OPERATIONS

Survey finds free return shipping is priority of online shoppers

BY Marianne Wilson

Philadelphia — Eighty-one percent of online shoppers say they are not likely to make additional purchases from websites that charge shipping on returns and 69% feeling that returning items purchased online is a complicated process, according to a survey by ShopRunner that was conducted online by Harris Interactive.

Researchers tracked actual consumer spending over the course of four years and found that retailers’ return shipping policies greatly affected customer spending and loyalty. Customers paying for their own returns universally decreased their spending, between 75% and 100% at that retailer by the end of two years after the return. In contrast, customers who received free return shipping universally increased their spending with that retailer between 158% and 457%.

Aside from consumer demands around returns, with the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, the ShopRunner survey also found that 67% of online shoppers would purchase more online from their mobile device or computer if they could use the same secure, easy check-out procedure across all websites.

“These results demonstrate a huge opportunity for retailers to increase sales by meeting the increasing consumer demands for online shopping including free and easy returns, fast delivery, and streamlined checkout,” said Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer of ShopRunner. “The bar has been raised by competitors, but it is challenging for most retailers to cost-effectively offer these shopping benefits on their own.

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FINANCE

Best Buy extends deadline for offer by Schulze

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Best Buy Co. on Friday said it agreed to extend the deadline to Feb. 28 for founder Richard Schulze to make a bid for the company.

The company said it is in the best interest of shareholders to let Schulze and his partners include results from the holiday season in their due diligence review.

The new deadline will also give Schulze more time to line up partners and financing for a bid. Under the extension, Schulze will be able to submit an offer any time during February, and the company will have 30 days to review and make a decision on the bid.

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News

Walmart last minute holiday shopping in…Turkey?

BY CSA STAFF

Turkish retailer Migros appears to fit Walmart’s acquisition criteria even if the timing of a potential deal is less than ideal.

Turkey’s leading retailer has been in the headlines a lot this year because the company’s private equity owner, BC Partners, is reportedly looking to dump its ownership position roughly four years after acquiring a majority stake. Various international retailers are said to have had discussions with BC Partners and Walmart is the latest, according to reports this week by the Financial Times, Reuters and other international sources.

As is often the case, reports about Walmart’s international intentions tend to take on a life of their own and the company never comments on speculation. That said, there tends to be fire where there is smoke and over the past decade similar rumors out of places such as Japan, China, Brazil, South Africa and Chile ultimately proved accurate.

If that proves to be the case with Migros, Walmart would pick up the type of retailer that has suited acquisition criteria, which is to say a dominant player in a new market (D&S in Chile, Massmart in South Africa) or an operator in an existing market (Netto in the United Kingdom) that enhances Walmart’s leadership position. In Turkey, Migros is a multi-format operator with a dominant market share that has more than 1,000 locations throughout the country.

"Migros is a unique investment opportunity, with its market leading position, strong and trusted brand, multi-format strategy, and extensive store network across Turkey," is what BC Partners senior partner Francesco Conte had to say back in 2008. "All of these factors make Migros ideally positioned to benefit from the country’s rapidly growing organized food retail market, the favorable demographic trends and the positive dynamics of the Turkish economy."

While Migros may be a good fit for Walmart and a transaction wouldn’t dent the company’s balance sheet, a possible deal comes amid an ongoing and expanding investigation into alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that has already cost Walmart $100 million. Walmart has offered no indication when the matter will be resolved.

Meanwhile, the international division continues to forge ahead. Walmart’s international sales and profits during the third quarter were characterized as solid and through the first nine months of the fiscal year sales were up 7.6% to $97.3 billion and operating income is up 9.6% to $4.3 billion. The company indicated that it is gaining market share in every country where it operates except China.

 

 

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