MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

WSL reveals top five reasons shoppers are buying online this holiday

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Shoppers feel that they get a better retail experience online than in-store, including better service, more perks and rewards, and the ability to make smarter purchasing decisions, according to shopping behavior and retail trends firm WSL.

“This holiday season, savvy shoppers will be leveraging every channel they can in order to find the best gifts and the best value,” said Candace Corlett, president, WSL. “With 60% of consumers now shopping online, this season will be a fitness test for retailers – those who are able to provide the best selection, service, information and rewards, as well as best price, in every channel, will win.”

For its recently conducted Digital Shopper Focus Group, WSL gathered 11 frequent shoppers of both online retail sites and brick-and-mortar stores for a conversation about how ten-plus years of online shopping has changed consumer expectations in-store. Here are some observations from the shoppers:

1. “Shopping online is so clean and simple; shopping in-store feels chaotic.” Shoppers described online stores as clean, straightforward and easy to navigate – a sharp contrast to most of their in-store retail experiences, particularly around Black Friday and at holiday crunch time. Those who were seeking a specific item or working within a tight timeline say they are frustrated with the experience of traditional stores, having to sort through aisles and racks in hopes of finding what they are looking for. In the age of searching for an item with a single click or keyword, brick-and-mortar stores must rethink their merchandising strategy to be more organized and efficient, if they expect to compete.

2. “It’s so much easier to click-through check-out than to stand in line.” Shoppers noted the ability to by-pass dreaded checkout lines – particularly at holiday time – by purchasing a product via mobile POS device while in-store as one of many convenience-based improvements brick-and-mortar stores could implement into the shopping experience. The desire for digital integration also included the ability to search for additional sizes, product information, color options and customer reviews.

3. “Sales associates are either too pushy or nowhere to be found.” Shoppers want knowledgeable sales associates who can offer informed recommendations without being too pushy. They like to feel that they can be left alone to browse, but that someone will be there to help, if they need it. Online personal shopper pop-up windows make it easy to ask a question or get a recommendation, and move on.

In the traditional retail world, the educated sales staffs at stores such as Apple, J. Crew and Home Depot were cited as having extensive product knowledge and the best understanding of how to approach customers.

4. “I get better deals, and better rewards shopping online.” Sale-seeking shoppers believe they can find better prices and receive better rewards by shopping online rather than in-store. The added benefits include higher credit card reward points and the freedom to choose perks that are most meaningful to them, such as which free samples they personally most want to try.

5. “I still love to shop in stores that are fun.” While the online world has set the new standard for convenience, efficiency and selection, the offline retail world has the unique opportunity to deliver engaging experiences that cannot be duplicated.

Shoppers shared examples such as Apple and Sephora that create fun, “destination” environments where they are free to touch, try and play with products. Meeting Santa, listening to Christmas carolers and browsing nostalgic department store window displays are key holiday attractions that draw shoppers to the store year-after-year.

“The ability to create a meaningful in-store experience, especially at holiday, is a key factor that gives brick-and-mortar stores an edge over the Internet,” added Corlett. “Creating a retail environment that reflects the magic of the season, in a big way, not just a burst of cheer at the store entrance, gets shoppers in the holiday spirit, a feeling they just can’t get online.”


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News

PBTeen enters Long Island, N.Y.

BY CSA STAFF

PBTeen is heading to Long Island, N.Y., for the first time. The PBteen store will join sister brands Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn Kids in the first-ever combined location at Walt Whitman Shops, with pass-through access to all three stores. The new store will feature the retailer’s new holiday gift assortment.

The store’s grand opening will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 7. This will be the 16th PBteen location in the United States. To mark the occasion, the first 200 customers to visit the store on opening day will receive a free gift and chance to win one of four PBteen gift cards valued at $250. Customers are also invited to enjoy the PBteen Wii U Game Lounge, where teens and their parents can play an advance copy of the Super Mario 3D World game exclusively for the Wii U console, starting on opening day through Nov. 14.

The PBteen store holiday gift assortment includes tech gadgets for guys and girls, fur-inspired bedding, lounge seating and travel gear and jewelry and beauty storage accessories. The store will also showcase limited edition items from the brand’s collaborations with Burton Snowboards, the world’s leading snowboard company, as well as celebrity stylists and fashion designers Emily Current and Meritt Elliott (Emily & Meritt).

The latest Burton Snowboards-inspired collection includes bedding, lighting, lounge seating, wall décor and accessories for tweens and teens. The collection also includes wall murals with action shots of Burton team riders Hannah Teter, Jeremy Jones and Mikey Rencz.

The Emily & Meritt for PBteen collaboration will be prominently displayed. The collection blends Emily & Meritt’s love for denim with touches of silver, gold and vintage-inspired glamour. The collection consists of more than 37 products across seven key categories and includes bedding, furniture, lighting, wall décor, decorative accessories and jewelry storage.

The new PBteen store will be anchored around the PBteen Design Lab, where teens and their parents can engage with the brand and its products by digitally creating a personalized room at no charge. Using drag and drop technology, teens can experiment with different room configurations and color combinations to quickly see their designs come to life on a television screen overhead. When teens and their parents visit the new PBteen store, they can expect a customizable shopping experience with on-site design specialists available to help teens choose their favorite patterns and styles to create their own distinct bedrooms and lounge spaces. Products available at PBteen.com can be ordered through the store and shipped directly to the customer for ease of shopping.

“We are excited to introduce PBteen at Walt Whitman Shops and complete our family of Pottery Barn brands on Long Island,” said Sandra Stangl, president, Pottery Barn Brands. “This will be our first combined Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen location in the world, giving customers the opportunity to find quality home furnishings, for all ages, in one convenient location. We are thrilled to bring this unique shopping experience to our loyal customers just in time for holiday shopping.”

PBteen is a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands and was launched in 2003. It is the first home retailer to focus exclusively on the teenage market.

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FINANCE

Jones Group beats Street as net income soars in Q3

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – The Jones Group Inc’s net income rose a better-than-expected 67% in the third quarter, increasing to $28.3 million from $17.8 million.

However, revenues in the quarter ended Oct. 5 fell about 1%, to $1.02 billion from $1.03 billion.

The retailer credited several declines in internal expenses compared to the same period last year as helping drive its strong growth in net income. The cost of goods sold declined 1% to $662.4 million from $670.8 million. Selling, general and administrative expenses dropped 2% to $296.5 million from $301.9 million. Costs and charges were $12 million, two-thirds less than $35 million a year earlier.

"Third quarter revenues were in line with our expectations, with the jeanswear segment again registering the largest improvement in operating results, as those product lines continue to perform well,” said Wesley R. Card, CEO of Jones Group. “The domestic retail, international wholesale and international retail segments also showed improved operating results, led by the Nine West Outlet and Stuart Weitzman domestic retail businesses and the Jones New York businesses in Canada and Spain. Our new and refocused sportswear product offerings for fall are performing significantly better, and we anticipate that trend will continue."

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