Card Turnover at Small Merchants Up 11 Per Cent

Turnover from card payments at small businesses was up 11 per cent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. This is the finding of an analysis of card payments at over 43,000 small, independent businesses by CardSave. The increase in some sectors is particularly marked:  card turnover at taxi companies increased by 95 per cent and at fast food businesses by 85 per cent.

“As the British public increasingly prefers to pay by card, small businesses that accept card payments are seeing the effects on their revenue. For some sectors, such as taxis, card payments are becoming the norm, and we expect to see more taxis adopt card payment solutions over the next year,” explains Clive Kahn, CEO of CardSave.

This belief is backed up by a recent YouGov poll that revealed 62 per cent of people carry £20 or less in cash on them, while 93 per cent carry at least one card. The average card transaction at small merchants in Q1 2012 was £64.13, down five per cent on 2011.

“Consumers feel increasingly comfortable putting smaller transactions on card in situation where previously they would have used cash,” says Kahn.

 

Kahn comments: “In the recent past the option to pay by card was a luxury, but Britain is swiftly moving towards becoming a cashless society and there is now strong customer demand for card payment technologies. Our Small Business Payments Index indicates that business owners with card payment facilities can significantly increase their total business revenue.

“Nearly a quarter of shoppers will walk out of a store if they don’t accept card, and while some will return having withdrawn cash, others will swiftly take their business elsewhere. Small businesses, which are already struggling to maintain their position alongside high street chains need to take cards if they are to remain competitive.” Kahn concludes.

Majority of people believe cash set to become extinct

Nearly a third (30%) of the UK public have been inconvenienced in the last year by a retailer not taking cards, according a new YouGov survey conducted for small business payments specialists CardSave. The poll indicates that retailers that refuse to accept cards are losing out to modern consumers, who carry hardly any cash.
In fact, 16% of people have walked out of a shop in the past year without making their intended purchase because the retailer didn’t accept cards, while 22% have been forced to leave to seek out a cash point. 7% have purchased less than they intended to due to retailers’ only accepting cash.
The survey shows that the days of carrying large amounts of cash are over. 62% of people carry £20 or less in cash on them on average. 48% carry £15 or less and 35% carry up to £10. Yet almost everyone (93%) carries a credit or debit card.
According to CardSave’s own Small Business Payments Index, which launches today and is compiled from card payments data for over 40,000 small businesses, the average card transaction at small, independent merchants in February was for £64.27. This splits into averages of £96.56 on credit card and £54.14 on debit card. With only 12% of the population carrying £50 or more in cash, retailers who do not accept cards are therefore likely to be missing out on high-value customers.
A majority of the public, 57%, believe that cash will become extinct at some point in the future – with 50% predicting that this will be by 2035. 36% forecast that this will be by 2025.
Clive Kahn, Chief Executive of CardSave, which enables small businesses to accept payments more easily: “The days when consumers wanted to pay by cash are over. They increasingly expect to pay by card for everything – from small shops to tradespeople such as painters and window-cleaners.
“Small businesses benefit significantly from accepting cards, winning more business, making larger sales and maintaining their competitiveness against major retailers.”
The YouGov poll coincides with the first ever Small Business Payments Index by CardSave on expenditure on cards at SMEs in each sector of the economy over the past year. The most significant changes in February 2012 (compared to February 2011) in average amounts spent include the following:
·         Average spend on home improvements was up 32%, from £169.37 to £233.10
·         Spending on bicycle sales and servicing was up 10% from an average of £69.89 to £77.07.
·         Restaurants, pubs and bars saw a 9% decrease in the average transaction value from an average of £32.59 to £29.66.
·         Average card spend on taxis, cabs and limos was also down 8% from £112.24 in February 2011 to £103.03 in February 2012.
·         Highest card transaction values were in the home improvements and leisure sectors.  

Graffiti6 blazing a Britpop trail in the USA

Graffiti6 is a Brit band doing very well in the USA right now, a great UK export helping to put the ‘Great’ back into Britain. Here’s what is being written about them on Zoiks:
Riding on the success of their first single “Free” from debut album Colours, Britain’s Graffiti6 has been selected by VH1 as the “You Oughta Know” artist for the month of March. Launched in 2004, VH1’s “You Oughta Know” franchise introduces promising new artists on the rise to VH1’s base of music lovers. Many “You Oughta Know” artists have gone on to win industry awards and accolades including “Best New Artist” Grammy Awards and nominations. This highly acclaimed franchise has helped break artists such as Adele, Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, The Civil Wars, Colbie Caillat, Corinne Bailey Rae, Foster The People, The Fray, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, James Blunt, Mumford & Sons, Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor and many, many others.

Colours was released on January 24th to rave reviews and the first single “Free” which is now a top 10 hit at AAA radio, officially impacts the Hot AC format this week. Graffiti6 has performed the single on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “Conan” and “The Rachael Ray Show.” The “Free” video has over 1.3 million views on VEVO is currently in rotation on VH1, MTVU, Music Choice and MUN2.

Graffiti6 recently wrapped a nationwide tour with Augustana and will head to Austin March 15th – 17th to play a series of shows at this years SXSW festival. They will then join singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson starting April 17th in Denver, Co through May, 23rd in Portland, OR. They will then play this year’s Sasquatch Festival over Memorial Day weekend at the Gorge in Washington.

Indoor air health threat more acute and widespread than public is aware

Just found out something really scary. According to Blueair, the world’s leading maker of indoor air purifiers, that contrary to what many believe, indoor air is often far more polluted – and harmful to health – than the air outside.

Blueair responded to a study of pregnant mothers by Umea University in Sweden, which indicated high levels of traffic exhaust fumes and ozone could lead to a bigger risk of premature birth than the mother smoking. But solving the problem is not as easy as just staying inside. Apparently, the buildup of polluted air indoors poses a major threat to health and wellbeing that many people don’t know about, according to Jonas Holst, Blueair Global Head of Sales and Marketing.

Describing the new findings as very worrying, Holst said the Umeå University research reflects just the tip of an iceberg and to get rid of the problem people need to take measures to clean their indoor air far more than today.

“Our homes and offices are constantly being bombarded by high levels of airborne pollutants that most people are unaware about,” he said. The US Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, has stated indoor air levels of many pollutants may be more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. Air pol- lutants in buildings are of particular concern because most people spend as much as 90% of their time indoors, according to the EPA.

Blueair is currently launching a campaign in Europe, Asia and the USA to help raise public awareness about the health dangers of indoor air pollution. The campaign is designed to also show how people can dramatically remove 99.97% of everything potentially harmful, including traffic exhaust particles and other allergens.

“It’s amazing that modern cars are fitted with air filters to protect drivers and passengers, but little is done to improve healthy air conditions inside our buildings where we live and work,” says Jonas Holst.

Four key trends shaping the future of social

Leading thinkers in marketing, social, digital, and future business gathered with over 500 industry peers at Social Commerce Summit Europe. Together with leaders from the world’s top brands, they shared ideas and trends that will shape the future of social as customer-centricity drives the next wave of organizational change. According to the thought leaders, the four trends below represent the themes driving social today.

Social is a paradigm shift. We’ve moved from channeled experiences and brand-controlled messages to empowered consumers in a channel-agnostic marketplace. Companies should recognise and accept the enormity of this change.

Social data reveals the why behind the buy. Customer conversations create an insight-rich gold mine for businesses. The awesome power of conversation will be felt in the insights gained and the actions inspired.

Becoming customer-centric demands organisational transformation. Capturing the full value of social data takes place across the entire organisation, often requiring cultural changes. Social data can drive change beyond marketing, impacting sales, customer service, and product development.

Context is king in social data. To be successful, internal and external social efforts must be designed and evaluated in relation to the larger context of business goals and historical shifts.

You can read a review of the conclusions here.

Five Innovations that Will Change Our Lives Over the Next Five Years

IBM has unveiled its second annual list of five innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and play over the next five years. The list is based on market and societal trends expected to transform our lives, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s Labs around the world that could make these innovations possible.  IBM says our lives will change through technology innovations in the following ways:

It will be easy for you to be green and save money doing it: A range of “smart energy” technologies will make it easier for you to manage your personal “carbon footprint”. As data begins to run through our electrical wires, dishwashers, air conditioners, house lights, and more will be connected directly to a “smart” electric grid, making it possible to turn them on and off using your cell phone or any Web browser. In addition to alerting you about leaving appliances on when they could be off to conserve energy, technology will also provide you with up-to-date reports of electrical usage, so you can monitor how much you are spending and how much energy you are putting out, just like you can track your cell phone minute usage today. Intelligent energy grids will also enable utilities to provide you with the option to use green energy sources, like solar and wind, to fuel your home, and innovations in solar and wind technology will bring cost-efficient options to a utility near you.

The way you drive will be completely different:  In the next five years, a coming wave of connectivity between cars and the road is going to change the way you drive, help keep you safe, and even keep you out of traffic jams. Technology is poised to keep traffic moving, cut pollution, curb accidents, and make it easier for you to get from point A to B, without the stress. The cities you live in will find a cure for congestion using intelligent traffic systems that can make real-time adjustments to traffic lights and divert traffic to alternate routes with ease. Your car will have driver-assist technologies that will make it possible for automobiles to communicate with each other and with sensors along the road — allowing them to behave as if they have ‘reflexes’ so they can take preventive actions under dangerous conditions. Your car will automatically tell you where traffic is jammed up and find you an alternative route to take.

You are what you eat, so you will know what you eat:  We’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat’, but with foods being sourced across international borders, the need to ‘know exactly what you eat’ has never been so important. In the next five years, new technology systems will enable you to know the exact source and make-up of the products you buy and consume. Advancements in computer software and wireless radio sensor technologies will give you access to much more detailed information about the food you are buying and eating. You will know everything from the climate and soil the food was grown in, to the pesticides and pollution it was exposed to, to the energy consumed to create the product, to the temperature and air quality of the shipping containers it traveled through on the way to your dinner table. Advanced sensor and tracing systems will tell you what you eat, before you eat it.

Your cell phone will be your wallet, your ticket broker, your concierge, your bank, your shopping buddy, and more:  In the next five years, your mobile phone will be a trusted guide to shopping, banking, touring a new city, and more. New technology will allow you to snap a picture of someone wearing an outfit you want and will automatically search the web to find the designer and the nearest shops that carry that outfit. You can then see what that outfit would look like on your personal avatar – a 3-D representation of you – right on your phone, and ask your friends, in different locations, to check it out online and give their opinion. Your phone will also guide you through visiting a city. When you turn on your phone in a city you are visiting, it automatically provides you with local entertainment options, activities, and dining options that match your preferences, and then make reservations and purchases tickets for you – like a personal concierge.

Doctors will get enhanced “super-senses” to better diagnose and treat you: In the next five years, your doctor will be able to see, hear and understand your medical records in entirely new ways. In effect, doctor’s will gain superpowers – technologies will allow them to gain x-ray like vision to view medical images; super sensitive hearing to find tiniest audio clue in your heart beat; and ways to organize information in the same way they treat a patient. An avatar – a 3D representation of your body – will allow doctors to visualize your medical records in an entirely new way, so they can click with the computer mouse on a particular part of the avatar, to trigger a search of your medical records and retrieve information relevant to that part of your body, instead of leafing through pages of notes. The computer will automatically compare those visual and audio clues to thousands or hundreds of thousands of other patient records, and be able to be much more precise in diagnosing and also treating you, based on people with similar issues and makeup.

The Government must do more to tackle late payment

A group of leading organisations have joined together to urge the Government to tackle the growing problem of late payment in order to help small firms survive, grow and drive economic recovery.

The industry bodies, including those representing UK-based suppliers, have written to the Business Minister, Mark Prisk, to call for a plan of action to address late payment, which decimates small firms’ cash flow.

The group, which is supporting the Government’s new ‘Finance Fitness’ campaign, believes any plan to encourage better payment practices should include the following measures:

  • Confirm that the EU Late Payment Directive making 30-day payment terms mandatory, in the absence of any specified/agreed payment terms, is being brought forward to 2012 as originally stated and ensure any new legislation prevents suppliers being coerced into agreeing to vary payment terms against their will
  • Given that small businesses suffer serious cash flow problems as a result of late payment from large customers and public sector bodies, impacting their ability to pay their own suppliers, ensure that the Directive is implemented in a flexible way to account for this ‘domino effect’.
  • Clamp down on large companies taking ‘prompt payment discounts’ and imposing retrospective changes to payment terms and conditions that are not contractually agreed.
  • Pledge to continue with the UK’s public sector 10-day and 5-day payment initiatives, and ensure they are embraced by more local public sector bodies across the country and that prompt public sector payment is passed on down the supply chain. Indeed, to give added surety to those in the supply chain, the requirement in central Government contracts for contractors to pay their sub-contractors within 30 days should be extended right across the public sector.
  • As part of this, introduce a national league of local authority payers including incentives to encourage councils to perform.
  • Strengthen the Prompt Payment Code, including requesting businesses to sign up to the Code – exploring ways of making it an ‘opt out’ rather than an ‘opt in’ arrangement – and calling for examples of where it has been breached.
  • Require FTSE companies to report more detailed information on their payment times.
  • Use the public procurement process to promote best practice, assessing evidence of prompt payment via Pre-Qualifying Questionnaires (PQQs) and avoiding using businesses with over 250 employees if they are notoriously bad payers.
  • Under the principle of more open data, work towards a culture of more transparency and standardisation of financial information for firms and financial organisations, including credit rating agencies, in order to help small businesses better establish their creditworthiness and properly assess the payment credentials of companies with which they consider trading.
  • Allow the Groceries Code Adjudicator to impose financial penalties on retailers who are found guilty of treating their suppliers unfairly.
  • Consider ways of encouraging and supporting more suppliers to pursue interest on late payments under the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.

A full list of the organisations backing the late payment campaign, and which have signed the letter to the Government, is:

Graydon UK Ltd; Lloyds TSB Bank Plc; the Asian Business Federation, the Brewing, Food and Beverage Industry Suppliers Association; the British Home Enhancement Trade Association; the British Printing Industries Federation; the Business Woman’s Network; the Federation of Master Builders; the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers and the Forum of Private Business.

Backers also include the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales; the Association of International Accountants; the Institute of Credit Management; PCG – the Voice of Freelancing; the National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers; the National Farmers’ Union; the National Pig Association and the Tenant Farmers Association.

New data from Graydon UK, a credit reference agency, shows that 76% of respondents believe the Government is not doing enough to protect UK businesses from late payment.

This is despite 51% reporting that the problem has become worse during the past year, 45% that it could threaten their ability to invest in their businesses and 20% that it could prevent them from continuing trading.

In addition, recent research from the payment body Bacs shows that late payment to small businesses, mainly originating from large companies at the head of supply chains across a broad range of sectors, has hit an all-time high.

The company’s figures show small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now owed a total of £33.6 billion in outstanding invoice payments – a rise of 10% in the last 12 months and the highest figure since records began in September 2007.

This is backed by recent research from the information company Experian, which found that late payment among UK firms of all sizes increased by almost a day on average during July, August and September 2011, compared to the April to June period.

Yet the same figures show the UK’s smallest businesses – those with one or two employees – managed to limit their late payment of bills to just half a day, representing the lowest rise during the period.

Further, with the use of credit checks more than doubling since last year in response to increasing late payment, a survey from Experian and the Institute of Credit Management (ICM) has found that small firms are more than twice as likely to suffer as a result of significant variations in credit scores.

“There is mounting pressure on the Government to crack down on the growing corporate late payment culture, which is already a huge problem for small businesses and is in danger of becoming endemic,” said Phil Orford, Chief Executive of the Forum of Private Business.

“Late payment and enforced retrospective changes to payment terms and conditions force firms out of business, plain and simple. It is time to tackle the problem once and for all so that prompt payment becomes the norm, unless there are good, justifiable reasons otherwise.

“In addition to the actions we want ministers to take, we recognise there are proactive steps available to business owners, including implementing proper credit management and credit checking procedures, but there is clearly a culture of fear when it comes to naming and shaming large late payers.

“We are also urging anyone subjected to this kind of treatment to tell us about it – we’re not afraid to take these companies on.”