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ICSC: More consumers will shop Black Friday this year

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A report released Thursday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs said that 34% of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, up from 31% in 2010 and 26% in 2009.

“In addition to buying gifts, consumers overwhelmingly indicated that they would be looking for bargains on Black Friday for themselves as well,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC.

Additionally, with some retailers planning to open for limited hours on Thanksgiving Day, 16% of consumers indicated that they would take advantage and head to the mall.

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Report: Retail experiences can drive growth, profit and loyalty

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — PwC US, in its report Experience Radar 2011: Retail Insights, found that retailers that design differentiated ‘experiences’ around their products and services can drive growth, profitability and lasting consumer loyalty, while also maintaining a price premium over competitors.

The study, based on PwC’s Experience Radar methodology, measured the experiences of more than 6,000 U.S. consumers across 11 industries.

The PwC Retail Insights study found that consumer loyalty is born from shopping experiences that create strong psychological connections, rather than from points or rewards programs alone. Looking at five core consumer experience attributes — accessibility, support, quality, presentation and social belonging — the PwC study’s objective was to identify what’s most important to consumers and then develop and deploy an action plan to deliver a great customer experience.

“In today’s economy, retailers must identify new ways to set themselves apart, and that begins with a clear focus on customer experience,” said Susan McPartlin, PwC’s U.S. Retail & Consumer industry leader.

PwC suggested that retailers focus on enhancing service through investing in knowledgeable staff and leveraging front-line employees. According to the study, product knowledge and recommendations accounted for almost one third of good experiences related to support, while only 1% of shoppers cited rewards programs alone as influencing their purchase decisions.

According to PwC, retailers should consider developing an experience action plan built upon their loyalty program’s customer knowledge that strives to achieve five key experience enhancers: using front-line staff to create positive shopper experiences; make customers brand ambassadors; overcome shopper concerns and help them avoid risk; embrace the anytime, anywhere economy; and when something bad happens, fix it.

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Retail Checklist: Tips for Black Friday crowd control

BY Staff Writer

Bay Shore, N.Y. — With a week to Black Friday, Lawrence, a Tensator Group Co., and a provider of queue management solutions, has issued its top five considerations for Black Friday crowd management.

By bearing the following considerations in mind and implementing simple queue management solutions, customers will be able to safely and efficiently move through checkout lines, according to Lawrence, and retailers can rescue sales that would have been otherwise abandoned.

Here is what retailers should keep in mind as they gear up for the big day:

Safety first: Allocate enough queue space to accommodate everyone looking to enter the store or the checkout lines.

Have extra barriers on-hand in case the need arises to better define spaces around hot selling items or to establish additional queuing spaces.

Utilize unproductive space. Turn wait time into additional browsing/shopping time by using in-queue merchandising solutions. Keeping customers engaged and entertained will make wait time more pleasurable and smart retailers can expect to benefit from additional revenue generation by offering impulse products.

Communication is key with large crowds. Make sure all store signage is clear, visible and effective bottom line: Make customer service and satisfaction the top priority. Train your staff to be alert, attentive, know the safety rules and be service oriented.

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