Saturday, March 31, 2007

View from my window


Fuel My Blog is running a View from my window photo competition, so I thought I'd throw my hat in the ring as well. I've starting taking interesting pictures only recently (at least, I think so) and while most come out boring and commonplace, some pictures stand out, not only for the quality of picture, but also for the memory they invoke.

I took this picture from the kitchen door of my uncle's house in Ridgefield, CT. I wanted to capture the moment as it was that magical time of the evening, when the sky was changing and almost glowing, contrasting with the dark, bare trees in the foreground.

Get ready for summer!

Nothing like a new pair of sunglasses to get you started off on enjoying the warm weather, right? I don't think there's ever been a time that I have had less than 2-3 pairs of sunglasses. They are just great accessories to have and keep changing on a regular basis. So if you're going to keep switching sunglasses every few months, it really doesn't make sense to spend a whole lot on them. As long as they have UVA/UVB protection and are comfortable I'm fine with them. I usually invest in one good pair with anti-glare to use for long periods and keep my other sunglasses simply as fashion accessories. Buying Wholesale Designer Sunglasses is a great way to be able to have lots of sunglasses and change them often. With prices starting at $10 per dozen, yes, per dozen, it's probably the cheapest you can ever find them, and also have lots of extra sunglasses to give as gifts.

LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

What's your visual DNA?

Interesting and fun forward I got this morning that maps your visual DNA. Check it out and see what yours is.


Spring must have: stroller rain covers

It's spring time, time to be out in the open again, time to reconnect with nature again, time for the rain to come....oops! While you might still be able to enjoy the weather with an umbrella, what about your toddler? So here's a great solution for your kids's stroller, Sasha's rain covers so your child can enjoy the great outdoors but still be protected from the elements. Sasha's rain covers are custom made for all the well-known car seat, stroller and jogging stroller such as Graco, Peg Perego, Evenflo, Baby Trend, Combi, Eddie Bauer, Bumbleride, Jeep, InStep, Schwinn, Mclaren, Bugaboo and Britax. Sasha's Kiddie Products was founded by Don Fetner 10 years ago, when he saw firsthand how difficult it was for mothers to protect their children from the sun, wind, and insects. Sasha's products have become very popular since they are all great quality and extremely practical and user friendly. Their sun, wind and insect protection line comes with UVA/UVB protection which is a really great add on.

LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Where would you live?

I came across an interesting post on 2KBloggers asking where in the world would you live? It reminded me of a post I had written almost two years ago about all the places I had lived in. I love to travel and live in new cities, to discover new haunts, to build new memories, to explore new cultures and lifestyles.

Here's my old post dated April 22, 2005.

A place to call home

Of the many cites, towns and even, villages I have lived in, what was the best one? What makes a place most desirable?

Is it the weather......Bangalore, Dagshai and Juneo would be tops;
or the life that a city offers in its:
restaurants.....Bangalore and Bristol;
theatre.....Bangalore and Providence;
art galleries........Providence;
libraries and book stores.......Bristol and Bangalore;
parks and green spaces.......Providence, Bristol, Dagshai and Juneo;
public transportation.......Boston, Providence and Bombay
daily conveniences and ease of traffic.......Kansas City and Chandigarh win here;
scenic beauty.......Bristol, Boston, Juneo, Providence and Dagshai;
shopping.....Bombay and the Maine shopping outlets
history.........Delhi, Providence and Bristol
quaint life........Bristol, Manhattan, KS and Juneo

Details:
Bangalore, Karnataka, India: IT city, cosmopolitan, relaxed and very welcoming.
Bombay, Maharashtra, India: So far more hype than reality.......time will tell. I think the style quotient got muddied with the name change to Mumbai.
Juneo, Himachal Pradesh, India: A village in Sirmour district where the peach growing area starts.
Dagshai, Himachal Pradesh, India: A British Cantonment in the Simla Hills of Himachal.
Chandigarh, UT, India: India's first planned city designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jenneret in the 1950's. Surprisingly, no other city has been able to replicate its success.
Delhi, India: Slowly being transformed into a great city.
Providence, Rhode Island, USA: America's gangster town turned into America's food capital by the last Mayor Buddy Cianci.
Bristol, Rhode Island, USA: America's first independence day parade took place here. The original route is maintained and promoted with a great sense of pride.
Boston, Massachusetts, USA: History everywhere you look here. A wonderful city to explore by foot.
Merriam/Kansas City, Kansas USA: Known as a City of Fountains, it is a beautiful city with a sense of joy and positiveness everywhere.
Manhattan, Kansas, USA: A university town and my first taste of American life. No matter how hard college life actually was, I will always have a soft spot for this town.

So what is the right mix of the perfect place to live in? We seem to exploring new places with great speed and regularity, so it looks like a few more place to explore before deciding.

Get your business noticed in the local community

As a small business owner, how does one get noticed? With the number of companies opening up with each day increasing, it's getting increasingly harder to be known in the market, even in the local market. It seems that all small companies have websites, but unless consumers already knows the name of the company, how do they find you online? The solution could be LocalLaunch, a company that specializes in local search and small business advertising. LocalLaunch works with small companies to help them get noticed and connect to potential customers.

I find it quite hard to locate local servicemen such as AC technicians online. I know there are available in my area, but how does one find them? LocalLaunch promises to do just that and provides Internet marketing solutions to small companies by helping companies control all of their business information in one area, distributing information on a consistent basis, driving traffic to your website and tracking results on a continuous basis. Small business owners are eligible for a free consultation to see how it works, to see the difference LocalLaunch can make.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Shoppers’ Stop to have Build-A-Bear at its stores

This is great news for the retail sector. One of the most popular concepts of the US market, the Build-A-Bear workshop for kids will be soon opening in India. Shoppers’ Stop CEO Govind Shrikhande made the announcement on the upcoming launch of the interactive children's workshop Build-A-Bear in it’s stores. Build-A-Bear will only be available at shop-in-shop Shoppers’ Stop stores initially and will be available at standalone Shoppers' Stop stores at a later time. Build-A-Bear has made a non-exclusive tie up for a duration of three years with the Murjani Group which has brought the Build-A-Bear brand to India.

Will this be the watershed in your life?

Celebrities and the constant media hype have brought a lot of prominence to rehab and addiction centers. In a way, it has almost made them more acceptable and reachable to the common person, who might hesitate in getting treatment there. The number of cases seem to be increasing with each passing day and it has become a common problem of our times but the ways to solve addiction have radically improved from earlier times.

One of the most well-known programs is the Watershed Addiction Treatment program that has been able to set a high standard in treating men and women suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. Watershed offers medical detoxification and substance abuse treatment such as alcohol treatment from a highly trained staff of psychiatrists, medical doctors, psychologists, nurses and therapists. The name Watershed itself signifies a new beginning, a moment where you can transcend to being a new person and live a new life.

CompUSA's 15 minute pick-up program is a winner

CompUSA has been able to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack thanks to its 15 minute pick-up program. The retailer first introduced online/in-store pick-up program in 2003, offering a service that pretty much all other large retailers were offering. CompUSA decided to stand apart and fine tune its pick-up program to 15 minutes, which had been decided from customer feedback and store data. Stores were put on trial and once they were able to achieve a 95% on time record, the 15 minute guarantee was launched in November 2006. So a customer can check for products online, specifying preferred location and then come by and pick it up at the store.
Fulfilling 95% of online orders in 15 minutes requires that each store integrate its inventory management system with that of the web store. By doing so, shoppers can identify which online items are in-stock at their local store. To improve customer satisfaction, CompUSA allows customers to search the inventory of multiple stores within a 50-mile radius of a designated ZIP code to provide greater availability of products if the customer’s preferred store is out of stock. Store inventory is linked to CompUSA’s web store through an order management program that was developed in-house.

Borders looking to sell its UK business

Borders Group is thinking of selling its UK business which operates under the name of Books etc. The company has 71 stores and accounts for 70% of Borders' international business. Borders opened in the UK in 1998 when it purchased the Books etc chain, but it has been reporting losses of $500,000 due to a "challenging retail environment".

Wealthy customers look for specialized customer service

Wealthier customers conduct research and purchase online according to a recent survey by The Luxury Institute. It was found that 69% of rich American customers preferred to make hotel and resort reservations directly on the Internet. According to Milton Perdaza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, a survey and research firm, “The only remaining obstacle preventing wealthy consumers from purchasing a multitude of luxury products online appears to be the lack of customer-centricity on the part of some luxury firms.”

Opportunities galore waiting to be taken, anyone, anyone?

Retailers take note: Rich consumers look for special and customized services and if you offer this segment the kind of customer service they need and more, since these are customers who are accustomed to getting the best of everything. There clearly is a need for something more than the basic customer service that is provided at most online stores.
The Luxury Institute surveyed 1,000 consumers with average household income of $288,000 and average net worth of $2.5 million. It determined that 96% of them buy products and services online, with 55% doing so frequently; and 99% of wealthy consumers use the Internet to research before they buy. According to the survey findings, more than half of the wealthy consumers surveyed prefer to make purchases of women’s apparel online while 43% prefer to use the web when buying men`s apparel.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reliance Retail upgrades HR policy

Reliance Retail announced that it has changed its HR policy to a comprehensive manpower management policy so that it would be able to streamline its recruitment process and retain employees. Reliance Retail president and its chief people officer, Bijay Sahoo, is taking care of this new policy. The company currently has 89 outlets and will be increasing the number to 120 in April 2007. Reliance Retail has huge requirements for retail talent and plans to have 500,000 employees working for it by 2010. Currently the company only has 6,000 employees.

Importance of POS for retailers

Retailers who have a good and reliable point of sale system have a definite advantage over others. A POS system that tracks inventory and sales is simply no match for old fashioned systems. Vison's retail pos system is a little different in the sense that not only does it provide end-to-end service for any retailer, but it is also environmentally friendly as its refurbished equipment is priced lower and is backed by quality support. The company has supplied POS systems to some of the major retailers such as Aeropostale and Regal.

As a retail analyst and someone who has worked in the field for several years, I know that you just cannot underestimate the importance of having a good point of sale system in place. There are a ton of point of sale systems available but Vision has been able to differentiate itself from the crowd and offer a distinct USP, which is likely to pay off well in the long run.


LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

Out of the World Cup

Well, India is officially out of the Cricket World Cup. We really haven't been playing too well lately and it's all just been media hype and endorsement fever that the players have been interested in rather than practicing their game or planning their strategy for the World Cup. Well, I guess this will at least save us the agony and embarrasement from a later time. C'mon people, enough already with all the cricket hoopla, our players obviously do not deserve it. Lets back some of the other sports for a change.

Captivating art by Vickor Lysakov

Art is completely subjective. I might hate what you like and vice versa. I consider art to be very personal, something that connects to me in an individual way, regardless if it is the expected reaction or not. Over the years I have become an avid collector, mostly of paintings till now, but eventually I do want to add sculptures to my collection. The interest started when I took an Art History class in college and especially when I worked at an art gallery for close to two years. I look for depth of color and texture in paintings, something that makes them stand apart even when the subject matter might have been painted a thousand times already.

I am especially fond of collecting art from across the world and was quite intrigued by the work of Russian Artist Victor Lysakov, especially his traditional motif paintings. Lysakov is a modern expressionist artist who paints using a vibrant palette and unique compositions. There is a story behind all of his paintings, which make them even more interesting as it's always so interesting to know something additional about all paintings. While all the paintings I liked were already sold, there is an option to purchase giclee prints that are digitally printed on museum quality UV-resistant canvas.

Victor Lysakov opened his first office of the Lysakov Art Company in Pacific Grove in California in early February this year and had a grand celebration of over 200 guests who enjoyed traditional Russian music, cuisine and entertainment. The new gallery can be comapred to any of the modern art galleries in the metro cities. Lysakov has been named as one of "The Best European Artists" and has participated in many important exhibitions across the world.


LoudLaunch - Compensating bloggers for their unbiased opinions, reviews, and analysis. View the LoudLaunch campaign release this post was based on.

Titan plans to bring in 3 global brand

Tata Group’s Titan Industries announced that it will be launching 2-3 global brands in the next few years. It recently brought in the Tommy Hilfiger brand which has been a big success in the Indian market. According to Harsh Bhatt, Titan Industries CEO, “Tommy Hilfiger has done well in the past year and seen a growth of more than 60% year on year. We have plans to bring in two to three more licensed brands into India in the next two to three years including at least one in the next one year.” The company will be opening a new manufacturing facility in Rourkee where it will manufacture 2-3 million watches. The facility will open later this year and will see an investment of Rs. 10 crore. Titan has opened a sourcing office in Hong Kong to outsource watches from China, Korea and other countries.

Retail broking on the rise

Interesting times for retail broking. Brokerage houses are getting into retail in a big way. Traditionally brokerage firms have dealt with large institutional players but are entering the retail sector due to the huge potential in retail broking. Institutional players are also turning to global broking houses for requirements and smaller broking houses are using retail broking to grow rapidly which has been getting noticed by the stock markets and large investors.

Ecotourism is the way to go

I grew up in the mountains and never thought I would love anything more but am a beach girl now. My love of the mountains did teach me how to take care of the environment. Our boarding school was located in the lower Himalayas where we always had a risk of forest fires in late May and early June, before the arrival of the monsoons. Pines are the most common trees in the area, which shed in the hot summer months, making for a dangerous combination. The fate of the Earth is dependent on our generation and on how we treat the environment. It is no longer alright just to be neutral, we have to make choices that reflect the urgent need to protect and preserve the environment.

This concept has led to a number of new resorts who are actively involved in such endeavors and are such a lovely relief from the boring, cookie-cutter vacations that travel companies have. Look at Kauai for instance, it is full of resorts, but can you really distinguish one from another. They all offer the same services, have similar rooms and pretty much blur into one another. Kauai Ecotourism Vacation Rentals on the other hand provides a great blend of luxury and eco-friendliness and I would much rather take a vacation such as this, since it would be completely unique. Don't expect mediocre service or style here, HawaiianBeachRentals have some pretty incredible properties and offer world class service but still remain focused on preserving the environment.

Taking pictures

Time to change the pic of the day today....It's been an interesting journey for me to take pictures like this, of just the scenery or nature or the world around us. It really started with blogging, and since I've never been to keen to put up pics of my own or my family here, I started to take pictures of non-personal things. Some of the results are good and of course tons of others not so good, but then that's the greatest thing about a digital camera, you can delete them right away and they simply won't be there to remind to you of your amateurishness.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Temp workers getting their due

Temp workers have been around a long while but have traditionally been underpaid and undervalued. Well, not so anymore, as temp workers are receiving salary packages that are equal to if not more than regular starting salaries for entry level jobs. The biggest markets for temp jobs are Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. The change has come as earlier jobs were seen as a relationship between employer and employee, but now it is fast becoming a transaction based system, giving rise to temping.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Damas & Flemingo to set up duty-free stores

Dubai's Damas Jewelry and Flemingo International’s Indian division announced that the two comapanies will jointly set up duty-free shops in the country. Products such as jewlerly and watches will be sold at these duty free outlets. At present, they have been given permission to set up shops at Chennai, Trivandrum and Jaipur international airports, where operations will begin in a month. Damas is a well-known brand of India where it operates D’Damas.

Searchandising: the new way to convert customers

Online merchants who combine search and merchandising are able to get better results with customer satisfaction, what is now being called 'searchandising'. In a new study by Aberdeen Group, on "Web Site Search: Revenue in the Results" showed that 70% of retailers felt that visitors who searched using tools were likely to convert to buyers from browsers. Conversion rates for online merchants ranged from 5% or more while e-commerce sites saw 2-5% conversion rates.
Among merchants achieving the highest profits, conversions and returns from their online offerings -- termed "Best-in-Class," 54 percent utilize search as a merchandising tool.

Additionally, 62 percent continually fine tune search for desired results based on user actions, current promotions and collective behavior. Further, 38 percent of Best-in-Class retailers segment search query results using faceted search tools.

These metrics clearly show that leading companies are thinking about their search tools as a way to serve up products and inextricably link their merchandising processes to their product discovery tools.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nissan's lost key campaign

Nissan has launched a unique campaign to promote its new push button ignition for the Altima, where it is deliberately "losing" keys in public spots such bars, sports arenas, shopping centers etc. True Agency of Los Angeles created the campaign, which is estimated to have cost less than $100,000 for the 60,000 keys and 40,000 tags and the sweepstakes prizes, a rather modest cost compared to traditional advertising campaigns.
One tag declares, “If found, please do not return,” because the Altima “has Intelligent Key with push-button ignition, and I no longer need these,” a reference to the technology that allows an Altima owner to start the car by pressing a button on the dash rather than inserting a key.

The same tag invites the finder to learn more about the ignition system by visiting a section of the Nissan Web site (nissanusa.com/altima).

The other tag, labeled “Gas Card,” resembles the plastic keychain devices for electronic payment sponsored by service stations like Exxon and Mobil. The tag offers the finder of the key ring a chance to enter a sweepstakes, either by sending text messages or visiting another Web site (altimakeys.com), which is to be available this week.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Swap cars and save on rentals


Springwise reports on an interesting way to organize vacations: swapping cars. A London based company called GoGo Britain is offering a simple and cheap alternative to rental cars, most of which are outrageously priced in the high season. How it works is that customers reserve cars at their website, selecting from the list of cars available at the destination. Confirmations are required within 48 hours of travel and that's it.

With no mileage restrictions, customers don't have to worry about driving too much. GoGo Britain currently has eight locations where customers can swap cars. Requirements include customers being at least 25 years of age, having a valid drivers licence and a five year clean driving record. All consumers must also purchase all-inclusive insurance. GPS receivers are located on all vehicles but are only activated in emergencies when a car need to be located.
GoGo Britain was developed by VisitBritain, the British Tourist Board, with the aim of attracting European tourists to Britain. And therefore will likely remain limited to locations in Great Britain. Catering to travellers who’d rather not swap houses but are willing to exchange cars, this is an idea that could be expanded to most other countries.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Suggestive selling on the web

How do you decide what movie you are going to see? Or which book to buy? Is your search engine helping you make your selections? While I'm not a member of Netflix or Blockbuster, I usually search for movies on their sites to decide which movie to see and then order one from my local DVD shop. Most times I end us selecting a movie title from the "If you like this, also see this" list, which is a great way to find similar types of movies. Companies are counting on this to happen. Using something called preference engines to make suggestions of similar items to consumers is one of their tricks that usually works quite well.
Michael Rappa, a professor of technology management at North Carolina State University, says preference engines "are a very advanced form of automation. They take advantage of what they can learn about you and your preferences. They can be incredibly useful and can be a big part of the business market."

"They want to put movies in front of you that you may not have watched," Rappa said. "Their whole success is predicated on feeding you a whole set of movies you're going to like."

Are you participating in Shutdown Day?


Tomorrow is Shutdown Day.

Are you participating?

I am still undecided in the sense I want to keep my laptop turned off for the day but will end up working extra on Sunday to make up for it, so it'll come to the same result....time spend working on the machine. So far, over 52,000 people have signed up to shut down their computers for a day and over 8,000 have declared that they will not be able to.

Need to decide fast.....

If you need help deciding too, read up on the Shutdown Day Blog to see who else is participating.

Whole Foods not just about food anymore

Whole Foods is not just about food anymore. Although the company has been selling select items such as socks for seven years now, the company has added a range of clothing at Whole Food stores which has been received with great success. Marketing research firm NPD Group estimates that there has been a 76% increase in clothing sales from January 2006 to January 2007, although the entire growth does not come from Whole Foods, a substantial rise can be attributed to the company.
Other grocers are glomming on to the trend. Safeway's Dominick's chain now carries a small selection of women's and babies' clothing made by Maggie's Organics, a line Whole Foods also carries. The clothing is currently carried in two of its Dominick's Lifestyle stores, at 345 S. Rand Rd. in Lake Zurich and 6300 S. Robert Kingery Highway in Willowbrook, according to company spokeswoman JeNyce Boolton.

Moving to Dubai

We've lived in lots of cities across the world, but our next move to Dubai is going to be an extremely exciting one. We plan to move in the next couple of months and I just can't wait to live in this exciting city that is said to be the fastest growing city in the world. Dubai is the most forward thinking and modern of the seven states that are part of the United Arab Emirates. The city has become a mecca of sorts for people from all over the world, a factor that is extremely important to us since we like expanding our horizons. The city is fast making a name for itself in the financial world and is well known as being the sports capital of the Middle East, with some of the best international events taking place there in golf, tennis, horse racing and sailing.

We are on the search for Dubai Property, specifically a nice apartment in Dubai these days, although searching via remote control has not been an easy task. Ideally we would love to find an apartment in the Marina area of town and that's where our main search focus has been so far, although I believe the apartments in Deira are also quite good. Since I am not altogether too familiar with the city, I have a lot of research to do, on living there, on eating out (which I believe is simply fantastic), on getting utilities set up, buying a car, getting a drivers licence etc. While the questions are endless, so is the excitement. Dubai is definitely the future for us.

Godrej plans to open boutique stores

The Godrej Group plans to launch specialty stores in four categories: home appliances, home furniture, office furniture and non-apparel lifestyle products. These new speciality stores will be operated under its flagship brand Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. The first 20 of the new stores are to be opened by 2010 in major cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. Godrej plans to keep the identity and branding of it’s Godrej Lifespace stores which incidentally is also run by Godrej & Boyce as separate from these stores.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kerala government might impose curbs

Not very encouraging news this. It seems we barely take a few steps forward in freeing up FDI restrictions in retail, and someone (usually the communists) impose new restrictions. Now it is the turn of the state government of Kerala that is seriously considering imposing limitations on the entry of international and national monopolies of retailers. This announcement was made by the Finance Minister of the state, TM Thomas Isaac.

Quote: on new ideas

The people who oppose your ideas are inevitably those who represent the established order that your ideas will upset.

--Anthony D'Angelo

Source: Quoteland

Lake Annecy France

Ever since my hubby lived in Switzerland as a student he has wanted to go back and live in France or Switzerland, or other areas where he traveled. It's hard to decide where to go since there are so many beautiful places. Take Lake Annecy, for example, which is supposed to be France's most beautiful lake and is an enchanting 12th century town with serene canals, quaint marketplaces and breathtaking scenery in every direction. Annecy is often called the Venice of the Alps and its unique mix of mountains and water provides for a wide range of sporting activities in all seasons.

India will win the Cricket World Cup

Just received a very interesting forward from my mom-in-law on India's chances of winning the Cricket World Cup.

And the answer is, Yes, India Will WIN the World Cup.

And here's how.....


Year 1981
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died
2 years later India won the World Cup!!!

Year 2005
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died
2 years later will India win the World Cup ?????

Trivia -2

1982 Football World Cup won by Italy
1983 Cricket World Cup won by India

2006 Football World Cup won by Italy
2007 Cricket World Cup: INDIA ???

Working from home

I've been working from home for almost two years and simply love it. I cannot imagine going to work for a 9-5 job, just the thought gives me claustrophobia. I took 72 days off for personal travel last year since I work flexitimes and on a project basis, and there's no way any regular company would be OK with that. There's a great article on working at home, making adjustments, getting organized etc in Forbes, with tips and tools on dealing with the ups and downs of working at home. I definitely took some time to organize myself into being productive (and yes, there's plenty of room for improvement as yet) and now that I have got into the groove, my work has become satisfying and really a lot of fun. The ironic part is that I work much, much longer hours now since I enjoy what I do, which is where I need to disciple myself.

I now have a contact form

As part of The Blogged Out Project, I took Darren's advice on the importance of contact forms and added a contact form on my site. When I first started this blog, it was essentially a personal blog and I wanted to keep my identity and personal details confidential, but in the past year and a half, this blog has become more of a retail, news and media blog and barely anything of my personal life, so it was about time I got a contact form. I signed up at myContactForm and set it up in half an hour. So, if you need to contact me, that's where you need to go!

EDIT: 24th March: I switched to Response-O-Matic for a contact form, since the old one didn't give me to remove the 'subject' field. This one took me barely five minutes to get it set up and better still, it does not have a limit on entries per month, like myContactForm did.

Contact Me

Use this form to contact me for anything and everything. For comments on specific posts I would prefer you to comment on them directly. Please do not bother leaving spammy invites to Orkut and other such sites. I will not reply to these and you'll just be wasting you time.


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Raise the standard of your blog

I think all bloggers have a blog improvement agenda. I certainly do and I am always on the lookout for new ideas, tips and tricks to improve my blog on all fronts; content, look, quality of writing, focus etc. I've been following Darren's Blogged Out Profect which he started to give share with readers the techniques he has used to promote his blog. Once a week, Darren will share his traffic stats and the income generated during the project with his readers. The point is that all of us readers should also try out these techniques to see how it works or not for them. The Blogged Out Project will continue for three months and Darren will donate 40% of his gross income generated during this time to a charity that his readers will vote for.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Future Group and Planet Retail likely to separate

The future looks bleak for the joint venture between the Future Group and Planet Retail Holdings. It is likely that Future Group will offload its 49% stake in Planet Retail Holdings and exit the joint venture completely. While neither company wanted to comment on the situation, sources close to the matter felt that neither company was being able to take full advantage of the joint venture.

At the time of the joint venture, Future Group was looking to tie up with an international partner so that it could bring in some International brands while Future would take care of the real estate and administrative issues. The Future Group is well established now and in bringing in brands such as Lee Cooper, Alpha Airports, Etam of France, and is in the process of launching Starbucks. Planet Retail has so far been focusing mostly on European brands and has brought in Marks and Spencer, Guess, Next, Body Shop, Speedo, Converse, Debenham, Callaway etc and has built up its own network of real estate, thus relying less on Future.

Contractors network

I have written earlier about how some products and services do very well when offered via a network. This is another great example of niche services being offered on a network format. OnCallContractors is a network that matches consumers to the right Home Improvement Contractors based on a consumer's requirements and a contractors experience. While the concept is very simple has been replicated across the Internet, this is a segment where it works very well. Niche segments such as construction often end up getting lost but by creating a network, contractors who belong to this network will get offers and consumers will find it easy to find them. OnCallContractors selects only the best contractors to be part of their network, putting them through a rigorous review and application process. Their contractors are also fully insured and licenced.

Café Coffee Day's expansion plans

Amalgamated Bean Coffee’s café chain Café Coffee Day announced its expansion plans for the domestic and international front. According to Café Coffee Day’s director Naresh Malhotra, the company will use a variety of formats and locations to expand on the domestic front including cafés on the highways, malls, college campuses and in gardens. Cafés will also be targeting vegetarian customers and be on offer on airlines such as Air Deccan and GoAir.

at present there are 400 Café Coffee Day outlets in India and the company plans to expand this figure to 650 by March 2008. It also has 535 Coffee Day Xpress kiosks which will be increased to 800. It has 3,700 coffee vending machines which will be increased to 10,700 during the same period. On the international front, the company currently has 2 outlets in Karachi, Pakistan and three in Vienna, Austria with new stores being planned for Lahore and Islamabad in Pakistan and also for Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria.

Reaching high-end customers

Some interesting research for advertising and marketing professionals on eMarketer on how high end consumers are not interested in banner and pop-up ads. According to research by JupiterReseach, affluent Internet users spend an average of 17 hours a week online and visit more business and research based sites than other Internet users. The high end consumers are usually specifically looking for information. Marketers need to focus on providing this information by creating search advertising and helping consumers find information instead of banner ads and pop-up ads. Affluent consumers are also more likely to use Instant Messaging and read and write blogs.

Gift basket presents

OK, it's official, I am a gift basket addict. I have been saved on several occasions where I have sent unique gift baskets as presents. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, for work and for personal stuff, and have been able to find some hidden treasures in gift basket sites that are totally unique and different from the run of the mill presents. The Woven Basket is one of these hidden treasures where you can find some superb stuff that has a personal touch to it as compared to a lot of gift baskets that seem to have been put together on an assembly line. I was really impressed with their prices too, especially for the Honey Vanilla Bath Set that was for only $23.67. With the rise of branded goods and chain stores, I often find products at name brand stores just too cookie cutter for my liking and I'd rather buy something unique and interesting from a store that is a one-of-a-kind like The Woven Basket.

Pantaloon Retail exits Gini & Jony

Pantaloon Retail India Ltd (PRIL) has officially pulled out of the operations of Gini & Jony, a children’s wear brand that was one of the first brands that Kishore Biyani, MD of Pantaloon had invested in. According to industry sources, although the financial arrangement with Gini & Jony will carry one it will break off all operational ties.

Pantaloon had invested in the company thinking it would “drive business on its own” but it has not been able to work in a cohesive manner with Pantaloon and had become dependant on it. Reportedly Pantaloon had to even depute top management, including the CFO to take care of it’s functioning.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Linking up

The competition is heating up now with millions of sites jostling for a spot on the first page of search results and directory listings. While most directory listings use popularity, page rank or alphabetical listings, the Big Web Links Directory lists sites according to contribution amount. So if you want your site listed on the first page, just increase your bid amount and your site will appear on the top 10 list on the homepage as well as on the top 20 list on the top of the links page. So instead of contributing your site to directories where you might get buried deep in the lists, sign up at Big Web Links and be seen. Although the site is relatively new, it has been receiving quite a lot of hits since the concept is very different from all others.

Increase your productivity

Switching to working from home is one of the best things I ever did. A lot of people think that if you work from home, it doesn't really count, which is completely untrue. Initially it took me a while to organize everything so that I would not be disturbed at home during working hours, not an easy feat with our doorbell ringing more than 15 times a day on average. Over time I have learnt to organize my staff and others to not disturb me during working hours. The key factors when one works at home is being productive. One almost has to be more productive than workers in a regular office, just to prove that work is being done, deadlines are being met, profit is being made and so on.

Productivity501 has been a great resource of tips and information on working productively and effectively from home. Written by Mark W Shead, a consultant who uses "technology to solve business problems", the Productivity501 blog is chockablock full of tips and tricks to being productive. One of his recent posts discusses ways to convince your boss on working from home, which has lots of details on how to handle broaching the topic and making it a successful transition. While a lot of sites write on similar subjects, what I like about Productivity501 is that Mark goes deeper than the banal and oft repeated suggestions.

In another intuitive post on time management, Mark makes a superb analogy by comparing a disorganized office to a patchwork quilt that manages to hide everything from view but while still being there, just like errant files and business cards. Using time effectively is one of the cornerstones of being able to work from home, but it's not always easy to manage since it's easy to get sidetracked and disoriented. At present, there's a contest going on where you can hope to win an iPod Shuffle for reviewing the site, so if you need an added incentive to visit Productivity501, then this is it.

Why I blog

Why do I blog?

A million dollar question, to say the least.

I started blogging in August 2004 out of curiosity. I told no one about my blog, since I was writing for myself and didn't need an audience. Blogging soon became part of my subconscious, and I was constantly thinking, I could blog about this, I should go there just so I could write about it on my blog and so on. I started carrying my camera with me at all times, so I could take a pic for my blog, struck up conversations with unlikely people just so I could write about them. It was addictive and rejuvenating at the same time.

Elaine on 2k Bloggers asked bloggers to list the top five reasons for blogging and I couldn't resist adding my views. I don't have any goals, other than to write well and to write interesting things. Although having a large number of readers is always great, it isn't my primary intention, since I write what fits me best and not the hot topic of the blogosphere.

My top five reasons for blogging are:
  1. To write. Yes, simply to write.
  2. To share my knowledge and experiences
  3. To be part of the consumer generated phenomenon and a generation that places more importance on the right to give personal opinions and views than ever before.
  4. To interact with other bloggers
  5. To widen my horizons

Club Mahindra, Varca Beach, Goa

Have you visited Helium lately? I signed up as a member last year and wrote just one article for them at the time. When I went back yesterday to see what was happening there, I found lots of new stuff, contests and tons of ideas for writing articles. Helium is all about writing what you know, reading others articles, rating them and the icing on the cake, earning some money from them. The website has a new look and has become very streamlined on how it works. There are strict guidelines on articles you submit and even stricter penalties if you fail to play by the rules. Here's my article about the resort we stayed at in Goa from our trip last week and some pics of the resort.



Monday, March 19, 2007

Virginia is for everyone

Virginia attracts a large number of international students with its diverse range of universities. One of the universities that is high on the list of most engineering students is Virginia Tech, which is reputed to be one of the best institutions of higher learning in the area. Located in Blacksburg, Virgina, the university is one of the most elegant campuses in the state and is sure to provide inspiration and drive to study further. Getting a post graduate degree from Virginia Tech would be a major addition to any resume.

In general, the state of Virginia is a great place to be, providing a good mix of outdoor adventures at the Shenandoah Mountain Park or along the coast and also has some of the best restaurants and museums. One could say that history is the forte of Virginia, with beautifully preserved areas such as Colonial Williamsburg that promote heritage tourism. The state of Virginia is often called the Mother of Presidents as it had eight Presidents of the United States belong to it, a feat that is sure to inspire lots of politicians in the making.

Virginia is known to have the best of the winter and the summer seasons, being neither too cold nor too hot. Its mild climate ensures that you will be able to spend a lot of time outdoors in nature, and the state of Virginia certainly has some of the most beautiful areas of the US. The state does however get its fair share of tornadoes and hurricanes, generally around two per year. Working in Virgina has been described by Forbes magazine in 2006 as being one of the most conducive ambiance, governmental support and potential for growth are some of the factors that make Virginia an ideal place to work in. The state's tag line is "Virginia is for Lovers", but I think the state of Virginia is for everyone.

Pantaloon Retail makes some major HR changes

Pantaloon Retail made several major HR changes within its organization, and has created five verticals to segregate its internal functioning. The five verticals will be retail, incubation and innovation, products, JV and partnerships and zonal strategy.

In the retail vertical:
Rakesh Biyani as Retail CEO and will take care of Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Central Malls and Pantaloon

Rajan Malhotra will be the new Big Bazaar CEO. He was formerly the category head for Big Bazaar

Vishnu Prasad will be the new CEO of Central. He was formerly the South Zone head

Sadashiv Nayak will be the new CEO Food Bazaar. He was the former Western Zone head

Sanjeev Aggarwal will be the CEO of Pantaloon. He was the former president of marketing for Pantaloon

In the incubation and innovation vertical:
Damodar Mall will be the new CEO of the incubations and innovations vertical.

Real estate in Savannah

Ah Savannah! Just the name conjures up so many images, of gentle pursuits, of old world charm, of grand plantations and so much more. If you're looking for a house or real estate in Savannah, then have a look as the newly launched site of Savannah RealEstate Marketplace.com which is a great place to start your search for your dream home. They have a full MLS search of over 4,000 homes that are for sale on the site, which you can also see on Google Maps.

The service that I was most impressed with was Housetracks, where you can enter your personal search criteria for your dream home and properties that match your criteria will be emailed to you, along with changes in their prices. If you're looking for a Savannah Realtor, then this is the place to go to. With the rise of online real estate purchases, Savannah RealEstate Marketplace has put in place a team of real estate agents who are not only familiar with the local areas such as Rincon, Pooler, Richmand Hill, Tybee Island but are also know all about using the Internet to power sales, with their Online Team to stay ahead of everyone else.

Online shoe sales surge ahead

Online shoe retailing was as expected one of the last fashion items to become a popular shopping item, but not so anymore. Online shoe retailing is fast catching up with other online purchases. Gap opened its online shoe stores called Piperlime.com in November 2006 and in January this year, Amazon.com launched Endless.com, its own shoe site. Online shoe sales only added up to US$954 million in 2002 as compared to the total online apparel business of US$4.4 billion, while last year online shoe sales accounted for US$2.9 billion, about one third of the total online apparel business of US $9.6 billion, a pretty significant jump. The future is looking very bright indeed for online shoe retailers, with sales predicted to grow by 22% this year, ahead of the 18% growth rate predicted for online apparel.
"Apparel was the big behemoth," said Catherine Beaudoin, senior vice president and general manager of Piperlime. "It's falling like dominoes. Shoes are probably one of the last bastions because the feeling has been you have to try on shoes to feel comfortable."

Health insurance no matter where you go

The company that our car is insured with has been calling for the past couple of days asking if we were interested in signing up for health insurance with them. They are quite well known for automobile insurance, but have just recently entered the health segment. While we have been thinking quite seriously to sign up, it actually makes more sense to get health insurance with a company who is already a specialist in it and has created a tie ups across the world.

Since we've been traveling and moving every few years, a trend that will be continuing for the next decade or so, we want a company whose coverage will travel with us no matter where we go. GlobalSurance seems just the company to fit the bill for us with its Global Health Insurance. It was founded in Hong Kong and has offices and coverage in Asia, UK, US and the Middle East, which is going to be our next move in a couple of months. Even better, they have free quotations and offer independent advice on the telephone and the Internet. GlobalSurance does not charge its clients and only takes a commission from the insurance companies, so you can be assured that they have your best interests in mind.

Learn how to be a profitable blogger at GatherSuccess

I read a lot (really, a lot) of blog posts everyday and very few make enough of an impression on me to bookmark them or add them to my bloglines feed account. This was one of the few that stood apart from the crowd of blogs and made me want to return to check for updates. Alvin Phang's GatherSuccess blog is a free online resource on Internet Marketing and on how to be a profitable blogger. I have been able to pick up on quite a few tips on improving the marketing of this blog as well as being a better blogger from him, in terms of attracting more readers and improving my income from my blog.

I started my blog in 2004 quite casually and never really bothered about search engine optimization, keywords, page ranks or any such thing, but on reading Alvin's article on how to use Google keywords, I have begun to be more conscious of writing my posts and on using the right link phrases. At present, Alvin is running a contest of sorts where he is asking bloggers to review his blog, in return for a link back from his blog and a chance to win a Digital Video Creator from him. Seems like a winning idea to me!

Head over to Yepic to read about the Best Business Books

I was recently asked to collaborate on an article by newspapergrl (aka Janet) on the best business books on Yepic, an online marketplace to buy and sell articles. My contribution was three of the books that have made an impact on me, Winning at Retail: Developing a Sustained Model for Retail Success by Willard N. Jr Adner & Neil Z Stern, Built to Last by James C. Collins & Jerry I. Porras and Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan. Read the full article on The Best Business Books here on Yepic.

Reading business books has been a recently acquired taste, since I always tilted more towards fiction reading. Lately, some the best books I have read belong to the business or economics categories.

Examples:
The World is Flat--Thomas Friedman
Freakonomics--Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
The Undercover Economist--Tim Harford
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid--CK Prahalad

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Perception and reality


Perceptions and reality are entirely based on where you are located. I read a very interesting example of this in the book I am currently reading, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, a story of three generations of women in China. When the author was growing up in China, during the heydays of Mao, she and everyone else in the country, were fed on stories of how great communism is and how bad capitalism is. Predictable, right? But here is where it gets interesting, people in the tightly controlled China of those days, actually believed that people in the capitalist west fared much worse than themselves. They didn't have any other source of information, expect the government's mouthpiece and so for them that was the truth.

Excerpts from the book, pg 307-308:
(On seeing a feature film based in the west)
I was baffled by the way the Western workers were dressed-in neat suits that were not even patched, a far cry from my idea of what the oppressed masses in a capitalist country ought to be wearing.


As a child, my idea of the West was that it was a miasma of poverty and misery, like that of the homeless "Little Match Girl" in the Hans Christian Andersen story. When I was in the boarding nursery and did not want to finish my food, the teacher would say: "Think of all the starving children in the capitalist world!" In school, when they were trying to make us work harder, the teachers often said: "You are lucky to have a school to go to and books to read. In the capitalist countries children have to work to support their hungry families."

No-poaching pact signed between Bharti and Reliance

After several brutal rounds of poaching, Bharti Enterprises and Reliance Retail have reportedly signed a no-poaching agreement with a one year validity that will ensure that retail professionals do not switch jobs and pass on vital information. Reliance who had hired several of Bharti’s executives from its FieldFresh agri-business venture is supposed to have started the poaching. There is a severe shortage of senior professionals in the retail industry, which is likely to continue for the next 5-7 years.

Kmart keen on coming to India

This is interesting and exciting news, since I used to work for Kmart as a manager in the Kansas City area. I did their three month management training program, which is known to be the most intensive and useful training in the industry. Kmart Corporation is reportedly gearing up to enter India’s organized retail market in the form of cash-and-carry stores. The company is also planning to tie up with an Indian retail partner for franchise-based stores. Executives from Kmart reportedly met officials from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to discuss plans for entry to the Indian market.

Insights from senior executives

I was invited to participate inse a survey in an exclusive community of senior executives, since I am a director of our company.The Executive Platform membership is by invitation only and is limited to senior executives. The company is looking for information about companies in an effort to benchmark firms from across the world, in the same industry or of the same size. Each survey that is completed earns a firm certain number of points which can be redeemed against gifts or tools to help in running a business.

I think it's a great idea to get opinions of people who have created or contributed to successful businesses and use the information to help others reach there. Being an international company, Executive Platform has access to a wide audience of decision makers who are eligible to participate and share their knowledge. Online survey's are distributed to members based on relevancy of their business. Rewards earned from these surveys include business gifts from the Executive Gift Centre. Since this was my first survey, I still have a way to go before redeeming any gifts, but I am looking forward to it and on sharing my experience and picking up some new tips.

India and China on top of global retailers agenda

International retailing companies are keen on investing in India and China, more so than in other locations, according to a new retail study done by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu called the 2007 Global Powers of Retailing. According to the report, “Slow growth in many mature markets and not-to-be-missed opportunities in emerging markets - particularly China, India and Russia - are powerful driving forces.”

According to the study, even though the global retail market has more risks, the robust economic growth in countries such as India, China and Russia is attractive enough for retailers to make investments there. Market-oriented governments has also made these markets more attractive, which has led to significant increases in spending power of consumers.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Gifting right

OK, so your cousin studying in California has a birthday coming up and you want to send her a present, but how do you send something in the mail without it getting lost or stolen? Here is the perfect solution: Send an online gift basket. I was stuck in these situations quite often, since we have cousins and friends living all across the world, and this turned out to be the best and most popular solution. Gourmet Gift Baskets has sure made life a lot simpler with its exciting range of products that can be sent from just about anywhere. Now there are lots of gift basket companies out there, but none with gift baskets such as these. One of the most popular gift baskets are the Italian gift baskets which have a lot of variety and options on selections. There is also a Same Day gift basket that is for last minute and urgent deliveries.

Tesco to try out a new format for its US stores

Tesco is planning to change the way its stores will look and operate in the US. The UK retailer will be opening stores later this year and industry observers say that the company is likley to get the right mix. According to Toronto based consultant at McMillan/Doolittle Ted Zittell, "Tesco has been doing an excellent job of throwing a bit of confusion into what people expect."

It's stores in the US will be called Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets and will be located in cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego. Tesco will be investing $484 million this year for its expansion to the US. Tesco's US stores will be a much need breath of fresh air in the cookie cutter chain stores of the US.
Industry experts have speculated the stores will closely model Tesco's popular Express stores and woo time-pressed shoppers looking for good food and a quick meal. Unlike U.S. convenience stores, Express emphasizes fresh foods and prepared meals. Industry observers expect the stores will be anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 square feet.

The return of Layaway?

When Wal-Mart closed its Layaway department, customers were hit hard especially in the run up to the holiday season. Kmart was one of the few retailers who understood the problem faced by consumers and retained its Layaway department. Now there is a new service called eLayaway where consumers can create a schedule of payments and pay online. The eLayaway service is also on offer with several small merchants such as shopperschoice.com, BSP Rewards, BBQGuys, DCS Ranges, Electric Grill Depot and even some plastic surgeons and laser eye operation outfits.

Consumers select eLayaway as their choice of payment when they check out online and pay a 1.9% fee for service, and create a no-interest payment schedule that they will be able to adhere to. Once the full payment is completed, the product is shipped to the customer. This new service is likely to bring back Layaway into favor with retailers again.
The company claims a number of benefits for the retailers in its program, as well. According to the company's website, almost half of all Americans spend more than they earn each year and eLayaway gives them the opportunity to attract shoppers that are overextended financially with high credit card debt, etc. This feature alone, eLayaway claims, gives merchants access to new groups of consumers who would never consider making a purchase for many items and services, especially those with high ticket prices.

Reliance interested in acquiring stake in Carrefour?

According to news sources, RIL is reportedly interested in taking its retail venture to the international scale and is wanting to acquire stake in French retailer Carrefour. RIL has earmarked $14 billion to create an international business leveraging on its farm-to-fork supply chain project and wants to create a world class retail venture on a global scale. Other companies that Reliance has been talking to are Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer in the UK and Kmart and Target in the US. The Haley family who has 13% stake in Carrefour, have reportedly asked two banks to find buyers for its share of the company. The French public owns 84% of the company and employees own 2.2% of the remaining shares of Carrefour.

Buying art online

So what do you do when you have to buy someone an interesting but unique present? Here's an option that will ensure that your gift will stand out, creative art and jewelry from the Artisans Market. With a wide range of products, the Artisans Market is a great place to find a one of a kind artwork for that housewarming gift or a special coming of age bracelet. Artisans Market has been selling art online and although it is not the easiest thing to buy on the Internet, their quality of products is extremely high and will not leave you disappointed.

I have been collecting art for over 10 years now and built up a good collection from when I worked at an art gallery, and looking at some of the paintings at Artisans Market made me want to renew it again with a vigor. Some of the works I really was impressed with were by an artist called Les Lull, who mostly paints subjects of the southwest.

My favorite of his works is an acrylic on board, a study of a tree against the night sky. I have seen a lot of art and studied art history in college, so when I saw this painting, I knew what Les does is something special and extraordinary. He has been able to make it different, from its viewed angle, its colors and depth. He is definitely an artist that I would want to own a painting from.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Blogspot has English to Hindi translation for blogs

There's a new button for translating words to Hindi on Blogspot. I don't think I'll be using it much but it definitely is an interesting addition, since the majority of blogs in India are on blogspot. Of my five blogs, I have two on blogspot, one on wordpress (free hosting), one on blogsome and one paid hosting blog using WP scripts.

With this new translation, all you have to do is to press a button before you start typing and it automatically converts the English script to Hindi. So if I wanted to say, "close the door" in Hindi, all I would have to do is to type the Hindi words in an English script, such as दरवाजा बंद करो, and voila it comes out written in Hindi. Impressive and fun! Maybe I will use it more than I think!

Are you one of the 100 most prolific bloggers?

I started off as a weekly blogger, posting 2-3 times a week when I started this blog in August 2004. Since then, not only have I added 4 more blogs, I now usually write 6-8 posts each a day on my two main blogs and a 1-2 between my other three blogs. That's quite a jump, right? Well, that's exactly what blogging is about. This magnetic pull to write and instantly publish, to share your thoughts with the world and have your say no matter who is listening or reading or not.

Today, I came across this list of the 100 most prolific bloggers, and I thought, well I would love to be on it, but surely I wouldn't qualify. I actually did and became the 75th blogger to be included in this list with my 1150 (including this one) posts on this blog. This is what is so great about blogging, being able to connect with new and unknown bloggers. Actually, I already know one blogger on the list and have heard of several of the others. Check out the latest version of the list here on The Top 100 Prolific Bloggers. Not only is it a great way to read blogs of people who have been blogging for a long time, its also a great way to be inspired by them.

Varca Beach, Goa

Back from a really great vacation to Goa. We stayed at Club Mahindra in Varca which was a really incredible place, with beautiful and interesting landscaping, lots of swimming pools and other water features and best of all, a minute away from the beach. Here are a few pics of the beach.



Social networks going niche

Social networking is becoming niche now. While networks like MySpace and Friendster have hundreds of thousands of users, newer networks like Vox and itLinks are focusing on specific segments of consumers, giving options of stricter privacy controls to creators of blogs and personal pages. Vox launched in end of October 2006 and has already tripled in size, while itLinks which has 13 targeted networking sites, has already had more than 500 health professionals visiting its NurseLinkup.com site.
There are several reasons for the more targeted approach to social networking. One is the sheer popularity of sites such as MySpace and Friendster. As those sites have expanded and become among the Internet's most trafficked, some users and potential users have grown wary about exposing themselves to so many people. Some users would rather connect with people with whom they share common interests, such as hobbies or professional associations, other than knowing somebody who knows somebody who is listed as a MySpace friend.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Interesting in selling your home?

The real estate business is one of the most interesting segments, I've always felt. It offers something different all the time, in terms of people and products and one has to rely on creativity and individuality along with your persuasive skills of course. The number of real estate sites has been increasing rapidly and it seems like every agent has their own site. So, how do you find the right place to buy the home of your dreams from the flood of real estate agencies and sites? Trust in only the best, that is trust in Obares.com, which has is in the business to provide the best resources to both buyers and sellers.

Obares will take you through the complete process of buying or selling your home, so you don't have to worry about the details yourself. They will also give you a ffee FSBO listing to help you sell your old home. Besides being experts in buying and selling homes, Obares agents are also adept at providing information on mortgage loans, community information such as local schools, libraries and churches, all important factors in the decision making process. And, yes all this information is provided for free by Obares, so have a look at some homes for sale by owner at Obares.

By connecting property buyers and sellers on the Internet, by letting FSBO and real estate agents list sites for free in their database, and has become the premier property listing service in the US. The wider exposure at Obares ensures that houses sell faster and for better prices. Once you have the information, then it all seems so easy right? Well, that's how Obares is simply the best place to buy or sell a home, since they have the widest audience and the most resources to ensure that a property sells well.

Gitanjali Gems expanding to lifestyle segment

The Gitanjali Group, one of the country's leading diamond and jewelry manufacturer and retailer, said that it will be entering the lifestyle segment. The company will be setting up malls that focus on the luxury aspect. The company’s fpremier brand Gitanjali Gems, is one of the leading retailers of DTC diamonds and has several brands including Nakshatra, Asmi, Gili, D’Damas, Collection g, Gold Expression and Vivaha Gold in its kitty.

Internet marketing tactics

Starting a blog is the simplest thing in the world, but reaching a qualitative audience is a completely different thing all together. Therein comes the world of Search Engine Optimization and other Internet marketing tactics that can boost a site to being noticed by some important people and organizations. It's no easy task, but it can be done. And yes, it's a never ending task, unless you plan to topple Yahoo and Google and take over their position.

I do research on improving my personal site's publicity, but take that on a business level, is what SEO consultants like Shimon Sandler do. Using their knowledge of how search engines work, a SEO Consultant can improve the market value of a company based solely on hits and referrals from the company website. Shimon Sandler develops a strategy for a winning SEO campaign based on his clients business and marketing goals. These are the essence of what the company is trying to achieve and work as the starting point for developing a successful SEO campaign. Having developed online marketing solutions for major companies using SEO, Paid Search, email marketing, affiliate marketing and Web and banner designs, Shimon Sandler is one of the premier SEO consultants there is today.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Goa tomorrow

Tomorrow we go to Goa for our long anticipated vacation. It's going to be wonderful to completely switch off from work and everything else, to disconnect from daily life and live the Goan beach bum life for a while. We've been to Goa several times before, so don't need to do any of the tourist routines and can concentrate just on planning what to eat, where to eat and finding a shady spot to laze on the beach. Ah, Goa, there's nothing quite like it to get a dose of the Goa life!

A diamond is forever

Buying diamonds is not something one takes lightly. A diamond is forever, they say and so are the memories associated with it, as when you buy a diamond, you're actually buying a lot more than just a piece of jewelry. A diamond comes with many expectations, dreams and hopes for the future and it's essential to be sure of where one is buying a diamond. A great new source to buy Diamonds Online is BrilliantDiamonds.com, where all stones have been selected by an expert gemologist, so you can be confident that all diamonds will be of the highest quality. If you're still searching for the right type of diamond and have not decided what type you'd like, the resource section of BrilliantDiamonds.com has some good information on buying diamonds. No matter what the occasion, BrilliantDiamonds.com has a huge selection of quality diamonds at great prices.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Customizing sites to your preferences

Another great user friendly idea created by technology. The concept that customers can personalize websites they frequent so they can take up from where they left off is picking up again. DueMaternity.com, a San Francisco based store is testing the system out as yet, gathering data, page registrations, asking online customers to register with their details that can be tailored to offer them specific offers etc at present. Using this tool, customers will be able to return to a page with their preferences and shopping cart items, so they don't have to start their search again.
“At the end of the day, it’s very rudimentary,” says Lauren Freedman, president of the research and consulting firm. “E-commerce is all about prioritization. E-retailers have a lot to do and site personalization has not risen to the top,” she says.

Search and win

So, who doesn't love free stuff? And playing online games? No one right? Ok, then check out this site where you can search the Internet, play some online games for free, and win some pretty great prizes. The site in question is Winzy and if you want to win some stuff, you'd better get over there and start playing some games and do some searches, because all you have to do is Search and Win. Yes, its as simple as that. Prizes range from iPod Shuffles, iPod Nanos, Xboxes, Amazon gift certificates, iTunes gift certificates and even cold hard cash. There's a special game called "Deal or No Deal" going on at Winzy that you must see. So go ahead and surf a bit and make some money.

Spencers' looking for international partner for consumer electronics

Spencers’ Retail, part of the RPG Group, is reportedly searching for international retail partners that it can form alliance with in the luxury retail and consumer electronics sectors. According to a source in the company, RPG is keen on being part of the rapidly growing consumer electronics and luxury retail markets.
“Consumer electronics is a rapidly growing market and our presence in this category is almost negligible. We are talking to global retailers for licensing their brands in India,” a source close to the development said.

“With global players keen on entering the nascent Indian market, RPG’s strategy is to not appear too eager. But yes, talks are on for consumer electronics as well as luxury brands,” another source added.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reliance Retail to focus on large format stores

M. Balachandran, Chief Mentor for Reliance Retail, emphasized that Reliance Retail would put local fruit and vegetable vendors out of business, stating that their Reliance Fresh stores only have a turnover of Rs 120,000 per day, while the total retail market for fruits and vegetables for Chennai was estimated to be Rs 18 crore a day. He also emphasized that the Reliance Fresh stores are only a test project to understand the market and the main focus of the company will be large format stores.

Honoring the law

I get a lot of traffic on my site from the New York City, so this is for all readers in that area. A lot has been written about law firms, good, bad and ugly, they seem to have become the target of a lot of books and movies but I still consider the law to be an honorable profession. While some firms do all sorts of semi-legal stuff themselves, firms such as Simmons, Jannace & Stagg stand out from the crowd for their high level of legal ability and ethical standards.

The law firm of simmons, jannace & stagg LLP practices in the tri-state area of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey and is one of the highest rated firms as per a peer rating by Martindale-Hubbell. The firm is relatively young and started out only 10 years back doing commercial and general liability litigation, and have now added areas such as labor and employment, abitrations and litigation, securities law, banking and consumer litigation, bankruptcy and creditors insights and much more. With some of the world's best known names on their client list, including Home Depot USA, Best Buy, Bank of America, JP Morgan, Kmart and Coca Cola, the firm is a veritable who's who as their clients. The firm is known for its "outside the box" thinking, which has brought it lots of recognition.

Retailers to challenge service tax

Some of the leading retail firms of the country are planning to challenge the government’s recent decision to charge service tax on rentals. According to the new Union Budget that was released last week, a service tax of 12% has been imposed on all commercial rentals. There has also been an increase on the cess on education and services from 2% to 3%, adding up to a total of 12.4%. Service tax on rentals is technically meant to be paid by owners of the properties, although many lease agreements have clauses that state that service tax will be paid by the lessee.

On internet connections

My main Internet line Tata Indicom, has been down for the past three days, so I've been using our other connection on MTNL, which has turned out to be quite a boon. It is essential to have a second connection since any little problem can take quite long to fix. This time, it is apparently a re-cabling problem, although they have taken 3 days just to figure that out for them. I do hope it fixed soon so my work can get back to normal.

Thinking of lasik

I've been wearing lenses for 10 years and usually have a hard time finding the solution that suits my lenses, to the extent that I still order mine from my hometown Chandigarh, even when I was living in Bangalore and now Bombay. The kind of problems that there have been with contact lens solution, like the Bausch & Lomb ReNu Contact Lens Solution Recall, seem to be increasing. I am now seriously considering getting lasik surgery done, to finish off with the entire contact lens thing altogether. The problems and uncertainty with solutions are just propelling me towards getting Lasik surgery done.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Google Desktop released

Have you seen the newly released Google Desktop application? It's just been released and it's a great way to use the information on your desktop via some really cool gadgets and sidebar tools which now blend in better with the desktop. So now, you can search for files straight from the desktop and see the results in a preview window. Security has also been improved in this new release, so its definitely worth installing. Read up on this and more on the one and only source for such information: The Official Google Blog.

Encouraging a sense of community

Social networking sites have never been more popular but now sites offering localized social content are also becoming very popular. These are sites that focus on a specific area or community and raise a sense of belonging between users. My friend Kim who lives in Phoenix told me about a site like this that had all the information one needed to know what was happening or going to happen in the city, in regards to events, restaurants, clubs, movies, music performances, arts and even dating. It's social networking at a different level, getting people to be more socially active in a sense.

I personally think its a great idea as younger and working people can probably relate to a website giving this information much more than a newspaper, which people of a generation earlier will prefer. Azcentral.com is the top-ranked newspaper-affiliated site for the Phoenix DMA and has recently expanded its calender desk and freelance budget so that it could increase coverage of Phoenix events and entertainment in the Phoenix area. Azcentral.com now has 6 full time staffers to cover all the major events that are taking place and have a updated event search engine.

Biyani increases stake in Pantaloon

There's always some interesting news or the other about Pantaloon, since the company still is the country's largest retail firm, at least until Reliance or Bharti-Wal-Mart cross it. The latest news is that the founder and owner of Pantaloon Industries has consolidated his share in the company to 6%, after acquiring 360,000 equity shares of Pantaloon Industries.

Bharti-Wal-Mart stores to have 3 brands

Some interesting news on the much discussed name issue. Bharti and Wal-Mart will be using three different brands for their different store formats. The cash-and-carry wholesale format is likely to carry both companies names, while the retail and franchise stores will have different names and identities. Bharti has still not finalized the details and will announce the names only once complete.

Delta Hotels

When in Canada, be unique Canadian, is what they say. So why not try out a uniquely Canadian chain of hotels to stay in on your next trip. Delta Hotels is one of the major hotel chains of Canada and has over 40 locations. The chain has a wide variety of hotels in locations such as ski resorts, bed and breakfasts, golf resorts and urban areas. It's hotel in Toronto, the Delta Chelsea is located in downtown and is a great option for both families and business persons. It's located near all the major tourist attractions such as the Sky Dome and CN Tower. Have a look at their amazing hotel on their site.

Costco keen to open stores in India as well

The world's fifth largest retailer, Costco Wholesale Corp. is interested in opening stores here and could be entering the market. The Washington based company currently has 504 warehouses from where it sells both national and regional brands at heavily discounted prices. Wal-Mart wholesale brand Sam's Club is its number one competitor. Industry sources report that Kishore Biyani's Pantaloon could be one of the possible companies that Costo could possibly tie up with.

Ecommerce solutions

The two most popular uses of the Internet are email (or other forms of networking) and shopping. Ecommerce is a booming sector and if you are a small retailer, there's never been a better time to get involved in this part of the industry. The crucial factor in setting up an online store is to get is professionally built as consumers are a very savvy lot and will disregard even superior products if the site is not up to the mark.

Marketing and promotion are only of use if you already have an efficient and professional shopping cart system set up. Online security is also extremely high up in the list of consumers requirements and that's something that you simply cannot play around with. Ashop Commerce is a really good place to have you ecommerce software system set up, as it is one of the easiest and intuitive web based systems to use and has received several awards. With Ashop you will be able to create the best kind of system that your store needs. For more information, I'd suggest you try the demo store online at their site.

Making polls

Did you know that you could create polls for your site? I simply love making questionnaire's for my blog and have been using Poll Code, which I think is one of the best such services available. It's all free and all you have to do is to write the question, fill in the options for answers, change the look, color, font of the poll and generate your poll code. Copy and paste it into your blog and you're done. How simple is that?

Reliance Retail expands in Andhra

Reliance Retail announced that it will adding stores with in the state of Andhra Pradesh, with four new stores making the total number of stores in the city 25. There are stores in several tier II cities such as Vijaywada, Vishakapatnam and Guntur last month. With these new stores, Reliance Retail will have a total of 63 outlets in the country, with 35 stores in Andhra Pradesh, 9 in the NCR area, 7 in Jaipur and 12 in Chennai. The company has also been busy creating backward supply chains and had tied up with farmers in various parts of the country for supply of produce.