93% of SMEs also don't know credit score

There is clear evidence of seasonal rises and falls in dropship online business lending, with demand peaking just before the festive season as well as in the lead-up to the end of financial year, according to a study by OnDeck Australia released this week.

Michael Burke, head of sales at OnDeck Australia believes the study shows the value for lenders of understanding the differences between business industries. "The patterns are entrenched across all small businesses but there are also marked differences between industry sectors. For brokers, this means looking at their clients' businesses and understanding the impact of seasonal lending patterns on each of those businesses," he said.

SME owners unsure of credit score

Applications for lending were up 145% in November, compared to the average monthly demand in 2017. This was more pronounced in the service industry, with loan applications in November 190% higher than the monthly average. Despite the increase in consumer spending around festive periods, the study found lending patterns in the retail and wholesale trade industries remained relatively stable throughout the year, suggesting trade businesses were not necessarily borrowing more in anticipation of the Christmas period to wholeale christmas ornaments. The study also found small- and medium-enterprise (SMEs) owners were more likely to apply for a loan during business hours in the middle of the week.

93% of small business owners don't know their credit score and only 42% know the actual purpose of a credit score, according to another recent survey by OnDeck Australia and MYOB. Of the 7% of businesses that know their credit score, only half had checked it within the last 12 months. With small businesses accounting for over 99% of all businesses in Australia, and 67% of total employment, the study shows a worrying lack of understanding on the part of business owners.

Cameron Poolman, CEO of OnDeck Australia, believes it's important to help inform SME owners of the role credit scores play in their business. "There is an important education opportunity here to help small business owners recognise how knowing their credit score can inform and empower them by potentially creating more opportunities for their business through improved access to funding and funding options. The prevailing lack of understanding around scoring is an issue for small business, especially given the size and importance of the sector to the Australian economy," he said.

When Ryan Babenzien decided to launch his own sneaker company in 2014, the direct-to-consumer brand boom was in full swing. He saw it as an opportunity to develop a brand that struck a balance between traditional and digitally native retail.

Over the last four years, Babenzien's brand, Greats, has raised over $ 10 million in venture capital, has grown into a booming e-commerce business, has opened several of its own brick-and-mortar locations and has teamed up with drop ship shipping products and its partner Nordstrom

"Today, the differentiator, for the most part, is that incumbent brands are trying to get more digital. We're growing our business through a few stores, but the volume of our business will always be online. "

In this week's episode of the Glossy Podcast, Hilary Milnes sits down with Babenzien to discuss how he's growing a brand that embraces DTC and traditional retail, balances quality and cost, and serves casual and fashion forward dressers alike. Below are excerpts from the conversation, edited for clarity.

Why DTC is a win-win

"I think the reason the direct-to-consumer brands are so meaningful today is because we are all making something that should be better than the old version, the wholesale version and giving you a better price. So it's really a win-win. The business economics work for the brand. The price of digitally native brands is generally better for the customer, and you're getting a higher quality. "

Finding the right wholesale partner

"You give up some things when you work with a wholesale wholesale size clothing supplier: You give up a little bit of brand control and you do not have direct relationship with the customer. In order to do that, and feel confident that it's going to be OK, you have to work with a wholesaler that will emulate what you do on your own. We have a lot to learn from Nordstrom. They are known for having the best customer service company in the world, and that was a great thing for me. Their obsession with their customers is the same as ours. So out of all the wholesalers we could have worked with, and we were approached by, we felt they were the best. "

Balancing everyday and high fashion

"The way we talk about our product is" premium quality essentials. " Some of them are more fashionable, so every season we come out with a color or print, which is very fashion-forward. But the core of our business is the thing that you're going to wear every day, every week, every year. Everybody needs a great white sneaker, they just do. That's a big part of our business. Does every person need a silk, chiffon, fuchsia-colored sneaker? Probably not. But some people buy it for fashion, and it's gone, and then they get rid of it or they stop wearing it. We do not want to be all white, or all navy, or all tan, all the time. We also do not want to be all fashion. You've got to find the right balance, and that's who we are as a brand. "

Making a high quality a brand standard

"We can define quality in a few different ways, but to boil it down, if we can save $ 3 in a shoe to use a sub-par skin, that's a lot of money, and most brands would be forced to do that because they need to to find the profit somewhere. We do not do that. We use the more expensive leather, and we use the better factory, because we want to offer the best we can. We would not do it at the expense of being able to be a sustainable business, meaning a profitable one, which we are on a path to be. But we do not want to cut corners to save a few pennies. "

China is the second largest LNG importer in the world after Japan and a major customer for US LNG. For example, this year, between January and August, China purchased 1.6 of the 14.9 million tonnes of US LNG, according to Thomson Reuters data, but Sept. 24 marks the beginning of President Trump's imposition of tariffs of $ 200 billion worth of Chinese goods and China's retaliatory levy of 10 percent on imports of US LNGs. What effect will this have on US LNG exporters in particular and LNG trade?

Wholesale prices are already near their highest levels in a decade, driven by rising china post shipping costs, low European gas stocks and Chinese purchases to avoid recurrence of last winter's gas shortages. In the run-up to and during this winter, US LNG tariffs could lead Chinese buyers to diversions and swaps with other sources of supply such as Qatar, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Russia and according to Guy Broggi of Consultant indépendant chez LNG Markets "Even European re-loads." China is expected to buy about 8 million tons of LNG in the coming months on the spot market. Companies like Cheniere Energy could still benefit since they also supply the spot market for traders to swap cargoes, take advantage of price differences or shorter delivery times.

How long and how much this tit-for-tat spat will go for is anyone's guess but on the surface, this sounds like bad news for US LNG exporters. China National Petroleum Corp.'s contract with Cheniere Energy to supply 1.2 million tons of LNG a year until 2043 should be unaffected.

There are five upcoming projects underway, which would raise total US LNG exports to 9.6 billion cubic feet per day by 2019 end. They will already sign up long-term customers for a large portion (if not all) of their prospective output. But, for the existing or new terminals awaiting the Final Investment Decision, the standard investment plans will be applied, including cancellation, postponement, or else "projects have to find their own buyers and if not the Chinese then other markets" will have to be found, Brogg said.

Indeed, "US manufacturers seem to be eager than ever to export-even to Europe" Karen Sund, CEO of consultancy Sund Energy. For example, we could see Chinese buyers purchasing US cargoes in Europe, just as the United States did when it bought the Russian LNG export from Yamal Peninsula's sanctioned project in January for New England customers. This is made easier because LNG is a commodity with a global market and, as Rudolf Huber of LNG Austria noted, "LNG as a substance is not easily distinguishable from any other LNG from anywhere else."

Strategically, China's online shopping is working to ensure its long-term energy security through the diversity of supply and to avoid overdependence on any single supplier. In September, Petro China signed a 22-year contract with Qatargas for 3.4 million tons of LNG a year, and PetroChina's Canadian subsidiary has a 15 percent stake in Shell's Canadian LNG export project at Kitimat in British Columbia.

In sum, while the impact of US LNG exports is hard to predict, it is a certainty that new US LNG exporters are entering a buyer's market. According to IEA figures, worldwide LNG export capacity will grow rapidly from 450 billion cubic meters (Bcm) in 2016 to 650 bcm in 2022, while demand rises more slowly from 353 bcm to 460 bcm, leaving 190 bcm looking for buyers.

Sund's judgment, harsh as it may sound, is that "China does not need an American LNG", but for long-term strategic reasons, it may continue to be a customer for US LNGs.

JCPenney CEO Jill Soltau said during a call with investors on Thursday that resolving the dropshippers usa high inventory levels was one of her most immediate priorities.

The department store reported its third-quarter earnings results on Thursday. Inventory levels were down 5.4% versus the same time the year before.

On a recent visit to a JCPenney store in New York, we were overwhelmed by the massive amount of inventory on display.

In a call with investors on Thursday morning, JCPenney's new CEO, Jill Soltau, was asked by an analyst what she felt should be improved in its stores based on her early experiences.

Soltau, who was appointed to the position just over a month ago, was reticent to make any solid commitments just yet, save one: inventory management.

"I do see us as over assorted, and certainly we have had high inventory levels," she said.

Reducing inventory levels is now front and center of Soltau's strategy for the future. On Thursday, the retailer reported that inventory levels at the end of the third quarter were $3.22 billion, down 5.4% versus this time last year. Same-store sales numbers were also down 5.4%.

"In spite of our overall sales results, I am encouraged by the recent underlying trends in key businesses such as women's apparel, active, special sizes and fine jewelry. We are making progress and taking the necessary steps to right-size our inventory positions to better support the brands and categories that are demonstrating profitable sales growth," Soltau said in a press release on Thursday.

During a visit to one of JCPenney's New York stores in May, Business Insider was overwhelmed by the amount of inventory on display. Each department was brimming with racks of buy wholesale clothing, swimwear, toys, and accessories that were so tightly packed together that it made it impossible for any brand to really stand out.

"Clothing at JCPenney has become a hotchpotch of randomness brought about by a constantly shifting view of who the chain should target," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note to clients on Thursday. "This has left customers both confused and unimpressed. Satisfaction scores for apparel shopping have plummeted over recent years and customers have defected as a result."

And now, according to Saunders, some of JCPenney's better brands are being lost in the mayhem.

"In our view, Peyton and Parker is nicely designed and curated, but the effect is lost in most stores and on JCPenney's website where the label gets completely drowned in a sea of merchandise and general clutter," Saunders wrote.

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