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IBM: M-commerce fuels strong online sales in July and August

BY Dan Berthiaume

Armonk, N.Y. – Back-to-school sales may have been stronger than anticipated this year, judging by online sales performance in July and August. According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, online sales saw substantial gains from July through the third week in August, fueled by double-digit growth in mobile buying.

Specific findings for online sales activity in each month include:

July

  • The month of July saw a 15% increase in online sales, 8% increase in average order value and more than 9% growth in average per order. Early back-to-school bargains helped drive this activity.
  • Department stores recorded a 33% year-over-year increase in online sales during July, with a 40% boost in mobile sales.
  • Mobile sales were up 38% for the entire month of July compared to 2012. Mobile percentage of sales was up across the board, reaching almost 22% in July, a 37.6% increase from the previous year.
  • Mobile percentage of sales peaked the second week in July, ahead of Christmas in July sales, when it reached 23.2%, an increase of 55% from the same period in 2012. Mobile percentage of site traffic also peaked that same week at 30.9%, a 52% increase from the same period in 2012. The iPhone and iPad together were the two most popular devices for mobile shopping, with Android devices in third.

August

  • Online sales and average order value were up the first three weeks in August.
  • Consumers bought laptops and school supplies earlier than ever this year, with office supply/electronics online sales peaking the second week of August, up more than 35% from the same period last year. Improved online tablet experiences helped the iPad to drive 4.47% of online traffic, an increase of 71.9% from the same period in 2012.
  • The third week in August saw an average order value of $212.40, an increase of 6.5% resulting from big-box retailers that employed back-to-school Cyber Monday sales on Aug. 12. Online retail sales also saw a boost, up 13% from the same period in 2012.

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T.Platt says:
Aug-28-2013 12:54 pm

Retailers, brands and marketers can boost YoY mobile revenue growth by engaging consumers on their terms, delivering content contextually relevant to their activities, and selling what, when and where they want, via #CEM http://amex.co/13rIN5K

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Bloomberg: Consumer spending probably up in July

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Improvements in housing and labor probably helped boost U.S. consumer spending last month. A Bloomberg survey of 59 economists in advance of the official Commerce Department July spending figures on Aug. 30 indicates purchases of goods and services increased 0.3% last month after a 0.5% increase in June.

The Bloomberg survey also predicts that consumers’ personal income grew 0.2% in July following a 0.3% increase the prior month. A separate Commerce Department report scheduled for release Aug. 27 is expected to show orders for big ticket items excluding transportation equipment grew 0.5% in July after a 0.1% decline in June. Looking at third quarter performance, Bloomberg estimates purchases will increase 2.2% and then rise 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

However, Bloomberg also expects the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index and The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final sentiment index both declined in July. Those reports are due later this week.

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Big Lots reappoints Solt to board

BY CSA STAFF

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Big Lots has reappointed Russell Solt to its board of directors after determining that the move is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

Solt will also continue to serve as chairman of the compensation committee, which is composed entirely of independent non-executive directors. Consistent with the terms of the company’s other directors, Solt’s term will run until the 2014 annual meeting of shareholders.

At this year’s annual meeting, which took place in May, Solt failed to garner a majority of the shareholder vote in support of reelection. As a result, Solt offered to resign from the board in accordance with the company’s corporate governance guidelines. After careful deliberation and following the recommendation of the nominating and corporate governance committee, the board opted to not accept Solt’s resignation. Solt did not participate in the either the board’s or the committee’s evaluation.

"The board of directors respects the views of our shareholders and, throughout the past year, the compensation committee and board have listened and taken significant steps to address concerns raised by our shareholders related to executive compensation practices, including reducing the overall CEO compensation package and more closely aligning compensation with shareholder returns," said Philip E. Mallott, chairman of the board. "As chairman of the compensation committee, Russell led these efforts and, together with other committee members and independent advisers, is currently evaluating further improvements to our executive compensation program. We believe that shareholders are best served by Russell’s continued involvement in this process. In addition, Russell’s financial expertise, knowledge of our business, and extensive experience in the retail industry make him a significant contributor to the overall work of our board of directors."

In making its determination, the board considered a number of factors that make Solt well suited to keeping his spot, including his experience as the CFO of other publicly traded retailers, his background in investor relations, his experience as a certified public accountant and his qualification as an audit committee financial expert. The board also believes that Solt’s departure would be disruptive to its efforts to develop a long-range business plan with the new CEO.

The company also engaged directly with a number of shareholders, as well as with proxy advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis, to better understand the concerns that led to a majority of shareholders withholding votes from Solt in May. These concerns appear not to have been directed at Solt personally, but were principally related to previous executive compensation practices that were changed in May.

As previously disclosed, in May, the board separated the roles of CEO and chairman and several key changes were made to the company’s executive compensation program, including reducing the overall CEO compensation package, changing elements of the equity compensation awarded to the new CEO to be more focused on shareholder return metrics, eliminating certain excise tax reimbursement payments, and including a clawback provision in senior management employment agreements. In addition, the compensation committee is currently working with an independent compensation consultant to analyze the company’s long-term incentive compensation program and recommend further changes.

Big Lots operates 1,514 Big Lots stores in the 48 contiguous United States, 3 Big Lots store in Canada, and 76 Liquidation World and LW stores in Canada. Wholesale operations are conducted through Big Lots Wholesale, Consolidated International, and Wisconsin Toy and with online sales at www.biglotswholesale.com.

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