Saturday, March 28, 2009

A selection from Art Paris

Aleix Plademunt, from the series "nada" - Olivier Waltman Gallery

Ulrich Lamsfuss, Stockfood 224560 - Daniel Templon Gallery

David Reimondo - Monde
Jurgen Nefzger - Nocturnes

Art Paris is a contemporary art fair where more than 100 galleries present their current artists to the parisian public under the dome of the Grand Palais. Here's a selection of pieces that got my attention, still with a "retail" point of view....

Monday, March 23, 2009

99 ct pricing

Tim Arango wrote an interesting article in the New York Times about .99 price ending. He records the history of .99 prices which seems to have been first published in 1860 by Rowland Macy (1822 - 1877), founder of Macy's Department Store. The success of this promo encouraged retailers to multiply this kind of pricing. Other explanation can be found in the odd fact that prices ending in .99 was a way to fight internal robbery: employees were forced to give change to customers (at least 1ct) and therefore oblige salesmen to register the purchases...

The psychological factor is often used to explain success stories like iTunes or the One Dollar Store chains. Many economists made studies trying to measure the effect of such prices. But the truth obliges to say that the positive effect of .99 prices is still to be demonstrated !

Photo : Denkschema in Flickr

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Retail recession in photos in Slate

Slate web-magazine asked his readers to post on Flickr photos illustrating the recession - Great shots of tough times. From the Wall street crisis to the closing of stores such as Circuit City or Linens'n Things, here is my selection from the +170 pics posted up to date.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Play Food

Saxton Freyman is an author and artist, author of several illustrated books made of carved fruits and vegetables. He has a real talent to give human figure and lively expresion to a simple fruit.

Carl Willat realized a commercial for using it's character. Click here to watch it (it's the smiling orange), so cute !

Other retailer to use his talent, the new urban concept from Carrefour : Carrefour City. Located in Paris, the store shows illustration by Saxton Freymann in the fresh products area. Good job Anna !

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Excellent ! Home made Trader Joe's Comercial

Trader Joe's is a superb retail concept developed by the Aldi group. Amazing to see how the German Hard Discount chain succeeded in reinventing a concept specifically for US customers (a total "retailtainment" experience) with the basics of the hard discount concept (private label, edlp, strong logistics,...).

Trader Joe's success is also due to the special relationship he builds with his customers. Great example with this video made by Carls Fine Films (CFF), a film company specialized in computer generated and animation movies. CFF is located in San Francisco, close to a Trader Joe's shop. The owner, Carl Willat, were told by a Shop Manager that shooting photos is prohibited. So he decided to make a (not so) short comercial about Trader Joe's with his Treo phone. Result is great ! Trader Joe's should use it for his own comercials !!

PS: You surely recognized the song adapted from Antonio Carlos Jobim Águas de março.
PSS: Want more about Trader Joe's ?
See a previous post here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Optimizing the number of coins

Cash management
is a real pain for retailers. It costs a lot to count and transfer coins and notes to Banks. It also hides cost with the time lost at the cashier when customers need to look for the tiny coins in the wallet trying to get the exact change. Most of the times, it ends by giving slightly more so that the cashier need to look for the small (but heavy in the pockets) coins. All this is time consuming and decreases productivity (a vital criteria for retailers profitability). 

How could we improve this process ?

Jeffrey Shallit  a professor in Waterloo, University of Canada is a specialist of "combinatorics on words, algorithmic number theory, etc...". He wrote a very interesting note about how to optimize the change of coins or in other words, what is the most efficient combination of coins to minimize the handling. 

In the US monetary system you may find just 4 kind of coins : 1 (penny), 5 (nickel), 10 (dime) and 25 (quarter). The average number of coins necessary to make change on 1 USD is 4,7 per transaction (assuming that every amount of change is evenly distributed between 0 and 99). You can maximize this result with a 4 coins combination: 1, 5, 18, 25 to get an average of 3,89. Obama's change for improving efficiency would be to switch the Dime to a 18¢ coin. This proposal would also have the advantage of favourizing mental calculus in the population...

PS: In Euro countries, we have 6 available coins (1ct, 2ct, 5ct, 10ct, 20ct, 50ct, 1€, 2€). This set, for a 5€ change, gets a poor average of 4,6. 

Let's switch our coins for a more efficient combination to reduce costs and waiting lines !