The Friday SMB wrap-up

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This week, PayPal figures showed local retailers are finally waking up to the opportunities presented by the internet, consumers voted that small businesses delivered superior customer service to big organisations, businesses lowered their sales expectations for the Christmas season and the ACCC revealed it’s pulled over 95,000 unsafe products from the market in just 6 months.

Local workers costing business $109b in wasted time

A new survey has found that whilst Australian workers are some of the most highly motivated in the world, close to a fifth of their time at work is wasted at a cost of $109 billion to businesses, in wages alone.

The Ernst & Young Australian Productivity Pulse found that just 58 percent of an average work day is spent on work that directly adds ‘real value’ versus time seen as wasted due to wrong job fit, inefficient systems and processes, and red tape.

Small business leading the customer service stakes

In the eyes of customers, it’s small businesses that are winning the service stakes, with over 81 percent reporting a belief that SMEs place more emphasis on looking after customers than do large businesses.

According to The American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, Australian consumers are more likely to reveal their poor customer service frustrations widely among their social circle, with reports of bad service outstripping good experiences by more than two to one. 65 percent always tell others about a bad experience, coming second only to Mexican consumers.

Carbon tax will hit food manufacturer profits: AFGC

Local food and grocery manufacturers will see their operating profits slide by an average 4.4 percent in 2012-13 as a result of the carbon tax, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

The AFGC said the carbon tax will impact the industry’s capacity to employ and innovate, and a carbon price of $23 per tonne will impact profits in Australia’s largest manufacturing sector. Profitability in paper products could fall by up to 15.6 percent and over 11 percent for dairy and meat products, research by A.T. Kearney found.

Local retailers waking up to e-commerce opportunities

PayPal says new estimates show e-commerce will account for $37.7 billion worth of spending by 2013, as retailers begin to wake up to opportunities presented by the internet and invest more in online strategies.

According to PayPal’s Secure Insight: Changing the Way we Pay report, online commerce spending will reach $30.2 billion by the end of this year and grow at 12.2 percent throughout 2012-13. With 97 percent of Australian internet users having now shopped online, PayPal says local retailers are finally waking up to online opportunities and plan to invest more in online strategies over the next year.

Kogan calls on JB Hi-Fi to change branding

Ruslan Kogan has asked JB Hi-Fi to remove its “Always Cheapest Prices” slogan, in response to what he said was an admission by the CEO and chairman earlier this week that prices are cheaper online.

In an advertisement that appears to be an open letter published in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday, the online entrepreneur said the acknowledgement that prices are cheaper online came during JB Hi-Fi’s AGM earlier this week.

“So given that we now know JB Hi-Fi are aware of the price savings online … stop pretending to offer ‘Australia’s Cheapest Prices,’ be more honest in your branding, and be more honest with the Australian people,” Kogan said.

Aldi trumps Coles, Woolworths in customer service

Aldi and Coles have come out on top amongst the big supermarket chains in customer service, with Aldi leading the field with a 92 percent approval rating from shoppers.

Grocery buyers rated the German supermarket chain as having the best customer service in the categories of bread, fruit and veg, dairy, general merchandise and packaged goods.

Businesses lower Christmas expectations

Consumers are saving at levels not seen since the 1980’s, leading the retail sector to brace for a dismal Christmas. In the current climate of lingering economic uncertainty, businesses are feeling increasingly cautious about the traditionally anticipated holiday boon.

According to the Dun & Bradstreet Business Expectations Survey for the December quarter, firms are keeping expectations for the holiday period firmly in check with more than half anticipating demand to slow in the next 12 months.

Consumers embracing contactless payments

MasterCard registered over one million ‘Tap & Go’ contactless transactions in August, a sign that local consumers are responding to the new payment technology.

According to MasterCard Australia Country Manager Andrew Cartwright, PayPass will be a feature of all local MasterCards by April 2014.

Why the Australian workforce isn’t a happy one

Local employees are increasingly unhappy at work due to stifled creativity and inflexibility, a new report on the Australian workforce has found.

A study by fivefootfour has shown only 54 percent of employees are happy whilst working and 25 percent feel depressed for most of the day at least once a week.

Wesfarmers makes strong start to the financial year

Wesfarmers has released its sales results for the first quarter of 2012 financial year, reporting sales growth in its food and liquor, hardware and office supplies businesses but warning the next quarter won’t be easy.

Coles managing Director Ian McLeod says despite price deflation of almost two percent and strong progress in a challenging retail environment, the next quarter will not be easy.

“Weak consumer confidence in the face of rising living costs will continue to make trading conditions challenging in the lead up to Christmas.”

Over 95,000 unsafe products pulled in 6 months: ACCC

A national product safety program has seen over 95,000 unsafe products recalled or removed from sale in just six months, and 100 retailers issued with warnings.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the recalled products include trolley jacks, children’s nightwear, bunk beds, cots, hot water bottles, blinds and curtains.