Sunday, 18 October 2015

Five Star Fake Reviews

Amazon is taking legal action against more than 1,000 people it says have posted fake reviews on its website. The US online retail giant has filed a lawsuit in Seattle, Washington. It says its brand reputation is being damaged by "false, misleading and inauthentic" reviews paid for by sellers seeking to improve the appeal of their products. Amazon says the 1,114 defendants, termed "John Does" as the company does not yet know their real names, offer a false review service for as little as $5 (£3.24) on the website, with most promising five-star reviews for a seller's products. "While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon's brand," the technology giant said in its complaint, which was filed on Friday. Amazon said it had conducted an investigation, which included purchasing fake customer reviews on Fiverr from people who promised five-star ratings and offered to allow purchasers to write reviews.

Sparks & Spencer

High street chain M&S has ramped up loyalty card wars with the launch of Sparks today. But in a twist, the M&S members card does not give shoppers coupons to spend or points to trade in against products - instead it “unlocks benefits”. Shoppers signing up to the scheme will earn ten “sparks” for every £1 spent in stores and receive a further ten points for the transaction. They can boost their sparks by 25 points for writing a flattering or scathing online review of a product and 50 points for “shwopping” - donating an old item of clothing when buying a new outfit. A spokesperson said: “Members will accrue points rather like in a video game - the points don’t have a monetary value and they are never spent. They are a way of accessing exclusive deals and personalised discounts each time members shop or interact with us online.” These details then determine the types of offers or discounts that they receive - for example 10% off fresh flowers or a better bottle of wine or fizz to go with a meal deal. Under the loyalty card scheme, 3,000 sparks will unlock priority access to new fashion ranges and 5,000 will give card holders the chance to bag bargains online 24 hours ahead of the crowd. And extreme loyalty of 14,000 sparks will open up events like catwalk shows and masterclasses while 17,000 will enter card holders into draws with prizes like a trip to a South African vineyard or Christmas taken care of up for grabs.

Sweet Potato Success

The new-found enthusiasm for sweet potatoes has triggered record supermarket sales but a new variety means they are now not so exotic. British-grown sweet potatoes will go on sale in supermarkets for the first time next week, the first successful results of a crop innovation in the south of England which has taken three years to develop.  The move has been hailed as a breakthrough for British farming, as the sweet potato typically relies on warm and dry growing conditions and has until now only been sourced overseas, typically from southern US states such as North and South Carolina, Egypt, Senegal and Israel. Sales at Asda are up 50% in the last year. Marks & Spencer said sales were currently “going through the roof”, up 112% year on year, while Waitrose reports a 30% year-on-year uplift. In March the ONS added them to their basket of goods to help measure inflation.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Top of the Socks

After selling an app he had created to a social media site, 31-year-old Nic Haralambous had enough money to invest in one of his passions - quirky, colourful socks... some of which are made of bamboo. He partnered with his girlfriend, alongside two foreign investors, and together they have created a retail product that is walking the streets from Cape Town to New York. Nic says that "After you’ve worn our incredible bamboo socks, we’re certain you’ll never want to wear another". Follow the link to watch a short clip about the Business.

New Milk Tray Man

The mysterious Milk Tray man is set to make a comeback with Cadbury hunting for someone to fill the famous black polo neck sweater. Delivering chocolates with no thought for his personal safety, the Bond-esque hero dodged sharks, jumped bridges and flew helicopters in a series of adverts beginning in the 1960s. "All because the lady loves Milk Tray" became one of TV's most quotable lines - but it's now 13 years since his last appearance. One of the original Milk Tray men, James Coombes, is appearing in a new TV ad where he looks for "a new hero to deliver the famous box". Anyone over 18 can register their interest or nominate an adventurous, dashing friend at a special Cadburys website. The winner will get a one-year contract to front the chocolate brand in 2016. Follow the link to watch one of the original commercials.

Meet The Candidates

Series 11 of the Apprentice is set to begin on Wednesday with 18 aspiring entrepreneurs prepared to take on the toughest Apprentice yet. Follow the link to take a look at one of the candidates application videos - What entrepreneurial skills do they demonstrate? Do you think you could do better?

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The Apprentice

The Apprentice is back with a new batch of ambitious entrepreneurs seeking to demonstrate their commercial insight and business sense to stay out of the firing line. There’s a £250,000 investment at stake and the chance to go into a business partnership with Lord Sugar. Over the course of 12 tough tasks, the candidates will be whittled down until just one victor remains. And plenty of sparks are set to fly in the boardroom along the way! Each week the budding entrepreneurs will be divided into two teams - led by designated Project Managers - that lock horns under the watchful eyes of Lord Sugar's advisor Baroness Karren Brady and new aide Calude Littner. First episode is Wednesday 14th October at 9pm on BBC1.
The Apprentice

Monster Energy Ultra

Coca-Cola enterprises has launched a range of zero-sugar and zero-calorie Monster energy drink in the battle on sugar. Rolling out this month the three flavours in the grange will contain no sugar and instead be sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame K. The original Moster Energy boasts 55g or 13 teaspoons of sugar in a single can. Marketing director Caroline Cater said "We've responded to the overwhelming demand from consumers and Moster brand fans to introduce a wider selection of variants, which contain zero-sugar and zero-calories".

If I knew then, what I know now...

Have you had a burning business idea for a while, but want to wait till the time is exactly right before you make your move? You could be falling foul of one of the first bits of advice many CEOs would give themselves when they were starting out. Follow the link below to find out some tips from seven bosses that they would have given to their younger selves. 

Design For Life

Can you charge double and still keep your customers coming back? German appliance manufacturer Miele thinks so. It's a strategy, readily associated with German manufacturing, from hi-fi to industrial machinery, build quality products that last, and you'll win over customers in the long run. They believe a customer impressed with his vacuum cleaner can come back for a washing machine, a tumble dryer, a cooker, or a coffee machine. It's brand loyalty the company is after. And as they like to point out at Miele, no-one enjoys reading a new instruction manual. Despite the fact that a typical Miele machine costs around twice the mid-market standard one, sales are growing year-on-year.