Top 3 reasons to get into Multi-Channel Retail

Multi-channel retail, which nowadays understandably includes online channels, is something you just have to do this year. Every single day you put off doing it, the competition gobbles up market share that should have been yours. There are a number of reasons why even successful retailers are now going into multi-channel retailing. Here?s three of the most important ones.

1. You’ll get a BIG jump in sales

Not counting this year, which could be getting a big boost from major activities like the Queen?s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics, sales of UK retailers have been experiencing tremendous growth particularly from their online channels. Already two years ago (2010), a number of UK retailers boasted significant increases in sales as a result of multi-channel retail initiatives. These retailers included:

  • Argos, which got a whopping ?1.9bn from multichannel sales back then;
  • House of Fraser, which reported a 150% jump in its online sales in just 6 months; and
  • Debenhams, whose profits rose by 20%

There were many others. Now, the reason I?m showing you 2010 figures is because online retail sales increased by 14% in 2011 and those same businesses still added to that growth. So, if only you had enough foresight and started expanding your business to the Web two years ago, you could just imagine what your sales would have been today.

The good news is that, it’s not yet too late if you start now. Here?s why…

2. Those numbers are going to keep on growing

We’re getting all sorts of predictions from leading researchers regarding the possible growth of the Internet economy. All these predictions have one thing in common. They all have a positive outlook. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), for instance, predicts an average growth of no less than 10% per year in the G-20 nations.

3. Most online retailers aren’t doing it right yet

Although many retailers have already started bringing their business to the Web, most of them are doing it the wrong way. For example, many of them fail to integrate their offline and online channels. This is a serious shortcoming because it leads to customer dissatisfaction.

When a customer goes to your website and sees something he likes, you wouldn’t want him to drive all the way to your store only to find out that the item isn’t available there or, if the item is there, that it isn’t priced as he expected. The lack of multi-channel integration is very common among multi-channel retailers.

These inadequacies are actually good news because it means there are still many areas you can improve on. After improving on them, you can then highlight those areas as your key differentiators.

If you’re still looking for more reasons on why you should go into multi-channel retailing, read this post:

5 Numbers Showing Why the Time to Invest on eCommerce in the UK is Now

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Transformation to a process based organisation

Today’s global marketplace rewards nimble organisations that learn and reinvent themselves faster than their competition. Employees at all levels of these organisations see themselves as members of teams responsible for specific business processes, with performance measures tied to the success of the enterprise. As team members, they are “owners” of the process (or processes) to which they are assigned. They are responsible for both the day to day functioning of their process(s), and also for continuously seeking sustainable process improvements.

Transforming a traditionally designed “top down control” enterprise to a process-based organisation built around empowered teams actively engaged in business process re-engineering (BPR) has proven more difficult than many corporate leaders have expected. Poorly planned transformation efforts have resulted in both serious impacts to the bottom line, and even more serious damage to the organisation’s fabric of trust and confidence in leadership.

Tomislav Hernaus, in a publication titled “Generic Process Transformation Model: Transition to Process-based Organisation” has presented an overview of existing approaches to organisational transformation. From the sources reviewed, Heraus has synthesised a set of steps that collectively represent a framework for planning a successful organisational change effort. Key elements identified by Hernaus include:

Strategic Analysis:

The essential first step in any transformation effort must be development of a clear and practical vision of a future organisation that will be able to profitably compete under anticipated market conditions. That vision must be expected to flex and adjust as understanding of future market conditions change, but it must always be stated in terms that all organisational members can understand.

Identifying Core Business Processes:

With the strategic vision for the organisation in mind, the next step is to define the core business processes necessary for the future organisation to function. These processes may exist across the legacy organisation’s organisational structures.

Designing around Core Processes:

The next step is development of a schematic representation of the “end state” company, organised around the Core Business Processes defined in the previous step.

Transitional Organisational Forms/ Developing Support Systems:

In his transformation model, Hernaus recognises that information management systems designed for the legacy organisation may not be able to meet the needs of the process management teams in the new organisation. Interim management structures (that can function with currently available IT system outputs) may be required to allow IT professionals time to redesign the organisation’s information management system to be flexible enough to meet changing team needs.

Creating Awareness, Understanding, and Acceptance of the Process-based Organisation:

Starting immediately after the completion of the Strategic Analysis process described above, management must devote sufficient resources to assure that all organisation members, especially key managers, have a full understanding of how a process-based organisation functions. In addition, data based process management skills need to be provided to future process team members. It is not enough to schedule communication and training activities, and check them off the list as they are completed. It is critical that management set behavioural criteria for communication and training efforts that allow objective evaluation of the results of these efforts. Management must commit to continuing essential communication and training efforts until success criteria are achieved. During this effort, it may be determined that some members of the organisation are unlikely to ever accept the new roles they will be required to assume in a process-based organization. Replacement of these individuals should be seen as both an organisational necessity and a kindness to the employees affected.

Implementation of Process Teams:

After the completion of required training AND the completion of required IT system changes, process teams can be formally rolled out in a planned sequence. Providing new teams with part time support by qualified facilitators during the firsts weeks after start-up can pay valuable long term dividends.

Team Skill Development and Continuous Process Improvement:

Providing resources for on-going skill development and for providing timely and meaningful recognition of process team successes are two keys for success in a process-based organisation. Qualified individuals with responsibility for providing training and recognition must be clearly identified and provided with sufficient budgetary resources.

The Hernaus model for transformation to a process based organisation is both well thought out and clear. His paper provides an ample resource of references for further study.

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The Better Way of Applying Benford’s Law for Fraud Detection

Applying Benford’s Law on large collections of data is an effective way of detecting fraud. In this article, we?ll introduce you to Benford’s Law, talk about how auditors are employing it in fraud detection, and introduce you to a more effective way of integrating it into an IT solution.

Benford’s Law in a nutshell

Benford’s Law states that certain data sets – including certain accounting numbers – exhibit a non-uniform distribution of first digits. Simply put, if you gather all the first digits (e.g. 8 is the first digit of ?814 and 1 is the first digit of ?1768) of all the numbers that make up one of these data sets, the smallest digits will appear more frequently than the larger ones.

That is, according to Benford’s Law,

1 should comprise roughly 30.1% of all first digits;
2 should be 17.6%;
3 should be 12.5%;
4 should be 9.7%, and so on.

Notice that the 1s (ones) occur far more frequently than the rest. Those who are not familiar with Benford’s Law tend to assume that all digits should be distributed uniformly. So when fraudulent individuals tinker with accounting data, they may end up putting in more 9s or 8s than there actually should be.

Once an accounting data set is found to show a large deviation from this distribution, then auditors move in to make a closer inspection.

Benford’s Law spreadsheets and templates

Because Benford’s Law has been proven to be effective in discovering unnaturally-behaving data sets (such as those manipulated by fraudsters), many auditors have created simple software solutions that apply this law. Most of these solutions, owing to the fact that a large majority of accounting departments use spreadsheets, come in the form of spreadsheet templates.

You can easily find free downloadable spreadsheet templates that apply Benford’s Law as well as simple How-To articles that can help you to implement the law on your own existing spreadsheets. Just Google “Benford’s law template” or “Benford’s law spreadsheet”.

I suggest you try out some of them yourself to get a feel on how they work.

The problem with Benford’s Law when used on spreadsheets

There’s actually another reason why I wanted you to try those spreadsheet templates and How-To’s yourself. I wanted you to see how susceptible these solutions are to trivial errors. Whenever you work on these spreadsheet templates – or your own spreadsheets for that matter – when implementing Benford’s Law, you can commit mistakes when copy-pasting values, specifying ranges, entering formulas, and so on.

Furthermore, some of the data might be located in different spreadsheets, which can likewise by found in different departments and have to be emailed for consolidation. The departments who own this data will have to extract the needed data from their own spreadsheets, transfer them to another spreadsheet, and send them to the person in-charge of consolidation.

These activities can introduce errors as well. That’s why we think that, while Benford’s Law can be an effective tool for detecting fraud, spreadsheet-based working environments can taint the entire fraud detection process.

There?s actually a better IT solution where you can use Benford’s Law.

Why a server-based solution works better

In order to apply Benford’s Law more effectively, you need to use it in an environment that implements better controls than what spreadsheets can offer. What we propose is a server-based system.

In a server-based system, your data is placed in a secure database. People who want to input data or access existing data will have to go through access controls such as login procedures. These systems also have features that log access history so that you can trace who accessed which and when.

If Benford’s Law is integrated into such a system, there would be no need for any error-prone copy-pasting activities because all the data is stored in one place. Thus, fraud detection initiatives can be much faster and more reliable.

You can get more information on this site regarding the disadvantages of spreadsheets. We can also tell you more about the advantages of server application solutions.

2015 ESOS Guidelines Chapter 3 to 5 ? The ESOS Assessment

ESOS operates in tandem with the ISO 50001 (Energy Management) system that encourages continual improvement in the efficient use of energy. Any UK enterprise qualifying for ESOS that has current ISO 50001 certification on the compliance date by an approved body (and that covers the entire UK corporate group) may present this as evidence of having completed its ESOS assessment. It does however still require board-level certification, following which it must notify the Environment Agency accordingly.

The Alternate ESOS Route

In the absence of an ISO 50001 energy management certificate addressing comprehensive energy use, a qualifying UK enterprise must:

  1. Measure Total Energy Consumption in either kWh or energy spend in pounds sterling, and across the entire operation including buildings, industrial processes and transport.
  2. Identify Areas of Significant Energy Consumption that account for at least 90% of the total. The balance falls into a de minimis group that is officially too trivial to merit consideration.
  1. Consider Available Routes to Compliance. These could include ISO 500001 part-certification, display energy certificates, green deal assessments, ESOS compliant energy audits, self-audits and independent assessments
  1. Do an Internal Review to make sure that you have covered every area of significant consumption. This is an important strategic step to avoid the possibility of failing to comply completely.
  1. Appoint an Approved Lead Assessor who may be internal or external to your enterprise, but must have ESOS approval. This person confirms you have met all ESOS requirements (unless you have no de minimis exceptions).
  1. Obtain Internal Certification by one of more board-level directors. They must certify they are satisfied with the veracity of the reports. They must also confirm that the enterprise is compliant with the scheme.
  1. Notify the Environment Agency of Compliance within the deadline using the online notification system as soon as the enterprise believes is fully compliant.
  1. Assemble your ESOS Evidential Pack and back it up in a safe place. Remember, it is your responsibility to provide proof of the above. Unearthing evidence a year later it not something to look forward to.

The ESOS assessment process is largely self-regulatory, although there are checks and balances in place including lead assessor and board-level certifications. As you work through what may seem to be a nuisance remember the primary objectives. These are saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Contact ecoVaro if we can assist in any way.

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