29th May, 2015.

Google is to introduce a Buy Now button.

Clicking the button displayed adjacent to a search result will take shoppers to a Google transaction page to complete their purchases.

Currently, Google is used primarily as a stepping-stone to other websites. Its own Buy Now button is significant in that it allows consumers to shop without having to leave the search engine giant’s site.

It’s believed that merchants who fulfil orders will be able to retain customer data such as email addresses.

Google has not given a start date for the new button, but has said that it’s “imminent.”


26th May, 2015.

UK retailers are missing out on £6.6* billion a year by failing to be friendly to mobile phone shoppers.

Nearly three in four consumers will shop more via mobile this year. Yet slow loading rates, security and poor payment options are impacting on their spending.

And it’s not just online sales that are affected.

In store sales are equally likely to suffer when retailers’ mobile offering is poor, according to a new report from and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).

The study also reveals that 15% of consumers now use their mobile as a primary shopping device.

What’s more, consumers with a propensity to shop on mobile are also more prolific online spenders overall, making 47% more transactions than purely online shoppers.

Consumers themselves estimate mobile spending is set to grow, with 73% saying they will spend more on their mobile and 62% more via tablet this year. This compares with only 20% saying they would increase spending on PC.

Driving consumers in store

The study shows too that mobile features can help drive consumers back into stores. Almost half of shoppers (44%) said they would be more likely to visit mobile-oriented stores in 2015, and more than a third (36%) also said they would spend more.

Click and collect drives the most shoppers back into store, with 26% saying they spend an additional 15 minutes in a store that offers this service, parting with an extra £18 per trip.

Augmented reality was the second most important factor. A quarter (24%) of shoppers said this would make them more likely to shop in a particular store, spending an extra 17.5 minutes and an additional £15.90 per visit.

A more personalised experience using intel taken from online shopping habits encourages consumers to spend an extra £9.40 per trip.

Pop-up notifications alerting consumers to most relevant products or discounts make them spend an additional £9.80 per visit (see more on table below).

“It’s encouraging to see that mobile features that can help attract consumers back into shops to spend,” said Claire Davenport of

“A combination of more established features, like click and collect, and forward-thinking technologies like augmented reality are spiking consumer interest.

“Customers have indicated they want a personalised experience, so retailers should use data from online purchasing to drive strategy in-store.”

While almost a quarter (23%) of consumers love mRetailing [mobile retailing], 40% still feel this could be improved, said the study.

A third still don’t like using their mobile to shop. Slow loading pages (64%), websites that freeze (49%) and too many products to sift through (46%) are the top three barriers for shoppers using mobile.

Security (43%) and poor payment options (35%) were also concerns.

While mobile is well integrated into consumers’ discovery and product browsing behaviour, less than one fifth (20%) of shoppers use mobile to make a final purchase.

Only 16% of retail apps were used ‘a lot’ by consumers; 27% had been downloaded and never used.

“A key outtake from our research is the importance of simplicity and a seamless experience,” added Claire.

“Problems like slow loading sites and poor payment options are preventing consumers from getting to the point of purchase. An astounding 40% feel mobile retail could be improved – retailers could potentially monetise this group if they improved their offering.

“In light of Google’s recent announcement that it is changing its algorithm to adapt to the growing number of people using mobile for search, it is even more crucial that retailers update their mobile strategy.”

*£6,654,026,786 billion a year based on UK adults over 16 spending £359.51 per annum extra in mobile oriented stores x 51,700,000 (ONS Population Estimates, number of UK adults over 16) Research conducted by the Centre for Retail Research on behalf of between March and April 2015 and based on a survey of 1,000 online retail customers in the UK.

Consumers were asked…

Would the provision of certain features make you more likely to visit, or spend more time and money in a particular store?

Function or Feature Visit more Spend more time
Spend more
Click and collect 26.0% 15.1 £18.05
Range of mobile-based payment
schemes (e.g. Paypal etc.)
18.3% 9.8 £7.14
Secure mobile payment solutions
such as PayPal
21.1% 8.4 £7.48
Loyalty scheme using app rather
than a separate card
21.8% 11.6 £8.10
Tablets in-store to enable you to
make price comparisons
21.6 8.6 £9.53
Vouchers sent to your mobile 18.3% 11.3 £7.76
Mobile app 16.2% 12.0 £3.75
In-store Wi-Fi 13.0% 9.6 £3.62
Personalised experience using
intel taken from your online
shopping habits
6.9% 12.8 £9.36
Pop-up notifications sent to my
mobile that alert me to products
most relevant to me in-store or
discounts / sales
18.5% 5.7 £9.84
‘Augmented reality’ technology
that allows me to see how products
look in different places and settings
24.7% 17.5 £15.87


26th May, 2015.

TopSpec has been commended for its positive contribution to its region’s rural community and economy.

The feed company won the Best Rural Business category at the Harrogate Advertiser Business Awards earlier this month.

“We were delighted to win,” said Katy Mickle of TopSpec. “We try to work with the local community and alongside regional suppliers while also employing people based in the area to work at head office.”

TopSpec is based at Pickhill near Thirsk and employs 24 people.


26th May, 2015.

Attendance at the inaugural Total Confidence Live show was 4,011 over two days, say the organisers.

The sister show to Your Horse Live was held at the South of England showground in Sussex last month.

In a new move, Total Confidence Live invited visitors to bring their own horses for lessons with top riders and coaches.

There was also shopping and celebrity lecture/demonstrations.

“The visitor research was very positive and we feel very proud that we have launched a great platform on which we can grow this new event for next year and beyond,” said Emma Bedford, equine event director at organiser Bauer Media.

• Read Guy Roper’s diary from Total Confidence Live at


26th May, 2015.

Equine boots brand New Equine Wear is on the market.

Richard Balfry, who first developed the protective boots 20 years ago, is retiring from the equestrian industry.

Richard, who turns 65 this year, will continue to run a small, Devon based commercial shipping company.

The sale of New Equine Wear includes the brand, product designs, intellectual property (IP), knowhow and, should the buyer want them, the machines for manufacture.

“It's been a wonderful run and I’ve made a lot of friends in the industry and with professional riders,” said Richard.

“But I’m now at the age and stage where I need to conquer a new frontier for the last part of my working career.”

New Equine Wear boots have become particularly popular with eventers and National Hunt trainers.


19th May, 2015.

A Leicestershire retailer says she’s been selling more of a calming supplement since testing it on her own horse.

Moya Law, of Oak Farm in Markfield, is among the stockists signed up to Animalife’s new product trial scheme.

The initiative gives Animalife Accredited Retailers the opportunity to use the products first-hand on either their own or customers’ horses.

“Bill, my five-year-old year old Irish cob was an anxious chap,” said Moya. “He found it hard to stand still while being mounted and scurried along in a hollow outline for the first ten minutes of work.

“So when Animalife asked me if I’d like to trial one of their products, I jumped at the chance of using Vetrocalm.”

After just three days of using Vetrocalm Growing, Moya was delighted with the results.

“He stood calmly to be mounted and set off in a soft, relaxed manner in a round outline. Needless to say, he has been on this supplement ever since,” she reported.

Now Moya is keen to pass on the good news to customers.

“Using the product with success has meant that I can recommend it with absolute confidence. It’s so much easier to sell a product that you truly believe in.”


19th May, 2015.

All horse owners are urged to participate in the National Equine Health Survey (NEHS) this week (18 – 25 May).

Doing so takes just five minutes, yet helps provide an invaluable snapshot of general horse health in the UK.

The survey results will interest feed, supplement and equine care products manufacturers and retailers.

Topics owners are asked about include laminitis, worming, weight control and common skin conditions.

Run annually by the charity Blue Cross, in partnership with the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA), it’s the only project of its kind enabling horse owners to give anonymous feedback about the health of their equines. Last year, responses came in about more than 11,000 animals.

The survey, now in its fifth year has support from Spillers and Zoetis. Equine and veterinary colleges and universities use the data.

To take the survey, visit


18th May, 2015.

Saddlery and clothing regulations relating to international horse sports can be found on a new, free app.

The FEI RuleApp, launched on Apple Store and Google Play, gives access to the full official FEI rules and regulations.

The app offers the latest rules in a ‘virtual bookshelf’, both online and offline, on mobile devices.

There’s also an embedded instant search feature, share function for social applications and the option to print pages.

FEI RuleApp users will be kept up-to-date with any changes to international rules via automatic updates from the FEI.

The FEI RuleApp is available in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian and Russian.

You can download the FEI RuleApp here:

Apple Store
Google Play


14th May, 2015.

Horsebox owners who use their vehicles for business and pleasure are being watched by the taxman.

Under its campaign against tax evasion, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has warned builders, plumbers, doctors and dentists – and is now focusing on businesses owning horseboxes.

“Horseboxes are expensive purchases and their use is often blurred between business and personal,” says Fiona Hawkins at James Cowper Kreston.

“HMRC believes that tax revenues are not correctly being calculated and this is what it is seeking to address.”

Fiona says its businesses that perhaps mix commercial use with taking their horses to a weekend show that the taxman will be looking for.

“HMRC has increasing sophisticated IT systems and access to other government department, such as DVLA, to check on ownership. It is not unknown for HMRC officials to use publically available software, such as Google’s Street View, to back up any suspicions,” she adds.

“They also have a habit of extending into other parts of a business, where further errors might be found.”

Fiona offers this advice:
• Keep records of when used – this could simply be a paper diary of when and who used the horsebox
• Ensure that records include estimated mileage and nature of use
• Tell your accountant, book-keeper or tax adviser how that horsebox was used
• If you have been using a horsebox for both business and personal use, consider telling HMRC before they approach you. But be sure to take advice from your accountant beforehand
• Make sure that VAT is being correctly accounted for if there is mixed personal and business use


13th May, 2015.

A “marked increase” in equestrian spending is revealed by the recently published National Equestrian Survey (NES).

Commissioned by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA), the research was carried out by sports marketing agency Two Circles with support from the British Equestrian Federation and partial funding from Sport England.

The fifth NES to be conducted over the past 20 years is designed to provide a clear and accurate picture of the British equestrian landscape.

“A marked increase in equestrian spending gives us much to be pleased about,” said BETA’s executive director Claire Williams.

“However, the report reveals a decline in the number of riders and highlights the need for our sector to retain them and acquire new riders.

“Fortunately, this is not a trend seen in horse ownership, as figures remain remarkably static. This is extremely good news for equestrian businesses because they can continue to support a sizeable and lucrative market.”

BETA members each receive a free overview report, which can be bought by non-members for £100 plus VAT. A structural report, costing £200 plus VAT to BETA members or £380 plus VAT for non-members, provides in-depth data on the rider and horse market with insight into riding and purchasing habits. Separate product specific reports will be available later in the year.

Key NES findings are:

• The economic value of the equestrian sector stands at £4.3 billion of consumer spending across a wide range of goods and services each year. This has increased from £3.8 billion in 2011.

• Riding for pleasure, at 96%, was the most popular equestrian activity, with 59% of riders taking part in non-affiliated competitions.

• The overall number of those who ride has fallen, from 3.5 million in 2011 to 2.7 million in 2015.

• There has been a decline in regular riders, from 1.6 million in 2011 to 1.3 million in 2015.

• However, there has been significant growth in the number of riders aged between 16 and 24, rising from 368,000 in 2011 to 403,000 in 2015.

• There remains a strong gender bias, with females representing 74% of the riding population. In 2015, there are an estimated 962,000 female regular riders compared with 348,000 males.

• While 18% of ex-riders said that cost was the reason they gave up, lost access to a horse was also noted as a prominent factor.

• Of the ex-riders, 34% said they would be interested in returning to horse riding in the future.

• An estimated 3 million people have taken a riding holiday in the past 12 months. Older riders, of 55 and over, are more likely to do this.

• There are an estimated 446,000 horse-owning households in the country. This figure is strikingly similar to that of 2011, when there were 451,000.

• The number of horses in Britain has fallen from 988,000 in 2011 to 944,000 in 2015. This figure includes those owned privately but kept by others or owned by private establishments.

• There are 19 million equestrian consumers in Britain with a range of associated interests. This figure has remained fairly constant over the past 20 years

• In 2015, indirect spending on equestrian items such as hats and body protectors, clothing, books and magazines stands at £560 million compared with £557 million in 2011.

• In 2011, 60% of people expected to cut back on non-essential products, but this figure has dropped significantly, with only 38% planning to do so.

• Buying equestrian goods in both bricks-and-mortar stores and online has continued to grow. In 2011, 83% of people bought from a retail store and, four years later, 97% do so. In 2011 49% of people ordered equestrian goods from the Internet and this figure has now grown to 64%.


12th May, 2015.

ETN had more than one reason to cheer a British Badminton winner last weekend.

Sherry and Paul Belton, founders of Albion Saddlemakers, have fitted and fine-tuned William Fox-Pitt’s saddles for three decades.

An exclusive interview with Sherry appears in ETN’s June issue.

“William gives the horses every chance to be as good as they possibly can be,” she says.

Find out how Albion works with the Fox-Pitt team – and what the Badminton winner wants from his saddles – in a saddles and saddle fitting special in the June issue of ETN.

To get involved with upcoming features, contact Nicki Lewis on 01937 582111 or email


11th May, 2015.

Jess Forgie has joined TopSpec as the feed firm’s business development manager for the West Midlands and North Wales.

Jess trained as an AI technician and worked at the renowned Twemlows Stud in Shropshire. She’s also produced young horses for grading in the UK and Germany.

She also worked for Wynnstay Farmers for many years as an equine specialist.


8th May, 2015.

Simon Middleton of Zebra Products was among the first to congratulate Scott Brash when the British showjumper became world number one yesterday.

The 29 year old rider from Peebles had held the lead in the Longines Rankings for 16 months before losing it to Germany’s Daniel Deusser.

But thanks to a good run of form with Hello Sanctos, he’s snatched it back.

“We’re honoured to have such a great ambassador as Scott endorsing the Veredus range of horse boots,” said Simon.

Zebra Products distributes the brand.


8th May, 2015.

Eventing magazine, a sister title to Horse & Hound, is to close.

The last issue will be the June edition, on sale 22 May.

Publisher Time Inc. UK which recently gave Horse & Hound a new-look design, plans to feature more eventing in the weekly magazine.

Horse & Hound content director Sarah Jenkins told ETN that the publisher is “still investing in the print product.”

She added: “We’re developing a range of new digital, retail, e-commerce, learning and event initiatives to appeal to the UK’s equestrian enthusiasts, and you can expect more news on this front before too long.”

Time Inc. UK’s portfolio of equestrian franchises also includes, Horse & Hound Buy & Sell and Horse & Hound Compare.

It’s also to offer travel packages to the European Eventing Championships at Blair this autumn.

In addition, Horse & Hound has unveiled an online equestrian event entry service called equo to launch later this summer.


6th May, 2015.

Show trader and ETN diarist Guy Roper reports from Total Confidence Live.

Did we really need another show barely two weeks before Badminton?

Well, not wishing to take unnecessary risks so early in the season, I bought a ticket – rather than a stand – at the new Total Confidence Live (TCL).

Run by Bauer Consumer Media, the team behind Your Horse Live, this was the show that didn’t happen last year but did run at the South of England Showground, West Sussex on 25/26 April.

What intrigued me was that TCL is a totally different model. Frankly, that's what worried me as well. As it turns out, this is not a spring version of its big brother at Stoneleigh but a genuinely interesting, new idea.

There is a shopportunity, but the main point is that riders can pre-book themselves and their horses into cross country, showjumping and dressage clinics.

Luminary instructors, who assessed performance and gave candid improvement tips, included Olympic eventer Karen Dixon, international dressage rider Hannah Biggs and Britain’s top lady showjumper Laura Renwick. Showjump coach Mia Korenika particularly impressed.

There was also a supporting offering of main arena demonstrations, Parelli and lots of natural horsemanship plus British Horse Society ladies (nowadays in scary hi-viz with job titles) telling you about safety.

I wouldn’t have imagined it would but, strangely, it worked. Watching the clinics was amazing; just as spectator I learned a lot. The main arena sessions that I saw were very good too. Audiences on the rainy day I was there exceeded 200 per session.

It could fly…

The retail element was mixed, from a lorry horsebox operation to seriously corporate stands. And it's really only a half day show in terms of the offer outside the clinics.

But unlike other shows the attendance at TCL isn't tidal; there are no peaks and troughs, but constant renewal. I hadn't got that, and in truth, neither had the public. But if people cotton on, I think it could fly.

Am I mad? Let's avoid undue enthusiasm and think about the figures. Projected attendance was 9,000. Not a chance for the first time. Pre-sold tickets were said to be 2,000. Credible.

On the day I wandered in and by the time I wandered out (in search of a cheaper lunch…£5 for six mini doughnuts - get real… could I charge £2,000 for a numnah?) I counted max 400 cars in the parking field.

So, with no science and no compensation for the weather, let's assume 1,600 vehicles paying £17 per person (£19 on the door) over the two days. General estimate 2.5 per vehicle. About 4,000 people and ticket sales of £10,000. Add in the extra clinic fees (which ranged from £30 to £75 and included show entry) and then pitch fees from anywhere between £1,000 with shell undercover and £180 in the rain (bring your own tent), and this is a risk for both organisers and traders.

Quite a few pitches were empty, which gave a patchy look outside the sheds. Never good. Chums who were there tell me it had pretty much passed away peacefully by Sunday lunchtime.

And the concept hadn’t got through to some visitors. “I didn’t know there would be tradestands, I didn’t bring any money,” lamented one distressed lady to her friend.

Opportunity lost on both sides. While she may have missed a bargain or indeed a prized purchase, I could have missed my dinner.

Would I take a stand? Next year, if it survives, probably yes. But I'd want to see better publicity explaining the format and a bit more openness about pre-sales. If I went, I’d take some deals, maybe some show stock, and also something that no-one else has to offer locally.

With Hickstead down the road and Badders breathing down its neck, it’s always going to be tough for TCL. Yet it can capitalise on being different.

But, hey, research the risk. You can't quantify buzz - and it was definitely there. If the punters get it, they will love it. Run regionally, it could work incredibly well.

Yes, I’ll give it a whirl, on the right terms.

Cheers, Guy


6th May, 2015.

Animal insurer and microchip specialist Pethealth has acquired a majority shareholding in internet retailer VioVet.

Shortlisted as an SEIB online retailer of the year at the 2015 BETA Business Awards, VioVet stocks 35,000 products including equine and pet medication, feed and equipment.

Pethealth, part of the Fairfax group - a North American based financial services company, began by providing pet microchip identification and database services to help owners trace lost pets.

More recently Pethealth has been retailing pet pharmacy and care products. Its other brands include Petango, Petprotect and Vet Meds Direct.

VioVet was founded in 2006 by Luke Cousins, the then 16 year old son of a St Albans based vet John Cousins.

The aim was to enable the family's veterinary practice to sell online following a change to prescription medications legislation.

VioVet now operates from a warehouse in Luton to which it moved in 2013 after what it describes as “tremendous growth”.

Sean Smith, CEO at Pethealth, confirmed that the previous VioVet ownership team was staying on as shareholders.

“This represents an outstanding opportunity to continue to grow and enhance the already great organisation that has been built,” he added.

John Cousins, director of VioVet, added: "Now that we are part of Pethealth and Fairfax we’re excited about the new possibilities this will allow for our future.”

Business at VioVet will continue as usual, he added.


5th May, 2015.

New equestrian features are set to appeal to horsey visitors at next month’s Royal Three Counties Show.

Olympic gold medallist Carl Hester is to give a dressage to music demonstration in the main arena on Saturday afternoon.

Also new to the show, at Malvern on 12 – 14 June, is a chariot display from The Devil’s Horsemen. The stunt team has appeared in films and on television including Game of Thrones, Call The Midwife, Downton Abbey and The King’s Speech.

“We’ve got some wonderful new additions and a greatly enhanced livestock area and equestrian ring,” said Ken Nottage, chief executive of the Three Counties Agricultural Society. “We’re hoping for another impressive turn out.”

The Royal Three Counties also hosts its first ever hound show. Entries will come from hounds that hunt within the show’s namesake three counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire.


1st May, 2015.

Sending till receipts via email has advantages for retailers and customers alike, say retail experts.

Unlike the traditional slip of paper that inevitably gets crushed at the bottom of a handbag or pocket, the eReceipt can act as proof of purchase, foster customer loyalty and contain future promotions.

In addition, eReceipts can save clutter and time at the till, capture customer data and integrate with social media to enhance a retailer’s brand and reputation.

For customers, eReceipts are less likely to get lost, work as a guarantee on high value purchases and encourage return shopping.

eReceipts come as standard from Citrus Lime. “They’re an amazing way of picking up customer details and offering top customer service,” says Grant Hadwin of the retail solutions specialist.