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Failure is Always an Option: 3 Retailers that Disappeared

You think you’ve made it. Your business is on top and been up there for awhile. You’ve diversified, you have franchises. But, here are 3 retailers who found out that failure is always an option, and what you can learn from it.

1. Blockbuster

Always Blockbuster. Poor, poor Blockbuster. In 2002, Blockbuster was valued at $5 billion. It had even become synonymous with renting a movie. If you wanted to rent a movie for the weekend, you asked if anyone wanted to go to Blockbuster, even if you were going to Hollywood Video. Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2010.

What went wrong:

Netflix and Redbox came and pushed them out of the market.

What can you learn:

Always be ready to embrace new technologies, especially if your company’s product is technology. Evolve or perish.

2. K. B. Toys

When it filed for bankruptcy in 2008, K.B. Toys was the leading mail-based toy retailer, but even then it only represented a small percentage of the United States toy market.

What went wrong:

Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon had better prices.

What can you learn:

Downsizing is not a four-letter word. If you’re good at something, don’t be afraid to try and be the best at it. If K.B. Toys had focused on it’s mail order sales while decreasing it’s brick-and-mortar presence, would it still be around? If it had embraced Amazon’s Marketplace, or eBay would it have sold more through the mail? Maybe not. But, it’s something to think about.

3. Woolworths

In 1997, after 117 years, the last Woolworths closed its doors. It wasn’t all failure, though. The Woolworth Corporation changed its name to Venator Group and still operates some retail stores, including Foot Locker and Northern Reflections.

What went wrong:

Again, lower prices at Wal-Mart and Target helped to bury Woolworths. However, America moving out of the cities and into the suburbs was the first shovelful of dirt in the grave. As America left the city, tastes changed. And one of those tastes was a distinct lack of interest in what Woolworths had to offer.

What you can learn:

Sometimes, the market disappears.

Do you know of a company that failed? What can be learned from their failure? Share in the comments below.

Square and Payment Methods for Entrepreneurs

As smartphones and tablets become more and more prevalent in the market place, mobile payment methods are a more viable solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs to manage their money.

Square, a dongle based credit card swiper for the iPhone, was an advancement in technology that demonstrated the potential the smartphone had for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Since it’s introduction, some businesses have been able to get rid of cash registers entirely and shift their entire platform to tablets and mobile phones. Square is trying to remain on the cutting edge by getting rid of the hardware and enabling geofencing, making payment possible by proximity over rather than actual card swiping.

While security issues are still being sorted out, Square has remained on the cutting edge of mobile payment technology. Behind them, PayPal is attempting to pick up the slack and offer new ways to pay by phone, as well. PayPal here again offers a physical device to swipe the card with, but doesn’t have a dedicated app for iPhone or iPad.

Intuit GoPayment offers a similar device as Square. It plugs into your phone and requires swiping the card. One major benefit of using the Intuit method is that the transaction syncs automatically with your Quickbooks software.

Many different companies are offering ways to turn your mobile device into a cash register. Is the mobile wallet going to be the new trend? Several credit cards, banks, and cellular carriers got together to form Isis, a place where standards could be set for mobile payments.

The biggest concern that remains is security. All the information is flying through the air. How can we be sure no one will pick it up? Some researchers are even devoting their time to punching holes in any wall that Square builds.

While mobile payments are a great way to take your business with you anywhere, you need to make sure you are up to date on security issues. You need to protect yourself and your customers before going mobile.

What are some of your concerns? What would keep you from or encourage you into using mobile payment?

Oil prices at $76

(Reuters) – Oil hovered near $76 a barrel on Thursday after a three-day price slide as robust euro zone growth data were largely eclipsed by lacklustre macroeconomic data that reinforced doubts on the global fuel demand outlook.

Early in the session, prices rallied after news that euro zone gross domestic product (GDP) grew at its fastest pace in more than three years in the second quarter, boosted by strong performances in Germany and France.

But mixed macroeconomic data out of top oil consumer the United States later doused positive sentiment.

By 10:52 a.m. EDT, U.S. crude prices for September were down 15 cents at $75.59 a barrel after rising more than $1.

ICE Brent crude was down 26 cents at $75.26.

“The whole week has been about poor economic data and today’s releases show that the U.S. consumer is still on the mend,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, commodity strategist at BNP Paribas.

“Retail sales disappointed and if consumer confidence in August managed to come in a notch above expectations…it still remains below the June reading.”

U.S. retail sales rebounded in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness while consumer sentiment appeared to have stabilized in August following a sharp drop the previous month.

But earlier strong European data on Friday has helped set a floor beneath prices at least temporarily, analysts said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said demand for oil would continue to grow slowly in 2011, when world economic expansion is projected to be slightly lower than this year’s, leaving the current supply overhang intact.

STILL CAUTIOUS

Front-month crude was on course for a nearly 6 percent fall for the week, and analysts expected it to stay below the $80 a barrel benchmark.

Oil prices were in a $70-$80 a barrel range, where they have mostly traded since June, barring a brief foray above $80 in August.

“The market is very much in ’08 mode when it was doubting aspects of the recovery. There is an element of suspicion about whether it’s sustainable,” said Barclays Capital oil analyst Amrita Sen.

In the previous session, the number of people filing new jobless claims in the United States unexpectedly rose to its highest level in close to six months, a fresh signal of sluggish economic recovery.

Stocks of oil products in the U.S. including gasoline rose last week even at the height of the summer driving season, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Retail Sales Rise

Even the forces of nature can’t take down the economy. Americans braved the elements, fought the snow, plowed through the roads to go…shopping.

Data shows that sales, excluding auto, rose .8 percent over February.  Though the projected number varied, it seems as though .8 percent was much higher than everyone expected. Several different hypotheses attempt to explain why this occurred. Perhaps it reflects economic recovery or perhaps more men were in the doghouse for Valentine’s Day.

Even better news, fewer jobs were lost in the month of February than in previous months. Retail stores tend to hire more employees during the spring. One can only hope the trend will continue as spring is upon us.

Keep in mind, Daylight Saving Time is on March 14. At 2 a.m., or when you wake up, remember to set your clock forward an hour. The US began taking part in Daylight Saving Time during World War I to take advantage of the longer sunlit hours of day. Originally intended to increase war production, now it helps us conserve energy. Keep up with your own production and see if the intention holds true.

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