Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tis The Season For Tying Stores To Online Sales

By Debbie Hauss, Contributing Editor

It’s no secret that cross-channel retailing is an over-arching mandate in today’s retail industry. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are embracing the online channel as an increasingly important part of their businesses, and legacy catalog-based retailers are using their direct-to-consumer savvy to drive strong e-commerce sales. The web is no longer a standalone silo – it’s a primary driver toward continued and renewed retail success.

Following are five key ways to keep up with the competition during holiday 2007 and beyond:

1)Embrace the multi-channel mindset. This goes without saying in today’s marketplace but begs to be emphasized. Online (non-travel) retail sales are increasing at a faster rate than other channels, up 21% during the first three quarters of 2007 versus 2006, reaching approximately $84 billion, according to comScore.

2) Use customer activity data to make site changes often, even daily during the busiest seasons. REI has taken this concept to heart and practices it as the basic component of its go-forward strategy.

3) Offer free or promotional shipping deals and communicate them clearly to customers. Particularly during the holidays, but more and more with Internet shopping customers are looking for free shipping or promotional shipping deals. In a recent holiday survey of more than 1,500 consumers, the e-tailing group found that the number-one deterrent of online shopping is “high shipping charges.

4) Don’t forget the gift cards (and other gifting tools). Convenience is the top priority for today’s shoppers and gift cards address that need. Holiday gift card sales reached an all-time high last year, up to almost $25 million in 2006 from $18 million in 2005, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), and almost 80% of customers polled in a study conducted with BIG Research said they planned to purchase at least one gift card during last year’s holiday season.

5) Be in stock! This is another point that goes without saying yet still needs to be reinforced in today’s cross-channel world. As social networking, including customer-generated product reviews, online chat and blogs, become more popular, more consumers will become familiar with the “hottest” products and will want to purchase them. Before you initiate these new strategies, be sure you will be able to meet customer demand, particularly during the holiday season.

Click here to see full story...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sears E-Me Program Adds A Virtual
Twist To Back-to-School Shopping

Blending the often painful experience of shopping for school clothes with your parents with web 2.0 technology, Sears recently has taken Back-To-School shopping into the virtual word with the creation of their E-Me shopping experience targeted towards tweens.

The program, which is a partnership with myvirtualmodel.com and meez.com, allows tweens to create a unique E-Me, or avatar. Once constructed, the E-Me can be dressed in Sears apparel, such as The Cheetah Girls exclusive line, camo skorts, jeans, and hoodies, in addition to shoes. A personalized closet then allows the site visitor to save all of their creations from session to session without any exchange of information.

By simply printing the E-Me along with the closet and bringing it to a Sears store, parents will be able to easily find the clothing that their children want along with receiving a 10 percent discount on those given items at check-out.

In addition to making shopping easier, the site provides a virtual world through an E-Me Fashion Show, a rating capability, and multiple animated actions, such as eating pizza and surfing.

According to Paul Miller, Senior Vice President of Direct Commerce of Sears Holdings, “the Sears E-Me is all about making back-to-school shopping easier for mom and a lot more fun for kids.”

Monday, August 6, 2007

New Study Shows Pre-Shopping
Powers Brick & Mortar Spending

The combination of search engine marketing teamed with display ads is proving to be influential to the way consumers shop, according to a study from Yahoo and comScore entitled “From Clicks to Bricks: The Impact of Online Pre-Shopping on Consumer Shopping Behavior.”

The study was based on eight months of data from 175,000 comScore participants and five major retailers, which included JC Penney. One of its key findings was that campaigns which use both display ads and search marketing convert more online shoppers into buyers than those which use only one of those methods.

In addition, the study established that consumers exposed to online advertising tend to research or “pre-shop” online prior to purchase. These “pre-shoppers” spend an average of 41 percent more in-store when compared to consumers not exposed to online advertising, according to the report.

The integration of search and display campaigns has resulted in a deeper engagement for consumers exposed to those ads, leading to increased sales. Consumers who had seen a combination of search/display ads spent an average of 83% more than those who had not seen either type of ad, according to the report.

The study also found that consumers who had seen only search ads spent 26% more than those who had not seen any ads. This exposure to display ads lifted in-store sales an average of 11% over spending by buyers who had not seen ads.

In addition, among the consumers in the study group exposed to both search and display ads, 43% made in-store purchases, compared to 26% who only viewed search ads, and only 6% who had only seen display ads.

Other significant results from the study include that almost 90% of the incremental sales generated by online advertising take place in-store and consumers exposed to online advertising tend to spend an incremental six dollars in-store for every one dollar spent online.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Customization Trend Taking
Hold With Online Shoppers

By Jessica Humphrey, Assistant Editor

The trend towards offering personalized merchandise on e-commerce sites was given the star treatment in USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/) on Tuesday, July 31st. The article covered the move among such high fashion brands as Steve Madden are joining athletic footwear brands in allowing consumers to design their own shoes or handbags.

In addition to covering the customization offerings at specific e-commerce sites, the USA Today piece also spotlighted Zafu.com, which will take a shopper’s measurements and steer them to a specific retailers selling jeans and bras with the best assortment for their dimensions.

The article also cited data from NPD Group, which found consumers will complete a purchase 72% of the time if they are involved in the design or fitting of a product, compared with the 23% average conversion rate for the rest of the fashion industry.

The e-commerce sites featured for the personalized offerings, included: