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Study: Consumers prefer different channels for browsing, purchasing

BY CSA STAFF

Digital retailing is growing in popularity, but the brick-and-mortar channel remains dominant for at least one crucial consumer activity.

According to research firm Toluna, an equal percentage of consumers browse before purchasing online or via mobile (76%) as browse in-store (also 76%). However, when it comes time to make a purchase, 82% will do so in-store while only 65% purchase items online or via mobile.

When considering a purchase, consumers also use traditional means of obtaining advice. A leading 67% use friends and family as a source of product recommendations, compared to only 29% who use social media.

Connected retail (using devices such as smartphones for a more personalized in-store experience) still has a way to go before it is widely accepted by consumers. Fifty-four percent of consumers have never used connected retail.

While 68% of consumers are concerned about the privacy implications of retailers sending personalized offers on connected devices, 46% would still be open to receiving them in-store. And 30% of respondents would be willing to have their location tracked on their mobile devices, in exchange for an offer or in-store discount.

Among consumers who have participated in connected retail, the most common features used are in-store digital offers (29%) and click-and-collect (18%). Overall, with regard to online/mobile shopping experience, respondents want improvements in more detailed product descriptions (26%) and shorter delivery time (25%). These features are more popular than flashy new apps and features (19%).

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Nordstrom vet to join The Finish Line

BY Marianne Wilson

The Finish Line said that John Hall will join the company in mid-May as executive VP, divisional president and chief merchandising officer.

Hall, a 30-year Nordstrom executive, most recently served as VP, corporate merchandiser of Rack Menswear.

At Finish Line, Hall’s focus will span across consumer engagement touchpoints including stores and digital operations, merchandising and strategies involving the company’s product vision. He will drive the retailer’s brand growth strategies.

At Nordstrom, Hall’s consistently achieved top line sales and profitability results in key regional, divisional and corporate merchandising roles. He started with the retailer as a sales associate in shoes and quickly moved into a buyer position for men’s shoes. He went on to serve in various positions involving footwear from VP/national merchandise manager of men’s shoes to VP/footwear brand manager for the Nordstrom Product Group supporting men’s, women’s and kids shoes as well as VP/corporate merchandise manager of kid’s shoes.

The Finish Line operates has approximately 980 Finish Line branded locations primarily in U.S. malls and shops inside Macy’s department stores.

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Tractor Supply digs up profitable Q1

BY CSA STAFF

Brentwood, Tennessee-based rural lifestyle chain Tractor Supply Company saw net income, net sales and same-store sales all rise in the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to the prior-year period.

Net income increased 17% to $67.7 million from $58 million, despite a 10% increase in selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses to $386.2 million from $351.8 million. Higher gross profit and pretax income helped boost net income.

Net sales increased 10% to $1.47 billion from $1.33 billion, and same-store sales increased 4.9%. The increase in same-store sales was driven by an increase in both traffic and ticket, with same-store transaction count increasing 4.2% and average ticket increasing 0.7%.

Sales were broad-based, with all of Tractor Supply’s major product categories and geographic regions generating positive same-store sales. Solid performance in consumable, usable and edible (C.U.E.) products, specifically pet and livestock consumables, benefited sales. Seasonal products including lawn and garden, riding lawn mowers and fencing also performed very well, driven in part by early spring weather in first quarter 2016.

“We know the seasons and weather can influence the timing of when our customers buy certain products, but we also know it is our job to manage the business accordingly,” said Greg Sandfort, president and CEO. “Once again, the team did an excellent job and we believe our first quarter results demonstrate the resiliency of our business model."

Looking ahead, Sandfort said the spring selling season will be very important to Tractor Supply’s first-half performance. For full fiscal year 2016, the retailer expects net income of $455 million – $467 million, net sales of $6.9 billion – 7 billion, and same-store sales growth of 3.5% – 5%.

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