MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

ICSC: Brick-and-mortar favorite back-to-school shopping venue

BY Marianne Wilson

New York – The back-to-school (BTS) shopping season is already in full swing, with over one-third (37%) of consumers having begun their shopping – up from the 29% who started at this time last year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. And roughly 90% of households indicated a selection of brick-and-mortar retail as a shopping venue for the BTS season.

For all 2014 BTS shopping venues, discounters represented a 23.7% share of where consumers will shop. The biggest mover was apparel specialty stores which leaped from an 8.4% share in 2013 to a 10% share this year. The share of online as a BTS shopping venue will be 8.1% this year – a drop from last year’s 8.6%. Catalogues will comprise a 3% share. This means that brick-and-mortar retail, in total, will comprise almost a 90% share of BTS shopping.

Furthering the trend of “webrooming” – 73% of consumers indicated that they will do research online, and then purchase in a physical store.

“After a tough winter with adverse weather in much of the country, retailers have been enjoying a strong start to summer as pent-up demand has propelled sales,” said Jesse Tron, spokesman for ICSC. “This momentum will continue into the BTS selling season as well, with the vast majority of consumers indicating a strong propensity to shop for school related items. While consumers typically view BTS merchandise as an essential expenditure, we are seeing a strong indication that consumers will be spending on more discretionary purchases as well – a good omen for retail as we progress through the BTS season and into the holidays,” he added.

Total BTS expenditures per household are expected to be $672 this year. Excluding electronics, expenditures on BTS items will be $325 – up sharply from $285 in 2013. The share of consumers expecting to spend more this year jumped to 50% – a significant increase from last year when 39% expected to increase spending.

Additionally, the share that indicated they would significantly increase (over 10%) expenditures rose from 12% last year to 21% in 2014.

For 2014, 20% of consumers indicated that a change in fashion trends is a reason that they will change their spending compared to last year – doubling 2013’s indication.

Sales were the number one motivating factor for a consumer to purchase at a specific store location at 61%. The ability to physically see, touch, or try on the merchandise was second at 52%.

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News

Rue21 retools POS with Epicor for seamless customer experience

BY Dan Berthiaume

Warrendale, Pa. – Specialty apparel retailer Rue21 is upgrading to the latest version of the Epicor Retail Store POS solution. Leveraging Epicor Retail Store, Rue21 will unify the customer experience across e-commerce and brick and mortar locations for simplified, streamlined operations, including returns management, and also support planned growth to 1,700 stores.

“Shoppers will soon experience a new level of service from Rue21,” said Dirk Armstrong, senior VP of store operations, rue21. “Epicor Retail Store gives us the foundation to create a seamless customer experience across our stores and our e-commerce business. We will have the ability to better serve customers through an understanding of their past purchases, enabling us to anticipate future wants and needs.”

Following implementation of the upgraded version, customers will be able to easily return and exchange items regardless of the channel of purchase as store associates will have a single view of cross-channel transactions.

Epicor Retail Store will give Rue21 the flexibility to offer a wide variety of promotional offers; and store associates will experience simplified at-the-register promotional processing, resulting in faster checkouts and improved productivity.

Promotion and productivity gains are big wins for us here,” said Mike Holland, senior VP and chief information officer, Rue21. “From an IT perspective, we needed a POS solution and operating system that could scale to meet the needs of new markets and our plans to grow to 1,700 stores, as well as manage multiple configurations and meet new and emerging compliance mandates. As part of our POS overhaul, we’ll be leveraging Windows Embedded POSReady 7, which will simplify both management and deployment.”

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OPERATIONS

Lowe’s to open customer support center in Indiana

BY Marianne Wilson

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Lowe’s announced plans to locate a customer support center in Indianapolis, creating up to 1,000 new jobs by 2016.

The retailer plans to invest $20.5 million to purchase, renovate and equip a 140,000-sq.-ft. office facility at Intech Park 12, 6620 Network Way, on the northwest side of Indianapolis. The new center will support stores and internet sales, delivery services and repair services for Lowe’s customers across the United States.

The facility is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2015 and will complement the company’s existing customer support centers located in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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