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Retailers Gather at World Retail Congress in Barcelona

BY CSA STAFF

All the world’s a stage, but few American retailers chose to be in the audience at the second annual World Retail Congress in Barcelona last month. Among the 1,100 delegates from around the world, only some 80 held U.S. passports and only about one-third of them could be classified as retail executives.

Nevertheless, American retailers made their mark. Myron “Mike” Ullman, chairman and CEO of J.C. Penney, took home the prize as the Outstanding Leader of the Year. Penney as a company won as the marketer of the year for its “Every Day Matters” campaign, while REI received top recognition as the employer of the year.

In remarks during formal and informal parts of the WRC, U.S. retailers expressed ambivalence about global development. Answering a question from Chain Store Age about the company’s international plans, Ullman said Penney’s “opportunities lie in suburbia” rather than on foreign soil. During a plenary session with Sir Philip Green of the Arcadia Group and Bhs, Millard “Mickey” Drexler, chairman and CEO of J. Crew, said only through the Internet would his company trade internationally. Drexler said to his knowledge the return on investment from global operations was minimal for most apparel retailers and could not offset the “distraction” it caused to domestic operations.

Green, on the other hand, said he would build his Topshop chain into a global business. The first U.S. Topshop is slated to open Oct. 10 in Manhattan. Green said that one key tactic to keep traffic coming into Topshop is to introduce into the mix 150 new items every 12 days.

Also making news at the WRC:

Carrefour has decided to brand its small 3,000-sq.-ft. stores with its corporate name, reversing a longstanding policy of not placing the Carrefour name on anything less than 8,000 sq. ft.

Paul Charron, chairman emeritus of Liz Claiborne, said it was a “pipe dream” to believe there would be an economic rebound in the second half of this year. He cautioned that losers among retailers would be those that were “undifferentiated” and “unimaginative.”

Gilbert Harrison, chairman of Financo, an investment banking firm, said we were in a “media recession,” that deals weren’t stopping but were slowing and changing in scope.

Drexler said that his new concept, Madewell, is expected to lose $10 million a year for the first two years as the company evaluates its potential.

Sephora has changed its training program based on its partnership with Penney. Sephora had been training new staffers for 21 days. By taking advantage of training technology, Penney has been able to train personnel in just nine days, achieving higher customer-service scores than Sephora. Penney has 71 Sephora departments already open since the department was introduced in 2006. After shoes, it’s the most cross-shopped department in the store, said Ullman, who said Sephora does the buying and runs the Web site while Penney does the training and staffing. Penney gets a commission for Web sales generated through Penney’s link to Sephora’s Internet site.

Sales of $10 billion are expected within five to seven years for Wal-Mart and its Indian partner Bharti, according to Bharti managing director Rajan Bharti Mittal.

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ECOMMERCE

Study: Amazon Prime hits 90 million U.S. members

BY CSA STAFF

Amazon’s Prime memberships continue to climb.

Amazon Prime now has 90 million members in the United States. These shoppers continue to spend on average about $1,300 per year, compared to about $700 per year for non-member customers.

This was according to data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, LLC (CIRP). The firm surveyed 500 U.S.-based members who made a purchase at Amazon.com between July and September 2017.

As of September 30, CIRP estimated that in the U.S., 63% of Amazon customers are Prime members. Based on this estimate, CIRP calculated that Amazon Prime has 90 million members across the nation.

“Amazon Prime membership continued its steady growth as in recent quarters,” said Josh Lowitz, partner and co-founder of CIRP.

“Membership grew 6% in the most recent quarter, the same rate as in the June 2017 quarter, and better than the 3% in the year-ago September 2016 quarter,” he added. “Over the past 12 months, Prime grew by 38%, the same growth rate as in the same 12-month period the year before, from October 2015 to September 2016.”

Prime members’ renewal intention has improved gradually in the past several quarters, and remains at very high levels. In the September 2017 quarter, 95% of Prime members reported that they would “definitely” or “probably” renew their Prime membership, compared to 94% of Prime members in the September 2016 quarter.

“Even as Amazon Prime adds late adopters to the ranks of Prime members, loyalty remains high,” said Mike Levin, partner and co-founder of CIRP.

“The share of members that indicate they are likely to renew for another year has remained high for several quarters, always comfortably above 90%,” he said. “In fact, in some quarters, literally no customers in the sample indicated they would definitely not renew their Amazon Prime membership.”

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ECOMMERCE

New app helps all-natural beauty products retailer stay connected with shoppers

BY CSA STAFF

Mobility is driving The Body Shop’s customer experience in Switzerland.

The Body Shop was eager to improve the customer experience at retail stores throughout Switzerland. This required a new platform that would help the retailer rethink its loyalty program, and better leverage customer data to increase store purchases. By partnering with Axway, The Body Shop added a mobile platform that is helping the company achieve its goals.

For example, by adopting the Axway Appcelerator platform, The Body Shop revamped its Love Your Body Club customer loyalty program. Now members can access the program via a mobile app available on iOS and Android.

The new Love Your Body Club mobile app enables customers to receive tailored offers, earn vouchers, get invited to special events, shop for products, view their purchase history and locate stores. The platform also notifies loyalty program members of offers as they near a store. If customers are interested, the app presents a QR code that can be redeemed at checkout or a voucher that can be redeemed online.

The platform also helps The Body Shop meet the unique needs of the Swiss market where multiple languages are spoken. By incorporating a simple in-app language switching that doesn’t require changing mobile device system settings, the app enables The Body Shop to provide shoppers with a seamless and efficient shopping experience. On the back end, the retailer can also track app opens, session lengths, device use, and pinpoint the customer’s region – components useful in improving the individual customized experience.

The app also streamlines the checkout process by temporarily auto-adjusting the user’s screen brightness for easy scanning of QR codes by the point-of-sale system. In addition, in-store staff can view and repurchase recently bought items for customers to accelerate checkout times.

“We have always been committed to providing our customers with the best possible shopping experience,” said Angelika Lanen, CEO, The Body Shop. “By working with Axway to leverage the latest mobile innovations, we have been able to successfully transform our Love Your Body Club program and give our customers across Switzerland a truly unique shopping experience.”

The Body Shop currently operates more than 3,000 stores in some 66 countries.

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