MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

IBM study: Mobile to play major role in online holiday shopping

BY Dan Berthiaume

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Armonk, N.Y. – Mobile will continue to play a significant and dominating role in online shopping this holiday season. According to the IBM Retail Holiday Readiness Report, mobile sales for both smartphones and tablets reached a high of 19.1% of all site sales in December 2013, up three-fold from December 2011.

Mobile site traffic reached a record of 38.2% in March 2014, more than double that of March 2012. As a result, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark predicts these figures to continue to rise, with mobile accounting for more than 20% of site sales and more than 43% of site traffic to come November 2014.

To succeed this holiday season, IBM advises that retailers will need to pay attention to both device type and operating system to better focus their mobile app and analytics investments, while at the same time ensuring a flawless customer experience between devices and operating systems.

Other highlights of the report, compiled from the cloud-based IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, include:

• Consumers spending more dollars online: Average order value (AOV) and items per order both reached new three-year highs according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. In terms of online spending, increases in AOV and items per order suggest retailers are savvier than ever when it comes to delivering a streamlined online shopping experience – making it easy for consumers to find items and providing an enticing brand experience. To capitalize on this trend, heading into the holidays, retailers will need to rely on personalization and cross-sell recommendations to further strengthen customer relationships and wallets, the report said.

• Consumer attention spans dwindle: Fueled by the growth of mobile users, who make quick visits to retail sites, online retailers saw average time on site sink to a new low in September 2013 of just 7:09. Page views per session also hit a new bottom of 6.93 in March 2014, two fewer pages than the same period in 2012.

For retailers, this means that, ultimately, shoppers have little tolerance for poor customer experiences – if they can’t find what they need, they’re moving on.

To ensure a seamless customer experience this holiday, marketers should consider investing in customer experience management technologies to identify customer struggle and quickly resolve onsite problems, which can lead to lost revenue, according to the report. And to enhance the visitor experience, marketers and retailers might consider improving site navigation, providing useful content like how-to guides and user forums, as well as ensuring a consistent brand image across channels.

Click here for the full report.

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FINANCE

Finish Line Q1 profit doubles; sales boosted by online and in-store Macy’s shops

BY Marianne Wilson

Indianapolis — The Finish Line’s first-quarter profit more than doubled as the retailer expanded its presence online and in Macy’s stores nationwide. Its results topped Wall Street estimates.

The retailer reported a profit of $12.4 million, compared to $5.1 million in the year-ago period. Revenue was up 16% to $406.5 million. Same-store sales increased 5%.

“We are very pleased with the strong start to fiscal 2015 we delivered in the first quarter,” said Glenn Lyon, Finish Line chairman and CEO. “The integration of our store and digital operations is allowing us to deliver great product and service to consumers in a seamless fashion no matter what channel they choose to shop. At the same time, we are reaching new consumers and expanding market share through our growing relationship with Macy’s. We are confident that our multidivisional, omnichannel strategies will strengthen our market position and drive growth in sales and earnings, allowing us to return increased value to our shareholders in the years ahead.”

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SUPPLY CHAIN

RILA notes concern on union contract talks at West Coast ports as deadline looms

BY Marianne Wilson

Arlington, Va. – With the deadline to resolve the union contract negotiations at West Coast closing in, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) on Friday said that undertaking essential measures to avoid work stoppage and preserve reliable channels for retail supply chains should be the top priority.

RILA issued the following statement, which it attributed to Kelly Kolb, VP government affairs:

"The window to resolve the contract negotiations is rapidly closing. Failure to secure a deal by the June 30 deadline would be particularly undesirable to the retail community as it jeopardizes the movement of goods destined for shelves during the all-important back-to-school and upcoming holiday seasons. Undertaking all the essential measures to avoid work stoppages and strikes that halt the supply chain should be the top priority.

"While the retail community remains hopeful that a deal can be reached before the current contract expires, memories of the challenges from 2002 are still fresh in the minds of many. During the work stoppage of those negotiations, the American economy lost nearly a billion dollars a day, as goods passed out of season and produce rotted on the docks.

"In light of those memories, many retailers have taken stock of the uncertain labor situation at the west coast ports and have implemented contingency plans to preserve the reliability of their supply chains. Some of our members advise that they are beginning to reroute shipments through other channels, taking advantage of more stable routes that became essential during the protracted disputes of 2002.

"As both sides understand, modifications to the massive supply chain plans of the retail industry take time to implement and even longer to undo. The importance of preserving reliable channels for retail supply chains cannot be understated."

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