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SAP: Start back-to-school promos later, focus online

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walldorf, Germany – Retailers should consider waiting until August to launch back-to-school promotions and focus them heavily on online shoppers. According to new data from SAP, consumer sentiment toward back-to-school advertising doesn’t become positive till the end of July.

Sentiment hangs lower than negative 20% before July and only shows a positive margin after Aug. 1. And while running a commercial provides little value, deals and sales receive positive sentiment year-round. SAP’s research actually suggests retailers should time promotions to match the buying season of certain products. For example, apparel, supplies, and electronics, all goods associated with back-to-school, sell better in August.

In addition, in 2014, 50% of shoppers purchased back-to-school items online. This marks a 13% increase from 2013 to present. If the trend continues, online shopping is set to outpace in-store back-to-school shopping in 2015.

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RILA president urges resolution to West Coast ports contract disput

BY Marianne Wilson

Arlington, Va. — The president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, Sandy Kennedy, has sent a letter to the heads of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) urging them to remain focused on securing a new, long-term contract in the immediate future to ensure stability at the west coast ports. The letter reflects the growing angst among the retail community over the lack of a new agreement.

“Without a finalized contract, the chief concern of a possible repeat of the 2002 shutdown remains,” Kennedy wrote.

The protracted negotiations follow the expiration of a six-year agreement between the PMA and ILWU almost two months ago, leaving the long-term stability of the west coast ports as a reliable channel in the global supply chain unsettled. Work has continued during the extended talks.

“Retailers continue to exercise contingency plans throughout their massive supply chain operations despite the fact the west coast negotiations have not reached an impasse,” Kennedy continued. “While goods continue to move at an efficient rate through the west coast ports of entry, each day without a finalized agreement jeopardizes the movement of goods destined for shelves during the all-important holiday season.”

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Study: QVC tops in mobile customer experience

BY Dan Berthiaume

Chicago – QVC received top ranking in the Mobile Customer Experience Index from The E-tailing Group. QVC scored 84.17 on a 100-point scale, with the average score being 71.5.

On both iOS and Android platforms, mobile retailers were evaluated on key page prowess, brand parity, likelihood to buy and errors experienced in the process, effective merchandising execution, feature-rich retail locators, lookup and pickup options for multi-channel retailer, product and category information depth, shopper-centric search options, strong cross-channel shopper profile integration, efficient checkout, related tools and likelihood to buy, and cross-device and cross-channel promotion.

In 2014, seven retailers achieved an 80-plus score distinguishing themselves from their peers. QVC took top honors amidst a strong field. Both American Eagle Outfitters and Sephora made the cut two years. These scores reflect shopping experiences shaping up to meet the needs of the mobile shopper. According to The E-tailing Group, mobile execution is being taken seriously and more retailers have attempted to deliver channel consistency while still embracing mobile-centric needs.

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