TECHNOLOGY

Michaels crafts responsive merchandising strategy

BY CSA STAFF

Michaels Companies Inc. is tailoring its promotions, markdowns and prices to current customer demand.

The arts and crafts retailer is deploying Revionics merchandising solutions including the vendor’s promotions, markdown and price suites.

A very real challenge for retailers — who now market to the most technology-enabled, in-control shoppers ever — is to avoid the promotional downward spiral vortex and sidestep the vicious “race to the bottom” on competitive pricing. These traps severely erode margins, profits and brand image.

By leveraging Revionics’ solutions, Michaels hopes to be able to proactively listen, sense and shape demand in response to its customers. As a result, the arts and crafts retailer intends to deliver high-impact pricing, promotions and markdowns.

“Revionics stood out with their ability to manage the entire pricing, promotion and markdown processes, from analysis and planning through execution and measurement,” said Chris Abell, VP of pricing and promotion analytics for Michaels. “We are very impressed with Revionics’ proven science, intelligent and actionable analytics, transparency and what-if scenario planning, which will help us implement more customer-centric campaigns across all channels."

Without a thorough and timely understanding of what customers are willing to pay for which products, retailers can wind up “racing to the bottom” with overly competitive price discounts. This negatively impacts margins and profits and can even affect consumer willingness to pay full price at a particular retailer.

Michaels is creating a strategy to make sure its prices entice consumers and move merchandise — without leaving an ugly mess to clean later.

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MOBILITY

Google makes mobile move ahead of holidays

BY Mike Troy

Retailers will have a new friction-free way to convert shoppers into buyers this holiday season as Google expects buy button functionality piloted last year to be broadly available by the fourth quarter.

Twenty-five merchants currently participate in Google’s mobile buy button program launched last year, according to Vineet Buch, director of product management for shopping search with Google. The program enables a user who initiates a search query on a mobile device to receive results containing a link, or buy button, from which they can seamlessly consummate a transaction with a retailer. Widespread availability of the enhanced functionality is the latest development in the rapid shift to mobile that is altering how retailers engage, inform and increase conversion.

“The users on mobile are looking for answers. They are not interested in opening 10 different tabs. They want magic to happen,” Buch said during a keynote address at ChannelAdvisor’s Catalyst conference. Buch and ChannelAdvisor’s Link Walls, vice president of product management with the cloud-based e-commerce solutions provider, shared the stage at the annual event where Walls questioned Buch about Google’s views on commerce and retail initiatives. “We want to make sure (mobile users) know they are consummating the transaction with the merchant. The constraints on scaling the program have not been due to a lack of interest from merchants.”

Buch said Google needed to build functionality in order to offer a full-featured user experience on the mobile landing page, the buy button capability and to make it easier for merchants to interact with Google, which he conceded isn’t always easy. Without offering specifics in front of an audience of roughly 1,000 people, Buch said, “there are a few things we are working on.”

By year end, the mobile buy button functionality will be pretty much open to any merchant who wants to come in, although the program will grow linearly for the next several quarters, Buch said while gesturing with a slight upward sweep of his arm.

“For a lot of people (the mobile buy button) makes a lot of sense,” Buch said.

The timing couldn’t be better for merchants looking to increase conversion on mobile devices that for the first time in 2015 exceeded desktop computers and tablet devices combined as the major source of traffic to Google. The search leader wants to do a better job of letting merchants tell a story about who they are, what they stand for and then connect search results with the availability of products.

“You should expect to see us innovate along that dimension,” Buch said. “We want the user to feel like they are assisted by Google, not just shown a handful of products and told, ‘now you figure it out.’”

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FINANCE

Online retailer taps industry vet as CFO

BY Marianne Wilson

ModCloth, known for its indie and vintage-inspired styles, appointed Phil Neri as chief financial officer (CFO), starting April 15.

Neri joins ModCloth with over two decades of financial and operational experience in the consumer, online and multichannel retail sector, most recently serving as CFO at home and lifestyle brand Serena & Lily since 2011.

“Phil’s tremendous financial leadership experience and expertise is a great fit with ModCloth’s current phase of expansion and growth, including offline, international and brand extensions,” said ModCloth CEO Matt Kaness.

Prior to Serena & Lily, Neri held the CFO role at Delivery Agent, Inc. and Gumps of San Francisco, as well as financial leadership positions at Restoration Hardware and Williams-Sonoma.

ModCloth recently launched a series of five pop-up shop events taking place across the country this summer.

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