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Study: Most shoppers use Internet to purchase and research

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A study released Monday by Cisco revealed that, as retailers reinvent their in-store shopping experience in the face of the continued rise of e-commerce, digital content from the Internet has emerged as the most powerful influence in buying decisions for the majority of shoppers in all channels.

The third annual Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group study of consumers, entitled “Catch and Keep Digital Shoppers,” found that online ratings and reviews were the most influential source for making purchasing decisions, and that shoppers increasingly want access to digital content in stores through a variety of devices.

The study found a majority of shoppers, categorized as “Digital Mass Market,” have advanced beyond the capabilities of many retailers. These shoppers expect stores to operate with the same information, transparency and speed as their favorite website, and two-thirds are interested in personalized shopping experiences when visiting a store. Shoppers overwhelmingly prefer in-store self-service access to digital content (85%), with one in three using mobile searches to guide their purchasing decisions – up 20% from last year.

The Cisco study surveyed 5,000 shoppers across five countries: the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico and China. Key results of the U.S. portion of the survey include:

  • 78% of all shoppers use the Internet to research and purchase products and services;
  • 71% of shoppers want to access digital content in the store;
  • Shoppers have equal preference to obtaining such content through retailer touch screens or via personal devices.
  • Digital shoppers are more demanding than ever, with 60% now expecting more value in their shopping experience. Of these shoppers, 53% expect greater price visibility, 37% want easier ways to find products, and 39% desire faster/easier way to purchase products. Of all the information sources that influence today’s buying decisions, online ratings and reviews on retailer websites are cited as most influential in purchase decisions by 52% of respondents, followed by advice from friends and family (49%);
  • In the last two years, expert online reviews by consumer groups, expert buyers and bloggers increased 13% in purchase influence to 42%;
  • Shoppers prefer online ratings and reviews by a 4:1 margin over advice from store employees;
  • 65% of shoppers research online and purchase in store – up from 57% last year.
  • The “show-rooming” shopping journey that begins with in-store research and ends with 
online purchasing was pursued by 40% of respondents – roughly the same as last year.
  • Cross-channel shopping journeys involving mobile devices rose on average by 20% 
from last year; mobile search to in-store or online purchase is now actively used by 29% and 33% of shoppers, respectively.
  • 85% of shoppers want self-service access to digital content. Only 4% of shoppers want to rely on help from store employees all the time.
  • While two-thirds of shoppers are interested in personalized shopping experiences, they do expect opt-in/opt-out control, and they prefer retailers to use transactional types of data.

Cisco also tested consumer interest in several key digital service concepts. Use of personal mobile shopping, an interactive room design experience, a touch-screen device to help select products, and automated pick-up for online orders all ranked high among shoppers – with roughly 50% of respondents stating they were interested in these types of services.

"It’s now very clear: consumers prefer to shop through bits and bytes, with the majority of shopping behaviors and expectations shaped by online sources. To shift shoppers into buyers, retailers need to merge online and physical services to meet the demands of today’s digital shoppers," said Dick Cantwell, VP and global lead, Retail, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.

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Partnership brings cloud-based solutions to retailers

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Yomari and Predictix will join forces to deliver merchandising and analytics solutions to large and midsize retailers.

Yomari is a leading independent professional services company focused exclusively on analytics, business intelligence and data warehousing for the consumer value chain. Its customers include Dressbarn, Gander Mountain, Petco, REI and Williams-Sonoma.

Predictix developed the Predictix Adaptive Platform for Intelligent Decisions, which enables omni-channel retailers to make customer-centric merchandising decisions that ensure product availability, increase customer satisfaction and reduce the instances of costly markdowns. Retailers require a unified view of the enterprise, and the Predictix Platform relies on retail data that cuts across a range of “siloed” operational applications. Yomari’s experience in sourcing data from across the retail enterprise lends itself to Predictix’s merchandising solutions tool.

“The Predictix cloud-based solutions enables us to bridge the gap between analytic and operational applications, all in the cloud, resulting in greater efficiency and profits for our joint retail clients,” said Rupesh Pradhan, CEO at Yomari. “We’re taking the insights that are usually trapped inside a static report and weaving them directly into the decision flow of the retailer’s merchandising applications.”

“The world of analytics and operational tasks must converge. Together, Predictix and Yomari are making it happen,” said John Moffitt, EVP business development, Predictix. “Yomari’s experience in extracting and integrating key data elements from retailers’ ERP applications makes them a perfect fit as an implementation partner for the Predictix solutions."

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Retail industry adopts principles for tax reform

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — The National Retail Federation board of directors said Monday it has adopted a resolution directing NRF to “strongly encourage” Congress to enact comprehensive tax reform in 2013, and it set out a list of principles aimed at achieving tax policy that would boost the economy and encourage job growth.

“Now that the fiscal cliff has been avoided, the time has come to address comprehensive tax reform,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “We want to put the economy on a trajectory to grow again, and tax reform and tax certainty are an essential part of the formula for growth.”

Shay went on to say that retailers will be unable to achieve that goal by having “political battles year after year over temporary, last-minute measures. This is the year for fundamental, comprehensive tax reform that will settle our nation’s tax policy questions on a long-term basis and provide businesses the certainty they need to grow and create the jobs that are so badly needed,” he said.

Shay said political battles such as the recent uncertainty regarding resolution of the fiscal cliff hurt consumer confidence, noting that NRF polling found two-thirds of consumers said their 2012 holiday season shopping was impacted by worries over the economy.

Meeting at Retail’s BIG Show – NRF’s annual convention in New York City – the board voted on Sunday to approve the following tax reform principles:

  • Tax reform should eliminate tax credits and incentives that favor some industries over others and should replace these “tax expenditures” with substantially lower tax rates, freeing businesses to make the most economically prudent investment decisions rather than having the tax code drive decision-making.
  • Tax reform should be neutral among different types of businesses, so that businesses are not favored based on their form of legal entity (e.g. C corporation versus pass-through), how they own their property (e.g. leased stores versus owned stores), or distribution channel (e.g. brick-and-mortar sale versus remote sale).
  • Tax reform should not include a consumption tax.
  • Tax reform should eliminate temporary tax provisions and provide certainty.
  • Tax reform should provide adequate transition rules, so that businesses do not face large tax burdens based on investment decisions made in years prior to the enactment of tax reform.

“Certainty in tax policy fosters the innovation and growth that a vibrant economy provides,” the resolution said. Adoption of the principles comes as President Obama is expected to call for corporate tax reform in his upcoming State of the Union address and the House Ways and Means Committee is expected to bring up comprehensive reform this spring and bring a bill to the House floor.

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