Which retailer knows its customers best?
When it comes to understanding what consumers want, one retailer stands tall above the rest.
According to a new study of 1,000 consumers from beacon marketing platform provider Swirl Networks Inc., Amazon.com holds a clear lead in knowing its customers. Fifty-six percent of consumers say that Amazon demonstrates an understanding of their individual preferences and needs on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, only 25% of consumers say that traditional brick-and-mortar retailers demonstrate an understanding of their individual preferences and needs on a regular basis. The personalization gap is prevalent across every retail category.
However, categories that actively capture consumer behavioral data through large-scale point-of-sale or loyalty/rewards programs) perform significantly better than those that do not. Thirty-eight percent of consumers say grocery retailers understand their individual needs, and 35% say the same about big-box retailers. The percentages drop for other categories:
· Pharmacy/Drug Stores: 29%
· Specialty Retailers: 25%
· Department Stores: 24%
· Warehouse Clubs: 24%
· Off-price retailers: 20%
In addition, consumers do not feel most personalization attempts are working. Respondents said 79% of mobile content and ads they see from retailers, as well as 78% of online content and ads and 75% of emails and offers, are irrelevant. In-store sales associates also fail to demonstrate an understanding of shopper needs and preferences 75% of the time.
Eighty-eight percent of consumers said that more personalized and connected online, mobile and in-store experiences would increase their likelihood to shop at that retailer. And 87% of consumers said that more personalized and connected online, mobile and in-store experiences would increase their loyalty to a retail brand
"Amazon continues to be the clear leader in understanding individual consumer preferences and delivering highly-personalized shopping experiences,” said Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Swirl. “Mastering omnichannel marketing needs to be a top retailer priority in 2016."
Francesca’s has a new vision for growth
Specialty retailer Francesca’s says its third-quarter sales show initiatives such as reducing inventories and enhancing assortments are producing results ahead of a new growth strategy for the company.
For the third quarter ended Oct. 31, the company posted a net income of $6.95 million, down 4.4% from a year earlier, and earnings of 16 cents per diluted share, down 1 cent from the third quarter of 2014. Net sales were up 19% from one year ago, to $103.7 million. Same-store sales rose 4%.
"We saw strength across all of our departments and throughout many categories, with apparel and accessories businesses leading the way,” said Michael W. Barnes, chairman, president, and CEO. “The sales productivity of new boutiques were the highest since 2012, which we believe is a result of the improved merchandise offering and elevated boutique level execution. In anticipation of an earlier start of the holiday season, we accelerated inventory receipts into the third quarter compared to last year. However, we are planning inventory levels at the end of the fourth quarter to be more consistent with historical levels in line with our expectations."
Barnes, who joined the company about a year ago from Signet, announced a new growth strategy called the “Vision 2020” plan, an idea he brought over from his days at Signet.
The new strategy comes just weeks after Francesca's appointed Laurie Hummel as chief merchandising officer and Erik Lautier as senior VP for online commerce.
"We continue to focus our execution on building the senior management team and executing our long term strategy toward achieving our future goals,” Barnes said. “Now that both our new CMO and our SVP of digital and marketing have joined the leadership team, I look forward to their contributions as we implement and execute our long term strategies which I call the ‘Vision 2020’ plan. Thus far during fiscal 2015, we have driven meaningful improvement in our financial performance and I continue to believe in the significant long term growth opportunities ahead."
Looking ahead the retailer raised its outlook for the end of the fiscal year, forecasting net sales between $432 million and $435 million, and diluted earnings between 86 and 88 cents per share.
Francesca's operates 621 boutiques in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
Report: Some Apple stores going more upscale
Angela Ahrendts, senior VP of retail for Apple and former CEO of Burberry, is taking a more luxe approach in some of the company’s retail stores. “The stores are the best physical manifestation of the brand,” Jan Dawson, an analyst at Jackdaw Research, told the New York Times. “Angela is bringing her sensibility to that experience.” [New York Times]