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Zumiez to open 55 stores in fiscal 2014

BY Marianne Wilson

Lynnwood, Wash. — Teen active-sports retailer Zumiez reported net income in the first quarter of fiscal 2014 of $2.5 million, flat with the year-ago period. The retailer intends to open approximately 55 stores in fiscal 2014, including up to seven locations in Canada and five in Europe.

Total net sales for the first quarter ended May 3, 2014, increased 9.7% to $162.9 million from $148.5 million last year. Same-store sales increased 1.8%.

“Our merchandise and selling strategies helped deliver better than expected first quarter results, including positive comps, and continue to distinguish Zumiez as the leading global action sports lifestyle retailer. Rick Brooks, CEO of Zumiez Inc. “The investments we’ve made in our people and systems including expanding our digital capabilities are allowing us to better meet the needs of our North American and European customers and supporting full price selling in a challenging retail environment.”

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Survey: Consumers prefer online, email-based customer service

BY Dan Berthiaume

Sunnyvale, Calif. – Modern shoppers have a very low tolerance for poor customer service, and crave a more intimate relationship where retailers know their needs, wants and preferences, and respect their time and business. According to an April 2014 research survey from customer engagement technology vendor Kana Software Inc., when asked about their preferred customer service communication channels used to engage with retailers in the past six months, the channel named most often as most preferred was Web (24.5%), followed by email (17.9%).

Channels cited most often as least preferred were video chat (named by 30.2% of respondents); phone was the next least preferred channel, named by 22.6% of respondents.

When asked to compare customer service during online versus in-store/brick-and-mortar shopping, 40.5% of respondents said that online was better, whereas 33% thought both were about the same. Nearly 18% said in-store customer service was better, and 8.5% had no opinion on the matter.

More than one-third of those surveyed reported experiencing a customer service issue related to different business policies and procedures for online versus in store/brick-and-mortar shopping – for example, issues with purchasing online and returning in store, indicating retailers have more work to do in creating omnichannel customer service strategies to ensure consistency in omnichannel retailing.

“It’s no surprise that organizations are leveraging Web self-service and email more and more as our survey shows consumers prefer these channels," said Scott Hays, senior director, product marketing for Kana. "We not only see Web and email infused with strong knowledge management, we have also observed that Web self-service addresses a new way that consumers are engaging with brands – in a ‘multimodal fashion.’ Customers often use multiple channels at once – e.g., speaking to an agent while browsing the company’s website and expecting near-immediate confirmations by email. The challenge now for organizations is to weave those experiences together in real time to provide optimal engagement with the customer.”

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Peter Harris Clothes/Label Shopper deploying Jesta I.S. solutions

BY Marianne Wilson

Montreal — Jesta I.S., a leading supplier of enterprise software solutions for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors, announced that Peter Harris Clothes/Label Shopper Stores, an off-price apparel, accessories, and home decor chain is partnering with Jesta I.S. to implement their vision merchandising, vision POS, and vision financials software solutions.

Based in Latham, New York, Peter Harris Clothes/Label Shopper Stores continues to grow its footprint across the United States. In order to support their expansion plans in 2014, the need for a powerful software suite became imperative. The Jesta solutions will equip the brand with the necessary tools to merchandise their goods effectively, while ensuring an enhanced in-store customer experience.

“After extensive research and due diligence, we found Jesta I.S.’s retail solution to be the strongest in sales analysis, said Peter Elitzer, president and CEO of Peter Harris Clothes and Label Shopper, which operates 71 stores, all located in the Northeast and Mid-West. “ We especially liked what Jesta offered with their algorithms. After all, it’s about getting the right merchandise to the right stores, not only based on historical data, but on-hand merchandise as well.”

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