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Study: E-retailers provide insights into multichannel visibility

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Atlanta — A study released Tuesday by commerce provider Innotrac Corp. provided insights into how today’s e-tailers are faring in terms of online progression.

The study, called SmartHub, evaluated 100 leading U.S. e-retailers across six different product categories in February. It found that the average number of checkout pages required to complete an order was three. Only 7% of merchants surveyed offered one-page checkout as an option.

In other findings:

  • Ninety-six percent of merchants surveyed were able to confirm inventory of a purchased item through customer service, however, of those who had more than one distribution channel (online plus physical stores, or catalog), only 47% of CSRs appeared to have visibility into activity happening outside of the e-commerce or direct channel.
  • Sixty-five percent of merchants surveyed were able to ship packages to customers in three days or less, a slight improvement from the busy fourth quarter holiday season. Merchants in the housewares/home category were most expedient, with 74% of orders received within three business days.
  • Thirty-eight percent of merchants utilized some sort of branded packaging, either inside or outside the box, up from 29% in the fourth quarter. Health/beauty merchants were most aggressive, with 53% utilizing branded packaging, the only category in the survey that indexed higher than 50%.

The addition of several new data points, including those pertaining to customer service, has provided additional insights not seen in previous surveys, said Innotrac. Multichannel visibility is one such area that is now being evaluated as retailers become more proficient at servicing customers who see no boundaries between online and brick-and-mortar outlets.

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Sears Canada CEO reviews turnaround at annual meeting

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto — Sears Canada chief Calvin McDonald told attendees of the retailer’s annual meeting in Toronto on Tuesday that the focus will be on its strongest categories to more quickly effect a turnaround.

Hard goods such as appliances and tools will be a major focus in the company’s three-year turnaround plan, said McDonald. Sears Canada is majority-owned by Sears Holdings Corp.

According to McDonald, four stores are currently being renovated to reflect the new focus on hard goods. As well, he said Sears would open four pilot stores under the Corbeil appliance banner in the Toronto area.

“We view this as an effective way to maintain our strength in major appliances,” he said.

A training initiative, also reviewed in the annual meeting, will see some 20,000 staff members re-trained with the new focus in mind.

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Study: Most shoppers make impulse purchases

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Denver — Research results released Tuesday by The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research found that, despite a shopping list being a tool to stay on budget and eliminate unnecessary purchases, nine out of 10 shoppers still buy items not on their list.

The shopper behavior study, called The Checkout, showed that 66% of those who purchase off-list items were motivated by a sale or promotion. Thirty percent said they found a coupon, and 23% wanted to pamper themselves.

"Our data shows that 61% of off-list shoppers purchase an additional one to three items," said Craig Elston, senior VP, Integer. "This shows that if you reach a particular shopper at the right moment with the right message, for example — using in-store signage to play into their desire to pamper themselves — it can end with that item being added to their basket."

When it comes to list-making, 61% of shoppers are influenced primarily by the brand of product they currently use, 57% report that coupons influence their list, and 56% say store ads or circulars influence their list.

However, when shoppers are making lists, they typically do not write down brand names of a product, but rather write the product type. This means that although they may have their brand of choice in mind, there are factors that can influence a shopper to select one brand of a product over the other, telling marketers they need not worry that a shopping list excludes certain brands or creates a barrier to purchase.

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