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Retailers should consider ditching discounting as 53% admit “always on” sales are damaging profits 

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Retailers should consider ditching discounting as 53% admit “always on” sales are damaging profits 

As consumers admit they avoid stressful sales altogether, there’s ample opportunity for retailers to ditch excessive discounting and focus on a better customer experience instead

New research shows that retailers are under increasing pressure to discount to keep up with competition and rising customer expectations.

The research, by leading payments provider Klarna, shows that discounting is no longer confined to the traditional winter and summer sales. The new rules of retail mean discounting has become a fluid and unpredictable phenomenon – with over half (57%) of consumers expecting regular sales.

The research of 500 British retailers highlighted the negative impact this can have on the bottom line of merchants. Over half of retailers surveyed (53%) say the “always on” nature of sales is having a negative impact on profits – and shockingly, over one in 10 (11%) saying discounting cost them over £25,000 throughout 2017. This isn’t felt just by smaller retailers, but merchants of all sizes – in fact, it’s those with 100-239 employees that feel the burden most with 66% saying constant discounts are impacting profits.

The eCommerce channel is particularly vulnerable, with 56% of retailers saying the majority of their discounted transactions come from online trade.

Commenting on the research, Luke Griffiths, Managing Director at Klarna UK, said: “Discounting can be a significant source of stress for retailers of all sizes – from the impact on profits to the operational difficulties that come with managing sales activity. Many merchants will discount to shift unwanted stock, so part of the solution is to make better, more educated purchasing decisions.”

“But our research also shows how retailers can win over customers without slashing prices. Instead of discounting, merchants would do well to focus on perfecting the customer journey – from an inspirational browsing experience through to a seamless checkout phase, with multiple payment options and one-click repeat purchase options.”

Are consumers overwhelmed by always-on discounting? 

To better understand this sales spiral, Klarna also surveyed consumers to discover the psychology behind customer attitudes towards discounting and how it influences buyer behaviour. The results showed that 18% of respondents only shop when there is a sale on – with millennials (23% of 25-34 yearolds) and gen Z (22% of 16-24 year olds) most likely to wait for sales to shop, compared to 11% of over 55s.

Encouragingly, there are signs that customers are gradually turning away from the frenzy generally associated with discounting, instead searching out a positive shopping experience. Over a quarter (28%) say sales are too stressful and avoid them altogether, so there are benefits for retailers looking to break out of the discounting cycle by providing a better customer journey.

There’s also a growing demand for more thoughtful, personalised sales tactics, with 45% saying they are more likely to shop if they were sent a personalised offer. And results showed that constant sales can in fact damage brand value and perception: a quarter (25%) of consumers say they are less likely to shop regularly with a retailer who always has sales on, and 38% say that constant sales make a brand look cheap and unfashionable.

How can merchants avoid the sales spiral? 

With many consumers viewing sales shopping as a stressful, negative experience, there’s scope for retailers instead to turn to more shopper-centric initiatives to win business and loyalty. Over a third of customers surveyed (36%) would be more likely to buy full price items if they were able to pay later once they had received the goods and decided what to keep. Offering multiple payment options at the point of sale – both online and in store – gives shoppers choice, convenience and financial flexibility.

Luke Griffiths continued: “Providing an exceptional customer journey at any time of year is vital. It’s clear that merchants and consumers are increasingly disillusioned with discounting and should look instead to ‘surprise and delight’ shoppers in the everyday user experience. They can do this with features such as a mobile-optimised checkout, one-click purchases, deferred payment options and personalisation.”

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, the UK’s industry association for online retail, added: “In recent years, events such as Black Friday have instilled in shoppers’ minds the idea that there are times of year when desirable product ranges – as distinct from the excess stock that is typically reduced to clear during seasonal sales periods – will have their prices slashed. The impact of this was particularly apparent in October 2017, when heavy discounts were already available across multiple retailers, as they tried to stimulate activity among shoppers who were holding out for Black Friday. Using discounting as a means for triggering activity is nothing new, the difference today is that it seems to be more regular and more widespread than was the case previously. That said, getting the basics right – selling items that genuinely appeal to the target demographic, optimising areas of the experience, providing leading service – remains the most effective method for increasing sales in a way that is far less reliant on discounting.”

#ditchdiscounting

To learn more and for additional advice for merchants: www.klarna.com/uk/klarna-confidential/ditch-discounting

Klarna - Ditch Discounting

Klarna – Ditch Discounting

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Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill – sources

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Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill - sources 1

By Eric M. Johnson and David Shepardson

SEATTLE/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Boeing Co will pay a $6.6 million to U.S. regulators as part of a settlement over quality and safety-oversight lapses going back years, a setback that comes as Boeing wrestles with repairs to flawed 787 Dreamliner jets that could dwarf the cost of the federal penalty.

Boeing is beginning painstaking repairs and forensic inspections to fix structural integrity flaws embedded deep inside at least 88 parked 787s built over the last year or so, a third industry source said.

The inspections and retrofits could take weeks or even up to a month per plane and are likely to cost hundreds of millions – if not billions – of dollars, depending to a large degree on the number of planes and defects involved, the person said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing had agreed to pay $6.6 million in penalties after the aviation regulator said it failed to comply with a 2015 safety agreement.

The penalties include $5.4 million for not complying with the agreement in which Boeing pledged to change its internal processes to improve and prioritize regulatory compliance and $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases.

“Boeing failed to meet all of its obligations under the settlement agreement, and the FAA is holding Boeing accountable by imposing additional penalties,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. Boeing, which paid $12 million in 2015 as part of the settlement, did not immediately comment.

Boeing engineers are working to determine the scope of inspections, including whether jets can be used as-is without a threat to safety, two people said. Boeing has not told airlines how many jets are impacted, another person said.

The FAA has been investigating instances of oversight lapses, debris left inside finished aircraft, and managers putting pressure on employees handling safety checks for the FAA, people familiar with the proceedings said.

For example, in August 2020, Boeing told to the FAA about the flaw involving structural wrinkling in the interior fuselage skin where carbon-composite barrels that form the plane’s lightweight body are melded together.

But the defect went unnoticed for months or longer because computerized safeguards that crunch data looking for quality flaws had not been programmed to look for the gaps, a third industry source said.

DELIVERY TARGET

The 787 production problems have halted deliveries of the jet since the end of October, locking up a source of desperately needed cash for Boeing.

The fuel-efficient 787 has been a huge success with airlines, which have ordered 1,882 of the advanced twin-aisle jet worth nearly $150 billion (74.7 billion pounds) at list prices.

But the advanced production process and sprawling global supply chain caused problems over the years.

As of February, Boeing had fixed the 787 production process causing the wrinkling defect, according to two people familiar with the matter.

However, planes rolled off the assembly line with the flaw for more than a year, at least, continuing even after the flaw was discovered in August 2020.

“It’s difficult to see a definitive fix that is agreeable by the aviation authorities and all going forward,” Boeing customer Air Lease Corp’s CEO John Plueger told analysts on an earnings call Feb 22. “I don’t think that we’re there yet.”

Boeing has been working on the fuselage problem, and two additional potentially hazardous defects that arose since 2019, as it charted plans to consolidate final assembly of the 787 in South Carolina starting next month, at a sharply reduced rate of 5 787s per month.

One senior supply chain source said they will have to cut rate again.

Boeing said last month it expects to resume handing over a small number of 787s to customers later this quarter.

It has an ambitious internal plan to deliver 100 of the jets this year, one person said. Analysts say deliveries are not expected to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

‘OPEN-HEART SURGERY’

But before any jet is delivered, it must go through invasive inspections and costly repairs.

First, technicians must pull out the passenger seats, open up the floor paneling and use specialty tools to measure whether defects invisible to the naked eye are present, according to three people with direct knowledge of the process.

The repair work – already underway at Boeing factories in Everett, Washington and North Charleston, South Carolina – is even harder.

In the bowels of the jet, technicians have to remove multiple specialty fasteners on both sides of the inner fuselage skin, then install newly produced “shims” that fill out gaps and remove the structural dimpling. Workers then replace all the fasteners, re-paint, and re-install the interior, they said.

“It’s like open heart surgery,” one of the people said. “They’ll be retrofitting the fleet for potentially several years.”

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris, David Shepardson in Washington, and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a ‘zero waste’ future

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a 'zero waste' future 2

By Natalie Thomas

LONDON (Reuters) – Heralded by the whirr of its underpowered electric engine and the clink of bottles stacked in crates on the back, Ella Shone’s ‘Topup Truck’ started life ferrying morning milk to the doorsteps of bleary-eyed Londoners.

Twenty years on, and the light vehicle known as a ‘milk float’ – once a ubiquitous sight on British streets – is enjoying a second career selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.

“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”

Furloughed from her sales job during the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Shone used savings to start her new business, aiming to meet growing demand for household goods free of the plastic packaging used in supermarkets.

Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and then purchase goods such as lentils, pasta, olive oil, shampoo or washing up liquid using their own containers.

From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report https://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_06_30_zwe_pfs_executive_study.pdf by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.

While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.

Planning a crowdfunder to retrofit her milk float to enable her to serve a greater range of products to more communities, Shone hopes her novel approach will inspire others to find creative ways to tackle waste.

“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

($1 = 0.8218 euros)

(Writing by Matthew Green, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

 

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery 3

BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa is adding more holiday destinations to its summer flight schedule from Germany in anticipation of a strong rebound in bookings, it said on Thursday, betting COVID-19 vaccines and testing will soon make vacation travel possible.

Germany’s largest airline said it was planning to add around 20 new destinations from Frankfurt and 13 from Munich to locations such as the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and Greece.

COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with strict hygiene rules at airports and on planes, will be prerequisites for travel this summer, it said.

“We expect many countries to relax travel restrictions towards the summer as more and more people have been vaccinated,” Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.

Hohmeister said the airline, which secured a 9 billion euro ($11 billion) state bailout last year, expects a sharp increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.

Concerned about more transmissible coronavirus mutations, many European Union countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.

“There is a great yearning for travel and we believe that the summer months will reflect this,” Hohmeister added.

In Britain, holiday bookings soared this week after the government laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope that a bumper summer could come to their rescue.

Plans for relaxing coronavirus travel restrictions have not been announced yet in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss lockdown options with the head of the regional governments next Wednesday.

Lufthansa, which said in January it was losing a million euros every two hours, is due to publish its fourth quarter results on March 4.

($1 = 0.8187 euros)

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Ilona Wissenbach. Editing by Mark Potter)

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