Study: Retailers aim for consistent customer experience in holiday season
Atlanta — A majority of retailers say delivering a consistent customer experience is their top priority this holiday season, according to a new survey.
Supply chain and retail technology provider RedPrairie released results of its “Holiday Hiring Snapshot” survey of 250 big-box, specialty, grocery, convenience store and food service retailers based in the United States, finding that nearly 60% cited the importance of consistency, with 29% saying they would hire more seasonal workers this year than last year.
“Today’s hyper-connected consumers give retailers little margin for error when it comes to delivering a superior, consistent customer experience across all shopping channels, and this is amplified during the holidays,” RedPrairie director of marketing Dave Bruno said. “To achieve this, retailers will rely on the union of people and products to make customers feel good about their shopping experiences no matter, which channel is utilized for the transaction. There is a lot of pressure on retailers to get things right.”
The survey also found that nearly 40% of retailers will have the greatest number of seasonal employees on the clock in December, but that big increases in staffing require training, scheduling, time and attendance, and task management to prepare staff to deal with customers.
Increased number of shoppers intend to spend more for holidays
New York — A report released Wednesday by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs found that consumers are more willing to spend this holiday season.
According to the 2012 Holiday Spending Intentions Survey, 19% of consumers plan to spend more (and 5% plan to spend substantially more) on holiday gifts this year versus last year. This is the highest percentage of consumers reporting they intend to increase spending over the previous holiday season since ICSC began asking the question in 2004.
The top three holiday-gift items for 2012 are gift cards (21.3%), apparel (14.1%) and toys and games (14.1%). Gift cards have consistently been one of the top items that consumers exchange during the holiday season, which is a key reason why the holiday season has been extended into January as gift-card redemptions dominate shopping in the post-Christmas period.
The top items that consumers say they want for this holiday season are: (1) gift cards (59%); (2) electronic gadgets (38%); and (3) electronic media (28%), which today spans music, CDs, DVDs and e-books. Interestingly, the ICSC-Goldman Sachs survey found that women are more inclined to want a gift card than men (63% versus 55%). However, men are more inclined to want electronic gadgets for their holiday gifts than women (46% versus 31%).
With the traditional holiday-season length being at its longest possible span this year (between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day is 32 days in 2012), consumers were asked when do they expect to finish their holiday-gift buying. About a fifth (21%) reported they intend to complete it within November with Black Friday shopping alone accounting for about 60% of the November completion target (or 12% of the November-December total). A little less than a fifth (19%) expected that they would complete their shopping by the first week of December and 27% thought the second week of December was their likely completion time frame. Another 20% reported the third week of December was their expectation for completion, while just 3% were real procrastinators, expecting to finish on Christmas Eve or later.
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Wal-Mart launches food subscription service called Goodies
Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced Wednesday it will officially launch its previously announced food-by-mail subscription service, called Goodies, which allows customers to trial sample-sized foods for a monthly fee.
For $7 per month, participants get a box of five to eight hand-picked, sample-size food items, ranging from organic to ethnic products that are not currently carried on Wal-Mart’s shelves. Wal-Mart, which first announced in May that its Walmart Labs division was researching the service, began testing the program in August and has to-date 3,000 subscribers.
Users sign up for the service at goodies.com. If they like the sample-size products, they can purchase full-size versions on the Goodies Co. website. Goodies has also created a social community online where subscribers can post reviews to earn loyalty points. The points can be redeemed in the future for items in the store.
“People love to talk about new food products,” Ravi Raj, VP products at San Bruno, Calif.-based Walmart Labs, said.
Wal-Mart said it is also looking to use Goodies as a way to spot food trends in its stores. “Wal-Mart is the (world’s) largest grocer but there’s room for us to innovate,” Raj said.
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