FINANCE

Alibaba acquires 9.3% stake in Zulily

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Holding Group Ltd. continues to ramp up its ties in the United States with the news that it has acquired a 9.3% stake, estimated at about $150 million, in U.S. online retailer Zulily. According to regulatory filings, Alibaba said it bought approximately 4.8 million Class A shares of the company for about $56 million.

Zulily, which sells clothing, home decor and related items, recently released disappointing results for the first quarter of fiscal 2015, including a miss on revenues of about $307 million and a second quarter revenue forecast well below Wall Street expectations. However, the online retailer also recently launched its first major website redesign, which will provide a more customized daily shopping experience for each of its customers.

“Alibaba continues to focus on making investments in forward-thinking, innovative entrepreneurs that are developing leading products and technologies,” the company said in a statement. “We support innovation and entrepreneurship and believe we can share and learn from these types of partners. The Zulily team has a compelling vision for the future that is consistent with our investment philosophy.”

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FINANCE

Ingles net income soars in Q2

BY CSA STAFF

Asheville, N.C. – A significant increase in gain from the disposal of assets helped boost net income 37% at Ingles Markets Inc. in the second quarter of fiscal 2015 to $14.3 million, from $10.5 million in the same quarter a year earlier. Lower gasoline prices helped reduce net sales 3% to $915.3 million, from $947.76 million.

Excluding gasoline, same-store sales rose 1.2%.

“We will continue to add products and amenities that appeal to our customers,” said Robert P. Ingles II, CEO. “Our first half results reflect that, as well as the hard work of our associates.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Retailers eye gamification to engage customers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boston – With engaging the customer and managing the customer experience as top priorities for retailers, Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Survey indicates that 87% of retailers plan to use gamification to engage the customer within five years.

In addition, 883% more retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store within five years, and 100% of surveyed retailers plan to utilize analytics/dashboard to understand shopping behaviors within two years. Also, 46% of retailers indicate that a structured loyalty program is a top CRM priority

“The key to influencing a customer’s purchase and offering a personalized experience is to identify the customer early, as soon as they enter the store,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “However, in many cases, customer identification is happening at the point of checkout, which is too late to influence a current purchase decision. Fortunately, our survey indicates that within five years, more than 50% of retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store.”

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