TECHNOLOGY

Retailers will grow online revenue by focusing on…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A majority of retailers are banking on three factors to drive their online revenue this year.

Most (91%) retailers expected e-commerce revenue gains in the first half of 2018. These will be driven by customer experience, personalization and mobile initiatives, according to the “H1 2018 E-commerce Performance Indicators and Confidence (EPIC) Report,” from SLI Systems.

When asked about their most important initiative, 25% of respondents claimed customer experience was on top of their list. This was followed by advertising or paid search (16%), and replatforming (15%). This reflects a change from the Q3 2017 report where the top three initiatives were: replatforming (17%), customer experience (16%), and inventory, logistics and fulfillment (15%).

However, retailers across the board believe that personalization is the key to customer engagement and conversion. Globally, one-third (33%) of retailers said their companies already provide customers a personalized online experience, and almost half (49%) plan to add it in the next year.

Almost half (42%) of retailers will deliver offers triggered by online behavior to delver a more personalized experience. Emails triggered by online behavior and category page results based on online behavior tie for second (both 38%), followed by recommendations based on online behavior (36%).

Retailers in housewares/home furnishings will lead the charge when it comes to personalization efforts. While only 18% currently use personalization, 71% expect to leverage it within the next year, according to the report.

Mobile is also integral to e-commerce success. For example, 91% of companies maintained (50%) their 2017 mobile financial commitment, or increased (41%) their monetary investment for 2018. Meanwhile, 80% anticipate revenue from mobile sites and apps to increase. A majority (95%) of those in the food and beverage industry, housewares/home furnishings (94%) and apparel (93%) expect an increase.

“This report echoes many of the themes we’re seeing in our customer base,” said Chris Brennan, CEO, SLI Systems. “Online revenues are increasing, but it takes a focus on the shopper’s experience and the myriad of ways people find your brand and connect with your products to make it happen.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Click and collect gains traction—with one retailer out in front

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation’s largest retailer is playing a pivotal leading role in click-and-collect — or buy online pick up in store — retailing.

More than a third (35%) of online purchasers have clicked-and-collected in the last three months, according to a new report by Packaged Facts. And by one measure, Walmart leads other retailers by a wide margin: Among click-and-collect survey responders, some 42% identified Walmart as the pickup location for their last click-and-collect order, three times the percentage of those who cited runner-up Target.

The data in the Walmart U.S. Strategies and Shoppers report suggest that Walmart’s store pickup strategy has moved out in front of the competition. What’s more, the results also suggest that, while Amazon may rule internet sales and home delivery, Amazon lockers do not register on the same scale as click-and collect programs managed by some of the largest brick-and-mortar retailers. (But the report noted that while Amazon has not yet integrated its Whole Foods Market stores deeply into its overall operations, this will likely change, giving it more omnichannel firepower.)

Packaged Facts also found that click-and-collect may boost overall sales at the purchaser’s retailer of choice. Some 34% of click-and-collectors purchased an additional item the last time they picked up an online order, while another 16% shopped at the store but did not buy anything extra.

“For brick-and-mortar retailers seeking to straddle online and in-store purchasing, this finding is more than just a silver lining,” Packaged Facts stated in a release. “It suggests that physical retail locations play a significant, direct role in the omnichannel purchasing experience and that they can also help build loyalty from the omnichannel purchaser, who may choose that retailer again knowing that additional needs can be met in the moment.

The tendency for click-and-collectors to purchase additional items when they pick up their orders is more pronounced for those purchasing from high-SKU, high-variety retailers such as Walmart or Target, since the purchaser can choose from a much wider array of options in real time. Walmart’s new vending machine-styled “Pickup Towers” provide the incentive to do just that.

“Placed inside the store, the pickup towers force online purchasers into the store, where purchasers cannot help but be exposed to a plethora of Walmart’s goods and services, all within arm’s reach,” said David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.

Walmart is rolling out the towers at a quick pace, with 700 locations to have them by January 2019, up from 100 in January 2018. The strategy is clearly intended to increase the likelihood that they will purchase additional items once in the store — and survey results suggest it is working.

Some 50% of Walmart click-and-collectors shopped at the store for additional items and bought more items, versus 31% of Target click-and-collectors, and 34% of click-and-collectors generally.

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Amazon ‘fulfillment ambassadors’ defend employer, warehouse conditions

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon has found a way to improve the perception of working conditions across its fulfillment centers.

Members of the online giant’s “FC Ambassador Program” (FC is short for “Fulfillment Center”) posted a series of tweets on Aug. 23, and each highlighted their positions at Amazon (all in the warehouse) and conditions in fulfillment centers.

FC ambassadors are employees who have experience working in Amazon fulfilment centers and voluntarily choose to personally promote the company. They are also full time employees, and receive their same compensation and benefits.

The tweets highlight warehouse working conditions and compensation, two issues that Amazon has recently come under fire for, according to Quartz.

An Amazon spokesperson told Quartz the “FC Ambassador Program” is legitimate, and also denied reports that the tweets are from bots.

“FC ambassadors are employees who have experience working in our fulfilment centers. The most important thing is that they’ve been here long enough to honestly share the facts based on personal experience,” according to the spokesperson.

FC Ambassadors, along with fulfillment center tours, are also vital to the company’s efforts to educate people “about the actual environment inside our fulfillment centers,” the spokesperson added. “Those tours enable thousands of customers every year to come and see for themselves what it’s like to work inside one of our fulfilment centers.”

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