FINANCE

BDO USA: Retailers forecast small uptick on Black Friday, Cyber Monday

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — According to a BDO USA survey of 100 CMOs at leading U.S. retailers, just 27% expect to see an increase in Black Friday sales, down from 38% in 2010.

Similarly, only 24% project an increase in Cyber Monday sales, with the vast majority (74%) expecting flat sales. Overall, CMOs project a 1.6% increase in Black Friday sales (down from 3.8% in 2010) and a 2.5% increase in Cyber Monday sales.

The vast majority of CMOs (78%) said they expect to see more discounts and promotions overall this holiday season compared to last year. This is up 21% from 2010 when 64% of retailers said they expected to see more discounting.

“Black Friday is not disappearing, but deal-fatigued shoppers have been there and done that,” said Ted Vaughan, partner in the Retail and Consumer Product Practice at BDO USA, LLP. “With new promotional strategies and earlier discounting, retailers are looking to create more spending triggers to get an edge and keep inventory moving throughout the season.”

Other major findings of the BDO Retail Compass Survey of CMOs include: 42% of CMOs are equally focusing promotions and discounts online and in stores this year – a dramatic change from 2010 when 59% said they were focusing the majority of promotions and discounts just in stores.

Most CMOs (51%) expect retailers will offer the most discounts in the electronics category this year, followed by apparel (25%).

When asked what online promotional tactic will convert the most sales this season, CMOs are split between email promotions (28%), search engine marketing (26%) and the ever-popular free shipping (23%). Promotions via social media are seen as the top sales tool for another 18% of CMOs, up 80% from 2010 (10%).

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OPERATIONS

ICSC: More consumers will shop Black Friday this year

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A report released Thursday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs said that 34% of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, up from 31% in 2010 and 26% in 2009.

“In addition to buying gifts, consumers overwhelmingly indicated that they would be looking for bargains on Black Friday for themselves as well,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC.

Additionally, with some retailers planning to open for limited hours on Thanksgiving Day, 16% of consumers indicated that they would take advantage and head to the mall.

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OPERATIONS

Report: Retail experiences can drive growth, profit and loyalty

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — PwC US, in its report Experience Radar 2011: Retail Insights, found that retailers that design differentiated ‘experiences’ around their products and services can drive growth, profitability and lasting consumer loyalty, while also maintaining a price premium over competitors.

The study, based on PwC’s Experience Radar methodology, measured the experiences of more than 6,000 U.S. consumers across 11 industries.

The PwC Retail Insights study found that consumer loyalty is born from shopping experiences that create strong psychological connections, rather than from points or rewards programs alone. Looking at five core consumer experience attributes — accessibility, support, quality, presentation and social belonging — the PwC study’s objective was to identify what’s most important to consumers and then develop and deploy an action plan to deliver a great customer experience.

“In today’s economy, retailers must identify new ways to set themselves apart, and that begins with a clear focus on customer experience,” said Susan McPartlin, PwC’s U.S. Retail & Consumer industry leader.

PwC suggested that retailers focus on enhancing service through investing in knowledgeable staff and leveraging front-line employees. According to the study, product knowledge and recommendations accounted for almost one third of good experiences related to support, while only 1% of shoppers cited rewards programs alone as influencing their purchase decisions.

According to PwC, retailers should consider developing an experience action plan built upon their loyalty program’s customer knowledge that strives to achieve five key experience enhancers: using front-line staff to create positive shopper experiences; make customers brand ambassadors; overcome shopper concerns and help them avoid risk; embrace the anytime, anywhere economy; and when something bad happens, fix it.

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