Archive Page 2


Catherine Wheels never worked and the Jumping Jacks were rubbish

It’s been pretty hard over the past few weeks to leave Aldi or Tesco without noticing the explosive hazard at the exit… is that the best place to put fireworks? I’ve not been allowed to buy Fireworks since Mrs O objected to me tying six rockets to the whirly gig to see what would happen – to save you the bother… the plastic rope melts and you don’t get spoken to for three days.

To satisfy my need to be a pagan at this time of year I went along to the Bridge of Allan Roundtable Fireworks display – Bonfire Night is one of those convenient dates in the diary that although having something to do with Parliament, Stuart Kings and Religion it’s really all about setting fire to things in the dark. As a kid we got our Fireworks from the local newsagent – Archie Neilsons. The box of Astra Fireworks had a random selection of eagerly awaited worlds of excitement which always disapointed with one exception. The Catherine Wheel never whirled, the Jumping Jack banged around on the ground for a bit and the Volcano never seemed to release enough lava. But the Helicopter! Brilliant! A firework with a cardboard wing attached – light it on the ground and watch it begin to spin until it leaves the ground and flies……. in any direction it chose to. Brilliant – exciting and potentially lethal. And then one year you stopped getting them as part of the Firework box set – I can’t think why.

The Round Table folks at Bridge of Allan didn’t manage to get a hold of any of the unpredictable explosive Helicopters from Archie Neilson – but thats health and safety for you. Here’s a picture of what real fireworks look like… ps all the money they raised will go to local charities (nice one).

Bridge of Allan Fireworks

Bridge of Allan Fireworks


Watch as the high street becomes a pick up point

I’m not in Jewellers often – they seem to have a rather troubling impact on my Credit Card balance, but this week I went Watch shopping. I’d done the internet thing first…. found the corporate site for the brand in question, looked through all the small objects of desire, decided on the model and then went browsing online to find out the  price.

Hmmm… no competition on price, so clearly the brand had set some pretty strict guidelines with respect to RRP (is that still legal?). As a further check on pricing I had a wander around the local shopping centre, yes I know proper shopping. But surprisingly none of the Jewelllers had the desired brand in the window, even those who sold it online weren’t stocking it.

Thankfully I didn’t need to go into each Jewellers to find out – all had their goods beautifully displayed in the window. So that saved a bit of hassle – but also ensured that the retailer didn’t get a chance to sell me. Only one Jewellers didn’t have a big enough window to display their wares so I had to go in… drat.

“Can I help?”, asked the assistant as I tried to run out the shop having realised they didn’t stock the brand in question. Caught! Double drat.

So could he help? Well yes he could. He didn’t know if they stocked the brand of watch but he could find out by first getting out a laptop that he couldn’t log into and then getting out a tablet that eventually did allow him internet access. Yeeeeeeeee….No, we don’t carry that.

So… today’s lesson? Well fast forward a couple of years and I reckon the high street experience will be more like an assisted online browsing experience with a pick up point in the corner for stuff you’ve ordered online. It was simply too easy to buy the desired watch online – infinite choice, detailed product info, price check and free delivery.

The retailers who address this likliehood now should do well – we can help with Seller Dynamics of course (available online only).





It’s not all gloom in retail – get your anorak on

Grim times on the high street. Shop closures and major retailer collapses being the norm. Though in contrast the busking on Glasgow’s Buchanan Street seems to be a bit better than normal (anybody else seen that young guy with his older mates doing the Amy Winehouse covers?).  But it’s not all empty shop fronts and loose change in a bucket. Take the guys at Trespass…

The Business Insider has named the Khushi brothers as leaders of the year in Scotland for the success in building their Trespass outdoor clothing chain. It’s a highly encouraging story against a climate that is rather cold and damp for retailers. Maybe anoraks are the best way to beat cold, damp recessions?

As a bunch of techy anoraks specialising in .net software development we have our own way to help retailers who are needing to sort out a path to growth. We offer Seller Dynamics an online sales service that lets retailers sell on multiple marketplaces from a single point – thats Amazon, Play, FNAC, eBay etc. With the online sales world growing at double digit growth it’s important for retailers to use systems that manage price and stock automatically – hence Seller Dynamics. So if you’re in retail and need an anorak to help you get through the recession have a look at our marketplace management service.

Anorak on, Amy Winehouse songbook in hand, wheres the Britains Got Talent auditions?


Young free and no IT qualification? Check out the top Scottish Leaders for inspiration!

The latest Business Insider magazine dropped through the door the other day and feeling in a “what else could I do rather than work” mood – I decided to have a read, a cup of tea and a Custard Cream.

The article which caught my eye and made me go get another Custard Cream was the article on the lack of young IT qualified folks. We’re .net software developers based in Scotland so we are acutely aware of the need for Custard Creams when reading about the lack of IT qualified folks.

To summarise… young folks aren’t studying technical subjects and instead are opting for careers in financial services and medicine instead (says Polly Purvis of ScotlandIS).

Back in the day when we had a millenium bug it seemed that there was a good stream of eager computer graduates coming out of uni but now I’m not so sure. I think it all changed in the period 2000 to 2002 when the tech investment bubble had well and truly burst and the remaining stain couldn’t be cleaned off the keyboard whatever you tried. Technology was out of favour big time… but financial services, they still boomed.

So whats a young skint student to do? Go where the money is of course – financial services. Ten years on and now the financial bubble has burst – though this time the remaining stain is being slowly jet washed down with a good dose of QE I, II and III. So what’s a young skint student to do?

Well in most cases it’s apply for any job under the sun in the hope you get lucky regardless of what you’ve studied. Not the best thing to do – though understandable.

It may well be too late for the recent graduates who through no fault of their own can’t get the career started but what about the next bunch of spotty school leavers, what should they do? Well they could turn to the Scottish Leaders table in the same issue of the Business Insider magazine to see whats hot. And guess what? Engineering is hot!

The 4 of the top 5 leaders in Scotland are all running businesses with a heavy engineering/technology/manufacturing interest – how odd! John Wood Group (Oil and Gas Services), The Weir Group (Engineering), SSE (Power), Clyde Blowers Capital (Manufacturing investors). School leavers might want to have a look through the top 100 leaders list to reasses what they should be studying in the future.

OK, advice given, time for another Custard Cream.


French online growth greater than UK

The UK has long been seen as the leading country in Europe when it comes to internet adoption and ecommerce generally. However, research is showing that France is set to overtake the UK by value in the near future. Growth over the past few years in the UK for online retail works out at 18% – a healthy growth rate by any measure. Compare that to the growth in France over the same period and you find that it’s enjoying an eye popping 26%. Admittedly thats from a lower base but by 2016 French online retail is expected to be $149.2 Billion versus $114.2 Billion for the UK.

We like to keep an eye on things like that as we need to ensure that our Seller Dynamics users get access to the best markets when selling their goods. For retailers who want to sell beyond UK borders we offer a solution to let them sell across multiple marketplaces and multiple territories from a single point – that’s why we’ve added to the marketplaces we support. Those who visit France regularly will recognise Fnac from their high street shopping expeditions but may be unaware that works like Amazon, i.e it lets third party retailers sell on their portal.


Never mind the Bank of England – heres the growth!

The Bank of England haven’t been doing a great job on economic predictions for the past 4 or 5 years – which is a bit of pity given their central role in the economy – so should we take seriously their latest predictions that growth for the UK this year is going to be non-existent? Given they have been consistently over optimistic in the past I guess we can safely assume that the economy will shrink. Not good – so lets hope for once they are being pessimistic.

So where’s the good news other than in rowing, cycling and Team GB t-shirt sales?

For us the good news is in the online retail world where growth is the norm. According to IMRG year on year growth is 13%. And that is further supported by the British Retail Consortium with help from KPMG who suggest 2012 will see retail generating £77Bn online. So that’s all looking rather good – especially when you consider that the UK is a big benefactor of online growth in Europe, according to IMRG 30% of all cross border e-retail trade involves UK e-tailers.

Growth in online retail is far from a UK or European phenomenon obviously, consider for instance the rapidly developing online world in Latin America. In the territory annual revenue growth rates are 30% among web only retailers – and importantly Amazon isn’t necessarily the dominant player with Brazilian B2W Inc enjoying much higher revenues than Amazon and growth of 30%+ (source . This growth against a back drop of relatively low internet penetration – circa 37% in Brazil for instance.

So given that you don’t have to be accurate to make predictions (as with the BoE) allow me to make a few:

(i) the UK online world will continue to flourish as it continues to act as the anchor for European cross border online retail trade.

(ii) Latin America will produce a global challenger to Amazon and/or eBay.

(ii) The need for online aggregation services such as our marketplace management service, Seller Dynamics, will continue to grow at a double digit rate.


A free plug (in) for Scottish Technology

There’s been a lot of talk recently about the need to encourage engineers, notably The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering and it’s £1mn cash prize. Unusually for prizes and competitions these days its not something that involves a 12 week, 360 degree TV series, with 4 celebs pouring scorn on the hopefuls (many of whom seem in need of a self awareness pill).

Instead the competition will have a properly talented judging panel. Unveiled last week the panel features our favourite Physicist of the now Brian Cox – thats him who gets to travel the world and look up in wonder at the sky in order to explain what it’s like on the various moons of Jupiter (I’m betting unpleasant with a distinct lack of decent TV reception). You can check out the other judges here QE Prize Judges – or you could do a quick Google (which would be highly appropriate as one of the judges is indeed from Google).

Sadly, the need for the prize has been driven in an attempt to correct the lack of prestige for engineering in the UK (though the competition is open to all nations). Over the past decade or so it’s been clear that too many clever folks have shunned engineering in favour of the challenges presented in making Mortgage Backed Securities sound like a perfectly sensible investment. Thats a bit of a pity – but lets not cast gloom on the initiative

So how can you get involved? Well you could make a nomination (you can’t nominate yourself, your mum, Aunt Sissy or anyone who has shuffled off this mortal coil). Stuck for a nomination idea? Why not have a look through the latest Scottish University research output – University Technology. UT is a cross Uni bulletin board to promote the latest opportunities.

Why not? Lets face it you voted 12 times for Jedward, and you’ve already forgotten who won last years x-factor.

Twitter: @sellerdynamics