TECHNOLOGY

Specialty retailer makes waves with commitment to unified commerce

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Everything But Water is dipping its toe into the “connected commerce” waters.

The swimwear and resort wear retailer has experienced a significant level of growth over the last decade — both in the number stores it operates, as well as the growth of its digital business. However, both factors began taking a toll on the company’s retail systems — as well as the retailer’s ability to bridge its shopping experience cross-channel.

These issues were further exacerbated by consumers’ increasing demand for a unified experience. Regardless of whether they interact with Everything But Water’s brick-and-mortar stores, online or contact center, “customers expect a positive and consistent brand experience during each visit — but we needed a catalyst that encouraged our customers to make a purchase,” said Everything But Water CEO, Randall Blumenthal. “To make that happen, we needed to the right technology in place.”

When considering a partner to help them along their journey, Blumenthal wanted to work with a company that could help it transition away from its aging legacy solutions, and toward managed services available in the cloud. The ideal technology provider would also deliver modernized, scalable solutions that could support stronger customer engagement, personalized experiences and improved fulfillment.

The retailer joined forces with Manhattan Associates, and began deploying the company’s Manhattan Scale solution, a move that upgraded the company’s warehouse management operations and fully automated its distribution center.

“This gave us the structure we needed to future-proof our operation,” Blumenthal said. “Cloud-based solutions also gives us the alternatives needed to maintain our edge in the marketplace.”

Looking ahead, Everything But Water plans to deploy the technology provider’s Manhattan Active Omni solution to fuse order management and store fulfillment applications, next-generation point-of-sale and clienteling applications onto a single platform. This step will give store associates a 360-degree view of customer information, and access to the company’s full network of inventory.

As a result, the retailer will be able to deliver personalized “buy anywhere, ship anywhere” service to shoppers across any touchpoint, Blumenthal explained.

The cloud-based platform will also enable the company to quickly deploy this additional functionality with little downtime. However, Everything But Water is in no rush.

“While we want to move as quickly as possible, we need to maintain a pace that makes sense for the business and still keeps us competitive,” Blumenthal said, adding that these new capabilities will be ramped up throughout 2018 and 2019.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Online holiday sales exceed last year’s gains

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Mobile usage and search trends contributed to record-high e-commerce sales for the 2017 holiday shopping season.

During the 2017 holiday shopping season, U.S. e-commerce sales increased 13% from the previous year. In 2016, e-commerce sales increased 10.43% from 2015, according to new analysis from NetElixir.

For most of the retail categories analyzed, mobile sales saw modest gains. The biggest m-commerce increase was 11% in the cosmetics category. The apparel category saw a 2% increase, and gifting saw a 3% life, but the electronics and food & gourmet categories saw a slight dip in sales (1%).

“This holiday season data shows overall positive growth,” said Udayan Bose, CEO of NetElixir. “Consumers are continuing to move to online shopping for their holiday purchases, and are also using their mobile devices more for purchasing in specific retail categories like cosmetics. With the mobile visit data trending in a steeper upward direction, we can expect that m-commerce figures will be higher next holiday season.”

Despite m-commerce’s modest gains, mobile visits rose sharply across most categories. The apparel category saw a dramatic increase of 32% for mobile visits. All other categories saw single digit increases for mobile visits, which indicates that shoppers were using mobile devices more for browsing and product research this holiday season than before.

According to the report’s search marketing trends, average order values (AOV) saw the biggest lift this year with an increase of 19.4%. Conversions increased by 15.6%, impressions increased by 12.8% and the average cost-per-click went up by 14.2%.

“The increase in average order values was significant this holiday season and retailers should be taking note of this figure in particular,” said Bose. “This dramatic increase implies that consumers are growing more comfortable making expensive purchases online. The overall positive trend of the other search marketing metrics indicate that digital marketing is growing in effectiveness, leading consumers to the brands and products they are interested to purchase.”

E-commerce sales volume also ranged by U.S. regions. The highest increase in the south with a 24.3% jump. The next highest was found in the west with a 12.7% increase. The central U.S. had a 12.2% jump, and the northeast had an 11.4% sales lift.

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Local retailers were ‘big business’ for Amazon in 2017

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) selling on Amazon Marketplace rang up big sales in 2017.

In 2017, more than 300,000 U.S.-based small and medium-sized businesses joined the Amazon Marketplace — a network comprised of companies that operate in every state in the U.S., and more than 130 countries around the world. More than 140,000 of these small and medium-sized businesses surpassed $100,000 in sales on Amazon in 2017.

Customers ordered “billions of items” from these businesses through Amazon’s Marketplace. More than one billion items were purchased during the holiday season, and more than 140 million items were ordered between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to the company.

Other SMB milestones achieved in 2017 include:

• Fulfillment by Amazon shipped billions of items worldwide.

• Amazon Lending, a program launched in 2011, surpassed $3 billion lent to small businesses on Amazon.

• Amazon Handmade expanded to encompass 10 categories offering customers more than one million handcrafted items from thousands of artisans and small business owners across all 50 states, and more than 60 countries.

“More and more small and medium-sized businesses are choosing to join the Amazon Marketplace and sell alongside Amazon to reach customers around the world,” said Peter Faricy, VP for Amazon Marketplace. “Entrepreneurs and small business owners are succeeding on Amazon, and reinvesting in their local communities, efforts which create jobs and support local suppliers.”

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