Business stories of interest this week

Business stories from the past week, compiled by Jason Maywald:

1. Power with consumers for better energy deals

AUSTRALIANS may be in the dark on energy, with new research revealing more than half of the nation’s households believe they get a good deal on electricity.

An exclusive Canstar Blue survey of 7000 customers found that 55 per cent of respondent believed they were on a good energy wicket, while only one in five shopped around and went with the best deal.

Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes said the ever changing nature of the energy rate environment meant that anyone who had signed on more than a few months earlier was probably no longer on as good a deal as they thought.


2. Facebook close to the holy grail of marketing

Facebook is closing in on the “holy grail” of marketing – knowing how the advertising it shows to its more than 2 billion users affects them when they stop scrolling and go shopping in the real world.

The social media giant’s head of global retail and ecommerce strategy, Martin Barthel, said it had recently started closing the gap in what it knows about users’ online and off-line behaviour.

Under a recent partnership with some US retailers, Facebook can track when a smartphone-carrying user has gone into an advertisers’ physical store by using geolocation tracking, “beacon” technology or data from public Wi-Fi networks.

The “cherry on the top”, Mr Barthel said, is when those retailers send Facebook in-store transaction data, gathered from loyalty schemes or by credit card companies.


3. Can the unmanned store reshape Aussie retail? 

This week’s official launch of Amazon Go might have stolen headlines, but it’s not the first time the checkout has gotten the chop.

Inspired by Amazon’s “grab-and-go” idea, several stores in China actually beat the retail giant to the punch. For example, there’s already Bingobox in Zhongshan City, Alibaba’s Tao Café in Hangzhou and Wheelys 247 in Shanghai, to name just a few.

Chinese shoppers seem taken with the new trend too, which as a result, will see many more of these staffless shops sprouting up across Asia.

But would an unmanned store work here? It surely depends on where and why.



4. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad dies at 91

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, a farmer’s son turned multi-billionaire who revolutionised kit furniture, has died aged 91, leaving behind a global empire under investigation over its tax practices, the firm said overnight.

Kamprad “passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones” at his home in the southern Swedish region of Smaland on Saturday “following a brief illness”, IKEA said in a statement.

“The founder of IKEA and Ikano, and one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century, Ingvar Kamprad, has peacefully passed away, at his home in Smaland, Sweden, on the 27th of January,” the company statement read.


5. Coca-Cola Amatil’s SPC signs deal with China state farm 

Coca-Cola Amatil’s SPC and Goulburn Valley fruit brands will soon be sold through Chinese food stores and e-commerce platforms under a distribution agreement with a major state-owned agriculture and consumer products businkess.

Coca-Cola Amatil’s SPC unit has finalised a master distribution agreement with China State Farm Agribusiness Shanghai, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Agriculture Development Group Corp, and hired popular Chinese singer and actress Yiqian Ye as its brand ambassador.