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Ahold outlines strategy to grow e-commerce, add c-stores and Belgium presence

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Amsterdam — A Monday report by Bloomberg said that Royal Ahold NV will grow its online business, expand its store count in Belgium and add 150 convenience operations in an effort to ramp up sales.

The Dutch owner of Stop & Shop is also on a cost-cutting mission, saying it will reduce expense by $473 million over three years via supply chain improvements and a reduction in logistics and overhead expense.

New CEO Dick Boer, who took office in March, said that at least 50 supermarkets will open in Belgium in the next five years, while the company aims to triple online sales to $2 billion and open at least 150 convenience stores in Europe. The moves come as Ahold expects sales growth to slow to 1.7% this fiscal year from 5.8% growth in 2010 and 8.8% growth in 2009.

To boost online sales, the company is testing pick-up points in Europe and the U.S., so customers can order online and collect groceries at designated locations.

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Deloitte: More than half of consumers to shop over Thanksgiving weekend

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A survey released Tuesday by Deloitte, which polled 1,000 consumers, found that the majority – 51% – will shop in stores or online over the Thanksgiving weekend. Among them, 66% plan to shop in stores on Black Friday and 17% plan to shop in stores on Thanksgiving Day.

The survey also found that shoppers expect to spend an average of $224 over the holiday weekend.

Among other key findings, 23% of Black Friday shoppers plan to go to the stores at midnight on Black Friday; 28% of women versus 19% of men said they would hit the stores at midnight. Also:

  • Nearly half (44%) of Black Friday shoppers plan to head to the stores between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
  • Fifty percent plan to shop online on Black Friday; 41% plan to shop online on Cyber Monday; and 26% plan to shop online on Thanksgiving.
  • About half (52%) plan to avoid shopping in stores during the Black Friday weekend to avoid crowds.
  • Shoppers have completed less than one-quarter (23%) of their gift shopping to date.
  • Consumers have purchased 26% on sale or with a coupon.
  • While 51% of respondents say they’ll shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, 69% plan to look for information about Black Friday sales.
  • Thirty six percent will look to newspapers for information about Black Friday deals.
  • Thirty three percent will look at websites dedicated to Black Friday deals.
  • Thirty nine percent say they are likely to make their purchases later in the holiday season because they anticipate better promotions.
  • Twenty two percent are likely to purchase earlier in the holiday season because they are concerned merchandise may run out.

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Report: Retail executives to drive sales with social media

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — The third annual Retail Finance Outlook released Tuesday by CIT Group found that 80% of retail executives expect their holiday sales to increase or remain the same as last year. And they are eying social media as a means to drive sales.

Among the notable shopping days this holiday season, more than one-third of executives expect Black Friday sales to increase this year; more than a quarter expect Cyber Monday sales to be up and nearly a quarter expect Super Saturday sales to increase.

In addition, sensing that price-conscious consumers will again be on the look-out for bargains, 37% predict an increase in last-minute shopping, while 38% expect post-Christmas shopping days to be stronger.

The study found that retailers hope to attract consumers through social media. Nearly 60% of executives are shifting marketing dollars away from old media toward new media, such as social media campaigns. As part of that shift, 68% report increases in marketing and deals through social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. In addition, 63% report that their web sales are growing (28%) or growing faster than other channels (35%).

“In what has been an otherwise mixed season thus far, retailers are doing whatever they can to maximize their holiday sales season,” said Burt Feinberg, group head of CIT Commercial & Industrial. “This preparation includes shifting marketing dollars away from old media toward new media to get the consumer in the door or on their website.”

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