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RETAILERS MUST BE “PEAK-PROOF” WELL-AHEAD OF TIME TO MAXIMISE REVENUE

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RETAILERS MUST BE “PEAK-PROOF” WELL-AHEAD OF TIME TO MAXIMISE REVENUE

Tryzens calls for retailers to start capacity testing their websites now in preparation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

With only 4 months to go, this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday are set to be even bigger following the positive eCommerce figures seen last year, with retailers such as Joseph & Joseph, Jack Wills and The Works reporting huge increases in sales. Ecommerce Website performance to cope with demand is critical during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday periods, meaning online retailers must prepare ahead of time to secure another successful year according to specialist eCommerce systems integrator, Tryzens.

According to research from Adobe, Black Friday 2016 was a record-breaking year for online sales in the US, with $3.34bn spent online and a 17.7% increase on sales from the 2015 period. In the UK, Adobe reported that sales hit £908m on Black Friday, with consumers going on to spend 50% more on the Monday before Christmas than in 2015. Companies that get their websites right for peak times can exhibit strong operational figures that help ensure solid growth, like clients of Tryzens saw last year, where the likes of Jack Wills and The Works both made the Top 10 of UK retailer performances by Internet Retailing.  The converse is also true, where those that fail to prioritise performance tuning, the value taken through their sites will suffer as a result, said Tryzens.

Growth is not just about hyper-scale businesses and is always relative regardless of size of business as many organisations do not scale their web infrastructure to service the extraordinary demand of the Cyber Weekend. Joseph Joseph, the highly sought after design-led kitchenware business operates both wholesales and online, reported that Black Friday peaked at 86 sessions every 2 minutes on their Tryzens-created website, a remarkable uplift for them that was successfully prepared for and executed. Confirming the online pressure of the peak periods, research from Qubit, which analysed more than 50 million visits from 120 UK and US retailers, found that compared to a normal Friday, Black Friday traffic was up 220%, while Cyber Monday experienced an increase of 155% compared to a normal sales day. With the surge in website traffic figures seen during the peak trading period, it is critical to ensure websites are performing to the highest standard to capitalise on site visitors.

Andy Burton, CEO of Tryzens explained: “It is fairly obvious that if customers aren’t able to access your site then you’re essentially at risk of reduced revenues as they may not come back later. Capacity planning is essential for all ecommerce operations, ensuring you can accurately gauge if your site will confidently cope with planned or market-led growth.  With more consumers buying from retailers online, it’s no longer sufficient planning a month before a peak period. Conducting performance reviews, load testing, and implementing small changes ahead of time can ensure the site is well designed to deal with peak traffic.”

Burton believes that Black Friday and Cyber Monday which is extraordinary, provide a healthy indicator of growth opportunity across the wider holiday peak period. He continued: “UK retailers will also see an increase in overseas consumers meaning global aspects of fulfilment. localisation and customer experience from an eCommerce site need to be considered. Planning for your website in terms of its pure capacity might be one thing, but another important consideration is making sure there is sufficient thinking in terms of the implications of where the traffic is likely to be from around the globe. Individual geographic markets have wildly different growth rates so it is crucial to consider server capacity in the locations that will see major increases in eCommerce.”

In predictions published in 2016 on retail eCommerce growth, online sales were expected to rise by 16%, whereas the growth rate in China was actually seen to be even greater at around 50%. Other parts of South East Asia, underserved by retail eCommerce, could also experience even higher growth rates.

Burton concluded: “Understanding your customer’s needs and the impact of peak demand, and being able to track it in real time is essential, especially when you consider that people from every time zone will be shopping at various times of their day and night during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Ultimately consumers want the ability to access products instantly at the touch of a button, and more so in these industry-defined peaks. If people can’t access your site, regardless of where they’re based, then you’re going to see more and more visitors dropping off and lower revenues.”

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March - Bloomberg News 1

(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as March, Bloomberg News reported late on Friday, citing sources.

The California-based brokerage has held talks in the past week with underwriters about moving forward with a filing within weeks, Bloomberg said.

Robinhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that Robinhood has picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead preparations for an initial public offering which could value it at more than $20 billion.

Robinhood was at the heart of a mania that gripped retail investors in late January following calls on Reddit thread WallStreetBets to trade certain stocks that were being heavily shorted by hedge funds.

The online brokerage tapped around $3.4 billion in funding after its finances were strained due to the massive trading in shares of companies such as GameStop Corp.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies 2

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – When President Joe Biden on Wednesday stood at a lectern holding a microchip and pledged to support $37 billion in federal subsidies for American semiconductor manufacturing, it marked a political breakthrough that happened much more quickly than industry insiders had expected.

For years, chip industry executives and U.S. government officials have been concerned about the slow drift of costly chip factories to Taiwan and Korea. While major American companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp dominate their fields, they depend on factories abroad to build the chips they design.

As tensions with China heated up last year, U.S. lawmakers authorized manufacturing subsidies as part of an annual military spending bill due to concerns that depending on foreign factories for advanced chips posed national security risks. Yet funding for the subsidies was not guaranteed.

Then came the auto-chip crunch. Ford Motor Co said a lack of chips could slash a fifth of its first-quarter production and General Motors Co cut output across North America.

“It brings home very clearly the message that the semiconductor is really a critical component in a lot of the end products we take for granted,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group within semiconductor manufacturing toolmaker Applied Materials Inc that sells tools to automotive chip factories.

Within weeks, automakers joined chip companies calling for chip factory subsidies, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden both pledged to fight for funding.

Industry backers now aim to be part of a package of legislation to counter China that Schumer hopes to bring to the Senate floor this spring. Still, all agree it will do little to solve the immediate auto-chip problem.

Headlines about idled car plants resonated with the public that had shrugged off abstract warnings in the past, said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lawmakers, already worried that a promised infrastructure bill will not materialize this year, decided to push for quick solution.

“Nobody wants to be seen as soft on China. No one wants to tell the Ford workers in their district, ‘Sorry, can’t help,'” Lewis said. “It was one of those moments where everything aligned.”

The package includes matching funds for state and local chip-plant subsidies, a provision likely to heat up competition among states including Texas and Arizona to host big new chip plants that can cost as much as $20 billion.

The subsidies could benefit a factory in Arizona proposed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and one in Texas eyed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though those factories would be geared toward high-end chips for smartphones and laptops, rather than simpler auto chips. And those factories would not come on line until 2023 or 2024, according to plans disclosed by the companies, the world’s two largest chip manufacturers.

In the longer term, a raft of U.S. companies are also poised to benefit. Any chipmakers that build factories will source many tools from American companies such as Applied, Lam Research Corp and KLA Corp.

Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and GlobalFoundries – which already have U.S. factory networks – will also likely benefit.

Smaller, specialty chip factories also could benefit.

“The recent chip shortage in the automotive industry has highlighted the need to strengthen the microelectronics supply chain in the U.S.,” said Thomas Sonderman, chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based chipmaker that makes automotive and defense chips. “We believe that SkyWater is uniquely positioned due to our differentiated business model and status as a U.S.- owned and U.S.- operated pure play semiconductor contract manufacturer.”

Even with subsidies, the U.S. companies still must compete with low-cost Asian vendors over the long run, and the immediate auto chip troubles will probably persist.

Surya Iyer, a vice president at Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor, which makes chips for automakers, said his factory is booked beyond capacity and has started to speed some orders up while slowing others down, to meet automakers’ needs as best it can.

“We are expecting this level of demand to continue at least for the next 12 months, maybe even longer,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add attribution to quote in paragraph 9, add dropped words in paragraphs 10 and 17)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks 3

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday an offer by a consortium of investors led by state lender CDP for its 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia fell short of the mark and asked its top managers to see if the bid could be sweetened.

“The offer falls below expectations,” the Italian infrastructure group said in a statement, adding it had mandated the chief executive and the chairman to assess “the potential for the necessary substantial improvements” to the bid.

Italian state lender CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, has presented a proposal valuing all of Autostrade per l’Italia at 9.1 billion euros ($11 billion).

The consortium also requested Atlantia guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another roughly 800 million euros for a pending legal case, making the bid less attractive than previously expected.

One source said the consortium estimated overall pending legal claims against Autostrade at 3 billion to 4 billion euros, adding the 700 million euro cap did not mean the amount would be detracted from the offer price from the start.

Earlier on Friday Atlantia’s minority investors TCI and Spinecap had called on Atlantia’s board to reject the offer, saying it undervalued the asset.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, especially a bad deal and a wrong price,” TCI Advisory Services partner Jonathan Amouyal said in a emailed comment to Reuters.

TCI, which holds an indirect stake of around 10% in Atlantia, repeated that the value for 100% of Autostrade should be no less than 12.5 billion euros.

The board will hold a further meeting in order to take a final decision on the offer in due time, Atlantia said.

The negotiations between Atlantia and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end a political dispute over Autostrade’s motorway concession triggered by the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit.

(GRAPHIC – Atlantia share performance: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjpqggjdpx/image-1614331237501.png)

The bid expires on March 16, but the deadline could be extended in case Atlantia calls an extraordinary shareholders meeting (EGM) on the issue, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

Shares in the group ended down 0,7%, after recovering some losses, as investors waited for the decision of the board.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, owns 88% of Autostrade, with Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund holding the rest.

The group also kept open an alternative plan to demerge and sell its stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit and called an EGM on March 29 to extend to end-July a deadline for offers for the demerged stake.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei, editing by Louise Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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