TECHNOLOGY

Camping World bolsters its brand portfolio — again

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The largest U.S. chain dedicated to recreational vehicles is acquiring another company.

Camping World Holdings announced that it will purchase Uncle Dan’s Outfitters, a specialty retailer of outdoor gear, apparel and camping supplies. The new company will strengthen Camping World’s efforts to expand its presence in the broader outdoor lifestyle market.

Specifically, Camping World will use Uncle Dan’s Outfitters e-commerce platform to increase its customer reach and add new quality product offerings. Uncle Dan’s Outfitters will also serve as the official supplier of outdoor gear, apparel and camping supplies to the company’s rebranded Gander Outdoors retail stores across the country.

Gander Mountain, a retailer focused on hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor gear, is one of Camping World’s many acquisitions over the last six months. In addition to acquiring certain assets of Gander Mountain, the company also acquired Overton’s, a boating and marine accessories company, and TheHouse.com, an online retailer specializing in bikes, sailboards, skateboards, wakeboards, snowboards and outdoor gear.

“Under the leadership of Brent Weiss and family for over 45 years, Uncle Dan’s Outfitters strengthens Camping World Holding’s efforts to build a seamless approach to the outdoor lifestyle market and further positions the company to expand the reach and product offerings of our e-commerce business,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman of Camping World Holdings. “The management team not only possess strong knowledge of the outdoor outfitter market, but also has a keen eye for the development and invention of new product offerings.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Majority of retailers can’t view their customers cross-channel

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

All retailers strive to provide connected customer experiences at store-level, yet efforts still miss the mark.

This was according to “Technologies That Are Changing How We Think of Brick & Mortar,” a report from Kibo. The report is based on responses from 115 retail executives.

According to the data, 64% of retailers feel they are only somewhat effective at capturing in-store data on customer preferences. Worse, less than half of respondents (42%) have in-store technologies to view customer information across all of their touchpoints — in-store, as well as among their digital channels.

These capabilities are paramount however, as the role of the physical store is evolving, as brick-and-mortar locations transition into a showroom, storefront and a fulfillment hub — all in one location. That means there is new emphasis on creating an omnichannel brand experience, and providing convenience to customers with the option to buy online and pick up in-store, or return a digital purchase to the store. Retailers are testing new programs and strategies that connect customer data to inventories in pursuit of stronger personalization and more diverse and accurate fulfillment programs.

In fact, personalization stands out as a major initiative, with 52% of retailer responses indicating they are planning to invest in it within the next 12 months or are already implementing this strategy. How-ever, nearly a quarter of retailers (22%) have a long road ahead as they have not yet begun to personalize, or aren’t sure if they even have that capability.

Inventory and fulfillment also remains a struggle as 41% of retailers lack trust in inventory accuracy or don’t have visibility. Meanwhile, only 17% have full enterprise-wide inventory visibility.

Many companies are also challenged by how to offer a variety of ful-fillment options — and their reasons for not offering a fulfillment choice vary. “My organization is not ready to implement” was cited as the leading reason for not offering “save the sale (44%) and in-store pickup (41%). “My technology won’t support it” was cited as the leading reason for not offering ship-from-store (42%).

On a positive note, in-store mobile technology commitments are on the rise, as 41% of retailers utilize mobile point-of-sale, and 76% have used displays or kiosks.

“It’s clear that retailers are still working through many technology and organizational challenges to address major omnichannel initia-tives,” said Tushar Patel, chief marketing officer, Kibo.

“Inventory visibility, personalization, cross-channel customer data and exploiting in-store mobile technologies are the key pillars in providing connected customer experiences in the store,” Patel said. “Retailers that enable themselves with the right technology and strategies in place can transform their brick-and-mortar stores into major brand assets in a time of digital ascendancy.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Staples skips Thanksgiving — again

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Once again, Staples will be closed for Thanksgiving.

Bucking the Black Thursday trend once again, Stapes will close its stores this year on Thanksgiving in order to give customers, employees and their families time to enjoy the holiday. Stores will reopen on Black Friday at 7 a.m. in a majority of locations, according to Staples.

“We know that the holidays are a special time for creating memories with loved ones and at Staples we want to ensure that on Thanksgiving Day our customers and associates are able to do so,” says Steve Matyas, CEO, Staples Retail. “For customers looking to relax while shopping from home on Thanksgiving Day, we’re proud to offer a wide range of convenient and flexible shopping options with amazing deals on Staples.com.”

When stores re-open on Friday, Nov. 24, customers can take advantage of different services to complete their holiday shopping. These include the company’s buy online and pick up in store option, as well as Staples’ in-store pack and ship service, a program that helps customers pack and ship merchandise via UPS. Free next-day online shipping is also available to shoppers who spend $49.99 or more. (Orders must be placed by 5 p.m. local time, excluding weekends and holidays.)

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