Spencer’s Gifts overhauls merchandising backbone
Managing a diverse inventory and high transaction volume is no laughing matter.
This process becomes even harder when data is being supported by a legacy merchandising system. Ready for a change, Spencer’s conducted “an exhaustive search of the enterprise retail systems market,” according to the chain’s CIO Carey Lowrey.
In the end, the chain selected Mi9 Merchant merchandising platform from Mi9 Retail. The new merchandising architecture, which will be the retailer’s core merchandising solution, will centralize information and provide "best of breed" functionality, including advanced allocations.
The scalable infrastructure, which will function as the backbone of Spencer’s enterprise retail system, will replace Spencer’s legacy merchandising technology — a solution that had been customized over many years to support the unique, complex characteristics of its business. Mi9 Merchant is designed to manage significant transaction volumes and diverse inventory and assortments.
The system will manage merchandising operations for more than 600 Spencer’s stores in the United States and Canada, as well as the company’s seasonal Spirit Halloween pop-up stores.
Study: Apparel retailers still seek the perfect technology fit
As more shoppers embrace digital solutions, apparel retailers must merge online and offline experiences to drive e-commerce sales.
This was according to “Apparel Trend Report: Reconciling the Tech with the Tactile,” a report from Criteo that highlights the latest shopping trends in the apparel and accessories retail category. The report offers insight into shifting shopper behavior and actionable intelligence for retailers and brands as they seek to fully capitalize on the apparel e-commerce ecosystem.
On average, there are more than three products in every online shopping cart. Carts with an apparel item averaged $95.21 during the third quarter of 2016, highlighting the need for marketers to maximize cross-selling opportunities. Meanwhile, one-third of all apparel purchases were made via mobile phones during the weekends in December 2016 at the height of the holiday shopping season — a factor that suggests marketers need to adopt ‘mobile first’ strategies to capitalize on this trend.
Specifically, the Sunday peaks reflect the omnichannel nature of e-commerce. The average cart size hit $126 on Sunday, Nov. 13, and the second biggest day was Sunday, Dec. 7 — with shoppers likely identifying clothes in-store and purchasing online at a convenient time, the report said.
“The apparel and accessories category is witnessing a massive transformation,” said Jonathan Opdyke, president, Brand Solutions, Criteo.
“Millennial shoppers purchase the majority of their clothing and accessories online and retail storefronts are shifting to showrooming, in which shoppers can experience in real life and then purchase online,” he added. “Apparel brands and retailers must embrace the new ‘always-on’ retail paradigm, where seasonality plays less of a role and in-store and online technology innovation enhances the shopper experience.”
To attract the omnichannel shopper who is merging offline and online experiences, retailers should:
● Embrace in-store and online tech innovation: Augmented Reality experiences, as well as in-store technology, like eBay magic mirrors, enhance the shopping experience.
● Leverage sponsored product listings to drive awareness and sales: Sponsored products, which are relevant to the purchaser and multiple SKU categories like Apparel and Accessories, reach shoppers at the point of need.
● Explore your retail lifestyle: The top retailers all treat their sites like a combination of a store and Vogue: they tell lifestyle stories in which shoppers can ‘see themselves’ as they go through the purchase process.
● Use paid search to help increase organic rankings: Paid search is proven to drive immediate product sales with the added benefit of lifting search rankings overall.
● Personalize everything: The word “bespoke” is suddenly back – but this time it defines how an item of apparel is tailored through technology to be something unique and special, whether in the fit of the garment or other elements.
● Make e-commerce marketing an always-on strategy: E-commerce has fundamentally changed retailing seasonality. Marketers’ brand budgets must be able to cover not just traditional retail seasons like holidays and spring, but the entire year.
● Try before you buy: With subscription boxes like PopSugar and Bespoke Post, marketers can – and should – get their brands into the hands of shoppers. Cultivate these sampling programs that work especially well for accessories.
● Ditch print in favor of digital: There is no more effective way to build up your customer email database than permission to email shoppers their receipts. It’s a technique that consumers increasingly expect and can be used to connect offline shopper data sets to online ones for retargeting online based on offline purchasing patterns.
PetSmart acquires fast-growing online rival
PetSmart is beefing up its digital offerings with the acquisition of the leading online retailer of pet food and products. And the retailer reportedly is paying handsomely for it.
PetSmart has entered into an agreement to acquire Chewy, which offers a wide selection of products and food for pets, ranging from cats and dogs to horses. The price was not disclosed by the two privately-held companies, but Recode put the deal at a whopping $3.35 billion. If Recode is correct in the amount, it would be the biggest e-commerce acquisition to date, slightly exceeding Walmart’s acquisition of jet.com last year.
Founded in 2011, Chewy is based in Dania, Florida. The company had been on a steep upward trajectory. Sales reportedly totaled $900 million in 2016, and the retailer had said it expected to increase revenue to $1.5 billion this year.
The acquisition is expected to close by the end of PetSmart’s second fiscal quarter of 2017.
“We are focused on improving our customers’ experience in-store and online as we continue to execute against our long-term strategic initiatives,” said Michael Massey, president and CEO of PetSmart, which operates some 1,524 stores nationwide. “Chewy’s high-touch customer e-commerce service model and culture centered around a love of pets is the ideal complement to PetSmart’s store footprint and diverse offerings.”
After the deal is closed, Chewy will continue to be led by CEO Ryan Cohen and operate largely as an independent subsidiary of PetSmart, focusing on its current business strategy, while PetSmart will continue to execute its strategic initiatives across the combined company. Both companies will use their shared innovative capabilities and offerings in order to deliver the most value and convenience to customers, PetSmart said.
PetSmart rival Petco is also expanding its online capabilities. On April 4, the company acquired digital pet services company PetCoach, a pet advice website and app that helps pet owners take better care of their pets, connecting them with veterinarians for personalized answers to their questions.