June 7, 2016

How to shop as usual and save money...?


Almost everywhere in the globe face a 'not-so-favored' economic situation. One may ask, will this recession be a short -term dip or otherwise? McKinsey Global Consumer Sentiment Survey 2016 shown that average optimism level about the respondent's country economy is only around 25%. 26% is living paycheck to paycheck. A large number of people fear of losing their job in the next year.

However, life must go on. People will still need to spend to buy things, but how could people be able to survive on their current salary while prices of items fluctuating up and down, of which it goes up mostly? There are 5 attributes to probably help to save money.

Proactive search for savings

Change your buying behaviors. Pay more attention to prices while actively look for sales and promotions. You can always delay purchases to get the best deal. Some people (like my mom) used to window shopping at multiple stores to find the best deals. There are people who can read the mind of the retailers expecting sales on certain items.

Another best saving option is on food. Always buy raw material and cook at home. You can always estimate not to waste them. Perhaps, you can share leftovers with cats around you :)

Be loyal to a brand only when the price is right

The best thing out of sticking to a brand is, you can easily compare the price between outlets. It is not practical comparing an apple to an orange as items might differ in terms of weight, features & benefits. Try to dig the most benefit out of the things you want to buy.

I have my own ceiling price when buying diapers for my kids. I will always keep the diapers price lower than RM0.40. For example, a brand selling at RM29.90 with 78 pieces in it. You'll spend around RM0.38 per diapers. You can quickly decide on the purchase once you know the price.

Always have a calculator with you, or install calculator apps on your smartphone!

It is best to purchase when the brand is on sale or perhaps if you have the discount coupons. It is also good to purchase in small quantities. The price might go down further, yeah?

Opt to less expensive brands

The brand comes with a price. The market would usually observe branded items or even shares to be pricier. My kids love that blackcurrant drink they claimed to be full of vitamin C (I hope you know which brand I'm referring to). I have been reluctantly bought the biggest bottle every time it runs out at home (you know how much it was priced) until the retailer themselves came up with their own version, which tastes no differ from the original. Those priced less a few ringgits per bottle until I went to Pasar Tani and found 2 bottles of blackcurrant drink + raisins sold at RM25. Then it was even offered at RM20 for 2 bottles.

That will save me for the next 3-4 months?

In mature markets, mostly in Europe, consumers has been opting to retailer's packaged items for more savings. This includes laundry supplies, cleaning products and even bottled water. Living in Malaysia, you should have brought your own filtered and boiled clean water from home. It will save you a lot!

Reluctant - may be a factor for not trading down but it may be worth to try. After a number of frustrating experience, I myself traded down on a few brands and live with it . Once it gets right, I have never turned back. The cycle goes on and on and on and on.....

Shop across channels

Malaysians are so lucky to have various places/channels to shop. We have retail, wholesale, online, Pasar borong etc. The only thing we are lacking in Malaysia is discounted market but since we are having so many sales in a year, who cares?

When I was looking for kitchen apparatus a month back, I spent three to four days to shop around, visiting various shops physically, retailers and surfed a few online retailers as well. I ended up buying a discounted built-in oven from a shop in Puchong (it's new, not pre-loved), instead of paying its original price of RM2.5k, I paid less than RM1k. I bought the hob and hood, with the spec that I was looking for less than RM1.7k online, both from different sellers.

The same spec of hob would normally price at around RM1.2 - RM1.5k while the same spec of the hood would normally be priced at around RM1.8 - RM2k. I would have paid almost RM2.8k more. That's a lot of money for me. The tolls and petrol expenditure was below RM50 for those 3-4 days. Spend a little bit for more saving.

Buy things that you need ONLY

This is perhaps the last but most important attribute when you go shopping. For me, shopping is for grocery, home, and laundry supplies. It is also good if you have a smaller refrigerator as we tend to fill more if it is bigger. We end up throwing things off once those turned bad.

For some people, shopping is for clothes. It is good that you can review your closet at least once a month, or before you intend to shop for clothes. Many end up bought clothing to wear once and forever it stays in the closet after that.

These attributes are supposed to be easy to follow. You just need to look around you to begin.

May 26, 2016

Will Warren #Buffett's 'Midas' touch work on Yahoo?


Do you Yahoo? That probably not as awkward as 'I Yahooed the web and found this'. To find anything, people google it, never yahoo it. Yahoo has never able to turn itself into a verb, despite numerous campaign, it does sound awkward.

Yahoo was in trouble and perhaps managed to keep itself being in trouble by having Marissa Mayer as the CEO. Her actions in Yahoo were exactly what Carly Fiorina did with HP until she got fired by HP BOD. Yahoo BOD should have been able to 'smell' issues as Marissa was once demoted by Eric Schmidt when she was still in Google.

Looking at Yahoo's performance, it has a gross margin of more than 50% all the way from 2006 to date, and it even went over 70% in 2013 & 2014. It drops below 60% in 2015 and this year. Their per share income was the minus in 2015 and this year so far. 2015 onwards are definitely not a good year for Yahoo. Other than experiencing declining traffic on its search site, Yahoo is also facing the falling revenues of their full of security issues advertisements.

Known as 'The Man' at Berkshire-Hathaway, Warren Buffett was known to turning struggling organizations downside up. Other than over $200k working stock at the Berkshire-Hathaway, he did the same with Media General, Nevada Energy, and Kraft Heinz.

Buffett is helping to invest in Yahoo venture by offering Dan Gilbert to be a potential partner. Even though verified on CNBC, no one is sure if Buffett will be watching and consulting as needed. One would easily perceive that he has no operating designs on the company. No one is sure if he is doing the right thing with technology related companies. Would he still be the hands behind the door having significant says in Yahoo? How should Google be viewing this, or should Google be worried?

The 'Midas' has not always succeeded in his ventures. IBM for example, faced major losses within 5 years after Warren Buffet started to buy tons of their shares. Would this indicate that he has no understanding in IBM businesses? Would that intricate Yahoo in the same way? Not to mention, AMEX, Walmart and Wells Fargo (and of course IBM) shares lose billion of dollars in 2015. Does Yahoo fit into his value model to be exact? Is Buffett losing his 'Midas' touch perhaps?

There are other parties also interested in acquiring Yahoo. Perhaps Microsoft is no longer interested after it got rejected in 2008. Despite being huge and having a large client base, no one can get a good design of growth for Yahoo. Buffett would perhaps look into a change of management in order to revive Yahoo to survive.

Perhaps by focusing on niche products like Mail service, News and venturing into the stock market and especially e-Commerce through joint-venture with logistics companies like DHL, Yahoo would be able to redeem themselves out of their current situation, and most importantly, to enable people to exactly define 'What is Yahoo', easily.

On another note, acquisition of Tumblr was definitely a big mistake and should be reversed!

August 3, 2015

Bicentennial bliss: celebrating 200 years of forwarding

2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the forwarding business as we know it. In 1815, Louis Danzas founded the company that still forms the backbone of DHL's Global Forwarding, Freight division.

In 200 years the world of freight forwarding has changed dramatically. But one name has remained consistent throughout Danzas. It may have been absorbed into the DPDHL Group, but its legacy remains. Visit regional offices and you'll still find the name on branded posters and merchandise, or a Danzas map proudly displayed on a wall. Many long-timers still think of themselves as 'the Danzas band'.

But what's the story behind the Danzas name? And how did it manage to survive – and even thrive – for over two centuries? The story begins at the end of a war and the resounding defeat of Napoleon's Grande Armée at Waterloo. A demobilized young French lieutenant named Marie Matthias Nicholas Louis Danzas, or Louis Danzas for short, decided to seek his fortune by joining a small freight forwarding company called Michel l'Evêque, Etablissement de Commission et d'Expédition, in St. Louis, France. By 1840, Louis had moved up the ranks to become joint owner of the company, now named Danzas and l'Eveque.

The company took advantage of new technologies and the rapidly expanding rail and steamship routes in Europe. In 1855, it merged with the transport companies Favier-Gervais Vonier and Ouzelet & Cie to form a new general partnership, Danzas, Ouzelet & Cie. 

Rapidly expanding

Louis Danzas remained a senior partner of the rapidly expanding company until he died in 1862, at which point his son, Emile Jules Danzas, succeeded him. Jules Danzas began to expand his branch network in Switzerland establishing an office in Basel. New mountain tunnels and rail links enhanced Basel's role as a trade center on the Rhine River at the point where Germany, France, and Switzerland meet, and Danzas took advantage of this geographic position to forward freight between these countries and to the larger continent beyond. In 1886, Laurent Werzinger became chairman of the company and he expanded Danzas' branch network, acquiring an interest in the Rhine steamship company, Basel Rheinschiffahrt AG. 

Fast forward 37 years. Danzas suffered great material and personnel losses during World War II, but its base in neutral Switzerland remained intact, allowing the company to make a speedy postwar recovery. Fritz Hatt took over as chairman in 1948 and under his leadership the network of branches was expanded in Switzerland, France, Germany, and Italy. The company's name was changed to Danzas AG in 1960. New branches were established in Greece, Spain, and Portugal and representative offices were set up in Latin America and New York and other commercial centers. International expansion continued throughout the 1980s and by 1989 Danzas had established representative offices in 36 countries and 41 U.S states.

In 1990, The European Community ended national restrictions that had prohibited trucks based in one country from carrying goods within the borders of another member state. The move, along with the opening of East European borders and markets, transformed the goods transportation industry. But the end of customs barriers throughout the European Community in 1993 resulted in a sales drop of 35 percent for Danzas. At the end of 1998, Danzas allowed itself to be acquired by Deutsche Post AG, which paved the way for further acquisitions.

Major acquisitions

In 1999, Danzas acquired Sweden's ASG AB and then Netherland's Nedlloyd's European Transport and Distribution (ETD) unit. At the end of 1999, the company acquired Air Express International, the leading freight forwarder in the United States. These three purchases helped to triple the company's sales, turning Danzas into an international giant with European leadership in overland cargo and worldwide leadership in air cargo transport. All of the company's new operations were now united under the Danzas name.

When Deutsche Post acquired DHL International in 2002, it fully integrated Danzas, DHL, and EuroExpress under the DHL brand. In 2005, Deutsche Post dropped the Danzas brand and renamed the business unit DHL Global Forwarding, Freight. In 2006, it combined parts of Danzas and other ground-based freight subsidiaries in its new DHL Freight division.

Today DHL Global Forwarding Freight is the number one in air freight, the number two in ocean freight and the leading European road freight provider. It is present in over 150 countries and territories and employs some 42,000 people around the world. A lot has happened in 200 years and the story continues today.

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