TECHNOLOGY

Study: Digital strategies top retailers’ holiday wish lists

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Savvy retailers will use digital marketing strategies to drive traffic to both their e-commerce and physical locations this holiday season.

For example, almost 60% of retailers confirmed that their websites are optimized for mobile — a crucial step to keep digital customers engaged as they search for gifts and make purchase decisions both at home and in-store. Optimization is a must, according to Google, since 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site with which they struggled, and 40% will opt for a competitor’s site following a bad experience.

This was according to the “2017 Small Business Holiday Trends Report,” from Netsertive. The report surveyed more than 500 small and local businesses across the United States.

It’s important for businesses to meet their customers on the channels where they spend the most time and social media definitely meets this criteria. That said, over 55% of retailers plan to use social media as part of their sales strategy this holiday season. Hoping to tap their share of more than 2 billion Facebook users, more than 50% of small and local retailers plan to use Facebook advertising to get buyers in the door.

“With 90% of retail sales still taking place in stores, local businesses have a huge opportunity to drive online customers to brick-and-mortar locations this holiday season,” said Brendan Morrissey, CEO and co-founder of Netsertive. “Shoppers are using the web to figure out what gifts to buy, choose brands and decide where to make a purchase.”

Smaller retailers expect digital strategies will help them compete this holiday season, including digital giants like Amazon. While they don’t have the breadth of Amazon, almost 70% don’t believe that the online giant will impact their holiday sales. Retailers are learning to co-exist with e-commerce players, and even partner with them for a variety of services, including advertising, selling and fulfillment.

Despite these partnerships, especially on the marketing side of the house, 60% of small and local retailers are not using marketing assets from their brand partners — which means they are missing out on an opportunity to win business with their brand’s content and promotions. Most brands set aside co-op marketing dollars in their marketing budgets to support local retailer efforts, yet more than $14 billion of these funds remain unused each year.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Digital coupon redemptions to nearly double by 2022

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Digital coupon redemptions are surging — and show no sign of slowing anytime soon.

The value of digital coupon redemptions will reach $91 billion by 2022 — up from $47 billion in 2017, according to “Mobile & Online Coupons: Leading Vendors, Technologies & Markets Forecasts 2017,” a report from Juniper Research.

According to the study, mobile will account for nearly 80% of all coupon redemptions by 2022. In-app usage will drive these redemptions toward the end of the period, overtaking SMS — a channel which also continues to grow. The reason that coupon redemptions will be largely generated via app-based platforms is due to increased loads of both one-time and loyalty-based incentives for use in store.

“SMS remains a vital channel in reaching consumers, whereby a phone number acts as a unique ID in delivering one-time offers,” said research author Lauren Foye. “Consumers are more receptive to personalized offers delivered via this channel. They are protected by stringent regulation in Western markets which prevents high volumes of spam, compared to arguably less customer-minded channels such as email.”

In addition to apps, three stand-out technologies that also show significant disruptive potential include chatbots, QR codes, and invisible payments.

For example, for the first time, Juniper has quantified the volume of chatbot coupons as 25 million this year. They are on pace to reach 1.1 billion by 2022. The technology will enable greater personalization of offers, particularly through use via social media. It is also a fraction of the cost of using human operatives, and will aid in driving commerce transactions both online, and in store, the study reported.

Additionally, disruptive technologies will drive more footfall for physical retailers. For example, invisible payments will streamline the shopping experience, while QR codes, will provide additional information and linked offers. Both are designed to greatly enhance the in-store visit, the study said.

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TECHNOLOGY

Walmart goes upmarket in fashion partnership with Lord & Taylor

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The quest to take on Amazon is making for some strange bedfellows.

Walmart announced that Lord & Taylor will launch an online “flagship store” on Walmart.com that will offer premium fashion brands directly from the department store retailer. It is expected to launch in spring 2018.

The partnership, which had been rumored for weeks, comes as Walmart continues to push deeper into premium apparel and to target a more affluent customer base. It gives Lord & Taylor the opportunity to expand its online reach — with a company whose digital capabilities keep growing.

“Our goal is to create a premium fashion destination on Walmart.com,” said Denise Incandela, head of fashion, Walmart U.S. e-commerce. “We see customers on our site searching for higher-end items, and we are expanding our business online to focus on adding specialized and premium shopping experiences, starting with fashion. ”

Walmart said it will be adding “elements of discovery and inspiration” with regards to how people shop on the site. It will feature a dedicated Lord & Taylor store icon on Walmart.com and the Walmart app — a move that will expose the department store brand to more shoppers than it currently does through its brand’s online store.

“As retail continues to change, this flagship store creates enormous growth opportunities for Lord & Taylor and our brand partners,” said Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor, which is owned by Hudson’s Bay Company. “Walmart.com is a shopping destination that reaches a wide base of customers looking for premium fashion brands. They are a great company for us to work with as we continue to grow our digital presence.”

The partnership could also be a stepping stone for an even bigger project: the opportunity to establish Walmart.com as an online mall, according to a recent report in Fortune.

Lord & Taylor is a good fit for the potential operation, as it also complements the discount giant’s recent acquisitions, Bonobos, ModCloth, Moosejaw, ShoeBuy and online retailer jet.com — all of which could also be featured in the virtual mall.

The strategy rivals similar operations run by Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which both offer dedicated space to brands on their websites. Such arrangements allow companies to increase traffic to their e-commerce platforms and let retailers boost their online assortments.

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