TECHNOLOGY

Study: All retailers can profit from Amazon’s Prime Day

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Prime Day is poised to become one of the top e-commerce shopping days of the year — and not just for Amazon.

Prime Day 2017 proved that the amount of retailers that are leveraging the shopping holiday to capture their own market share is on the rise. The number of unique retailers that issued deals on digital coupon site RetailMeNot.com increased 340%, from 27 retailers in 2016 to 119 retailers in 2017, according to data from RetailMeNot.

Last year, Amazon Prime Day was RetailMeNot’s biggest online shopping day of Q3 across a variety of retailers and categories. That was up significantly from its 21st position in Q3 of 2016. Prime Day deals consisted of distinct messaging strategies: coupon codes contained the word “Prime,” and offers used phrases like “Prime Time,” “Black Friday in July” and “Cyber Monday in July.” They were also characterized by short-lived availability, aggressive discounts, sitewide codes and free shipping.

Retailers actively competing on Prime Day last year saw more than a 30% increase in online traffic to their RetailMeNot.com store pages. Those who didn’t participate experienced a 4% decrease in online traffic to their RetailMeNot store pages. While Amazon’s store page received 4% of visits to RetailMeNot.com on Prime Day in 2017, the vast majority (96%) of consumer website demand was driven by retailers other than Amazon.

Many retailers — and customers — also used Prime Day 2017 as an opportunity to spur back-to-school shopping. This year’s shopping holiday is expected to tell a similar story, as 91% of customers who plan to shop that day will make a back-to-school-related purchase. They have also allotted $70 of their Prime Day budgets (an average of $167) toward back-to-school items, the study revealed.

To be sure to grab this wallet share, 60% of companies plan to run promotional offerings that will target shoppers before Prime Day arrives. Further, more than half (54%) will run offers to coincide with Prime Day, and 53% will target shoppers in the following days who may have missed out.

These efforts could push Prime Day 2018 to become one of the top e-commerce shopping days of the year — potentially rivaling Black Friday and Cyber Monday in popularity, according to the study.

“Prime Day is a huge opportunity for all retailers,” said Marissa Tarleton, chief marketing officer of RetailMeNot.

“This relatively new shopping holiday has quickly become the kickoff for the back-to-school shopping season,” she added. “In both sales and opportunity, this day is transformative not just for Amazon but for all retailers savvy enough to capitalize on it. The day is here to stay, and it benefits consumers and retailers alike.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon rolls out try-before-you-buy program to all Prime members

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe service is now available to all Prime members — and no invitation is necessary.

Amazon’s Prime members across the United States can now participate in its try-before-you-buy Prime Wardrobe program. The service launched as an invitation-only beta test last year. Since then, Prime Wardrobe members have ordered “thousands of styles,” according to blog on Amazon’s website.

Members can choose merchandise across women’s, men’s, kids’, and baby clothing, shoes, and accessories. Levi’s, AG Adriano Goldschmied, Paige, Calvin Klein, Adidas, Puma, Native, as well as Amazon’s private-label merchandise, are among the featured brands.

Shoppers can order (and try on) between three and eight items of clothing, shoes or accessories before they actually have to buy any merchandise — with no upfront charge or added styling fee. Shoppers can keep the items for seven days. They return unwanted pieces and only pay for the items they keep.

Merchandise is shipped in resealable packaging that contains a pre-paid return label. Unwanted items can be returned through UPS. Shipping takes between four and six business days.

The service takes a swing at other personalized online shopping services, including Stitch Fix, Tog + Porter, Trunk Club, even Kidbox, that use in-house stylists to pull together personalized outfits based on consumer preferences.

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Retailers with the best performing digital channels are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Three brands lead the pack when it comes to offering high performing online experiences, but many retailers continue to struggle.

Adidas AG, Men’s Wearhouse and Ulta Beauty are raising the bar when it comes to website performance, according to Retail Systems Research’s new study, “2018 eCommerce Website Performance: The Stakes Are Increasing, But Are Retailers Falling Behind?” The study ranked 80 of the top retail desktop and mobile sites based on load speed, ease of navigation, and available ancillary tools (product reviews, recommendations, personalization, chat features, etc.).

Adidas AG jumped 21 places, from number 22 in last year’s study to become the retailer featuring the best online performance overall (48 out of 77 points). Men’s Wearhouse came in second (47 out of 77), followed by Ulta Beauty (46 out of 77).

When broken down further, the list changes a bit. Men’s Wearhouse had the best desktop performance (19 out 30 points), followed by Adidas (18 out of 30) and Ulta (14 out of 30). Ulta topped mobile performance with 15 points out of 24 (Adidas and Men’s Wearhouse both earned 11 points). When it came to shopper performance, Adidas lead the pack with 19 out of 23 points. Men’s Wearhouse and Ulta both had 17 points, respectively.

Results were not all good news, however. In fact, several retailers fell eight or more spots in the overall performance ranking, including Eddie Bauer (from fourth place in 2017 to 12th this year), Pier One (from 11th to 20th), and DSW (from 19th to 30th).

In addition to these declines, the average score for all ranked retailers’ website performance was a mere 45%. This was down from 63% — or a D+ — last year, according to the study.

This year’s score continued to slide due to retailers adding third party functionality to their sites. Worse, companies fail to test the effect those features on the performance across users’ devices. Oftentimes, these features are slowing down the online shopping experience rather than making it more efficient.

This is especially true for mobile experiences. While many retailers received high marks for “beautiful, intuitive, and shoppable” mobile experiences, almost all retailers were penalized for very slow mobile performance. With an average grade of 37, most retailers’ mobile performance is nothing short of embarrassingly slow, the study reported.

One factor taking on toll on speed is third party technologies. Retailers have a growing desire to build more functionality into their shopping experience, however most of these features are coming from third parties, which are causing slow page loads. The average number of third party requests for the retailers in the report was 139, representing a 50% growth over last year. In terms of actual third-party technologies implemented, most of the sites tested had between 30 and 40 third party solutions. Chico’s lead the pack with 47 third parties on its site, data revealed.

“Today, the stakes in online retail have increased as consumers’ appetites for shopping on e-commerce websites only continue to grow,” said Steve Rowen, managing partner, Retail Systems Research. “Yet based on the findings in our report last year, the signs were already in place that retailers were barely keeping up in terms of website performance – let alone staged to handle such a massive e-commerce increase. The findings in this year’s report further validate that retailers need to find ways to improve site performance.”

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