In The News
Target Pushes Innovation
Currently Target is testing its top 50 innovations that are to enhance customers' experience in the near future. The Minneapolis-based retailer has introduced significant changes in its 25 stores in the Los Angeles area to find out how the new techniques and solutions will work in practice and how customers will benefit from using them. Among the innovations are electronic tags, adviser services in the baby department and many others. The program is starting this year and is designed to help the company maintain its competitive edge.
Target announced the introduction of innovations at an annual event where about 13,000 store managers and executives from around the country participated. The three-hour event organized both as pep rally and business meeting featured such celebrities performing as Shakira, Luke Bryan and Imagine Dragons.
In the previous year Target has managed to significantly increase its sales and customer visits over the past year. The stores have been offering a greater assortment of trendy products in fashion, home, baby, children's and wellness items. In addition, the company focused on promoting organic and natural products in the food aisle.
This year the company is planning to invest $1 billion in technology and innovations in its distribution system, as customers can now make purchases online and pick up their order at the store. In addition, Target announced about its plans to attach electronic tags, or radio frequency identification, to all of its clothing merchandise. Due to this innovation inventory will be much easier to keep track of and the staff will be able to find the products customers want much quicker.
Target also partnered with eBay's global shipping program to test how well Target.com products could be sold and shipped to 64 countries.Date of post: 2015/01/15
Big Corporations Are Mobilizing Against Climate Change
This week, California law makers received several letters signed by big corporations supporting two bills according to which the state would be required to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions even more through 2050. The companies emphasise that dealing with climate change is one of America's greatest economic challenges of the 21st century.
Among the companies that favor stronger environmental policy are Patagonia, the North Face, Ben and Jerry's, as well as Gap, the candy company Mars Inc., eBay and the LA-based homebuilding company KB Home. Dignity Health, the largest not-for-profit hospital chain in California, also signed both letters.
California has always been a pioneer of climate change-related legislative movement. In 2006 the California Global Warming Solutions Act was passed, according to which the state was required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020 (that constitutes about 15 percent of reduction). And now these two new bills are pushing for further reform.
SB 350 demands to reduce the use of petroleum in half, while increasing energy efficiency in existing buildings in half too. In addition, 50 percent of utility power is expected to come from renewable energy by 2030. According to SB 32 requirements the state would have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 80 percent below 1990 levels through 2050.
As a result of these actions California would be able to save $8 billion on health care expenses related to respiratory illnesses like asthma. The research published in the New England Journal of Medicine this year revealed that because of improved air quality in California over the last 20 years the number of children dwelling in Southern California who suffer from asthma dropped significantly.
But the new legislature bills are opposed by the representatives of the oil industry, and the state will confront with additional costs associated with changing the way that citizens of California get their energy.
It's not a secret that reducing emissions is expensive, but California's aggressive action on curbing helps alternative energy companies flourish there. California's 2006 law was a great start and two new laws will facilitate the process even more. For example, Proterra, a company that makes fully electric buses and operates in California, states that the cost of electric bus technology has recently decreased so drastically that the industry will soon be able to compete with natural gas technology.
Recently eBay has launched "Hot Deals for Hot Days," an initiative to offer customers incredible deals on must-have items tied to the weather: the higher the temperatures rise, the hotter the deals become. At eBay shoppers will be offered designer sunglasses at a huge discount that reflects the forecasted high temperature. If the temperature is forecasted to reach 85 degrees in Montauk, shoppers will get 85 percent off their new sunglasses. Celebrating summer’s biggest holiday, customers can visit eBay’s “Hot Deals for Hot Days” custom Airstream to browse and purchase new Ray-Bans and Michael Kors sunglasses, while relaxing savoring iced treats from Brooklyn’s People’s Pops. eBay Deals provide access to unparalleled selection of top brands and designers at incredibly low prices, and always with free shipping. The program that began as a 'single deal a day' back in 2009 continues to evolve. To combine eBay Deals and latest eBay redemption codes visit Ebay Promo Code.Date of post: 2015/07/05
Amazon and eBay Hosted Listings for Banned Invasive Species
Some traders sell invasive plants that are harmful for ecosystems through the sites. According to the Guardian, Amazon and eBay delivered banned invasive species to the UK. In the past both eBay and Amazon have been criticized for hosting ivory traders, but according to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) invasive species represent a much bigger threat to the environment than poaching ivory. In February, the CBD claimed that it was necessary to monitor and control unregulated online traders who purchase and offer for sale invasive species worldwide.
The British government has already banned the sale and advertising of seven species of aquatic weed in the UK because they have caused great harm to rivers and waterways. But three of them were offered for sale on eBay and one on Amazon to be delivered to the UK.
Ebay, for example, offered to deliver floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) and water fern (Azolla filiculoides) that originate in the Americas to the UK. Amazon featured two listings for parrot’s feather. Sellers were from Germany, Latvia, Poland, Australia, and even the UK.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the sale or advertisement of these species violated the law and this organization urged the companies to remove listings and make sellers aware of their legal responsibility. As a result, Amazon removed their listings for parrots feather while eBay didn’t.
The problem doesn’t concern the UK only, and companies like eBay and Amazon. In the internet there are many illegal trades that are hard to control. Unfortunately some legal trades can also cause harm. Most invasive species are identified by regulation only after they become problematic.
A study of a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology revealed that eBay regularly hosted advertisements for over 500 invasive species of plant, including 13 of the most invasive plants in the world. Each species is offered for sale by dozens of sellers from different countries. The problem is that most countries do not have special laws or border controls that would help restrict the sale of such species. And even though there is some control over the regular sellers it is not enough to exercise control over the whole traffic.
There are also special interest marketplaces that trade across the globe. In the USA there is the largest online market for living organisms. For example, over 4,000 businesses and 15,000 individuals sell reptiles online, and the number of live fish and snails sold online is much bigger. Plant traders constitute the tens of thousands.
In the UK, the penalty for the sale of controlled plants constitutes a fine of £5,000 or six months in jail. A great number of plant species traded on eBay used to be invasive. Invasive aquatic weeds are extremely popular as decorative items among aquarium enthusiasts. In 1999, a small patch of giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta), a fern growing in Brazil, was spotted floating in the Toledo Bend reservoir in Texas. In three days this patch grew twice in size and within a year it contaminated 50 other waterways from Virginia to California.
Giant salvinia is considered one of the world’s 100 most harmful invasive species. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned the transportation and sale of giant salvinia across state borders, but in spite of this four patches are known to be sold in the past year on eBay.
As the world’s online commerce is expected to double between 2013 and 2018, the threat of spreading invasive species is only to increase in coming years. One solution to the problem can be blacklisting particular species internationally, but it is rather complicated to implement as species that are invasive in one region are benign in others.
One realistic approach that could help solve the problem is to engage large e-commerce platforms like eBay and Amazon to notify customers of the products that are illegal. But this is impossible without the engagement and cooperation of the large marketplaces. Public and corporate education must go hand in hand and environmentalists are calling for responsible behaviors of both the consumers and businesses.
Date of post: 2016/06/02
The Application of Marine Waste
The problem of environmental pollution is extremely important nowadays and the scientists are working hard to create new materials that would become an eco-friendly alternative to plastics. The Biomat research group of the University of the Basque Country is using the marine waste like squid, fish and algae from the Basque coast to make new materials. This research provides a fresh approach to implementing the key principles of the circular economy - preserving natural resources by controlling finite stocks and balancing the inflows and outflows of renewable capital. The given research focuses on methods of upgrading industrial by-products or waste by using minimum material and energy resources to produce competitive, sustainable products. In their efforts to decrease environmental pollution scientists are trying to develop new products using renewable materials with a minimal environmental impact during their life cycle. In Europe the demand for plastic in 2014 was 47.8 million tonnes, with 90% of them made of non-renewable sources. Furthermore, 25.8 million tonnes of plastics became garbage, of which 30.8% ended up in landfills. But scientists believe that a shift to the circular economy instead of traditional linear economy will benefit the environment. In the circular economy resources are turned into products, then products are turned into waste, and waste is turned back into resources. Under this system the cycle of industrial ecosystems becomes closed while considerable reducing the amount of resources used. The less resources will be used the less waste will be generated. However, much is to be done to convince governments and companies in the feasibility of this approach. Manufacturers of plastic products and plastic container as well as companies producing consumer goods can impact this initiative, because they decide what products to produce and what materials to use.
Biomat researched the ways of upgrading industrial waste and by-products to get biodegradable/compostable products that could be easily processed by using current techniques. In its research Biomat zeroes in possibilities of improving the extraction and manufacturing of the product so that the output would be increased and the costs reduced. As a result it would be possible to develop sustainable, competitive materials. Currently the Biomat group deals with a project that involves using waste from the Basque coast as the raw material for getting proteins and polysaccharides (cellulose and chitin). These materials can be used in a wide range of products such as films for packaging and even hydrogels for medical dressings.
Biomat is also looking for possibilities to create active containers which would prolong the useful properties of food. At the same time such containers would help reduce the amount of food thrown away. The idea behind the research is to make a container which would interact with the food to keep it fresh longer. Now scientists know how to upgrade fishing industry waste to get protein, chitin and cellulose using simple and sustainable processes with an output of nearly 95%. These materials were used to make transparent films for food packaging. The films can be heat sealed and serve as a perfect barrier for gases and fatty products. Furthermore, these films possess excellent biodegradable properties so the material's life cycle becomes closed. The results of this research have been published in the "ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering" journal.
Also the proteins obtained from marine waste can be used to make biocompatible materials. And this is a real breakthrough as this discovery may have a very broad application in various fields. It is unbelievable but the proteins can be even used as biomaterials in medicine. Now scientists are trying to create materials that could be processed using additive manufacturing, 3D printing. The idea is to create 3D structures by continuously depositing the material, layer by layer. This can be achieved under the condition the first layer has structural integrity before the second layer is applied, and so on. Also, it is important to control the rheological parameters of the material, that initially must be viscous or viscoelastic, so that it can become a gel before more layers are added.
The results of the research on obtaining protein thread have been published in the "European Polymer Journal".
Date of post: 2016/11/16
Black Friday is big business, but many Americans think it’s the worst
For bargain hunters, it's the ultimate shopping day. To wake up on Black Friday and get all of your Christmas shopping done in the span of a few hours is simply too tempting to pass up. Think of all those deep discounts you find. It all sounds good, but a new survey reveals that more than a third of Americans hate Black Friday while another 50% think is just okay. There are only remaining 4.7% say that they love it and they are clearly in the minority. It's just so super crowded say many.
The disdain for Black Friday runs deepest among shoppers 60 and older with 42% giving it thumbs down. Another 41% of consumers ages from 30 to 44 despise it and it is more than 20% of shoppers ages 18 to 29 say they can't stand Black Friday either.
The report says that as Americans get older their love for the shopping bonanza erodes until it falls off a cliff. The studies also show that more than 37% of Americans strongly dislike stores being open on Thanksgiving. So why are so many Americans turning away from one of the best shopping days of the year?
It used to be that the only time you would find these deep discounts was on Black Friday. But now people are buying throughout the year because you can find cheap prices. Many online retailers of cut heavily into the equation and are often offering deals year-round.
Amazon marketplace is really taking about 40% account for online sales and its e-commerce platform allows third-party sellers to sell new and used merchandise alongside the company's regular offerings. Therefore brick-and-mortar retailers are running scared because online outlets are far less overhead and can often undercut the prices found a big box stores. Black Friday will really never go away but it's really just a marketing slogan. People get frustrated because they start hearing about it in July and Black Friday doesn't really live up to all the hype.
Many are turned off by the frantic atmosphere that surrounds Black Friday sales. They see it as a madhouse with the expectation that tons of people are going to be there. Some of them resent the whole commercialization of the holiday and avoid it for that reason. But regardless retailers are busy promoting their Black Friday bargains. Target will launch his Black Friday sales beginning at 6 PM on Thanksgiving. Target says this allows their families to enjoy Thanksgiving but then come out and shop afterwards. Target is also unveiled some of his Black Friday deals are ready. We are trying to make our shopping experience the most convenient for guests and wanted to be a safe and fun shopping environment. Several other big-box stores will be open for all or part of Thanksgiving Day. These include Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl's, Macy's and JCPenney.
Holiday sales are expected to rise 3.6% to $655.8 billion. That was significantly outpaced the ten-year average increase of 2.5% and top the seven-year average boost of 3.4% since recovery began in 2009. That Friday is often touted as the busiest shopping day of the year. But a company that track shopper traffic says that's no longer the case. Retailers have continued the trend to open up more stores on Thanksgiving and it pilfers away both sales and traffic from Black Friday. This year with Christmas falling on a Sunday most shoppers will want to cut short their shopping early on December 24 the Saturday leaving the day before, Friday is retails biggest opportunity for sales. So in reality Super Saturday will lead the way with Black Friday a very close second. Sales on Black Friday fell 12% to 10.2 billion last year compared to the previous year.
Date of post: 2016/11/22