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Survey: Online retailers expecting strong holiday sales

BY CSA STAFF

Washington, D.C. A survey released Thursday by Shop.org found that the majority of online retailers are expecting strong sales this holiday season.

Shop.org’s eHoliday Study, conducted by BIGresearch, found that 63.8% of retailers expect their company’s online sales to grow by 15% or more compared with last holiday season. That’s up from 45.7% of retailers who had those expectations last year.

The survey also found that 40% of online retailers will begin holiday marketing by Halloween, with another 40% planning to begin marketing the week of Nov. 1.

Four out of five online retailers (84.8%) will offer free shipping at some point during the holiday season, and 31.4% said these offers will begin earlier this year than a year ago. Shoppers may even see more free shipping deals this year, as 36.7% of retailers said their budget for free shipping is higher than last holiday season.

Social media will play a bigger role this holiday season, according to the survey findings. The majority of retailers (72.5%) say they have invested in the company’s Facebook page in advance of the holidays. Additionally, more than half said they have invested in cross-selling on product pages (54.9%), site search (54.9%) and customer ratings and reviews (52.9%). Another 43.1% said they have invested more this holiday season in a Twitter campaign or Twitter feed.

About one-third (32.2%) of online shoppers say they’ll make more of their holiday purchases on the web this year, listing 24-hour convenience (35.1%), easy price comparisons (33.1%) and a lack of desire to fight the crowds (30.8%) among the main reasons why they’re shifting a portion of their spending.

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Starbucks launches in-store digital network

BY CSA STAFF

Seattle — Starbucks on Wednesday launched an in-store digital network for customers with mobile devices, in a partnership with Yahoo.

The network will provide customers with six channels: News, Entertainment, Wellness, Business & Careers, My Neighborhood and Starbucks. It is powered by free WiFi and developed for screens big and small. Customers with WiFi enabled laptops, tablets or smartphones can visit the network while in line or while enjoying their favorite beverage in the cafe.

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Report charts Walmart’s banking strategy

BY CSA STAFF

Madison, Wis. — A new report maps out the shape of Walmart’s retail financial services footprint in the United States and Mexico. The study, The Blended Walmart Business Model, published by the Filene Research Institute and written by Robert Manning, PhD, knits together the many angles of Walmart’s involvement in banking services: from its 2007 charter travails to its foray into Mexican banking and, most importantly, to its long-term strategy of providing financial services to ever more of its many customers — with or without a formal bank charter.

The report makes the case that Walmart still wants a bank charter. The potential from finance and penalty fees combined with interchange fee savings’ could easily garner more than $1.3 billion annually from Walmart’s payment card system and portfolio of customer credit-card balances, according to the study.

The study suggests Walmart’s plan is advancing even without a U.S. bank charter, and notes that while the retailer currently mainly offers ancillary financial products, it may soon operate in the more traditional business model of deposits and loans.

The nonprofit Filene Research Institute is a consumer finance think tank serving the North American credit union system of 100 million members and $950 billion in assets.

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