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Study: Brands with data breaches a turn-off to holiday shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A majority of American shoppers will base their holiday shopping destinations on whether the retailer experienced a data breach in the past.

Eighty-four percent of respondents said their willingness to shop with some retailers will be impacted if the brand has experienced a data breach, according to a survey conducted by Generali Global Assistance (GGA), a provider of a proprietary identity and digital protection platform.

According to data, among those who plan to shop for the holidays, 75% expressed concern about their financial or personal information being compromised due to a data breach.

While the vast majority of Americans (91%) plan to do holiday shopping this season, most are skeptical that businesses are doing all that they can to protect their personal information. Meanwhile, 40% of consumers said businesses are not doing all they can to protect their personal information.

And their concerns span all channels. Just over half of shoppers (57%) believe a data breach of an online merchant will pose the greatest identity theft threat this holiday season, while 22% consider a data breach of a brick-and-mortar point-of-sale system to be the most acute risk.

Over half of all Americans (55%) would have more confidence that businesses are actively working to protect their data, and reduce their risk of identity theft or fraud, if companies offered identity protection services, whether for free or at a cost. Retail businesses that currently offer identity protection services, or that plan to do so in the future, instill greater confidence in 56% of Americans.

Data breaches — and identity theft — weigh much more heavily on holiday shoppers’ minds than being pick-pocketed or robbed (11%), or having their car broken into (10%).

“Consumers are clearly more concerned than ever about identity theft and related issues as we enter the 2017 holiday season,” said Paige Schaffer, president and COO of Generali Global Assistance’s Identity and Digital Protection Services Global Unit.

“With data breaches at major organizations occurring so frequently and impacting literally millions of people in the U.S. alone, consumer confidence in the ability of businesses to protect their data has been shaken,” said Schaffer. “This is why identity protection is so essential in this day-in-age. For many consumers, stress is at a year-round high during the holiday season. Offering identity protection is an effective way for businesses to help restore trust in their commitment to protecting customer data, as well as provide more peace-of-mind to consumers so they can focus what matters most to them this holiday season.”

Despite concerns over data breaches, the most popular form of payment for holiday purchases this year will be credit cards, followed closely by cash (49%) and debit cards (41%). Only 8% of shoppers will pay with a check and just 3% will utilize mobile payments.

Data threats don’t seem to be impacting customers’ holiday budgets, as 40% of Americans plan to spend more than $500 this season. Meanwhile, 75% of holiday shoppers plan to do their shopping online, with 62% planning to shop via computer, and 30% planning to shop via a mobile device.

The same proportion of shoppers (75%) plan to visit a brick-and-mortar store. Whether they are brick-and-mortar or online stores, most holiday shoppers (63%) plan to shop at between one and five stores. Another 28% said they will shop at between six and 10 stores.

 

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Arts and crafts brand taps analytics software to make data-driven decisions

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Joann Stores wants to understand the transaction-level impact of their merchandising, promotion, and marketing decisions.

When it comes to connecting with the customer in-store, the arts and crafts retailer tests many options, especially related to both print and digital messaging. In search of a way to understand the impact of these concepts, Joann Stores is partnering with Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) to step up its analysis efforts.

While the company already had a testing process in place, the new software is augmenting existing efforts. Armed with the software, Joann Stores can analyze large amounts of data, enabling it to conduct experiments, and use results to make better decisions and implement business initiatives at scale. Specifically, the company is applying these algorithms to merchandising, promotion, and marketing, according to the company.

“While we had a successful testing process before, with well-selected holdout customers as control, APT has made all of our analyses deeper and more accurate,” said Chris DiTullio, senior VP of marketing and omnichannel, Joann Stores, which operates more than 865 stores. “We’ve been able to make reliable data-driven decisions and implement with confidence at scale, particularly in how we’ve evaluated return on spend for print and digital tactics,” DiTullio said. “We’re also using APT’s Market Basket Analyzer software to get a complete view of how our pricing strategies affect total transaction composition, including coupons and promotions, with a view beyond just the sales of the products that experienced price changes.”

APT’s software also delivers more detailed and actionable answers than we were available before. “For instance, beyond just knowing that a promotion drove a sales increase, we can analyze how the promotion affected each category or each store, and optimize future promotions with surgical precision,” said Matt Susz, CIO and senior VP, Joann Stores. “The speed, depth, and reliability of the test and learn software creates more time to act on our findings and drive our business forward for our customers.”

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Walmart’s holiday strategy includes a first: in-store parties

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As Walmart gears up for the holidays, it is stepping up its customer experience — online and in store.

The retail giant on Wednesday unveiled a multi-pronged holiday strategy that emphasizes convenience, expanded assortments, price discounts, speedy deliveries — and in-store fun. Walmart said it will throw three themed parties at its stores (for a total of 20,000 parties chainwide) over the course of the season. At the parties, which will include product demonstrations, customers will be able to test (and, in some instances, taste) top holiday items.

The first party, called “Toys that Rock,” will be held on Nov. 4 and be focused on toys. Kids can play with hot holiday toys and take selfies with Santa. The second themed event, on Dec. 2, will be dedicated to holiday entertaining. The third, on Dec. 16, will emphasize gift ideas.

In addition, for the second year, the discounter will have dedicated “Holiday Helpers” on site to help customers at the front-end find the shortest checkout, open registers, and grab items they might have forgotten. The company will increase the staffers, who are decked out with reindeer hats, during the busiest times of the season.

On the merchandise front, Walmart is expanding its product assortment in-stores and online, where it has more than tripled the number of products available this year as compared to last year. The discounter is bolstering up its assortment with more exclusives as well as brands new to it, including KitchenAid, Cuisinart and Yankee Candle. The chain promises deep availability of hot items, with products available in-stores and online throughout the season. And in what is sure to be a competitive season price wise, Walmart said it will offer price rollbacks on “thousands of items” throughout the season.

In other key holiday initiatives, Walmart is offering new incentives for online order deliveries, including making more than two million items available for free two-day shipping on orders over $35.

Holiday shoppers will also, for the first time, be able to take advantage of the chain’s “Pickup Discount,” which provides additional savings on select items for online customers that buy online-only items and ship them to a Walmart store for free pickup. These services augment the discounter’s free Pickup Today service that enables shoppers to reserve items online to pick up in store on the same day.

“We launched some really powerful things for customers this year with free two-day shipping and the Pickup Discount,” said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S. e-commerce. “These programs will be playing a big role during the holiday season.”

Walmart also has doubled its Online Grocery Pickup service locations since last holiday season. The service, which is now available at more than 1,100 locations, helps customers pick up online orders without getting out of their car.

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