ECOMMERCE

Study: A majority of Halloween celebrants prefer to shop in-store

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Customers preparing for Halloween are skipping online shopping in favor of in-store visits.

In fact, 71% of customers are shopping in-store over online this Halloween season, according to the “Halloween Shopping Report.” The study, from ChargeItSpot, is based on responses it collected from over 500 shoppers at malls across the country.

Shoppers will do the majority of their Halloween shopping at a party supply store (51%); 30% will shop online, 13% will visit a seasonal pop-up shop, and 7% are headed to a big box/superstore.

“According to our data, the majority of Halloween shoppers still prefer to shop in-store versus online,” said Douglas Baldasare, CEO and founder of ChargeItSpot. “For Halloween in particular, shoppers have a large variety of brick-and-mortar options available to them, and the two most popular product categories, candy and costumes, lend themselves to in-store shopping.”

Specifically, 52% of shoppers said they will spend the most on costumes this Halloween season, followed by candy (28%). They will also buy decorations (11%), and party supplies (9%).

When planning their Halloween budgets, a majority of shoppers (63%) said they would spend less than $100, overall. Almost one in five shoppers (19%) plan to spend between $100 and $200; 5% will spend between $200 and $300; only 1% will spend between $300 and $400; 3% will spend between $400 and $500 (3%). However, 10% of shoppers plan to spend more than $500.

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ECOMMERCE

The brands with the best online performance and shopability are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

When it comes to the top 10 brands that offer the best online experiences, only three traditional retailers make the grade.

Automobile supplies company Summit Racing (scoring 99.10), Saatva Mattress (98.67); Birchbox (98.66); Toyota, (98.25), and Whole Foods Market (98.24) round out the top five retailers that offer the least downtime and minimal disruption for shoppers. Only two other physical retailers, J. Crew (97.47) and J.C. Penney (97.45) made it into the top 10 brands in this category.

This was according to the “Online Health & Usability Index — the OSHU Index.” The study from Shoppimon, trends KPIs such as site speed, server downtime, business downtime (the percentage of time a purchase cannot be completed on the site), and technical issues. The index compares online stores within nine vertical industry categories: apparel, automotive supplies, beauty, consumer electronics, department store, food & beverage, health & wellness, home & garden, and jewelry.

Among the Top 10 OSHU Index Overall Winners, no business had downtime of more than .1%, and all had 0% server downtime during the time evaluated. Among this diverse group of brands, seven of the nine aforementioned vertical categories made it into the Top 10. The strongest performing vertical categories are automotive, beauty, and food and beverage industries, with two online stores each. No jewelry or consumer electronics sites made it into the top 10, data revealed.

“Top performing online stores on the Shoppimon OSHU Index like Summit Racing, which earned the top spot on our inaugural ranking, are able to maintain lightning fast speed with minimal downtime and disruption for shoppers,” said Roy Rosinnes, CEO and co-founder of Shoppimon.

“With a full load time of 0.36 seconds and zero business downtime, Summit Racing deserves kudos for providing a great brand experience for consumers as well as maximizing bottom line sales.”

Amazon is noticeably missing from the overall Shoppimon OSHU Index. Besides taking into account that Amazon “behaves as a huge online mall — with many independent, and separately managed stores, open for shoppers to visit 24/7,” according to the study, the company’s often lauded customer experience still fell short among its ranked competitors.

Based on a small sample of Amazon stores that measured whether Amazon’s “gold standard” customer experience extends to its onsite shopping performance, the Amazon stores Shoppimon evaluated received an average OSHU Score of 92.08. While this is nearly 4 points ahead of the average score of the full index, it is still 6 points behind OSHU’s Top 3, data revealed.

Broken up by category, J. Crew, ASOS (96.94) and Talbots (96.78) lead the pack in online apparel experiences. Birchbox, Lookfantastic (97.13) and Beauty Bay (97.02) outshine their beauty competitors, and J.C. Penney, Marks & Spencer (96.86) and Sears (96.62) lead online department store experiences.

When it comes to shopping online for food and beverages, Whole Foods Market, Nuts.com (97.14), and SodaStream (94.97) lead the pack. While online jewelers didn’t place in the overall top 10 overall online experiences, Ritani (96.83), Tiffany & Co, (94.16) and Zales (92.81) lead the charge in customer experience for their segment.

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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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