OPERATIONS

Eyebuydirect launches new e-commerce site

BY Dan Berthiaume

Austin, Texas – Online prescription eyewear retailer Eyebuydirect.com (EBD) has launched a new website featuring with more than 1,200 customizable frames. EBD has streamlined the online shopping experience for prescription glasses with the Eye Try tool, which allows customers to upload a photo of themselves in order to virtually try on any pair of frames available on the site.
Each pair of glasses is adjusted according to the individual’s pupillary distance (PD) and eye alignment.

“We’re pleased to introduce our new website, because it enables consumers to easily navigate and select their perfect pair of glasses from among our extensive collection of customizable frames and lenses” said Roy Hessel, Eyebuydirect founder and CEO. “Our company is vertically integrated in house from R&D and frame design; to merchandizing, customer service and shipping, which enables us to maintain the integrity of our product and services while passing minimal costs on to our customers.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Retailers getting more aggressive in mobile investments as payback grows

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Mobile (including tablet), marketing and personalization were the top three issues that retailers will devote the most time to in 2014, according to the e-tailing group’s 13th Annual Merchant Survey. Omni-channel and platform rounded out the top five concerns.

"Amazon is nipping at the heels of every retailer. Mobile has materialized as a revenue producing force and customer expectations have peaked, once again altering retailer investment strategies. Choice and prioritization are paramount in the context of this chaotic environment for survival and growth," said Lauren Freedman, president, the e-tailing group, a Chicago-based consultancy.

The survey, fielded in the first quarter to senior executives with omni-channel responsibility, finds that retailers are getting more aggressive in their mobile investments with one in three spending in excess of $100K on mobile. According to the study, mobile accounts for at least 20% of traffic for the majority of retailers; for one-in-five, it is responsible for more than 30% of their business.

“The exciting news is that revenue derived from mobile results sees year over year gains, where 50% of retailers report at least a 5% contribution rate and 32% report at least 10%. The payback is powerful and mobile’s ability to fuel omni-channel access is unprecedented,” the report states.

On the contrary, social has not played out for the majority of retailers: They report receiving less than 2% of traffic from social networks.

In other key findings:

• Sixty-one percent of retailers acknowledge that they are in the early stages of working towards superior online experiences. This is despite the fact that 75% agree that their mobile effort is critical to the growth of the business.

• Three-out-of four retailers will make investments in the customer experience arena while half place an emphasis on technology and responsive design.

• Analytics were once again cited as the No. 1 merchandising tactic (97% rank important) for customer retention. Additionally, given data’s increasing role for maintaining parity in the competitive climate, one in two retailers are evaluating big data to impact marketing despite existing constraints.

• In merchandising tactics, sales/specials/outlets ranked as most valuable, followed by email as a merchandising vehicle, seasonal promotions, keyword search and cross-sells.

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REAL ESTATE

Uniqlo to enter Los Angeles market in September; announces five locations

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Uniqlo will continue its expansion in the United States by entering the Los Angeles market. The Japanese retail powerhouse announced it will open five stores in the Los Angeles area, starting in September, with locations at South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa; Northridge Fashion Center, Northridge; and Glendale Galleria, Glendale.

In October, the company will open at the Beverly Center, Los Angeles, followed by a store at Los Cerritos Center, Cerritos, in spring 2015.

“The response to our northern California stores has been fantastic, so we are thrilled to bring the Uniqlo experience to our fans in Los Angeles, a city known for its diversity and energetic lifestyle,” said Larry Meyer, CEO of Uniqlo USA and senior VP Fast Retailing Group, parent company of Uniqlo.

The retailer plans to open more stores in 2014, including the new markets of Boston and Philadelphia, and the existing markets of Northern California, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

Currently, Uniqlo operates are 20 stores in the U.S., as well as Uniqlo.com, which offers nationwide online shopping.

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