways in which e-commerce has evolved since 2003. And the Top 500 Guide has kept its analytical finger on the pulse of the industry the entire time.”

The Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide® is available in a 448-page print and digital version.

Digital interaction with customers important to brand loyalty

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Shopping cartWith brand loyalty sinking, nearly half (48%) of people between the ages of 18-44 feel that any loyalty they feel toward brands in the future will have to stem from the types of experiences brands create for them, according to a national survey by marketing consultants Analytic Partners.

This includes interaction in the form of video/online gaming, social media and third-party expert information through blogs and articles.

In another recent study, Deloitte found that online and mobile can help bolster a brand’s loyalty.

The Analytic Partners survey of 1,000 respondents, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, unveiled the shopping behaviors and expectations of American consumers that interact and purchase from brands regularly.

Loyalty a two-way street

“The general conclusion we can make from these findings is that people want to be loved by the brands that love them—loyalty has become a two way street,” said Nancy Smith , founder and CEO of Analytic Partners.

“No longer are the days when brands can advocate solely for themselves.  In fact, the way brands spend their marketing dollars to interact with their consumers can ultimately have a real impact on profitability. “

Mass Market Retailers & Shopping Habits
AmazonConsumers feel empowered to make purchases when they have the knowledge to make proper decisions.

According to the survey results, more than half (66%) of consumers are shopping online using mass market sites like Amazon and, and despite the ease of comparison price shopping, they feel loyal to the brands they buy (63%) on these sites.

Consequently the determining factor for this lies within the reviews—75% feel that the reviews they read online play a major role in the purchases they make.

Both Gender & Location Factor into Loyalty
Gender and location do play a role in brand loyalty. Of those surveyed, female consumers (68%) are generally more loyal to brands than males (55%). Results also indicated that consumers living in the south are the most loyal to the brands they buy (67%), while those living on the west coast are the least loyal (56%).

Transparency is Key for Baby Boomers
While fair pricing and excellent customer service are top of mind for most consumers, the baby boomer generation (ages 49-67) care more than any other age demographic that brands should be transparent about how their products are made (80%).

“As ecommerce continues to grow in popularity, new methods for consumer interaction are becoming a must for brands that want to strengthen retention and loyalty efforts,” continued Nancy Smith .

“Therefore it’s become increasingly important for brands to look at their data holistically to analyze and develop new ways to meet and exceed consumers’ expectations. Social media is just one of the many channels Analytic Partners considers and analyzes when seeking to understand the efficacy of marketing spend and the role it plays in the larger business scope.”

Amazon, Sam’s Club top retail experience ratings

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

AmazonDo you like your Amazon shopping experience but dislike Radio Shack’s? If so, you have company.

Based on a study of 10,000 U.S consumers, Sam’s Club and Amazon earned the top spots in the retail sector of the 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings.

At the other end of the spectrum, RadioShack was the lowest-rated retailer for the third consecutive year.

Retail ties for third

The retail industry was tied for third out of 19 industries we studied. Thirty-six out of the 44 retailers in the study earned a “good” or “excellent” rating.

“The retail industry remains one of the better sectors for customer experience, but RadioShack is a real black sheep in the industry,” states Bruce Temkin , managing partner of Temkin Group.

The Temkin Experience Ratings evaluates three areas of customer experience: functional (can customers do what they want to do), accessible (how easy it is to work with the company), and emotional (how consumers feel about their interactions).

Here are some additional findings:

  • Amazon and Sam’s Club (tied for #5 across all industries) earned ratings of 81% while Ace Hardware earned 80%, all of which fall into the “excellent” range.
  • Six additional retailers were in the top 20 overall: Costco (tied for #13), Nordstrom (tied for #13), PetSmart (tied for #20), BJs Wholesale (tied for #20), Dollar Tree (tied for #20), and Walgreens (tied for #20).
  • Radio Shack is the lowest-rated retailer for the third consecutive year, earning a “poor” rating of 58%. It also earned the lowest score across all three underlying components, functionalaccessible, and emotional.
  • The next seven retailers at the bottom of the industry earned “okay” ratings: Apple Stores, Best Buy, T.J. Maxx , Ross, Gap, JCPenney, and Wal-Mart.
  • Amazon and Costco are the top rated in the functional component, Ace Hardware is the top rated in the accessiblecomponent, and Nordstrom is the top in the emotional component.
  • Office Depot (increase of 11 percentage points) and Barnes & Noble (increase of eight percentage points) made the largest improvements in the industry from 2012.
  • JCPenney (decrease of six percentage points), Sam’s Club (decrease of four percentage points), and Lowe’s (decrease of four percentage points) had the largest declines from 2012.
  • The average rating for the retail industry increased from 71% in 2012 to 74% in 2013.

The 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings along with other ratings can be accessed at the Temkin Ratings website,

Consumers increasingly satisfied with e-commerce

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Shopping cartConsumers are increasingly satisfied with their e-commerce transactions.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) annual E-Commerce Report, produced in partnership with customer experience analytics firm ForeSee, customer satisfaction with e-commerce websites continues to rise, gaining 1.2% to 81.1 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale.

The improvement in the e-commerce sector, which comprises the online retail, brokerage, and travel categories, is driven in part by the strong performance of the aggregate of smaller e-retailers and e-brokerages.

Disruption always a part of e-commerce

“Just as we have seen in the public sector, consumers enjoy the convenience and power of e-commerce and online transactions. E-commerce is maturing, and even the smaller companies are improving, keeping up with or sometimes surpassing larger, more established companies,” said Claes Fornell , ACSI founder and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“The e-commerce landscape changes faster than more traditional industries, and the rules can be rewritten by new players or new technologies, like mobile. Disruption will always be a part of e-commerce, but innovation will likely keep the sector near the top in customer satisfaction.”

Online Retail
Online retail increases 1.2% to an ACSI score of 82, outperforming the brick-and-mortar retail trade sector (76.6) by a wide margin.

AmazonAmazon continues to the lead the industry (and tops all measured e-commerce companies in this month’s Index) despite a 1% drop to 85. The “all others” category, which is an aggregate of e-retailers and other companies not individually measured, jumps 3% to 82. The “all others” category contains many e-retail websites that also have a brick-and-mortar presence.

Customer Satisfaction
2011 2012
Online Retail Aggregate          81 82
Amazon 86 85
Newegg 85 84
eBay 81 83
All Others 80 82
Overstock 83 81
Netflix 74 75

“Brick-and-mortar retailers are not conceding the Internet to online natives such as Amazon,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “They are investing heavily resources in providing a better experience for their customers, providing more evidence that competition is good for the consumer.”

Netflix improves, but still lowest scoring

NetflixAfter last year’s 14% drop, Netflix gains 1% to 75 but remains the lowest scoring company in e-commerce. “Netflix’s recovery comes amid increased competition and tough negotiations with content providers.

Netflix knows that access to content is key, and creating exclusive content and a franchise that will help it secure a loyal following is a unique approach. But it remains to be seen if this tactic can return the company to the top of the online retail category,” said Freed.

Online Brokerage
Customer satisfaction with online brokerage increases 2.6% to 86, led by a surge in the “all others” category (+4% to 78), which includes a range of online brokerages from large financial institutions like Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch to smaller brokerages like Scottrade and Sharebuilder.

Fidelity (-2% to 78) shares the top spot in the category. Charles Schwab (-3% to 77) and TD Ameritrade (-1% to 77) are close behind, while E*TRADE suffers the largest drop of any e-commerce company (-8% to 73) a year after setting a personal best.

Customer Satisfaction
2011 2012
Online Brokerage Aggregate 76 78
Fidelity 79 78
All Others 75 78
Charles Schwab 79 77
TD Ameritrade 78 77
E*TRADE 79 73

“All the household names in online brokerage are down, yet the category is up on the strength of the ‘all others’ category, which is made up of both traditional financial institutions and smaller e-brokerages,” added Freed.

“It just goes to show you that industry leaders cannot and should not rest on their laurels just because they are well established. Traditional firms have the resources to invest in improving the customer experience and probably should. At the same time, newer and smaller players are demonstrating that they are nimble enough to keep pace with constantly changing customer expectations.”

Online Travel
Airline JetThe online travel industry continues to be anyone’s game, as only two points separate all measured companies. Customer satisfaction with online travel falls 2.6% to 76, the largest decline of all measured categories.

Expedia (-1%), Orbitz (no change), and the “all others” category (-4%) lead e-travel with a score of 76. Travelocity falls 5% to 75 after leading the Index last year. Although the gap between Priceline and industry leaders is the narrowest since 2002, when the travel category was first included in ACSI, the company remains at the bottom of the group (-3% to 74).

Customer Satisfaction
2011 2012
Online Travel Aggregate        78 76
Expedia 77 76
Orbitz 76 76
All Others 79 76
Travelocity 79 75
Priceline 76 74

“Mobile is going to reshape e-commerce, but it has the most potential to improve the experience for the traveling consumer. That may be a tall order, though. Hotels and airlines are attempting to assert more control over their relationships with their customers, fragmenting the online experience and doing more harm than good in the short term,” said Freed.

A free report with historical scores for all of the e-commerce companies measured by the ACSI is available

What can companies learn from those earning great reputations?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

The Harris PollAmazon is on a roll. In addition to topping a list of 25 retailers with the best mobile satisfaction ratings during the recent holiday shopping season, it also edged out Apple as America’s most reputable company, according to the 2013 Harris Poll RQ Study which engages over 14,000 members of the general public to measure the reputations of the sixty most visible companies in the country.

And companies can learn from how the leaders gain their stellar reputations.

This is Amazon’s first time earning the top ranking, but the fifth consecutive year with a great reputation score. The Walt Disney Company, Google, and Johnson & Johnson complete the top five. This is Google’s eight consecutive top five appearance, an incredible achievement for a fourteen year old company.

AIG and Goldman Sachs return to the bottom two reputation positions on the list of the most visible companies, joined by Halliburton, American Airlines, and Bank of America. With a full six point increase in RQ score though, Bank of America had the highest year-over-year increase in the 2013 study. Best Buy and Honda experienced the greatest decline in RQ scores, 6.76 and 4.73 points, respectively.

RQ measures six dimensions that comprise reputation and influence consumer behavior.

The dimensions and the 2013 leaders are:

  • Social Responsibility – Whole Foods
  • Emotional Appeal –
  • Financial Performance – Apple
  • Products & Services –
  • Vision & Leadership – Apple
  • Workplace Environment – Google

graphicAmazon’s reputation strength runs wide and deep as it ranked in the top five in five of the six dimensions of reputation. Amazon had a five point advantage over any other company in the study in the dimension of Emotional Appeal, despite an entirely virtual relationship with the public. Amazon also achieved the top rating in the dimension of Products & Services.

Amazon earned nearly 100 percent positive ratings on all measures related to Trust. More than 50 percent of respondents also recall discussing Amazon with friends and family in the past year, and nearly 100 percent of these conversations were positive.

“Our results show that Amazon has managed to build an intimate relationship with the public without being perceived as intrusive,” adds Fronk. “

Nine of ten would recommend it

And as the company that is so widely known for its personal recommendations, more than nine in ten members of the public would recommend Amazon to friends and family.”

The results for Apple and Google are equally as impressive as those for Amazon and continue a compelling trend that has been developing for the past few years – companies that begin in the technology sector, which is by far and away the highest-rated industry when it comes to reputation, absorb the reputation equity from the industry, then transcend the industry to become a more multi-faceted business.

Companies that are able to do this are perceivedto “Play A Valuable Social Role,” a characteristic, which according to the RQ study, has become a key driver of reputation.


The Kindle’s eInk technology frees you from LED glare and eye-strain – and you can make the fonts as large as you like.

As a longtime Amazon customer, we can understand why it has such a great reputation, despite moves such as encouraging “showrooming,” viewing products in stores to buy later online.

It’s customer service is beyond first rate. We dropped and broke our first Kindle e-reader when it was out of warranty and they still replaced it free, overnight, and we didn’t even have to pay postage. When a large package of books went awry and never showed up, they simply resent the order.

Banking industry shows gains, still low ranked

The banking industry is not so lucky. It showed some encouraging signs in 2013. Positive ratings of the industry are now 25 percent, a more than 50 percent increase from 2012.

Wells Fargo became the first of the four big banking companies in the past four years to move from negative to positive equity in the dimension of Emotional Appeal. Harris’s fourteen years of conducting the RQ study show that a company cannot build or maintain positive reputation without this positive equity. Wells Fargo also received significantly higher marks on attributes related to its people and work environment, and it is possible that these may be the first signs of a bank once again being seen as trusted.

But in our conversations with sources, the banking industry is still most often cited as having abysmal customer service and is viewed as frequently predatory. The continuing mortgage default problem hasn’t helped.

What can companies learn from the 2013 Harris Poll RQ Study?

Companies need to evaluate and understand the increasing importance that playing a valuable social role has on reputation, purchase consideration, advocacy and positive word of mouth. This is about a business having a purpose, not just checking the box on social responsibility or sustainability.

Additionally, companies need to adapt to a major trend in consumer behavior. More than 60 percent of consumers now “pro-actively try to learn more about how a company conducts itself” before they are willing to consider that company’s products or services. This group, which Harris calls Seekers:

  • Proactively engage in conversations with others about what they find out about a company;
  • In 60 percent of cases, decide NOT to do business with a company because of something they learn about that company; and
  • Actively try to influence friends and family on whether to do business or not with a company based upon what they have learned about that company’s conduct.


Amazon dominates list of top 25 retailers in mobile satisfaction study (infographic)

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

AmazonAmazon extended its ecommerce domination into the mobile arena during the recent holiday shopping season,  according to the ForeSee Mobile Satisfaction Index: Holiday Retail Edition, released today by customer experience analytics firm ForeSee.

In a survey of more than 6,200 consumers collected during the peak holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the retail juggernaut scored highest among 25 of the top mobile commerce companies. The report shows that consumer satisfaction with the mobile retail experience is improving, as the Index climbs two points since last holiday season to 78 on a 100-point scale.

Amazon tops the list at 85, with Apple (83), and QVC (83) close behind. Rounding out the top five are NewEgg (80) and Victoria’s Secret (80). The retailers with the biggest improvements over time include Target (+5), Victoria’s Secret (+5), and Barnes & Noble (+4).

Individual satisfaction scores for the top 25 mobile retailers measured are listed below.

Mobile Experience Satisfaction
Aggregate Satisfaction for Top 25 Mobile Retailers 78 85
Apple 83
QVC 83
NewEgg 80
Victoria’s Secret 80
Barnes & Noble 79
Footlocker 79
HSN 79
Costco 78
Hewlett Packard 78
Kohl’s 78 78
Best Buy 77 77
J.C. Penney 77
Macy’s 77
One King’s Lane 77
Staples 77
Target 77
Walmart 75 74
Overstock 74
RueLaLa 74
Sears 74
Shop NBC 73

PR Newswire (

“The mobile platform is maturing much faster than the PC platform. We see it in the rate of consumer adoption, and fortunately we are seeing it in how well the top retailers are adapting to multichannel consumers who are embracing yet another powerful tool,” said Larry Freed , president and CEO of ForeSee.

“But retailers shouldn’t get too comfortable because change is just about the only thing you can count on. Consumers expect retailers to provide a consistent and seamless experience, regardless of the channel.”

Here’s an infographic detailing the findings:

Enterprises looking to internal cloud projects, study says

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

cloud computingEnterprises are focused on internal rather than external cloud projects, according to a Cloud Computing Study from TheInfoPro,  a service of 451 Research. In the Infrastructure as a service space, the study found Amazon a clear leader.

Key trends from TheInfoPro Cloud Computing study include:

  • The Cloud has really become a proxy for internal transformation, as adoption of technologies like virtualization and efforts to radically standardize and consolidate have all been classified as ‘cloud’ initiatives.
  • In 2013 we expect that enterprises will remain focused on building internal environments that mimic the functionality of highly efficient cloud service providers like Amazon (for example). Results of our Wave 4 survey validate this assumption, as 47% percent of those interviewed said that the internal cloud was amongst their top-two cloud related projects in 2013.
  • Despite conventional wisdom, many enterprises remain skeptical as to whether they can actually save money by using the public cloud. Many of the organizations that we spoke to have more clarity about the potential cost savings of their internal private cloud initiatives. End-users expect greater savings from their internal cloud efforts, with 36% expecting savings of between 1% and 10% from their internal cloud efforts, and that much of the expected savings will come as a result of increased automation.
  • The majority of enterprises remain in the initial stages of their internal transformation. 64% percent of those interviewed indicated that they remain in the initial phases – standardization, consolidation and virtualization – of the internal cloud journey with 61% in the virtualization phase.
  • 47% of those interviewed told us that they are facing significant roadblocks in their quest to move beyond virtualization toward automation, 34% cited non-technical issues (organization / budget, People / Time and Buy-In / Resistance to Change) and 13% said technology issues would likely thwart their efforts.
  • The market for cloud platforms today is small – of those responding to our survey, only 26% said they currently are using a cloud platform. However, the future looks bright, as 40% of respondents said they are in-pilot and will deploy in the next 18 months.
  • Amazon remains the clear leader in the infrastructure as a service ( IaaS) space. When asked to identify their existing cloud service providers, 19% of respondents chose Amazon, while 8% chose Verizon and 5% Rackspace. The opportunity to participate in a rapidly growing market coupled with the necessity of defending existing markets, has brought in competitors from a variety of market segments including telecommunications, Internet infrastructure providers (e.g. Amazon and Google) and traditional hosters.

Technology companies dominate most trusted for privacy list

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

PonemonTechnology companies claimed half the slots on Ponemon Institute’s annual top 10 list of the most trusted companies for privacy. Hewlett Packard ranked second, Amazon, third, IBM, fourth, eBay ninth and Intuit tenth.

American Express (AMEX) continued to reign as the most trusted company among the 217 orgazations rated.

New tech entries on Ponmon’s top 20 most trusted list included Microsoft at 17, and Mozilla at 20.

In addition to ranking the most trusted companies, the Ponemon study reported that only 41 percent of consumers feel they have control over their personal information, down from 45 last year and an overall drop from 56 percent in 2006.

Identity theft a top concern

The survey also noted that identity theft is a top area of concern among consumers with fifty-nine percent of the respondents indicating that fear of identity theft was a major factor in brand trust diminishment, while 50 percent said notice of a data breach was a factor.

That could give impetus to the changes in U.S. immigration law proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators this week, although it’s identity card idea is already meeting with opposition from some.

The Ponemon rankings were derived from a survey of more than 100,000 adult-aged consumers who were asked to name up to five companies they believe to be the most trusted for protecting the privacy of their personal information.

Consumer responses were gathered over a 15-week period concluding in December 2012 and resulted in a final sample of 6,704 respondents who, on average, provided 5.4 discernible company ratings that represent 25 different industries.

How to use Kindle to generate free business leads

Monday, January 21st, 2013


Kindle Fire

A Kindle Fire tablet computer

Imagine Amazon sending you business leads regularly and even paying you to do so. Why would they do it?

“Amazon is desperate for reading material and you can publish your content for free as Kindle books,” says V. Michael Santoro, a managing partner with John S. Rizzo of Globe On-Demand, an internet technology company. The two are also the co-authors of, “Niche Dominance: Creating Order out of your Digital Marketing Chaos,” (

“The twist is to use them as a generation system for sales leads.”

The Audience is huge

The audience is huge – Kindle is no longer just for people who purchase Kindle tablets. Amazon has also written Kindle Reader applications for every major smartphone, tablet, and computer including the Android phone or tablet, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows 8 PC or tablet, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7, Santoro says.

“Most businesses hesitate to use Kindle to generate sales leads because they think they need to write an actual book,” says Rizzo, “But that’s not true. You can write and publish short reports — as long as the content is original, of high quality and does not violate its Terms of Service (TOS), Amazon will publish your material.”

The key is to include a compelling free offer with a strong call to action and a link to a lead capture page – the page on your website where people can sign up for more information, special offers, your newsletter, etc.

And Amazon will even help market your book – for free!

When a new Kindle book is approved and published, Amazon will:

 Feature it in their new releases section.

 Email their customer base announcing it to those who have previously purchased a Kindle book in that genre.

 Offer the Kindle KDP Select Program for ongoing free promotion.

 Allow customers to highlight, make notes, and share your book’s content via Twitter and other social networks.

“By enrolling in the free Kindle KDP Select Program, you give Amazon exclusivity on a renewable 90-day basis,” Santoro says. “This program allows their readers to borrow your book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and when they do, Amazon pays you a royalty, as well as for book sales. However, the real benefit is that Amazon provides five days per quarter to give your book away for free.”

Why give your Kindle book away for free?

“Because, as a lead generation system, you want as many individuals as possible to download your Kindle book and visit your lead capture page, Santoro explains. Additionally, Amazon views each book download as a vote and rewards your book with higher page ranking. The more downloads, the better the chance of an Amazon Page 1 placement.

To create your Kindle report:

Kindle white Use Amazon to determine what current Kindle books or paperbacks are published about your topic.

 Decide what information will be helpful to your potential customers. Make sure it is original and offers value. Avoid information that is easily found on the Internet.

 Create your report in Microsoft Word and include images if appropriate.

 Include your call to action – a message that prompts readers to visit your website — and link to your website’s lead capture page.

 Create a cover graphic.

Publishing on Kindle is fairly simple:

 Go to and sign up for a free Kindle account.

 Watch the “How To” Kindle publishing video.

 Fill out the Amazon Author Page to track your statistics.

 Reference the book on your website and link to your Amazon book page.

 Announce it on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter accounts.

“The goal is not to sell books, but rather to generate leads from Amazon’s huge customer base,” Rizzo says. An additional benefit is that you will differentiate yourself from the competition by being a published author. If your content is excellent and helpful, you will also build trust which will help to increase sales from these new leads.


John S. Rizzo obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration and spent three years as a consultant for Amazon’s publishing group. He has assisted several businesses with digital marketing strategy and has served in leadership positions for multiple initiatives for the Charleston, S.C., Chamber of Commerce.

V. Michael Santoro has more than 10 years in the digital marketing field. His prior experience includes international senior marketing positions in technology fields. He has a master’s degree and was an adjunct professor with the computer science department of Western Connecticut State University.

Which brands have the most Facebook fans? Who’s gaining?

Friday, January 11th, 2013

FacebookCan you guess which retailers have the most Facebook fans? Socialbakers, a social media analytics firm, today released Facebook data that changes the rankings of the top US pages according to number of fans.

Who’s on top?

Walmart and Target were the number one and two brands with the highest number of U.S. Facebook fans.

Starbucks, Amazon and Coca Cola all saw gains in their rankings of total U.S. Facebook fans, with 15,615,785, 14,328,145, and 11,357,588 U.S.-based fans for each respective brand, making them fourth, fifth, and eighth on the list.

Disneyland, Walt Disney World and Reese’s all dropped out of the top ten.

“Brands that previously found themselves on top of the rankings in terms of fans in the U.S. have dropped,” SocialBakers says.

Go to the Socialbakers site to look at the fan distribution of any Facebook pages in every country. Simply click on any page in the ranking to show the distribution of fans.


Amazon to get a boost from big spenders, Kindle rivals iPad Mini

Monday, December 17th, 2012

AmazonTwenty-seven percent of Americans say they will spend less on gifts this holiday period, but around the same number (32%) will direct more of their present-buying dollars to Amazon, although more than three-quarters also expect to shop in a brick and mortar store. So says

The survey did uncover a few surprises: Amazon’s new Kindle tablet is running neck and neck with the iPad Mini as a planned purchase, and teachers rate lower than garbage men on gift lists.

Facebook plays a bigger role as inspiration for gifts than Pinterest, and might be even more important going forward.

Big-spenders will drive an expected holiday boost for Amazon, with 27% of people earning over $150,000 a year saying they will spend more on Amazon.

The survey was conducted online by on December 4th, 2012.

Other findings from the wide-ranging research, conducted using Toluna QuickSurvey’s unique online survey tool that allows anyone to get reliable answers in minutes, included:

  • In-store shopping still strong:
    • 77% of people will shop in a brick and mortar store this holiday period
  • Social media is having an impact on holiday spending:
    • 10% of respondents would shop through a retailer’s store on Facebook
    • 4% would buy gifts on Kickstarter or other crowd-funding site
    • 28% will use Facebook to source info or inspiration on holiday gifts. Pinterest is way behind with only 3% of people using it
  • Holidays are about family, not religion:
    • In terms of priorities over the holidays, ‘being with family’ and ‘preparing holiday meals’ are considered most important; ‘attending religious services’ was the lowest priority
    • Teachers are at the bottom of the gift pile: garbage collectors and doormen are a higher priority for gifts than teachers
  • mobilewalletMobile payments have a way to go:
    • Only 17% would pay using their phone if they could
  • But mobile price-comparison strong:
    • One in five (22%) will use their phone to do price comparisons while in a store. Both men and women are as likely to price compare (22%)
  • Kindle and iPad mini neck and neck
    • More than one in four people (29%) will buy a tablet either as a gift or for themselves this holiday
    • Slightly more people (13%) plan to buy an iPad mini over the Kindle (12%)

The impact of digital on the music industry (infographic)

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

SpotifyMost of the time these days, I listen to streaming music services rather than the digital music I downloaded or my collection of blues, folk and classic and rock music CDs. Pandora is usually my service of choice, although numerous others, such as Spotify, have their fans.

I still use my MP3 player when I walk and travel, but at home I play music on my computers or on Internet radios, which I’ve used for a couple of years now.

So the music industry, seriously disrupted by the digital revolution and all those file sharing sites that led them to sue individual users and have sites shutdown, is changing yet again. Now, even small bands can use kickstarter campaigns to fund albums and the Internet to build a fan base.

You have to wonder how these changes will affect the sales of downloaded music and CDs.

Here’s an infographic that takes a look at the impact of digital on the music industry. –Allan Maurer.

About 14 million consumers used mobile shopping apps on Black Friday

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

As research into the Thanksgiving holiday shopping trends emerges, several things are clear: online shopping is rapidly becoming a preferred way to search for gifts and deals and mobile shopping is on the rise.

One of the latest reports, from Mobidia Technology, a provider of mobile analytics, shows that if the consumers who track their data usage with Mobidia’s My Data Manager, 12 percent used a smartphone shopping application on Black Friday.

When applied to the entire U.S. population, this suggests approximately 14 million consumers used their smartphones on Black Friday to shop. That is 30 percent more than the average of 9.5 percent on previous days in 2012, demonstrating the importance of Black Friday for mobile shoppers.

Mobile shoppers spent 16 percent more time using shopping apps than they did anytime during the year previously, using them for more than 10 minutes. Compare that to the 12 to 22 minutes spent on the other most popular apps that day, web browsers, maps, Facebook and Twitter.

Online retailers got the most traffic from mobile apps, with those from Amazon and eBay garnering five times the use of brick and mortar retailers.

“As expected, our Black Friday analysis showed that many consumers shopped on their smartphones on Black Friday, but shoppers appear to be gravitating toward online retailers for their mobile shopping,” saysChris Hill, vice president of marketing at Mobidia.

“This could be attributed to shoppers’ experience with online shopping on desktop computers, unsatisfying experiences with the shopping apps of traditional retailers, or just a general lack of awareness. Whatever the reason, Mobidia’s data highlights this as a big opportunity for traditional retailers to continue innovating their mobile shopping app development and marketing to capture more of the mobile shopping market.”

For more information about Mobidia’s mobile data, please visit Mobidia’s website, where you will find detailed whitepapers, or Mobidia’s Blog for periodic updates on data and analysis of mobile usage.


Black Friday hits a billion in online sales for the first time

Monday, November 26th, 2012

comscoreAlthough Black Friday usually conjures up images of people waiting in long lines at retail stores, this year it was also the heaviest online spending day to date, according to digital measurement service comScore.

In store sale, in comparison, were down as many shoppers avoided those lines to do their gift-hunting online.

For the holiday season-to-date, $13.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 16-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.

Black Friday (November 23) saw $1.042 billion in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2012 and representing a 26-percent increase versus Black Friday 2011.

Thanksgiving Day (November 22), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 32-percent increase to $633 million.

“Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel – particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni.

“With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multi-channelmarketing phenomenon.”

Fulgoni added that Thanksgiving Day itself, usually a lighter online shopping day, is gaining steam as well.

Today, Cyber Monday, is expected to be the heaviest shopping day of the season with sales approaching $1.5 billion or more.

ComScore says Amazon led the online sales parade so far this year, followed by Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.

We think this is a bit of a surprise: digital content and subscriptions were the top-growing online retail product category, up 29 percent from a year ago. The proliferation of smartphones, tablets and e-readers is driving the demand for digital books, audio & visual content, says comScore.

Toy are also doing well, gaining 27 percent,  followed by Consumer Packaged Goods (up 23 percent), Video Game Consoles & Accessories (up 18 percent) and Consumer Electronics (up 18 percent).

Internet, digital media job growth slows in New York & Boston

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

New-York skylineJob growth in Internet and digital media jobs slowed in New York and Boston over the last six months, including sharp declines in the third quarter. But growth does continue in the sector and some top firms such as Google continued to add headcount in both cities, though at a slower rate.

Amazon, Mashable, LinkedIn, and eBay also all continued to add to staff.

Cook Associates Executive Search, a retained executive search firm, reports in its quarterly East Coast Internet and Digital Media Jobs Index, which tracks job creation at more than 470 companies in New York and Boston, that New York showed 3.6 percent growth for the third quarter, following on the heels of 5.6 percent growth in the past quarter.

Boston, on the other hand, showed lower growth of 1.9 percent after a 3.2 percent increase in jobs in the second quarter.

Growth much stronger in New York

Index creator John Barrett said, “It’s now clear that a slowdown in hiring has been occurring in this sector over the past 6 months.  Things began getting soft in Boston by the second quarter.

“There were some signs that it was also getting a little soft in New York, but hiring is now definitely slowing down in New York.  Overall, Internet and digital media jobs growth is still much stronger in New York and I expect that trend to continue.”

Barrett added, “Things are even worse than they appear in Boston.  All of the net new hiring came from just 10 companies out of the approximately 150 companies being tracked in the city.  Without those 10 companies, employment in Boston was flat at best and perhaps declined slightly.”

Overall, New York added about 900 new Internet and digital media jobs while Boston added about 260.  Approximately 55% of New York’s job growth came from publicly-traded companies while about 75% of Boston’s job growth was derived from public companies.

“This illustrates the continued strength of private company hiring in New York that’s resulting from high levels of venture investing occurring there,” according to the report.

New York/Boston jobs chart

Where the jobs are

Top 10 companies showing largest headcount gains in New York include: Google, Rent the Runway, Amazon, AppNexus, eBay, Facebook, LinkedIn, Gilt Groupe, Etsy, Warby Parker.

Up-and-coming companies showing large headcount gains in New York included: Foursquae,, ZocDoc, Magnetic, Tumblr,Thrillist,BuzzFeed,, Mashable, SignPost, Yext, Moda Operandi and Outbrain.

The top ten firms showing the largest headcount increase in Boston include: Hubspot, Wayfair, Amazon, TripAdvisor, Vistaprint, Rue La La, Google, Constant Contact, Karmaloop, and Jumptap.

Up and coming companies showing large headcount gains in Boston include: Visible Measures, DataXu, Naigans,, Gemvara, NetProspex, WordStream, Fiksu, and ClickFuel.



Business leaders trust news media more than politicians

Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Warren Buffett

Business leaders admire Warren Buffett by a wide margin in Speakeasy Trust Survey.

Business people tend to trust the news media more than politicians, according to the 2012 Speakeasy Trust Survey, and that’s saying something, considering that news media only scored 3 percent of the votes.

Politicians? No one voted for them.

The survey showed that the most trusted business leader is Warren Buffet, no surprise there, considering his public candor, and the most trusted company is Google.

Speakeasy, Inc., a nearly 40-year old executive communication consultancy that helps business leaders to develop more powerful and strategic communication, conducted the 2012 Trust Survey among business people at varying levels of responsibility within a broad range of industries, in September 2012.

asked to select who they trust most when receiving communication, respondents were given a choice between business associates, politicians, salespeople, celebrities or news media. The most votes were received for people we know personally, with 97 percent of respondents selecting business associates.

“Given the choices, it stands to reason that people would most trust the coworkers they see and interact with on a daily basis,” said Scott Weiss, CEO, Speakeasy.

“The real surprise is that politicians scored no votes while the news media scored three percent of the vote. What this says to me is that politicians need to take a good look at what they really represent in the public eye. Exacerbating the issue is the disturbing need to run every word uttered by a politician through a fact-checking process in order to validate their honesty.”

Buffett top business leader

Asked to provide a write-in answer for which business leader they trust most and why. Warren Buffett was the overwhelming winner, with 14 percent of respondents writing in his name. Among the reasons: “he is plain spoken,” “he is authentic,” and “it’s clear that his motivation is not just about money.

Other business leaders named in the survey include S. Truett Cathy (Chick-Fil-A), Bill Gates (Microsoft, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) and Richard Branson (Virgin), each of whom earned six percent of votes. Regardless of the leader who was named, the reasons why didn’t differ much. The most common themes, says Speakeasy, were the leaders’ abilities to inspire people, their authenticity, their transparency, and their abilities to connect on a human level.

asked to provide a write-in answer for which company they trust most and why. Google, scoring eight percent of votes, edged out Starbucks, which was named six percent of the time. A common theme around Google was its customer focus. Google is “motivated to create useful products,” “is focused on the customer” and “values honesty.”

“Delivering consistently high quality products and customer service is the hallmark of a successful company, but in order to build enough equity to be named the most trustworthy, companies must bring something more to the equation,” added Weiss.

“Google and Starbucks are ubiquitous and reliable, and both have very public social programs with which people like to align themselves.”

Other companies that received multiple write-in votes in the survey were American Express, Target, State Farm, Chick-Fil-A and Amazon.