OPERATIONS

Ikea plans to double solar array on Maryland DC

BY Dan Berthiaume

Conshocken, Pa. – Ikea plans to nearly double the solar array completed in April atop its Perryville, Md., distribution center, the state’s largest such solar energy system. Installation of the new panels will begin in November with completion expected in 2014.

The 467,618-sq.-ft. solar addition will consist of a 2.2-MW system, built with 7,337 modules, and will produce 2,695,355 kWh of electricity annually for the facility. Including the existing system, this 1.7 million-sq.-ft. distribution center’s total 4.9-MW solar installation of 25,913 panels soon will generate 6,092,533 kWh of clean electricity yearly, the equivalent of reducing 4,299 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), according to EPA estimates.

For the development, design and installation of the Perryville distribution center’s current and expanded solar power system, Ikea contracted with Inovateus Solar LLC, an industry-leading solar power distributor and integrator specializing in large-scale solar installations.

Ikea owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems, as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement), and globally has allocated $1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2015. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, Ikea has installed more than 300,000 solar panels on buildings across the world.

“We are pleased at the opportunity to nearly double the solar energy generated by this facility,” said Steffen Daab, distribution center manager. “This is another example of our commitment to create a more sustainable life for communities where we operate.”

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Analysis: Social holiday buzz grows

BY Dan Berthiaume

Los Angeles — Earlier in October, shoppers were put off by holiday displays in store; now people are warming up to them. Analysis of social media buzz for the week of Oct. 30 – Nov. 5 by social media research firm Fizziology shows that positive conversation about displays rose from 15% to 22%, while negatives dropped from 76% to 42%.

It seems that Halloween was the cutoff point of when people found it acceptable, as 12% said stores should wait until after Halloween, and 8% said wait until after Thanksgiving. This social conversation surrounding holiday displays rose substantially since late October (251% week over week). Volume shot up on Oct. 31 due to people talking about the juxtaposition between Halloween products and Christmas decorations in some stores. It has remained high since then. Instead of people being angry about early decor, some are asking if it’s OK for them to put up their personal decorations as well.

Conversation surrounding holiday/Christmas shopping continued to trend upward gradually week over week (a 109% increase, up to 291k mentions this past week). While the week of Oct. 23, only 24% of buzz was from consumers (rather than news outlets, stores and promotional material); however, the following week that percentage rose to 40% as people made it clear they’re starting to prepare. Leading neutral chatter was many small businesses (especially via Etsy) that were starting to promote products and gift ideas via Twitter.

The percentage of people in the middle of shopping rose from 16% to 29% of organic mentions. Only 2% of feeds came from people announcing that they were done shopping for gifts. Eleven percent of shopper mentions came from people offering gift ideas, while 5% revolved around DIY (down from 8% last week). People sharing what they want for Christmas broke through in 11% of organic shopping conversation, and some were buying for themselves.


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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Smartphones edge out other technology for gifts

BY Dan Berthiaume

Austin, Texas – Smartphones are starting to edge out other popular forms of consumer technology as holiday gifts. According to a new survey from RetailMeNot and The Omnibus Company, within the next five years, less than one-in-five winter holiday gift givers plan to buy someone a portable music player (19%), desktop computer (19%), GPS device (13%) or regular cell phone (9%) for the holidays.

In addition, nearly half of consumers (46%) surveyed say they would prefer to use a smartphone over a digital camera to take most of their pictures. In other holiday-related technology findings, nearly half of the consumers surveyed feel that children should have their own cell phone (46%) or tablet (44%) at age 13 or younger. Additionally, nearly half of parents (48%) are willing to consider purchasing a tablet for their child.

The most popular electronics parents are willing to consider buying for their children are gaming consoles (62%), handheld educational devices (58%), portable music players (54%) and handheld gaming devices (54%). Fathers are more likely than mothers (68% versus 57%) to consider buying a gaming console for their child.

According to the survey, the top three categories of gifts purchased on Black Friday are apparel, electronics and entertainment. More than half of consumers (56%) believe that Black Friday provides the most savings out of all the major winter holiday sale days, beating out Cyber Monday, Free Shipping Day, Green Monday and Thanksgiving.

"With a variety of new products and technologies being introduced into the marketplace, this holiday season is all about upgrading your tech," said Trae Bodge, senior editor of The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. "Black Friday sales present a huge opportunity to score deep discounts on consumer electronics. To make the most of Black Friday, smart shoppers need to map out a game plan to get this year’s hot gadgets at bargain prices."


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