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Brand Keys: Holiday spend down 5% in 2013

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – The average consumer will spend $825 on holiday purchases in 2013, a 5% drop from last year. According to the new Brand Keys annual holiday survey, only 19% of shoppers surveyed indicated that they started shopping for the holidays in October, 5% fewer than 2012.

Forty-five percent of perspective shoppers indicated they would begin shopping in November, with most consumers (35%) indicating they intended to wait for the traditional Thanksgiving Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Another 35% of shoppers indicated they will wait until December to shop.

Virtually all consumers interviewed indicated they’d buy some holiday gift online (98%). Other popular destinations include discount department stores (94%, up 4% from 2012), traditional department stores (76%, up 6% from 2012) and specialty and apparel stores (45%, up 5% from 2012). The only traditional outlet that dipped significantly was catalogues (50%), down 18% from last year. Ninety-five percent of consumers plan to buy gift cards.

In addition, 65% of the 15,200 U.S, consumers interviewed indicated that they used, or planned to use, their mobile devices to research shopping options for the upcoming holiday season.

“There’s a different ‘feel’ to the holiday marketplace this year,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. “It’s calmer. Retailers didn’t start advertising for the holidays right after back-to-school like last year, and consumers don’t feel the pressure they once did. We’re not seeing the ‘Buy Now!’ or ‘Lay-It-Away’ advertising we saw in recent years.”


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Former Campbell Soup exec heads to FoodMinds

BY CSA STAFF

FoodMinds, a food and nutrition consulting and communications agency, has appointed former Campbell Soup executive Juli Mandel Sloves as SVP and Julie Alessi, RD, as a senior account executive.

Sloves, a 12-year veteran of Campbell Soup Company with more than 20 years of communications experience, was most recently senior manager of global R&D communications at Campbell. Prior to that, she led nutrition and wellness communications for Campbell North America brands.

At FoodMinds, she will be charged with leading strategy and oversight of teams for several accounts, and will collaborate closely with FoodMinds partners and senior executives, including chief science officer Robert C. Post, Ph.D., MEd., MSc., and managing directors Erin DeSimone, MS, RD, and Michelle Kijek.

Alessi most recently worked at Weber Shandwick since beginning her career in 2010. At FoodMinds, she will help to co-manage the FoodMinds internship program. Alessi is a member of the Chicago Dietetic Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

These appointments come a month after USDA executive Dr. Post was appointed as the agency’s first chief science officer.

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Study: Retailers struggle to find omni-channel payment solutions

BY Dan Berthiaume

Austin, Texas – Multichannel selling is a reality for a majority of small-to-medium sized retailers, but payment processing capabilities lag far behind. According to a new research study commissioned by SecureNet Payment Systems and conducted in partnership with First Annapolis Consulting, more than 60% of retailers surveyed already accept payments in more than one channel, but are not well served by the payments industry today.

A key finding is that in many cases, each new selling channel requires a different payment provider; in fact, 27% of retailers surveyed had three or more payment processing software solutions to facilitate payments by channel. In addition, nearly 50% of single-channel retailers anticipate implementing multichannel commerce in the next five years.

Among single-channel retailers contemplating a multi-channel strategy, the three issues ranked most highly (important or very important) were simple technology (49%), easy integration with existing technology (46%), and a single solution for all of the merchant’s payment needs (41%). Lower pricing came in fifth, with 39% of single channel retailers indicating it was important or very important in a multi-channel solution.

Large multichannel retailers naturally face different challenges than small retailers:

  • 64% of retailers with sales above $5 million report inventory control as a large or very large issue compared with 35% of small retailers.
  • 45% of large retailers indicated that facilitating a consumer purchase in one channel and a return in another channel was a large or very large issue.

Likewise, large, single-channel retailers have a different set of concerns than their smaller counterparts regarding the implementation of a multichannel solution:

  • 71% indicated that strong technical support would have great impact on their desire to implement a multichannel solution versus 38% of small retailers.
  • 57% identified reconciliation tools as being a key to multichannel commerce versus 27% of small, single channel retailers.
  • Nearly half indicated that integration into the merchant’s other payment solutions would have a very substantial impact on their ability and desire to implement a multichannel solution.

"This research study confirms that traditional, single channel payment partners are simply not fulfilling the needs of a large segment of American businesses,” said Brent Warrington, CEO, SecureNet Payment Systems. "The successful multichannel SMB will look for not just a payments processor, but a technology partner that can scale with a merchant as business needs change. A truly omnichannel payments solution offers multichannel retailers the most effective way to streamline payments across all channels with improved ease, speed and costs. As retailers demand better solutions, the payments industry will see more widespread change."

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