ECOMMERCE

Walmart’s Jet.com acquires Zappos competitor

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new acquisition gives Walmart an even stronger foothold in the world of e-commerce.

Jet.com, which was purchased by Walmart in September for approximately $3 billion, has acquired online footwear retailer ShoeBuy for approximately $70 million. The purchase expands Jet.com’s footwear offerings, and gives Walmart more firepower in its battle against Amazon, which owns ShoeBuy’s main competitor, Zappos.

The deal closed on Dec. 30.

Called one of the first companies to sell shoes online, ShoeBuy launched online in 1999, around the same time as Zappos. It carries more than 800 brands and over 1 million items, including footwear for women, men and kids, along with clothing and accessories.

Similar to its acquisition of Jet.com, Walmart plans to retain ShoeBuy’s CEO Mike Sorabella, his executive team, and the footwear company’s 200-plus employees, all of which will remain at ShoeBuy’s Boston headquarters.

In addition, ShoeBuy will maintain its brand name, and continue to operate as a standalone site, augmenting Jet.com, Walmart said.

ShoeBuy suppliers interested in expanding their consumer reach have the option to also sell on Jet, Walmart added.

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TECHNOLOGY

Up Close: Shoppers review GNC’s makeover

BY Marianne Wilson

GNC hit the reset button on December 28, 2016, closing its 4,464 U.S. owned and franchised stores for the day as it rolled out a simplified pricing strategy with items priced the same across all channels, a new app, a new rewards program and installed new POS terminals.

Field Agent, a consulting firm that conducts on-location auditing and research, recently sent “agents” to 52 stores to check out the changes. In some good news for struggling GNC, the reviews were mostly positive.

Here are the highlights:

• 69% rated the "single price" system as "excellent"

• 68% are more likely to shop the "New GNC" compared to the former GNC

• 72% found the new "My GNC Rewards" program to be "much better" or "better" than the previous Gold Card program

• 77% were "completely likely" to participate in "My GNC Rewards"

(Field Agent screened its panel of approximately one million U.S.-based agents to locate existing GNC customers. Fifty-two of these agents were ultimately sent to GNC stores to interact with products and store employees, sign up for the new rewards program, capture photos, and make a purchase of at least $5. They also downloaded and used GNC’s new mobile app.

For more, click here.

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ECOMMERCE

Adobe: Holiday online sales ‘historic’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Holiday online sales surpassed predictions, generating $1 billion daily for the majority of a two-month period.

That’s according a study by Adobe Digital Insights, which aggregated data from 24.6 billion visits to the top 100 retail websites. The report said the 2016 holiday season (Nov. 1 – Dec. 31) brought in $91.7 billion in online sales, an 11% increase year-over-year, and 0.13% ($115 million) more than Adobe’s original prediction of $91.6 billion. Meanwhile, 57 out of 61 days this holiday season generated over $1 billion.

Mobile specifically brought in $28.43 billion in revenue, a 23% increase YoY ($19.26 billion from smartphones; $9.17 billion from tablets), driving 50% of visits (41% smartphones; 9% tablets), and 31% of purchases (21% smartphones; 10% tablets).

During this period, average shipping costs were $2.50 in 2016, compared to $2.60 in 2015, and reached a peak of $4.10 on Dec. 20. The lowest shipping costs this holiday season were on Thanksgiving ($1.60) and Cyber Monday (also $1.60). Sales increased toward the end of December, particularly around shipping cutoff dates, as consumers purchased later in the season and utilized options, such as click and collect in-store, the report said.

There was also strong social buzz this season. eBay was the most mentioned retailer on social with eBay sellers promoting their items for purchase and buyers highlighting products they bought that they couldn’t find in stores. Next in line was Amazon, Walmart, Target and H&M (from Dec. 1- Dec. 31). Pokémon Sun/Moon beat out Barbie as the top mentioned product followed by Oculus, Lego, PSVR and “Frozen” Toys.

“This holiday shopping season brought in a record $91.7 billion in online sales, which is just $115 million more than we originally predicted. But it’s not just the total online sales figure that made this a historic holiday shopping season,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director, Adobe Digital Insight.

“This year, Black Friday set a new record by surpassing the $3 billion mark for the first time at $3.34 billion, with high growth in the evening hours,” she added. “We also saw big gains in mobile spend, with Black Friday becoming the first day in retail history to drive over $ billion in mobile revenue. Electronics purchases, especially tablets, will spur even more online spend in 2017.”

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