OPERATIONS

Kenneth Cole selects Zmags for mobile, social and tablet commerce

BY Staff Writer

Boston — Zmags, a provider of rich media mobile and social merchandising, announced that Kenneth Cole has chosen Zmags CommercePro to create integrated web, mobile/tablet and Facebook-commerce brand experiences that drive product discovery and inspire purchase.

Kenneth Cole’s first commerce-enabled catalog launched in November, providing a dynamic and engaging experience to help its customers discover and buy the perfect gift.

“With Zmags, we have created tablet- and social-friendly content that makes browsing our lines more inspiring and buying the perfect gift much easier,” said Robert Genovese, VP media/ marketing, Kenneth Cole. “The Kenneth Cole customer is always seeking inspiration and new looks. And this holiday season, our investment in Zmags will entice customers shopping with us using their tablet or via our Facebook page.”

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OPERATIONS

Accenture report: Consumer electronics industry faces projected $17 billion product returns bill

BY Staff Writer

New York City — Customers returning electronics products will cost U.S. consumer electronics retailers and manufacturers nearly $17 billion this year, an increase of 21% since 2007, according to a new Accenture research report. These costs include receiving, assessing, repairing, reboxing, restocking and reselling returned products.

Only 13% of the retailers and 12% of the manufacturers surveyed indicated that return rates are trending downward, according to Accenture’s “A Returning Problem: Reducing the Quantity and Cost of Product Returns in Consumer Electronics.”

The research is based in part on a survey of executives from communications carriers, consumer electronics retailing and consumer electronics manufacturing companies, which revealed that product return rates over the past three to five years have increased for more than half of the retailers (57%) and nearly half (43%) of the manufacturers surveyed.

However, the Accenture research also revealed a significant opportunity for the industry to cut costs and reduce the level of product returns, given that only 5% of returns are related to actual product defects. While 27% reflect “buyer’s remorse,” 68% of returned products ultimately are characterized as “No Trouble Found.” This means that, despite the customer perceiving a fault, no problem was detected when the item was tested against specifications set by retailers or manufacturers, according to the report.

The report also concludes that solving this No Trouble Found problem – or even reducing it slightly – could have a significant impact on the cost of returns. Accenture has calculated that a 1% reduction in the number of No Trouble Found cases could translate to annual savings of 4% in return and repair costs, or $21 million for a typical large consumer electronics manufacturer and $16 million for the average consumer electronics retailer.

“These high consumer electronics return rates are unsustainable in a sector with brutal competition and thin margins,” said Mitch Cline, managing director of Accenture’s Electronics & High-Tech group. “Manufacturers and retailers should do more to differentiate their customer service by helping consumers understand, set up, use and optimize the products they purchase. Most companies invest considerable sums to manage returns, but need to refocus their strategies on proactively preventing returns through customer education and aftermarket support.”

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Let Sears be your travel guide

BY CSA STAFF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Sears, a name that comes to mind when thinking of places to fix the car or shop for tools, will soon be associated with travel thanks to a new partnership with International Cruise & Excursions Inc.

The agreement will create Sears Vacations, which will provideunique leisure vacation experiences, primarily through an online platform, will give customers the opportunity to opt-in to receive exclusive offers and extraordinary values on travel and vacation packages, the companies said. According to a press release, Sears Vacations are geared to toward customers looking for family-centric vacations at a good price.

"Sears is an iconic brand with strong customer loyalty. Sears Vacations aligns perfectly to Sears’ history of providing customers attractive, valuable, high-quality products and services. We are thrilled to provide the value-oriented Sears customer an exclusive program that allows them to take advantage of significant savings on a broad range of customized vacation and leisure experiences," said ICE president and CEO, John Rowley.

Sears Vacations is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2012 and will be promoted by ICE through Sears retail stores, Sears.com and Sears’ licensed business partners.

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