News

Four Ways Product Information Rings in Holiday Sales

BY CSA STAFF

By Steve Cole, CMO, Gladson

Here’s a bit of holiday cheer for retailers: According to Shop.org, online sales will grow 13%-15% this holiday season. But do retailers have what it takes to cash in?

One of the most critical elements of merchandising online is providing shoppers with detailed product information. With so many options – both in products and places to buy – converting a visit to a sale is about communicating key brand messages and the details about individual products. Improved integration of online and in-store marketing and merchandising, often referred to as omni-channel selling, means effective content about products online will drive both e-commerce and store sales.

In order to engage shoppers and increase sales for the upcoming holiday season, retailers’ websites must include four crucial components:

1. Great product images

It’s vital that retailers provide consistent and up-to-date product images across all shopper marketing channels for the products they sell. Both retailers and brands invest heavily to create and maintain a consistent and powerful brand image. Any time the brand is diluted, shoppers lose confidence and sales are lost. Especially online, inconsistency in product imagery can weaken the brand and create doubt during the selection process.

For example, imagine a shopper researching a product online and comparing it with a coupon from a print ad. If the photo on the coupon doesn’t match the online image, this discrepancy can confuse the shopper and result in a lost sale.

It’s a constant struggle, but brands and retailers are working together to create, manage, maintain and distribute high-quality product images that enhance the shopper’s experience and drive sales.

2. Reliable product information

Recent studies have shown that as many as 80% of U.S. shoppers use the internet to research and purchase products, so retailers’ online presences must satisfy shoppers’ quests for reliable product information. Depending on the product type, this means item descriptions, nutrition facts, ingredients, dimensions, marketing claims, warnings and more need to be online, consistent, accurate and up to date. This is especially true during the holidays, as shoppers base gift selection, menu planning and other activities on product information.

Retailers are using value-added online resources such as wish lists, recipe suggestions, product recommendations and more, based on detailed product information and shopper preferences to cement customer loyalty and increase their share of the shopper’s spending.

3. Localized pricing

Shoppers don’t want to visit their local store and find that a product is more expensive than it was advertised online. This is especially important during the holidays, because shoppers are often “on a mission” for certain items and will turn to a competitor if a retailer fails to meet their price expectation.

Prices vary from market to market, but the shopper wants to know how much she is going to pay in her store, not in the store across town or in another state. Location-specific pricing requires retailers to integrate their web – and mobile – presence with price files and POS systems in order to show prices online and in apps that are consistent with the shoppers’ local stores. Many retailers ask their shoppers who register for their websites and mobile apps to select a favorite store or enter a zip code, but leading-edge apps on location-aware smartphones make this simpler.

4. Real-time inventory

Shoppers use many different devices and media in making purchase decisions, whether it’s for a single item or for a full basket. They have been trained to expect that what they see online they can buy in their local store so visibility of available inventory is becoming increasingly important. Leading retailers have developed systems to maintain a perpetual inventory, by store and online, to deliver on this expectation.

This continuous inventory visibility is accomplished by integrating inventory management systems with order entry and point-of-sale data. More than ever, this means integration of supply chain systems and technologies with customer-facing applications, bringing IT and marketing together to deliver a real-time experience to the shopper.

The bottom line: accurate, detailed product information increases sales. This is even more important today, when only 25% of shoppers consider themselves to be brand loyal. Shoppers who feel well informed about a product will purchase more frequently than those who do not; shoppers want control over where they are spending their money, and good information about products empowers purchasing decisions and gives them control.

Steve Cole is the chief marketing officer with Gladson, a Lisle, Ill.-based company that provides product images, product content and related services for the U.S. consumer packaged goods industry.


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Gearing up for growth, Uniqlo names CEO

BY CSA STAFF

Fast Retailing’s Uniqlo USA division named a new CEO with a familiar name to lead what is expected to be an accelerated growth plan.

Uniqlo elevated existing COO Lawrence Meyer to the role of CEO to lead is 17 unit U.S. operation roughly one year after he joined the company. In his new role, Meyer will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Uniqlo brand and be responsible for the ongoing development of the company retail footprint in the U.S.

That footprint surged recently with the opening of 10 new stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and San Francisco, as well as a pop-up store in New York’s Union Square subway station. The company currently operates 17 units in the U.S., but has more than 1,000 stores worldwide.

“Larry’s steadfast leadership has been a tremendous asset to the company and a key component to our successful growth this year. Building a U.S.-based executive team is a very important step in the next phase of our expansion in the United States, and his promotion is a logical step,” said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and CEO of Fast Retailing based in Japan.

Meyer brought an extensive background in consumer lifestyle brands to Uniglo when he joined the company after serving as an EVP at Forever 21. Prior to Forever 21, Meyer was the CFO of Gymboree, CFO of Toys “R” Us International, and spent fourteen years early in his career at PepsiCo in various roles.

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FINANCE

Lampert’s firm trims Sears stake below 50%

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Eddie Lambert’s ESL Partners has reduced the size of its stake in Sears Holdings Corp. disclosing in a regulatory filing on that it now owns 48.4% of its shares, down from 55.4%.

In a statement, Lampert said that his fund had distributed 7.4 million shares in Sears to investors who wanted to withdraw money from his firm. He said that he had not sold any of his personal holdings.

“My significant personal ownership in the company is a sign of my confidence and alignment with all shareholders,” Lampert said.

As of Tuesday’s closing price of $55.55, Lampert’s stake is worth about $2.87 billion.

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J.Shaughness says:
Dec-05-2013 12:31 pm

Titanic
The departure of investors and the sale of assets signal the impending collapse of the Sears/Kmart franchise. Death by a thousand cuts.

J.Shaughness says:
Dec-05-2013 12:31 pm

The departure of investors and the sale of assets signal the impending collapse of the Sears/Kmart franchise. Death by a thousand cuts.

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