TECHNOLOGY

Omega Sports’ business thrives through inventory ‘nervous system’

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A renewed focused on inventory control enables Omega Sports to uphold its signature customer service, improve email communications, and compete with larger retailers.

The 14-store retailer is committed to helping customers find — and get fitted with — the right gear, from running shoes to baseball bats. However, a legacy retail management system (RMS) didn’t help store managers understand which items were selling well, which should be discounted for sale, and or what should no longer be stocked.

By transitioning to the Celerant retail management system in September 2016, the retailer gained an integrated point-of-sale (POS) and purchase order system, as well as the ability to monitor inventory and maintain and retrieve data.

“The Celerant retail system is basically Omega Sports’ central nervous system,” said Craig Carlock, CEO of Omega Sports. “We don’t do anything without a set of data — we don’t change a price, we don’t issue a purchase order, we don’t take a refund, we don’t bring in a new item, we don’t set up a new vendor without working with Celerant.”

Sales are now tracked at the store level down to the hour, which enables Carlock to optimize store hours and increase sales. The system also maintains a database of 140,000 customers. Armed with technology that enables the company to better understand purchasing patterns, the company has also started sending email promotions to different consumers on different days of the week. The initiative has yielded “substantial sales,” he said.

“Understanding which items are selling, reducing our exposure to items that aren’t selling, optimizing our hours, and knowing which emails generate sales help us effectively compete against those larger-box retailers,” says Carlock.

Looking ahead, the system is expected to increase business by upwards of 10% in the next few years, he said.

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon to add robotics-based facility in home state

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is planting some new roots in Washington’s Lilac City, and in a big way.

The online giant will open a 600,000 sq. ft., robotics-based fulfillment center in Spokane, its first facility in Eastern Washington. Amazon currently employs more than 50,000 people across the state at its headquarters in Seattle, and facilities supporting customer fulfillment in DuPont, Kent and Sumner.

The new fulfillment center, which is expected to open in late 2019, will employ more than 1,500 full-time associates who will engage with Amazon Robotics to complete operations. The robotics technology will assist employees as they pick, pack and ship items, such as games, housewares, school supplies and pet toys.

“We’re excited to open a new, state-of-the-art fulfillment center in Spokane, and to continue innovating in our home state,” said Mark Stewart, Amazon’s VP of North America Customer Fulfillment.

The company has invested more than $37 billion in Washington State, including infrastructure and compensation to its teams from 2011 to 2017, according to the online retailer.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Prime Day still doesn’t have the allure of Black Friday weekend

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite Prime Day’s overall excitement and steep promotions, customers expect better deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

While 53% of Prime Day shoppers were very satisfied or extremely satisfied with Amazon’s deals, these customers ranked Black Friday as the best retail holiday, followed by Cyber Monday — placing Prime Day in third place, according to data from omnichannel consumer purchase panel provider, InfoScout.

Customers came out ready to shop when Amazon’s 36-hour summer sale kicked off on July 16, as 84% of customers planned to shop on Prime Day, up from 78% on Prime Day 2017. Additionally, 89% of Prime Day shoppers were aware it was Prime Day before they shopped, and 83% said that Prime Day influenced their decision to shop on Amazon that day.

Amazon’s deals also kept shoppers on their site and away from competing retailers. For example, 61% of Prime Day shoppers only considered Amazon for the items they purchased on Prime Day, and 46% did not compare Amazon prices with any other website or retailer. Of those shoppers who did compare prices, 24% compared prices at Walmart, 14% at Target, and 9% at Best Buy.

Mobile surpassed browser shopping during the sale, as 41% of Prime Day shoppers shopped on computers while 67% shopped Prime Day via their mobile device. Voice-driven purchases have yet to catch on, with only 1% of shoppers indicating they used their Alexa device to place a Prime Day order.

People also shopped at work. Of the 31% of those who admitted to shopping at work, they spent an average of 41 minutes of their work day shopping at Amazon.

While shopping, 49% of Prime Day customers purchased from the consumer electronics category, and 54% of these same shoppers bought the brand they planned on buying. Of the 57% of consumer electronics shoppers who were planning to make that purchase on Prime Day, 24% indicated they had been planning to wait three or more months to make that same purchase, indicating that Prime Day accelerated the purchase cycle for these products.

Alexa was a consumer electronics star, and shoppers don’t stop at just one. The 83% of the Prime Day shoppers who bought an Amazon Echo product were planning to do so on Prime Day. Of the shoppers who own an Alexa device, 59% own two or more, and 41% of Amazon Alexa device shoppers indicated this was their first Alexa.

Amazon marketing channels were the primary source for shoppers’ awareness of Prime Day, but social media and prior successful Prime Days also helped spread the message. For example, 51% of shoppers were aware of Prime Day as a result of messaging on Amazon’s website, 43% from an Amazon email, 40% from Amazon’s mobile app, 42% from social media, and 31% already knew about it from prior years.

“In just four short years, Prime Day has established itself as a retail phenomenon,” says Peter Greene, practice director of consumer durables at InfoScout. “Amazon has built a holiday shopping occasion into consumers’ consciousness so much so that it is impacting annual spend in a broad section of categories, none larger than consumer electronics. Count on Prime Day 2019 to continue this trend, which is great news for all retailers.”

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