TECHNOLOGY

Trump – Nordstrom controversy heats up — is TJX next?

BY Marianne Wilson

Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying the Ivanka Trump brand continues to generate controversy.

On Thursday, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, endorsed the first daughter’s products during an appearance on the television show, “Fox & Friends,” saying, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff … It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. … I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today. You can find it online.”

Conway’s remarks drew immediate criticism from legal experts who said she had broken a key ethics law that bans federal employees from using their public office to endorse products. And Republican House Oversight Committee leader Jason Chaffetz said Conway should be investigated for potential violations of the law.

Conway appeared on “Fox & Friends” the day after President Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that Ivanka had been treated “so unfairly” by Nordstrom.

The department store’s shares fell shortly after his tweet, but recovered their losses by late Wednesday afternoon. In fact, the company’s stock price had climbed more than 7% (as of Thursday afternoon) since Trump tweeted his displeasure with the company.

In related news, The New York Times reported that employees at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls (both of which are owned by TJX Cos.) were instructed not to display Ivanka Trump merchandise separately and to throw away Ivanka Trump signs.

“The communication was intended to instruct stores to mix this line of merchandise into our racks, not to remove it from the sales floor,” TJX spokeswoman Doreen Thompson wrote in an email to the Times.

“We offer a rapidly changing selection of merchandise for our customers, and brands are featured based on a number of factors.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: How to improve retail-specific search rankings

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Web searches are often inconsistent due to irrelevant keywords and content, making it more important than ever for brands to use more retail-specific factors to stay relevant.

Details that can improve brands’ visibility in Google searches are shared in the “E-commerce Ranking Factors 2017 — Ten Things eCommerce Sites Need to Know to Rank on Google,” a report from Searchmetrics that analyzed the top 20 desktop search results on Google for over 6,000 industry-specific keywords.

The report reveals the most important retail-specific ranking factors that can help improve omnichannel brands’ visibility in Google searches.

“Most marketers appreciate that you need to create relevant, high-quality content to perform well in search, but our latest study highlights that online retail and e-commerce marketers must also pay close attention to a variety of retail-specific factors,” said Daniel Furch, head of content, Searchmetrics.

These key tips include:

Keeping your content well-structured. Online shoppers prefer organized, structured content that lets them quickly scan product details and easily compare potential purchases. Among Google’s top 20 Google results for online retail/e-commerce-focused searches, 62% of the have at least one bulleted list compared with 52% for general searches, and online retail-specific queries tend to include 70% more bullets per list, the study said.

Adding menus and internal links. Pages listed in the top 10 search results for online retail and e-commerce queries have 70% more internal links than those found in general searches. Well-structured links and menus help visitors easily locate and browse through products and related products.

Keeping online checkout functionality highly visible. Of the top 20 search results for online retail queries, over half (56%) have a checkout section that is visible above the fold (without scrolling), making it quick and easy for visitors to make a transaction.

Considering adopting slightly larger pages. In general, Google seems to reward pages that have smaller files sizes (which tend to load faster) with higher rankings, but it makes some allowances among retail and e-commerce searches. File sizes for pages that appear in the top 10 online retail queries are, on average, 30% larger than those for general queries, the study said.

Skipping video. In general, embedded video content is found in almost half (49%) of the top 10 Google search results, and 35% of e-commerce and online retail searches. While video is obviously useful for demonstrating product installation or set up, but the most relevant results include retail sites that carry catalogue style listings that allow searchers to easily compare choices across small product images and descriptions.

Avoiding hosting ads on your pages. Only 3% of sites on online retail searches carry Google AdSense advertising, compared to 9% of first page results for general searches. While in many other industries advertising is an acceptable form of website monetization, it is less suited to online retail sites, possibly because they appear as clutter among the product the searcher is currently viewing, the study said.

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Whole Foods uses customer data to improve category management

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Whole Foods Market, which is known for its premier shopping experience and customer service, wants to up the ante — especially among loyal shoppers.

By partnering with global customer science company dunnhumby, the natural foods grocer will use customer data and insights to evolve its category management and merchandising efforts. Specifically, the chain will apply customer data models, science, and industry-leading processes to make store-level merchandising decisions based on specific customer needs.

Data-driven, customer-led insights will enable Whole Foods Market to create more targeted, localized shopping experiences, and help shoppers find the products, services, brands, sizes, and flavors they are looking for faster and easier. Using data to provide customers with the most relevant shopping experience will help satisfy their shoppers’ needs and earn long-term loyalty — especially as product choices and preferences con-tinue to change and vary by location.

"dunnhumby has the ability to understand customers and turn that into action," said Don Clark, global VP of purchasing for non-perishables at Whole Foods Market. "This partnership allows us to keep innovating our shopping experience for the customer in a way that's most relevant to them and reflects how they want to shop in each local community.”

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