MOBILITY

A.T. Kearney study explores motivators of consumers’ online behavior

BY CSA STAFF

ChicagoThe growing importance of the multichannel shopping experience is highlighted in a new study by A.T. Kearney. The report, "Connected Consumers Are Not Created Equal: A Global Perspective," is focused on better understanding today's connected consumers.

According to the study, the vast majority (90%) of purchases today are made in physical stores, and of people who buy 'online,' 50% of the sales go through online sites run by retailers with physical stores. For those consumers that buy something exclusively online, chances are (67%) of them will go to a physical store to discover, test, taste or get their friends to weigh in on the decision.

For those consumers that buy something exclusively online, chances are (67%) these consumers will go to a physical store to discover, test, taste or get their friends to weigh in on the decision.

“The key point is that the debate should not be a question of digital vs. physical,” said Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney partner and study co-author. “Successful retailers understand how each customer touch point adds value in the eyes of customers, and they develop omnichannel strategies that maximize customer satisfaction and profitability."

When asked what products they shop for online, respondents identify a wide array of items, indicating e-commerce's evolution and its geographical differences. Clothing, electronics, books, music, and services rate highly, but bigger-ticket items such as home appliances and furnishings also rate high.

The research found that there are four important motivations for connected consumers across the globe:

Interpersonal connection – 73% of participants said that connecting with other people is a key motivation for going online.

Exploration – Globally, 95% of respondents agree that the need to find and learn new things is a primary motivator for going online.

Self-expression – Sharing opinions with others through the Internet is particularly strong in emerging markets and places where offline self-expression is limited.

Convenience – Means different things—for some it is sports and movies, for others it is home delivery

Forty-six percent of respondents say social networks are the biggest draw for their time online, but there are big differences. In Brazil, Nigeria, India, and Russia people spend more time on social networks than any other activity; in the United States, Germany, and Japan social networks are not a main focus of online activity.

"The need for connection, self-expression, exploration, and convenience has changed the roles that brands and retailers play, noted Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study. “To be successful, brands and retailers must address these needs by building communities, entertaining, and educating consumers and maintaining an ongoing dialogue."

In mature markets, only a few consumers say that they respond to banner ads or pop-ups (in the U.S. only 7% say they click on banners or advertisements). However, a high percentage of consumers in South Africa, Brazil, India, China and Nigeria are open to online ads and are willing to check out the offers behind them.

The influence of social media on consumption varies dramatically by country and by age. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of connected consumers in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan say they rarely or never consider social media chatter when thinking about products, services, or brands to buy.

However, the majority of consumers in China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Nigeria will use social network feedback in shopping. Chinese consumers value social media commentary: almost 95% say they occasionally or frequently use social networks to evaluate products, services, or brands.

Click here to read the full report: "Connected Consumers Are Not Created Equal: A Global Perspective"

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MOBILITY

Birchbox launches in Canada

BY Marianne Wilson

New YorkOnline beauty retailer Birchbox is launching in Canada, marking the sixth country the company has expanded to since launching in the United States in Sept. 2010.

Since our launch in 2010, we’ve had tens of thousands of customer inquiries regarding shipping to Canada,” says Birchbox co-Founder and co-CEO Katia Beauchamp. “So we’re thrilled to finally bring Birchbox north of the border.”

Birchbox boxes in Canada will officially be open for purchase on Nov. 12, with the first Canadian Birchboxes shipping in December. Birchbox subscriptions for women cost $14.95 per month or $159.40 per year including shipping and taxes.

As the newest members of Birchbox’s 800,000-plus subscriber base, Canadian consumers will now have the opportunity to try, learn about and buy premium beauty products previously unavailable in Canada. The international growth will allow Canadian beauty brands to expand both nationwide and internationally to enable customers to experience products not previously available in the U.S.

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REAL ESTATE

Retail vacancy rate in central New Jersey at six-year low

BY Marianne Wilson

Old Bridge, N.J.An improved picture in both ‘big-box’ and smaller store spaces combined to push the retail vacancy rate along central New Jersey’s major shopping corridors to a six-year low of 7.6% from 9.8% in 2013, according to the latest study by R.J. Brunelli & Co. Looking back over the past 10 years, the 2014 figure compared with the high of 10.5% in 2011 and low of 3.4% in 2006.

In all, the Old Bridge-based retail real estate brokerage’s 25th annual study of the central New Jersey market found 2.33 million square feet of vacancies in the 30.94 million square feet of space reviewed along State Highways 1, 9, 18 and 35 in Mercer, Middlesex and Monmouth counties, and a small section of Ocean County.

The region’s most heavily retailed road, Route 35, experienced the steepest decline in vacancies, followed by Routes 9 and 1, while Route 18 showed a slight increase.

The study found availabilities in 180 of the 815 sites visited throughout the region during this year’s third quarter. As in the past, R.J. Brunelli’s study evaluates shopping centers and freestanding buildings exceeding 2,000 square feet—including restaurants, auto service facilities and vacant auto dealerships whose location and configuration makes them viable for retail use. Regional malls and centers under construction or in the early or mid-stages of major redevelopment are excluded.

The improvement in the two regions was triggered by a significant number of new leases that accounted for more than 3.4 million square feet during the past 12 months, according to the firm’s research. Big-box chains doing multiple deals across the two regions’ corridors included Nordstrom Rack (Routes 10, 1 and 35); Hobby Lobby (Routes 1, 9 and 46); and Big Lots (Routes 10, 1 and 35). Smaller-space operators with multiple deals along the corridors were led by R.J. Brunelli client Dollar Tree (five locations), followed by Jersey Mike’s, Med Express and Tiger Shulman martial arts (each with four).

“While empty big-boxes continued to be absorbed in central New Jersey during 2014, one interesting development was the steeper reduction in smaller-store vacancies,” said Richard J. Brunelli, president of the firm. “This contrasted sharply with what we saw in northern New Jersey, where a very strong reduction in big-box vacancies was partially offset by rising vacancies in smaller spaces,” he noted. In all, the big-box share of total vacancies on the central corridors slipped to 34.1% from 36.9% in 2013.

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