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Former Barnes & Noble exec to head up Sam’s Club e-commerce site

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Former Barnes & Noble executive Jamie Iannone has been appointed president and CEO of Samsclub.com in a restructuring that integrates Sam’s Club’s online business into the Walmart’s Global eCommerce business unit based in California. Previously, most of the warehouse club’s online business was run separately out of the retailer’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Iannone previously served as president of digital products at Barnes & Noble and oversaw the book seller’s Nook Media unit. He left the bookseller at the end of 2013

His appointment was announced in a joint statement distributed internally at Walmart by Sam’s Club president and CEO Rosalind Brewer and Walmart Global eCommerce president and CEO Neil Ashe.

“At Walmart, we believe combining the assets of the world’s largest retailer with best-in-class ecommerce capabilities gives our customers and members a unique shopping opportunity,” according to the statement by Brewer and Ashe. “The integration of the Sam’s Club eCommerce operations with Global eCommerce allows us to build on our collective strengths. This, combined with Jamie’s leadership, gives us a competitive advantage no one else can match.”

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Study: Retail execs expect Big Data advantages within five years

BY Dan Berthiaume

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New York – Most retail executives expect the industry to take advantage of Big Data within five years. According to the 2014 Study on Retail and Big Data from Big Data analytics firm 1010data, Inc., which surveyed 250 executives across a range of retail sectors, 95% of respondents believe retail will capitalize on Big Data’s competitive advantages in the next five years.

That figure includes 50% of executives who believe it will occur in the next five years, 4% of executives who believe retail is already there, 19% who said that Big Data will reach its potential by the end of 2014, and 19% who said it has already happened.

While executives are starting to acknowledge the competitive advantages of Big Data, nearly half of the respondents (40%) said retailers need to gain a better understanding of how Big Data can solve their business problems. Additional key reasons why retailers are holding out on using Big Data solutions include:

• The cost and/or complexity of implementing Big Data needs to come down (39%)
• Need simplified Big Data solutions that are intuitive to business users (24%)
• Retailers are still challenged with basic business reporting and not ready for Big Data (24%)
• Need Big Data solutions to better address the needs of retailers (19%)
• Need better time to value for Big Data (16%)

Executives further elaborated on retailers’ biggest obstacles to getting the reporting and analytics users need to make better data driven business decisions, with 42% admitting that different users and departments have different ways of measuring the business. This was followed by:

• Can’t analyze data at low enough level of detail (e.g., store-SKU day-transaction-customer) (35%)
• Difficulty accessing and integrating the enterprise or third-party data users need to analyze (32%)
• Lack of self-service and long queues of reporting requests to IT (19%)
• Queries take too long to run (18%)
• Reporting tools can’t handle the level of sophistication of retailers’ business questions (16%)

“This study shows that while the retail sector is being impacted by Big Data today, there are still many more opportunities for retailers to use insights to optimize demand forecasting, merchandising, promotions, and loyalty program management,” said Sandy Steier, co-founder and CEO of 1010data. “When retailers truly embrace data discovery they quickly move beyond intuition and guesswork and instead rely on data-driven decisions.”

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Report: Retail foot traffic declines during 2013 holiday season

BY Dan Berthiaume

San Jose, Calif. — The full months of November and December 2013 suffered a brick-and-mortar customer traffic decline as compared to the same two months in 2012. According to new analysis from RetailNext, average sales decline remained at low single digits, which was aided by average growth in average transaction value (ATV) and a slightly positive 0.2% point increase in conversion.

This means there were fewer shoppers in 2013 compared to 2012 in the combined months of November and December. However, because the average value of a transaction was higher in 2013, sales decline was not impacted to the same degree as traffic decline in the months of November and December of 2013. Some notable figures include:

• Traffic down 6.5%
• Sales down 3.6%
• Conversion flat but ATV up 2.4%
• Saturday, Dec 21, second-highest sales and traffic day
• November Saturdays and Sundays lowest conversion days
• December average traffic decline of 6.3% and sales decline of 5.6%

Top Performing Days: Retailers saw a sales increase of more than 2% year over year (YOY) despite an 11% traffic decline. Even though there was a traffic decline of 11% on Christmas Eve in 2013 compared to 2012 when Christmas Eve landed on a Monday, sales increased because retailers were able to better convert shoppers into buyers, and many at higher transaction values (ATV) compared to last year. Other notable figures include:

• Black Friday traffic was down 5.8%, with sales up .8%
• Black Friday saw the highest traffic and sales during the full holiday period
• Day after Christmas 6.1% traffic increase, conversion up 1.8% and sales up 12%.

Thanksgiving Weekend: Shoppers appeared to respond well to the increased number of stores staying open on Thanksgiving Day this year and an ever-expanding number of open business hours throughout the weekend (Thurs-Sun). When compared to the full holiday period, Thanksgiving Weekend saw a 1.1% traffic decline, but a healthy increase in average sales. Conversion was up two points and sales were up 6.4%

Post-Holiday Weekend: For the broader post-Christmas period (Dec 26-30 for 2012 and 2013), retailers did not sustain the traffic and sales improvement seen right after Christmas. Traffic declined by an average of 4.7% in 2013, with sales closely following suit.

For example:

• Traffic and sales down more than 4%
• Conversion up .5%.
• Lowest conversion days of November and December were Dec. 28 and Dec. 29.

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