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Shoe retailer fits into bigger online capabilities

BY Dan Berthiaume

Regional footwear retailer Schuler Shoes does not have immediate access to the same type of e-commerce functionality as its larger competitors.

But the 10-store omnichannel chain, headquartered in Maple Grove, Minnesota, has still been able to offer advanced search and navigation features to site visitors.

After switching to the Magento e-commerce platform following an expansion of its product assortment, Schuler needed a SaaS-based search and navigation solution that would work well with its new online commerce system. The retailer turned to the SLI Systems Learning Search Connect plug-in for Magento.

Using the plug-in, Schuler has been able to gain access to hosted, Magento-compatible, cloud-based search, navigation and merchandising solutions from SLI that are normally geared toward larger users.

“We chose SLI because it fits well with Magento and offers the features we needed,” said Michael Schuler, e-commerce director, Schuler Shoes. “SLI Learning Search Connect easily plugged into our Magento platform, quickly improving the shopping experience and simplifying merchandising and promotions. With SLI site search, navigation and refinements, we have seen 20% fewer bounces and a 7.5% increase in the time visitors spend on the site, indicating the solutions are helping customers in the ‘pre-shop’ phase before they buy from us in-store or online.”

SaaS, cloud-based solutions and plug-ins all make it easier than ever for smaller retailers to leverage the same type of sophisticated, robust systems their larger peers have always used, With the limits of physical infrastructure becoming increasingly irrelevant, the retail IT playing field is more level than ever before.

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Quiksilver rides again: Retailer set to emerge from bankruptcy

BY Mike Troy

Action sports retailer Quiksilver and its nearly 1,000 stores are set to emerge from bankruptcy on Feb. 8, under the majority ownership of Oaktree Capital Management.

Quiksilver filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 9, 2015 and on Jan. 28, the company and Oaktree Capital Management issued a statement indicating that funds managed by Oaktree will convert substantial existing United States debt holdings into a majority of the stock in the reorganized company on exit.

“Today marks a new beginning for Quiksilver, Roxy, and DC Shoes. We will emerge as a revitalized and stronger company with experienced leadership, rationalized operations, a clean balance sheet and a world-class partner in Oaktree, who brings additional strategic and operational expertise to our company,” said Quiksilver CEO Pierre Agnes. “The reorganization plan we have put in place provides us with the strong long-term financial foundation to fuel the success of our brands globally and positions us well to reassert our leadership position in the action sports industry.”

Quiksilver is a global retailer and brand that operates and licenses 961 stores as of the end of its fiscal year on Oct. 31, 2015 under banners such as Quiksilver, Roxy and DC. About 65% of the company’s sales come from outside the U.S.

“Quiksilver has tremendous brands that customers all over the world gravitate toward. Their emergence and new strategy will allow them to focus on innovating best-in-class products while extending the reach and relevance of their leading brands,” said David Tanner, managing director of Oaktree. “Simultaneously, it will allow the company to accelerate their ongoing journey of operational excellence. We look forward to partnering with Quiksilver management to continue shaping and driving their multi-year turnaround program.”

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UberRush increases drive for delivery presence

BY Dan Berthiaume

Ride-sharing service Uber is getting more aggressive in its jockeying for position in the online delivery marketplace.

In October 2015, Uber expanded its UberRush same-day delivery service from New York, where it had been operating for about two years, to San Francisco and Chicago. UberRush uses Uber drivers to deliver merchandise from retailers to customers for a $5-$7 fee, often in minutes.

Till this point, UberRush has specialized in enabling small merchants who do not have their own on-demand delivery capabilities to offer delivery of online orders. However, Uber is introducing a new UberRush API that will allow retailers of all sizes and across all channels to build on-demand delivery into their existing infrastructure and apps.

Initial retail partners including Nordstrom, Rebecca Minkoff, Cole Haan, 1-800-Flowers, T-Mobile, and Rent the Runway are now utilizing UberRush to deliver select products in certain areas. UberRush is also partnering with Curbside, an app that makes it easy to find, buy and pickup products at local stores like Target, and even the Google Express delivery service, as well as several restaurant delivery platforms.

To support UberRush’s expanded capabilities, Uber is partnering with platform providers including SAP and logistics partners such as Bergen Logistics and Trade Global. Uber plans to expand the pilot in the coming months.

At least in large urban areas, it seems clear that even one-hour delivery will at some point not be quick enough to satisfy impatient omnichannel consumers. UberRush is throwing the gauntlet down to other delivery providers, including parcel delivery services like FedEx and UPS.

And unlike drones, UberRush is available now (at least in pilot areas) and does not involve FAA regulation. Amazon is already making inroads into rapid, courier-based delivery with its Amazon Flex pilot. The future of 21st century on-demand delivery may well rely upon the auto, a technology that has been with us since the late 19th century.

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