Will 'Fallout' Spread After Tough Holiday Season? 5 Experts Weigh In

Retail TouchPoints – The overall economy continues to grow, but for a number of leading retailers, lower gas prices and rising employment didn’t translate into a happy holiday season. In fact, the new year brought announcements of layoffs and store closings at Macy’s, rumors that Kohl’s would be going private, and announcements that Walmart would be closing an unprecedented 269 stores worldwide in 2016.

Retail TouchPoints asked industry experts to weigh in who were the real winners and losers of holiday 2015, as well as how widespread the “fallout” from this lackluster season is likely to be.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Hyper-promotionalism was a self-induced problem;
  • Customer Service failed to help frustrated shoppers;
  • Personalization will help General Merchandise stores survive;
  • The “Amazon Effect” means each consumer’s best experience translates into their minimal expectation everywhere; and
  • Store closings will accelerate after the difficult holiday season.

Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners:
According to NRF’s retail sales report, the general merchandise segment had the most disappointing sales during the 2015 holiday season. The ongoing challenge for general merchandise retailers is that most of the products they sell are commodities and can be purchased elsewhere — consumers can compare prices and find the best deal online. The best way general merchandise retailers will survive is to establish a relationship with customers for a truly personal and enhanced shopping experience.

The biggest bright spot for the 2015 holiday season was definitely online and mobile commerce, which out-performed in-store sales. However, 90% of all sales still come from stores. With the holiday campaigns starting earlier, the day after Halloween, and the same door-buster deals available online, many consumers chose to shop online rather than fight the crowds. Retailers need to cater to ‘my daughter not my mother’ — the Millennial segment that is always connected and prefers the digital shopping experience, especially for commodity products.

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Buy Buttons on Social Networks? Facebook Users Give It a Thumbs Down

Mobile Marketing Watch – Of all the social media platforms out there, Facebook ranks first in this: a lack of interest in site buy buttons.

Facebook (only 9 percent of users interested in buy buttons) wasn’t the only site on which users would prefer not to deal with buy buttons. When GlobalWebIndex polled social media users in November, 2015, only 17 percent of Tumblr fans said they were interest in Tumblr’s buy buttons — and that was the most positive percentage reported.
Retailers, of course, have been interested in pursuing such a strategy in a bid to increase revenues on popular social sites.
“A July 2015 study by Boston Retail Partners found that by the end of 2016, retailers expect to see a 34 percent increase in revenues from social media, which includes buy buttons,” according to eMarketer. “But again, there’s a ways to go. Some 28 percent of respondents said they expect no change.”

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QVC capitalizes on bevy of video content for in-app merchandising

Mobile Marketer – Home shopping network QVC is leveraging its video expertise to enhance mobile shopping, with the content now integrated on product pages in its application.

QVC is ramping up its mobile strategy to maximize the holiday sector of the retail year through a page specific for Black Friday deals and the introduction of product pages. Its recent app update is an attempt to create a comprehensive experience for users to get the most out of their QVC experience.

“Adding video to the QVC mobile app provides shoppers another visual way to evaluate products before they make their purchase decision and they do not need to open a separate browser to view the video,” said David Naumann, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “While consumers are shopping on their phones, having everything they want to know about a product within the app makes it convenient and helps spur impulse purchases.”

Read full article: QVC capitalizes on bevy of video content for in-app merchandising

7 Ways Physical Retailers Are Trying to Fight Amazon in Their Stores

TheStreet – Amazon (AMZN) is every traditional retailer’s worst nightmare. The e-commerce giant is slowly but surely gobbling up market share and turning consumers into frequent online shoppers.

This past week, Amazon surprised Wall Street analysts with a nice profit of 17 cents per share on revenue of $25.4 billion, up 23% year over year. And Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer recently estimated that Amazon’s North American gross merchandise volume accounts for 36% of all retail dollar growth for the year (excluding vehicles, fuel and food/beverage). A scary figure for any non-Amazon retailer to see.

Amazon’s innovation in delivery and logistics plus its breadth of inventory have made it easier for consumers to choose e-commerce over brick and mortar, forcing physical retailers to get creative to keep consumers coming through the door.

“Retailers must infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations, compete more effectively with online pure-play retailers and offer a better, more complete, shopping experience,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners.

Here are some of the best implementations we’ve seen.

Read the full article: 7 Ways Physical Retailers Are Trying to Fight Amazon in Their Stores

Kohl’s unpacks same-day mobile delivery for nine-market expansion before holidays

Mobile Commerce Daily – Kohl’s is teaming up with crowdsourced logistics company Deliv to offer shoppers in nine major markets same-day delivery options for purchases made via smartphones, tablets and desktop, showcasing how retailers are gearing up to satisfy consumer demands ahead of the holidays.

While Deliv currently powers the brand’s same-day delivery options in three metropolitan areas, a greater amount of consumers will receive access to the streamlined service ahead of the holiday season, a peak shopping time for most retailers. Kohl’s dedication to cementing its status as a mobile-friendly marketer will likely offer it a leg up when it comes to beating other retailers in the fight to grab a large share of shoppers’ wallets.

“As more and more retailers begin to offer same-day delivery, consumers’ expectation of quick/same-day delivery will become the norm – especially those who live in big metropolitan areas,” said David Naumann, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Retailers, like Kohl’s, don’t have the resources or demand to support their own private delivery network and will need to tap third-party delivery services like Deliv.

“The key challenges of conquering the last mile of commerce are scale, consistency and cost. It will be interesting to see if crowd-sourced, same-day delivery can ‘deliver’ on this promise.”

Read full article: Kohl’s unpacks same-day mobile delivery for nine-market expansion before holidays