OPERATIONS

Cognizant: Stores remain important in omnichannel

BY Dan Berthiaume

Teaneck, N.J. – Physical stores remain critically important to omnichannel commerce. Results of the fourth annual Cognizant Customer Experience Study show that for consumable products, 75% of shoppers still prefer to make an in-store purchase.

In addition, ranking the importance of stores working with certain social networks from 1 to 10, customers ranked Facebook 8, Pinterest 6.2 and blogs 5.9. However, consumers are increasingly comfortable shopping online. Forty-seven percent of consumers prefer mobile/online shopping while 53% prefer in-store shopping.

Other findings include:

  • 61% of male shoppers purchased online and picked up in store in 2013, compared to 41% of women.
  • 56% of men purchased specialty products online, compared to only 29% of women.
  • Ranked on a scale of 1-10, the two most important service features are special treatment based on loyalty (7.8) and personalized offers (7).
  • Seventy percent of shoppers are willing to be tracked by a loyalty number while 56% are willing to give personal information or an email address.
  • On a scale of 1-10, consumers rated delivery cost and price, markdowns, discounts and promotions each a 9 for their influence on online buying.
  • When an in-store price seems to high, 55% of customers will leave to look online or at another store.
  • Out-of-stock is the top in-store dislike, rated 9 on a scale of 1-10 by shoppers.
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FINANCE

ShopperTrak: Holiday sales to rise 2.4%; early Hanukkah to impact traffic

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Retail sales are forecast to rise 2.4% during the holiday season of November and December while total retail traffic will decrease 1.4% as compared to the year-ago period, according to ShopperTrak, a leading provider of shopper analytics. The company also notes that retailers have less time to capture peak holiday spending: There are only 25 days lie between Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Christmas this year, compared to 31 days in 2012. And unlike last year, consumers have only four (not five) full weekends to shop.

In addition, Hanukkah begins the day before Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), 11 days earlier than in 2012. While an early Hanukkah will not affect overall holiday sales, it will shift the time some retailers anticipate traffic increases. As a result, ShopperTrak expects promotions will begin as early as the day after Halloween – the very start of the holiday season.

“Nobody can afford to procrastinate,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. Martin. “Retailers must have their holiday marketing and operations ready to go when November begins, as consumers will be ready to take advantage of those deals.”

According to ShopperTrak, sales and traffic in the apparel and electronics categories will mirror national trends. Retail sales in apparel and accessories stores will increase 2.8% compared to 2012, while shopper traffic in these stores will decrease 1.0%.

ShopperTrak expects sales in the electronics and appliance store sector to increase 2% compared to last year, while shopper traffic will decrease by 1.2%.

“These trends are just another indication of how the consumer has changed,” said Martin. “It is critical to remember that well over 90% of all retail sales in the United States will occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Keeping a close eye on their in-store shopper analytics will help retailers succeed this holiday season.”

Holiday sales and store shopper traffic historically account for about 20% of annual retail activity. This year’s sales increase will build on the 3.0% increase seen in 2012 versus 2011. The anticipated retail store shopper traffic decrease of 1.4% is down from the 2012 holiday season, which saw a 2.5% traffic increase from 2011.

“Although the economy continues to recover slowly, consumers remain cautious about spending and are not ready to splurge,” Martin said. “Even though online buying increases each year, brick-and-mortar sales remain retail’s largest profit opportunity. Retailers who deliver a seamless experience both in-store and at every customer touch-point have the chance to capitalize and grab their share of wallet when shoppers visit the stores.”

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OPERATIONS

Hudson’s Bay appoints Harrod’s exec to run Saks

BY Dan Berthiaume

Toronto — Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) has appointed Marigay McKee, chief merchant of Harrods, as the future president of Saks Fifth Avenue. The appointment follows the news that Saks chairman and CEO Stephen Sadove and president and chief merchant Ronald Frasch will leave the company once it is acquired by Hudson’s Bay.

McKee joins HBC with more than 20 years of management and merchandising experience. As chief merchant of Harrods, she has overseen the planning and implementation of the merchandising and creative strategies since 2011. She has served on the company’s board of directors since 2005 and joined in 1999.

"I am delighted to join Hudson’s Bay Company to head up Saks Fifth Avenue and work with their dedicated team," said McKee. "Saks Fifth Avenue is one of the world’s preeminent luxury retailers with a rich history and tradition of exceptional customer service." McKee added, "Saks presents a great opportunity as a world class brand with new frontiers for development. I’m excited for this unique challenge as we embark on this new chapter at the company."

HBC also announced the creation of a new Office of the Chairman, consisting of Richard Baker, CEO, and Donald Watros, COO. The senior executives of HBC’s retail businesses, as well as other key holding company executives and the heads of certain shared services units, will report to the Office of the Chairman.

McKee’s appointment will take effect shortly after completion of HBC’s planned Saks acquisition, which is expected to close before the end of the calendar year, subject to approval by Saks shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

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