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Survey: E-commerce retailers missing sales opportunities

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Montreal — A survey released Friday by e-commerce visitor feedback analytics firm iPerceptions found that, despite online retail sales being up, online retailers are missing out on revenue opportunities.

Third quarter 2011 Retail Ecommerce industry report showed that, while U.S. retail sales estimates show online retail spending rose 13% year-over-year to $36.3 billion for the quarter, task completion fell significantly for visitors at nearly every stage of the retail purchase cycle.

As e-commerce sales grab a larger share of total retail sales, visitors’ task completion fell from 73% in third quarter 2010 to 69% in third quarter 2011, according to the survey. The most notable decrease in task completion occurred for visitors who came to make a purchase, from 63% to a mere 54%.

“With online retailers increasing investment in Search Engine Optimization programs and web analytics in general, this noticeable drop in task completion demonstrates that e-tailers are not in touch with what’s most important to customers,” said Claude Guay, president and CEO of iPerceptions. “Sales would be better if online retailers identify and address the biggest barriers to task completion, which include understanding customer intentions — not just what customers click on.”

For visitors who came to make a purchase and did not complete their task in third quarter 2011, 35% claimed they couldn’t find the product they were looking for, while 34% said the product they were looking for wasn’t available. Other significant barriers were unclear pricing and comparisons (13%) and a lack of product information (9%).

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Report: Someone is playing Santa at Kmart stores

BY Staff Writer

Omaha, Neb. — There is a heartwarming story playing out at Kmart stores throughout the Midwest: Anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts, buying the Christmas gifts, especially toys and children’s clothing, that the families might otherwise have a hard time paying, the Associated Press reported.

The benefactors generally ask to help families who have laid away items for young children, according to the report. They often pay a portion of the balance, usually all but a few dollars or cents so the layaway order stays in the store’s system.

The report cites an incident at the Kmart in Plainfield Township, Mich., which called Roberta Carter last week to let her know a man had paid all but 40 cents of her $60 layaway.

Carter, a mother of eight, said she cried upon hearing the news. She and her family have been struggling as she seeks a full-time job.
"My kids will have clothes for Christmas," she said.

Click here to read the full story.

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Morton’s steakhouse chain acquired by restaurant veteran

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City — A Friday report by Reuters said that restaurant veteran Tilman Fertitta has added to his restaurant holdings by reaching a $117 million deal for Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc., which operates high-end steakhouses nationwide.

Fertitta, who expanded his stake from in Morton’s from the 5% he already held, has outlined plans to modernize the struggling chain.

This latest deal marks Fertitta’s second acquisition in two months, as in November he acquired seafood chain McCormick & Schmick’s.

The acquisitions add to Fertitta’s existing restaurant properties such as Bubba Gump Shrimp and Vic & Anthony’s. Fertitta holds these properties through Landry’s Inc, which also runs the Atlantic City casino Golden Nugget.

Chicago-based Morton’s, which generated about $300 million in sales last year, had previously announced it was considering strategic alternatives. The deal with Fertitta is expected to close in early February, according to the report.

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