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Experian Hitwise finds visits to the top 500 sites up 13% on Black Friday

BY CSA STAFF

New York – Visits to the top 500 retail sites increased 13% on Black Friday, according to data from Experian Hitwise. For the sixth year in a row, Amazon was the top retail site receiving traffic on Black Friday. Walmart was the second most visited retail site, followed by Target. But Target’s visits increased 13% on versus 2009, representing the biggest increase among the top five sites. The top 20 retail sites accounted for 61% of all visits among the top 500 retail sites.

“All signs are pointing to a successful start to the holiday shopping season,” said Heather Dougherty, Experian Hitwise director of research.

In other findings:

  • Macy’s visits increased the most, 44%, among the top 20 sites comparing Black Friday 2010 vs. 2009; and

  • The apparel and accessories category saw the biggest increase in visits, 22%, on Black Friday.

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Roots simplifes business communications with Opterus solution

BY CSA STAFF

Toronto – Opterus announced that specialty apparel retailer Roots Canada Ltd. has eliminated the use of e-mail at their stores and now remotely manages its 119 locations entirely through Opterus’ Store Ops-Center. Roots, which branded the solution Roots Ops-Center, has taken advantage of Opterus’ Web-based technologies to streamline business processes and improve communications with its stores.

“ROC allows us to have exception-based follow-ups which help to have more targeted communication,” said Jarar Kazmi, executive director, retail operations at Roots. “Our district managers can now send messages directly from a smartphone to all stores, via a specific link, allowing those messages to be easily viewed by store associates in the ROC. This has simplified communication, especially because our strict security levels did not previously allow stores to send or receive emails externally from our network.”

The Store Ops-Center solution is an on-demand, web-based retail portal designed to communicate corporate policy, day-to-day objectives, tasks and handle issues between the corporate office and store locations. It enables retailers to rapidly and accurately transfer information to the stores, helping them to make more informed and strategic enterprise-wide decisions. Retailers can deploy the Software as a Service (SaaS) Opterus solution with minimal IT impact, while providing improved store operations efficiency immediately upon deployment.

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Wal-Mart to buy 51% of South Africa’s Massmart

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores announced Monday that it is buying a controlling stake in South Africa’s Massmart in an approximately $2 billion deal. The investment gives the discounter a substantial presence in South Africa and paves the way for further expansion across the continent. Wal-Mart International president and CEO Doug McMillon made clear his company is pursuing a regional strategy.

"The more we learn about South Africa and the surrounding countries the more we are convinced that this is an important region with attractive growth characteristics," he said in a statement.

The two retailers said that Wal-Mart would purchase 51% of Massmart for 148 rand ($20.71) per share. Massmart Holdings Ltd. currently has approximately 203.5 million shares outstanding, according to Thomson Reuters.

Massmart will continue to be listed on the Johannesburg exchange, addressing the concerns of stockholders. The company, based in Johannesburg, runs nearly 290 stores in 14 countries in Africa, with most in South Africa. It also manages eight wholesale and retail chains under various brand names.

“Owning a majority stake allows them that degree of control that they need at this stage, while it also appeases (Massmart’s) shareholders," said Natalie Berg, global research director at Planet Retail, an industry research firm, in a Reuters report. "Wal-Mart is not going to be making many changes initially. Even though they are present in 16 countries around the world, ranging from India and Costa Rica, retailing in South Africa is a whole new ball game."

Massmart is Africa’s third-largest distributor of consumer goods, the leading retailer of general merchandise, liquor and home improvement equipment and supplies and the leading wholesaler of basic foods.

The deal will pit Wal-Mart against South Africa’s powerful trade unions, which are known for their propensity to go on strikes. Analysts have said local expertise would be critical to avoid a bruising union fight.

By taking a smaller slice of Massmart, Wal-Mart is alleviating some of the concerns of shareholders, because it allows Massmart to keep its JSE listing and investors can keep their stakes.

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