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OfficeMax CMO departs

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Naperville, Ill. — OfficeMax said Friday that its executive VP and chief merchandising office Ryan Vero has resigned, effective Dec. 2.

Michael Lewis, executive VP and president of retail, will continue to provide oversight to the marketing and merchandising teams, according to OfficeMax.

OfficeMax said it is initiating a search for a chief merchandising officer immediately.

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Simon files lawsuit against State of Indiana

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Indianapolis — Shopping mall owner Simon Property Group said Friday it has filed a complaint against the State of Indiana in Marion County Circuit Court.

The suit is not for monetary damages but is a move to try and force the state to make Amazon.com collect sales tax in order to erase Amazon’s pricing advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers.

Until recently, Indiana has declined to press the issue with Amazon. Simon’s lawsuit, filed against the Indiana Department of Revenue, asks that the agency be ordered to "issue an assessment on Amazon for unpaid gross retail taxes and use taxes and all applicable interests and penalties."

According to a statement by Simon, its action is being filed to “benefit all of Indiana’s taxpayers and the state’s brick-and-mortar retailers,” many of which are SPG’s tenants at its 27 shopping centers in Indiana.

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IBM: iPad and other mobile devices to help drive strong online spending in November

BY Marianne Wilson

Armonk, N.Y. — Online holiday shopping in November is expected to grow 12% to 15% versus the year-ago period, with mobile devices such as iPads and Android phones helping to drive spending, according to the IBM Coremetrics Benchmark analysis which gathers data directly from the websites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers. The analysis also predicts that 15% of people in the United States who log onto a retailer’s website during November will do so through a mobile device.

“This November holiday season will mark the true advent of the post-PC era with consumers demonstrating a heightened interest in adding mobile devices to their holiday shopping arsenal,” said John Squire, director, product management, enterprise marketing management group, IBM Industry Solutions. “In response, savvy retailers must invest in delivering hyper-personalized, smarter commerce shopping experiences that are capable of building loyalty through multiple channels with exceptionally relevant promotions, free shipping and more.”

The early holiday season findings are based on data from IBM Coremetrics Benchmark, the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results, including real-time sales data. All of the data is aggregated and anonymous.

In other November holiday shopping predictions from IBM Coremetrics:

  • The iPad factor: Shopping on the iPad will lead to more retail purchases than other mobile devices. This trend is based on October 2011 figures where iPad conversion rates reached 6.8% as compared with the overall mobile device conversion rate of 3.6%.
  • Mobile traffic and sales: In October, nearly 11% of people used a mobile device to log onto a retailer’s site, up from 4.2% in the same period last year. Additionally, mobile sales continue to increase, reaching a high of 9.6% in October 2011, up from 3.4% last year,
  • iPhone & Android: For the first time, Android users will demonstrate similar levels of mobile shopping as iPhone users. These October 2011 numbers show iPhone accounting for 4% of mobile traffic and Android 3.5%.
  • Surgical shopping goes mobile: Mobile shoppers will display a laser focus on buying this season that surpasses that of other online shoppers with a 44.2% bounce rate on mobile devices versus online shopping rates of 37.3%

    The social influence: While the industry will see modest increases in direct social buying, the influence of these sites and services will eclipse that of other channels.

According to October conversion rates, 9.2% of consumers that visited a retail site from a social media site made a purchase. This compares to 5.5% of all direct online shopping last year.

Also in 2010, the vast majority of social shopping will continue to come from Facebook, which in October accounted for 77% of all traffic from social networks.

Using sophisticated analytics technology, the IBM Coremetrics benchmark measures real-time sales data and online marketing results to uncover shopping trends across a wide-variety of channels including social media, mobile devices and other online sources where consumers interact with their brands.

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