DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Upscale jeweler reopens in popular Boston shopping destination

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

David Yurman has reopened the doors to its new, expanded boutique in Boston’s Copley Place.

Designed by the Yurmans, the 2,500 sq. ft. space reflects the brand’s aesthetic and the family’s unique artistic expression. The entrance lobby features a heritage wall that visually narrates the Yurmans’ journey from art to jewelry, and features examples of David Yurman’s early sculptures and wearable art pieces alongside more current designs.

The store’s interior was inspired by the colors of the brand’s most iconic gemstones and the hues in Sybil Yurman’s paintings, which are hung throughout the space. These shades are found throughout the boutique through the use of rich fabric upholstery that covers vintage and custom-made furnishings.

In the main sales area, Mayflower plaster motifs — the Massachusetts state flower — were hand-applied over white gold leaf. They are also featured on decorative panels, offering a subdued elegance.

Other distinct features include the use of wood plank formed concrete on the store’s façade, a men’s jewelry area and a private salon. The men’s area has a distinctly masculine feel created through the use of darker materials and found objects.

The vintage furniture and decorative elements alongside simple, natural materials are a nod to Evan Yurman’s creative workspace and men’s showroom, Noumenon, in New York.

David Yurman’s Copley Place boutique is one of more than 350 locations.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Amazon grabs a majority of marketing budgets

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers are more likely to increase their marketing budgets for Amazon than they are for Google, Bing, Facebook or Twitter.

This was according to “The Age of Amazon: Maximizing the B2C Marketing Opportunity.” The report from ClickZ Intelligence and digital marketing agency Catalyst, a division of GroupM, is based on responses from 250 North America-based business-to-consumer marketers.

According to the study, 63% of companies advertising on Amazon plan to increase this budget over the next 12 months, compared to 54% for Google, 53% for Facebook, 27% for Bing and 23% for Twitter. Meanwhile, only 15% of marketers agree they are using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to its full potential, and only 17% said they have a fully defined AMS strategy.

The huge reach of Amazon makes it an increasingly attractive platform for advertisers. Meanwhile, AMS paid search products are gaining traction with brands and agencies — two factors that are delivering an impressive return on advertising spend, the study reported.

“Today, it’s not enough to simply spend more with Amazon. With multi-factored opportunities for product promotion, brand investment needs to be expertly managed for maximum return,” said Kerry Curran, managing partner, marketing integration, Catalyst. “In this age of Amazon, brands must be strategic, savvy, and internally integrated to maximize sales.”

Within the research, ClickZ carried out an online survey of 1,600 U.S. consumers. This details usage of Amazon, and compares research and buying behavior for eight categories of retail, including grocery, clothing, home electronics and pet care. Data revealed that 66% of consumers had bought clothing from Amazon in the previous 12 months, compared to 64% for personal care products, and 63% for furniture or home décor.

Only 43% of consumers bought grocery products through Amazon in the last 12 months. However, this figure is set to grow as Amazon scales up both AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry programs following its acquisition of Whole Foods Market.

Voice search could contribute to this growth. Currently, 14% of consumers own an Amazon Echo, and 32% are considering it. Only 15% of businesses have developed Skills on Alexa, with 23% of companies planning to do so later this year. And each voice session filters new customer data into the hands of marketers.

“Amazon has transactional data, it knows who you are and what you are purchasing,” said Chris Humber, head of search, Catalyst/GroupM. “It’s the Holy Grail, and what Google would like to have. It’s the missing piece that allows Amazon to move from predictive to prescriptive search, so they can recommend proactively.”

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ECOMMERCE

Walmart is banking on e-commerce sales growth to hit 40% by 2019

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is stepping up investments related to the “connected customer,” efforts that will drive strong e-commerce growth for the next fiscal year.

On Tuesday, the discount giant augmented its fiscal year 2019 guidance with an expectation that e-commerce sales growth in the United States will increase by a staggering 40% in the fiscal year ending January 2019. Walmart also predicts that consolidated net sales will grow at or above 3%, driven by comp-sales and e-commerce growth.

During Walmart’s annual investor day in Bentonville, Arkansas, Marc Lore, president of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business, revealed one project that will support this growth: a website redesign that will be revealed in the first quarter of next year, according to CNBC.

The company also plans to add 1,000 online grocery locations across its U.S. operation by the end of 2018.

With the acquisition of Jet.com in September 2016, the company has stepped up its e-commerce game by expanding its online assortment, adding two-day free shipping with no membership fee, and operating over 1,000 online grocery pickup locations. These efforts have contributed to both traffic and comp sales improvements, as well strong e-commerce growth over the past year.

The company credits its strong start in the e-commerce game to “the customer, who is more connected than ever and embracing tools that will save them both time and money,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.

“We’re combining the accessibility of our stores with e-commerce to provide new and exciting ways for customers to shop,” he added. “I’m proud of the team we have in place, the work we have underway and how we are positioned for success in the future.”

To stay on track, Walmart.com plans to adopt Jet.com’s “smart-cart” system, a feature that offers shoppers cheaper prices if they pack more items together in one box, use a debit card when paying for purchases, or opt out of returns. The company is also committed to improving Walmart.com’s digital merchandising efforts, including aligning a team that will monitor the company’s website and rewrite item descriptions, among other tasks.

Walmart has already hired 250 specialists and is now bringing in about 50 each month, according to CNBC.

McMillon used the event to highlight Walmart’s global innovations, such as one-hour delivery from stores in China, commitments to sustainability, and service to communities, especially in times of disaster.

The company has also successfully invested in associates, empowering them to drive results and better serve customers. Specifically, the company is equipping associates “with training and technology so they will continue to innovate in our stores, clubs and through e-commerce to find ways to deliver an enjoyable shopping experience that is easy, fast, friendly and fun,” McMillon added.

Where the company is pulling back once again is new store openings. The discounter expects capital expenditures to be approximately $11 billion for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 focused mainly on store remodels and digital experiences vs. investing in new stores.

Overall, the company expects global unit growth of approximately 280 locations, including new, expanded and relocated units, for each of the fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Specifically, Walmart U.S. expects to open fewer than 15 Supercenters and fewer than 10 Neighborhood Markets in fiscal year 2019.

Walmart International expects to open approximately 255 new stores with a focus in key markets, such as Mexico and China. In addition, Walmart International will invest in fulfillment capabilities, according to the company.

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