OPERATIONS

Nielsen: Top five retail apps and websites

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — During the 2011 holiday season, the top retail apps and websites combined — Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, Target and Walmart — reached nearly 60 % of smartphone owners, according to Nielsen.

“The majority of smartphone owners used their devices for shopping this past holiday season,” said John Burbank, president of strategic initiatives at Nielsen. “Mobile shopping has reached scale and is only going to grow as smartphone penetration continues to rise.”

Nielsen’s metering of the smartphones of 5,000 U.S. volunteers participating in Nielsen’s mobile research also revealed the following:

  • Smartphone owners of both genders prefer retailers’ mobile websites over mobile apps, with men slightly more likely to try retailers’ mobile apps than women. However, consumers who use retailers’ mobile apps tend to spend more time on them.
  • Target and Walmart skew female when it comes to their mobile websites, while Best Buy skews male. Amazon and eBay appeal to both genders.
  • All of the top five mobile retail websites experienced a “bump” during the days leading up to and following Black Friday, led by Amazon. This seasonal lift did not translate into an increase in regular usage, however. By January, active reach was back to October 2011 levels.

“Retailers need to think of their business as a multichannel environment that can potentially include mobile, online, and brick-and-mortar stores,” said Burbank. “Winning with shoppers requires a consistent experience across channels that reinforces the values you represent as a retail brand, whether it be price, service, reviews, selection, style, or other key attributes.”

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Panera Bread Co. announces move to co-CEOs

BY Marianne Wilson

St. Louis — Panera Bread Co. announced that founder and executive chairman, Ron Shaich, and president and CEO, Bill Moreton, will become co-CEOs, effective immediately.

The announcement formalizes a relationship that has evolved over the last year and is a reflection of the way in which Shaich and Moreton have been operating as partners, the company said.

Each individual’s formal title will be as follows: Ron Shaich, chairman of the board and co-CEO; Bill Moreton, president and co-CEO.

At the end of 2011, Panera Bread Co. operated 1,541 bakery-cafes under the Panera Bread, Saint Louis Bread Co., and Paradise Bakery & Café names.

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First Data issues report on gift card usage

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — The average gift card dollar volume growth on a year-over-year basis increased 10% during the last six months of 2011, with consumers shopping earlier in the holiday season for prepaid cards and adding more value to their purchases than in 2010, according to a study by First Data Corp.

“The state of the economy in the U.S. led to a significant increase in the average consumer’s usage of prepaid cards,” said Silvio Tavares, SVP and division manager of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions. “Consumers were more willing to reload gift cards in order to earn discounts and rewards in everyday spending categories of grocery, discount, and gasoline.”

The report shows that grocery, discount, and gasoline retailers aligned their prepaid strategy to respond to the painful reality of higher fuel prices on the every-day spending needs of families. According to industry reports, the typical U.S. household spent a record $4,155 on gasoline in 2011 — about $1,300 more than the 10-year average. By leveraging prepaid reloadable cards in new and existing fuel rewards programs, best-in-class retailers gained a greater share of consumer spending, more repeat visits, and improved customer loyalty.

The report, “2011 Year-End Prepaid Gift Card Market Analysis,” is one of a series of research analyses from First Data Advisors, the custom analytics and consulting unit of First Data Global Information and Analytics Solutions.

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