OPERATIONS

Survey: Convenience tops smartphone feature

BY Dan Berthiaume

Kirkland, Wash. — Consumers actually favor ease-of-use more than the latest device specifications, with many intimidated by jargon and technical data, when choosing a new smartphone.

A new survey from WDS, a Xerox company, also shows that a physical retail store remains the most popular destination for purchasing a new smartphone. Sixty-seven percent of consumers treat it as their primary destination while only 19% of buyers older 60 would buy their device online.

Other notable findings include:

  • Buyers between 25-34 years old and those older than 60 are the most likely groups to research and evaluate smartphones before visiting a store.
  • More than a third of shoppers younger than 24 will walk into a store knowing the exact make and model of device they want to purchase.
  • The importance of device brand declines with age.
  • Sixty-one percent of consumers stated that having the latest product specifications was of little importance when choosing their smartphone.
  • Network coverage and service reliability is considered more important than network speed by all age groups.
  • Consumers older than 60 are the most price sensitive when it comes to choosing a price plan. They are also the least interested in network speeds.

“We’ve interviewed hundreds of consumers to help mobile operators better understand how their customers navigate their way through the complexity of choosing a smartphone,” said Tim Deluca-Smith, VP of marketing at WDS. “The study highlights some important buying behaviors that will help mobile operators deliver a better retail experience.”

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FINANCE

Zale narrows Q1 loss; sales up

BY Staff Writer

Irving, Texas — Zale Corp. narrowed its first-quarter loss slightly and reported its 12th consecutive quarterly sales increase.

Zale reported a net loss of $27. 3 million in the quarter ended Oct. 31, compared to $28.3 million, a year ago. The prior year included a gain of $1.9 million from a settlement.

First-quarter sales increased 1.4% to $363 million, in line with expectations.

Same-store sales rose 4.4%. Zales Jewelers and Zales Outlet stores posted a same-store sales increase of 7.5%.

"We have now delivered positive comparable store sales for twelve consecutive quarters. Importantly, our core national brands drove our sales performance in the first quarter with a 7.5% comp in Zales and an 8.4% comp in Peoples," said Theo Killion, CEO. "For holiday, we have expanded our exclusive, branded product offerings, launched a new marketing campaign and improved the store environment to enrich the guest experience."

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FINANCE

Moody’s: Pent-up demand to fuel holiday sales growth in 4.5% to 5.5% range

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Holiday sales growth is looking up for the nation’s retailers, with much of the lift coming from pent-up demand, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The company’s holiday forecast is the 4.5% to 5.5% range, which is higher than the National Retail Federation’s forecast of 3.9% and the International Council of Shopping Centers’ forecast of 2.0%.

Moody’s Report on the Holiday Shopping Season notes that holiday shoppers will, as they have in past, look past U.S. fiscal policy debates and continued economic uncertainties. The best-performing segments will continue to be toys, electronics, party goods, luxury goods and retailers whose goods are perceived to offer value.

New product launches such as the Xbox one and Playstation 4, along with the recent iPhone 5c and 5s, should provide a boost in holiday electronics sales for retailers such as Best Buy, Toys "R" Us, and Amazon.com, according to Moody’s.

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