TECHNOLOGY

Amazon continues its price war with online competitors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon may still be the online price leader, however it is losing its lead in certain categories.

This was according to “Price Wars: A Study of Online Competitiveness,” a study from Profitero that revealed Amazon is averaging 13% less expensive than other major online retailers in the United States.

Overall, Amazon had the lowest prices on the broadest selection of popular items, winning 11 out of 15 categories studied. Walmart had the most competitive prices to Amazon’s, with prices averaging 2.3% higher. Jet had prices 4.2% higher than Amazon, while Target averaged 11.9% higher.

However, there were a few exceptions where Amazon wasn’t the lowest priced in market. For instance, Chewy.com was 2.3% cheaper in pet supplies and Jet.com had lower prices than Amazon in beauty (.4%) and music & CDs (2.6%).

While Walmart had the most competitive prices to Amazon’s among any other retailer, the discount giant is making the largest strides to keep up with Amazon in the home furniture and baby categories. In fact, these prices are -0.7% and -0.3% lower, respectively.

In February 2018, Walmart, along with Jet and Target were locked in a fierce price competition with Amazon within online grocery. Since then, Jet.com has separated from the pack, lowering grocery prices by 5%.

Amazon’s price advantage was most notable compared to specialty stores. On average, Amazon was 13.3% cheaper on appliances and 15.2% cheaper on electronics versus Best Buy; 18.4% cheaper on sporting goods versus Dick’s Sporting Goods; and 24.9% cheaper on furniture compared to Wayfair. This dramatic price gap could have a major impact on these retailers’ holiday shopping sales if trends continue into November and December.

“Based on our latest data, it’s clear that Amazon is the best-priced retailer across the broadest selection of products,” Keith Anderson, Profitero’s senior VP of product strategy and insights. “That said, for those willing to spend the time, deals can still be found in price-competitive categories like baby, pet, and beauty products.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Ahold Delhaize USA jumps into the robotic picking game

BY CSA Staff

Supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize has found a way to get online orders to its North American customers more efficiently.

Ahold Delhaize USA will roll out small, automated “robot supermarkets” to speed order picking and cut delivery times, according to Reuters.

Ahold Delhaize USA, which operates Stop & Shop, Food Lion, Giant, Hannaford, Giant/Martin’s and Peapod, as well as Retail Business Services (RBS), will automate order collection through mini automated warehouses attached to the stores of its U.S. chains, the report explained.

The new strategy marks a departure from traditionally relying on manual labor at bigger warehouses, as well as a mixture of man and machine, to meet online food orders, Reuters said.

The company is working with start-up Takeoff Technologies, which is also working with Albertsons Cos. on a similar project.

To read more, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Global apparel giant expands its reach in a big way

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Zara is making its way into more than 100 countries — at least, online.

The fast-fashion retailer owned by Inditex on Thursday will launch a new dedicated worldwide online platform, technology that will enable the company to bring its fashions to customers in 106 new markets. Most of these new markets are in Africa, and will include customers in Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Ghana, among others. The online store is also making its debut in numerous parts of the Caribbean and Asia.

The platform will introduce new items from its women’s, men’s and kids’ collections twice a week, and feature a simple, intuitive browsing experience that is configured for all devices. Merchandise will be organized by curated collections, as well as “stories” which take shoppers on a visual tour of capsule collections and trends — two features that enable users to shop entire looks.

The site will also be available in English and French, and will be supported by dedicated customer service available in both languages.

The site will accept widely used online payment methods, such as PayPal and major credit cards. Orders will be processed in euros, grossed up by the corresponding delivery and customs charges, and fulfilled from Zara’s online platform in Spain. Customers will receive orders within three to seven days, according to the company.

This is Zara’s latest move to step up its digital experience. For example, Zara plans to use its vast network of approximately 2,000 stores in 48 countries to ship online purchases. The chain expects to have all stores shipping merchandise to customers around the world, including in the United States, by year’s end, according to The Wall Street Journal.

One store that already supports this service is the company’s newly transformed flagship at Westfield Stratford mall in London. The two-story, 48,000-sq.-ft. store features digital technology that integrates the online and offline shopping experiences, with solutions including automated order collection points, self-checkout, interactive mirrors and mobile payment systems.

The store also features a dedicated section for the purchase and collection of online orders. This section has two automated online order collection points, serviced by a concealed area able to handle 2,400 orders simultaneously, enabling shoppers to collect purchases made through Zara’s e-commerce platforms.

The store also features interactive mirrors equipped with RFID readers. The readers detect the garment a customer is holding, enabling customers to see what a complete outfit will look like in the mirror.

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