Posted in Business/ Economy

SHOP SMART WITH ONLINE COUPONS

We all love that one word known as ‘discount.’ It’s a word which has the power to make all kinds of people stop in their tracks. One of the major reasons for people opting for online shopping is the availability of a number of good bargains and discounts (The other reason being convenience).

There are many ways to avail a discount online. While some e- commerce sites use sales from time to time to promote themselves, others show a constantly low price. (Remember seeing the MRP of the product with a slash on it and a ‘new price’ written below or besides it?) Another way of saving money is through cashbacks. To use this method you will have to access an e- commerce website from a cash back site. On booking the product from the retailer, you will receive the product from the online retailer concerned as well as a certain percentage of the amount you paid from the cash back website.

A third way of availing discounts is through coupons.  All you have to do is to enter the discount code given in it while purchasing a product online. The discount code generally consists of numbers and alphabets which have to be filled in a box during checkout to avail of the discount. They are also known as e-coupons and work exactly like offline or printed ones. There are many websites which offer such vouchers or e-coupons for online e- commerce websites, thus, giving you access (and discounts) to all kinds of products from groceries and clothes to toys and stationary. There are many coupon sites like CouponDunia, GroupOn, Freeclues, etc.

There are several types of discount codes. There are dollar value discounts which give a reduction of a certain amount. Eg. A reduction of $5 for a specific product on the given MRP. Percentage based discounts are used on a percentage basis. Eg. A 10% discount is given on a product on the MRP specified. There also exists discount codes for free shipping.

After reading all this, are you wondering as to what are the retailers getting out of this? Well, discount offers are used by retailers as a marketing offer to acquire more customers. It is also used sell more products and to keep them from getting old or obsolete and clear stock. What’s more, it is also a way of staying ahead of competition and in turn make profits in the long run (and in some cases, in the short run as well). Thus, discount codes are instrumental in creating not only happy customers but also happy retailers and businesses.

So what are you waiting for? Use a discount code to save money and keep shopping!

 

Posted in Business/ Economy

By-Product Synergy: A Sustainable Way Ahead

In one of my previous post on CSR, I had mentioned a little bit on by-product synergy. However, this in itself an innovative concept which I thought deserved its own space.

So what is by product synergy?

Well, in the most basic sense it is turning one factory’s waste or by-products into another industry’s raw material. It is an aspect of industrial ecology, a science that studies industrial systems in order to find ways to lessen their environmental impact.

Following are a few favorable impact of by-product synergy:

Reduced costs

Using the by-product of another can reduce the cost of the resource if brought ‘first hand’ from its source. Industries can also increase revenue by selling the by-product formed from their processes. Also, it can also lessen the cost used to dispose of waste material.

Sustainable future

By reusing resources, the amount of trees cut, minerals mined, etc can be reduced. It also reduces the amount of waste being disposed and clogging natural water bodies and mangroves among other places.

More Communication and interaction

In order to transfer resources from one industry to another, interaction is needed among the two (or more industries).  This facilitates an increase in communication among businesses.

An example of by-product synergy is Kalundborg Eco- Industrial Park locate in Kalundborg, Denmark. Some companies included in this are Novo Nordisk (Pharmaceuticals), Gyproc (Gypsum), Novozymes (Biotechnology), DONG (Energy), Statoil (Oil & gas), Novoren (Waste treatment), Kalundborg Forsyning A/S (Water and heat supplier) and Kalundborg Municipality among others.

The below slideshow shows the exchange among the industries and savings.

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Like everything good, by-product synergy has its flipside as well. Some include:

Geography (Transport)

Due to space constraints not all industries can be established close to each other. Shifting waste/ raw material from one factory to another can be difficult if they are both far away. Transporting the materials can result in an increase in cost (instead of decreasing it). It also will end using up more resources by burning up fuel and increasing the amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc in the atmosphere.

Liabilities

Many times with companies’ sharing a particular resource questions on who is responsible for what arises. This can happen in cases of miscommunication.

As this new form of technology keeps catching on, there’s hope that more and more industries will follow this mode of production in order to bring about a more sustainable world with better communication.

Posted in Business/ Economy

CSR: Good For Everyone?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a social concern which a company undertakes. Through the years society has benefited greatly from different companies’ CSR initiative. Different companies are working in different sectors like education, healthcare, increase in employment, reduction of poverty, the environment (sustainability) and better working conditions among others. Some CSR initiatives have also helped companies along with the society. For example: Since 1990, Sony Pictures Entertainment has been recycling TV and film sets by renting them out to other TV and feature productions. This has helped save resources, which is a boon for society and which would have otherwise gone in waste in used to make new sets. It also makes it cheaper to production companies to rent out the stuff instead of manufacturing it, enabling them to earn more profits. So is CSR really good for everyone? Well, there are two sides to this argument.

Let’s begin with the good points. Firstly, a company’s CSR initiative can engage consumers by creating a brand awareness among them. It is useful in increasing a company’s reputation through the publicity it creates ideas which are not only different from other competitors but also which tend to be effective. For example, along with World Vision (an NGO), Eureka Forbes, a water purifier company established ‘community water plants’ i.e. A place where water is purified through reverse osmosis, to solve the problem of fluorosis among people of Andhra Pradesh. Secondary, it also helps companies save money and resources which can ensure more and cheaper products. For example, Now many companies are practising ‘by product synergy’ i.e. the process of turning one company’s waste into another’s raw material. Companies have also started improving the working conditions of labourers. This helps retain skilled workers. For example, in the 1990’s there were severe opposition to Nike products due to the accusations of people being made to work in poor conditions and with a salary less than the minimum wage limit. Now, Nike is working to, ‘Transform our working relationship with contract factories to incentivize changes that benefit their workers. Instill changes in our code, instigate innovation, educate to build management capabilities, address root causes in our own processes, work with the industry, and reward factories’ progressive achievement.’ (as quoted from Nike’s CSR report). Finally, last but not the least, the new CSR initiatives of companies also give rise to more innovation. AOL, an American media company has managed to reduce 30 tons of its CO2 emissions annually and in turn save almost $1 million through Cloud Computing.

On the other hand, CSR also has its disadvantages: In the event of trying to increase the use of sustainable methods of production, many companies face a reduction in output. This can result in reducing the company’s profit. Also many companies (big or small) have started using the method of ‘green washing’ i.e. a method of publicizing a company’s CSR initiative, but in reality not doing what they tend to show they are doing. This on the contrary, can work the opposite of building up a company’s reputation. It can reduce people’s faith on corporates. One more factor which causes a problem for companies is that people tend to have too many expectations related to their social initiatives, often forgetting that a company’s main goal is profit- making and not always giving back to society. While some companies are able to do both, other are not. For example, Coca Cola was accused of extracting a lot of ground water for its bottling plants. Thus as their CSR initiative they started using methods of replenishing the water they used as well as started preserving local water bodies. On the other hand, in 2006 Pepsi Co. decided to market healthier food as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility ‘Good for You’ campaign, focusing on healthy foods such as Quaker oats and Tropicana. A lot of resources were put into these products instead of being used to popularise Pepsi’s standard product i.e. Cola. This resulted in Pepsi losing its number 2 position to diet coke in the cola market (in 2010).

CSR is working towards building a much better life for people. While it is instrumental in causing a big impact in different sectors, it can also cause some difficulties to companies. Thus, inspite of problems like extra costs and green washing, it can be said that Corporate Social Responsibility is good for everyone through its examples of creating innovation, more jobs, better working conditions, profits and a happier society.