Alibaba's Q2 Sales Increase 60%
A presentation released this week by Yahoo – a significant Alibaba stakeholder – shows the China-based e-commerce firm increased its second-quarter sales to $1.73 billion, a 60% year-over-year gain. Read Article
Additionally, Alibaba's Q2 net profit more than doubled to $707 million, while its operating profit jumped to $856 million, up from $372 million a year earlier. The presentation effectively showed Alibaba has an operating profit margin of almost 50%.
With its second-quarter results, investors now expect Alibaba to be valued at up to $120 billion – rivaling Facebook's 2012 IPO – when it eventually goes public on either the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq Stock Market. While its sales fall short of those generated by Amazon, many consider Alibaba the world's largest e-commerce platform, based on total volume of merchandise. The firm's flagship site, in particular, Alibaba.com, is a competitor to ad specialty industry companies, offering dozens of promotional product categories.
Under the Alibaba Group umbrella, Taobao is the company's largest entity, hosting an estimated 800 million items listed by seven million merchants. In 2012, the combined total volume of merchandise handled by Taobao and B2C site Tmall surpassed $160 billion. By comparison, Amazon's volume of merchandise was $86 billion, according to RetailNet Group.
While Alibaba's strength is in China – as it contributes, by some estimates, up to 2% of the nation's GDP – the company continues to make a push into the U.S. Most recently, Alibaba led a $206 million investment in retail website ShopRunner – which competes with Amazon Prime.
Founded in 1999, Alibaba is run by Jack Ma, a member of Counselor's Power 50.
Road Tour Blog: Rumbling Through the Midwest
It may have been 5 p.m. when the 2013 Counselor Best Places to Work Road Tour pulled up to Leaderpromos (asi/287087) in Columbus, OH, but the office was still abuzz with activity. Read Article
Many of the company's more than 50 employees who are based in the Columbus office were working on projects and collaborating on orders and new ideas. But it was clear that many would soon be heading to Lounge 62, a local bar that the gang at Leaderpromos likes to frequent. "We could do a tour of the company, or, well, we could go across the street to Lounge 62 and discuss it there," said Joel Hoover, director of business development for Leaderpromos, who has been with the company for the past 11 years and would be our tour guide.
Ultimately, though, Hoover did show us around the impressive office at Leaderpromos, and discussed the company's culture and some of the fun things the employees do. It's a place where people are good friends and can express themselves in individual ways – in fact, some sit on stress balls as chairs, others decorate their offices with games and sports paraphernalia, and others bring dogs to the office. (On this day, Bo, a golden retriever, was prancing about.) "We like everybody to feel comfortable while they're at work here," said Susie Barger, chief marketing officer. "They spend a lot of time here, so they should feel as at home as they can."
The company, which was started by Stephanie Leader in 1995 and has grown into a 75-person operation, is dominated today by young people who are all friends that hang out after work and on weekends. "We have the best people. They create the fun and energetic environment that dominates here every day," said Hoover. "I'm 45 and I'm old here."
And, with summer picnics, holiday parties, softball teams, bowling outings and kickball leagues sponsored by the company, the employees are afforded many opportunities to gather outside of work. But, rest assured, this is also a work-hard-play-hard culture at Leaderpromos. The company celebrates big sales wins with a big bell in the middle of the office. It gets rung any time somebody closes a sale of more than $5,000. "We ring it pretty often, but it's fun for everybody," said Barger. "We like to celebrate when our people do good things, so an e-mail goes out about it and everybody can share in the success. We like to support and celebrate each other."
Of course, the celebration also continues after work many nights at Lounge 62, as we found out when we joined them after 6 p.m. They were off the clock for the day – and, so were we. But before we completely kicked back for the night, Counselor Editor Andy Cohen talked with Stephanie Leader, the founder of Leaderpromos, about what makes her company such a great place to be. Click here to watch the interview.
Also, don't forget, the Counselor Best Places to Work Road Tour is in St. Louis today and Dallas tomorrow, and continues through Monday in the Pacific Northwest. Follow our stories, videos and pictures at www.CounselorMag.com/roadtour and with the #CounselorTour on Twitter.
Counselor Commentary: Forget The Naysayers
The U.S. economy has been taking a PR beating over the past six weeks – starting with a punch-to-the gut, no-real-progress-here jobs report in early September and escalating to a political street brawl over the debt ceiling this month. Read Article
Consumer confidence, according to the latest Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey, has dropped to its lowest level since January. Even the seemingly invincible services sector has taken a step back, with the Institute for Supply Management's September market index slipping unexpectedly. Guess we should load up Noah's Ark, huh?
Alright, let's be clear – while the data isn't screaming "recovery, all is well," it's time for a little perspective. We're now five years removed from the Lehman collapse, U.S. advertisers will spend more than $170 billion on paid media this year (per eMarketer) and with the Dow above 15,000, everyone's 401(k)s are looking a whole lot better. No, the economy isn't fully healed, but if it were a patient after surgery, we'd see it getting out of bed.
Consider also the evidence from the Fed's newest Beige Book – frankly one of the best indicators of coast-to-coast economic trends – that was released yesterday. Some highlights of the report: The housing and automotive markets are gaining strength, consumer spending and manufacturing is picking up and business investment is growing. Capital spending, in fact, which has generally weakened over the past year, is now predicted to increase in the months ahead.
Meanwhile, the ad specialty industry – knocking on the door of $20 billion in annual revenues – is in a strong position for current and future growth. This is not just opinion, it's what distributors are actually seeing. The preliminary results of ASI's Q3 sales report shows 48.3% of distributors had stronger third-quarter sales this year than they did in 2012 (vs. 22% that had a sales decrease). A full 55% of survey respondents expect their 2013 sales will be better than their revenues last year.
In Counselor's recent survey of Power 50 members, the industry's leaders were also optimistic. "The first half of 2013 was decent, and the second half appears to be stronger, much better than we projected," said Bill Korowitz, CEO of The Magnet Group (asi/68507). "The reality is most businesses are driven off the economy, and the economy is doing well," said Derek Block, CEO of Touchstone (asi/345631).
Look, there are some sectors stuck in neutral, but where others see distress, you can be the one to find opportunity. Retailers' earnings, for example, have been nothing short of lackluster recently. Needing a strong Q4, wouldn't retailers – big and small – benefit from some great gift-with-purchase ideas for the holidays? Polls show heads of many mid-sized firms are worried about the pending costs of The Affordable Care Act. Couldn't a savvy distributor step in, set up a rewards program and help firms motivate their employees to follow healthy habits?
Listen, amid all the drama, here's our bottom-line advice: Seize the day, forget the naysayers and go make your fourth quarter a memorable one.
The Joe Show: A Chill In The Air
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley showcases several products great for cold-weather promotions. Read Article
Looking for an item to pitch to ski resorts? How about some stylish gifts for employers to give to their staffs this winter? Have any clients focused on marketing to college students?
Click here to watch another new episode of The Joe Show.
DezineCorp Acquires Candec
Supplier DezineCorp Inc. (asi/49529) has announced the acquisition of all operating assets of Candec, a Calgary-based firm that provides drinkware and gift options for promotional decorating. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. "We look forward to working with Candec's customers and providing solutions to their promotional needs," said Paul Bami, president and CEO of DezineCorp. "We strive to deliver great service, a range of unique products and competitive delivery options to all customers across Canada."
According to Bami, DezineCorp purchased the operating assets of Candec, including inventory, machinery and customer files. He believes that Candec's line of ceramics and glassware particularly complements DezineCorp's existing offerings.
"With Candec closing its doors, we felt DezineCorp was strategically suited to expand our offerings to our established network in the West,” said Bami. "We hope to quickly be able to serve the Western distributors by providing access to the artwork, product selection and service they have previously relied on Candec to provide. Our operations in Toronto are well equipped to make this transition quickly and effectively. We carry similar product lines and have the inventory ready to respond."
DezineCorp Inc. is based in Mississauga, ON, and specializes in the decoration of drinkware, paper cubes, and leather products for travel, business and leisure. While Bami did not provide specific sales numbers for 2013, he says DezineCorp has positive momentum. "It's no secret 2013 has been a tough year for suppliers in the promotional products industry," said Bami. "We are pleased to say our sales have been on track and can report growth in several regional areas. We will continue to be responsive to the promotional decorating needs of our customers."
Survey: Millennials Prefer Demanding Managers
Maybe the millennial generation isn't so different after all. A new survey shows that workers between the ages of 18 and 34 define what makes a good manager much the same way as other generations. These young employees prefer a high-achieving, but demanding boss over a nice but ineffective one, and they would prefer their bosses invest in their professional development rather than in programs that make the workplace more fun, according to a survey released by workforce management firm Kronos.
"In recent years, we've been hearing that Millennials will completely change the workplace," said Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated. "Significant shifts are clearly underway, but this research reveals workers who are earlier in their career don't differ significantly from other generations in how they want to be managed and motivated by their boss."
Conducted to correspond with Boss's Day, on Wednesday, October 16, the survey also revealed that 69% of employees of all age groups believe their managers set a good example by behaving ethically, honestly, collaboratively and creatively. Of those who believe their managers establish the right tone, 92% said that their bosses exhibit proper values and behavior on a regular basis. "The results of this survey shatter the stereotype of the clownish boss made popular by countless sitcoms and movies," said David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, a human capital management researcher.
When it comes to being recognized, most employees would rather receive praise privately, the survey found. About 43% of workers prefer direct individual praise from their manager, while 32% favor praise to their manager's manager, and 25% prefer praise in front of their peers. The survey found that Americans and Australians most typically appreciate recognition from managers through individual praise. However, Indian workers with managers prefer to be recognized in a peer environment.
The survey, which included 2,000 adults, was conducted online in late September by Harris Interactive on behalf of Kronos.
ASI Radio: Top Products For Promo Campaigns
On this week's Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts asked callers to share their go-to products for campaigns this year. What's a promotional item banks love to use? What about gyms and spas? Looking for a product idea that will generate interest across several industries?
Click here to listen to the full segment. If you missed the show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, don't forget to join us on Tuesday, October 22, for our next broadcast. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and give us a call at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.
In The News
Brother International Corporation has launched the ScanNCut machine, a new home and hobby cutting machine with the convenience of a 300 DPI built-in scanner. With the machine, users can create everything from greeting cards to quilts.
Lapine has announced the formation of the Mark Lapine Endowment for Families in Business.
The endowment was created in honor of the 50th anniversary of the firm, as well as to recognize Mark Lapine's 50 years of service to the company he founded with his father, David S. Lapine, in 1962.
TRG Group (asi/90507) has announced that Victorinox Travel Gear was recently featured in Esquire magazine. The magazine specifically highlighted the new Spectra 2.0 Dual-Access Global Carry-On.
NETWORK WITH THE INDUSTRY'S ELITE
fASIlitate, ASI's invitation-only, hosted buyer event, was developed to foster distributor and supplier relationships, while creating lucrative business opportunities. fASIlitate offers distributors the unique opportunity to spend private time with the industry's most sought after suppliers.
Meet one on one with 30 ASI 5 Star suppliers
Spend time with suppliers representing a wide variety of products
Discuss sales initiatives and projects during pre-set meetings
Network with an elite group of ad specialty professionals
Participating distributors will receive luxurious accommodations and travel at no cost. The 2014 fASIlitate events are scheduled for Lago Mar Resort and Club in Ft. Lauderdale on May 4-7, 2014 and at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix on September 16-19, 2014. For more information, visit www.fasilitate.com. If you are interested in attending fASIlitate please fill out this form.