Friday Forecast: Anchors Away - What is the Future of Department Stores?

by Colleen Ferrier and Rick Petry on Feb 3, 2017 12:00:00 PM e-Commerce, Retail

Welcome to the Friday Forecast

The so-called anchor store, which has been a mainstay of shopping malls across America since the centers first made their appearance in the mid-1950s, is in serious jeopardy. Although brick and mortar retails sales still eclipse ecommerce by a wide margin, the lion’s share of growth in retail sales is occurring online:

  • According to eMarketer, domestic sales for 2016 are forecasted at nearly $5 trillion. However, retail ecommerce accounted for just 8.7% of total retail spending.

  • However, while year-to-year retail growth was pegged at 3.3%, year-to-year ecommerce growth was 14% according to a forecast from Kiplinger.

While ecommerce continues its inexorable march to a bigger bite of the overall retail pie, department stores have been taking it on the chin. While Macy’s is currently the fifth largest ecommerce retailer with $4.8 billion in online sales, the department store chain recently announced the closure of 68 stores by mid-year with plans to close 30 more over the next few years. Those closures represent a loss of approximately 10,000 jobs.

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How Digital Credentials Will Impact Retail in 2017

by Cody Winton on Jan 23, 2017 12:00:00 PM Retail

Consumers have grown accustomed to using smartphones just about everywhere. Well, everywhere except at the checkout. Only 9 percent of consumers use a mobile payment at the point of sale when it’s available, according to a new study from marketing firm Placeable. And perhaps even more surprisingly, four out of 10 Americans have not made a single purchase using a mobile wallet.

From the absence of a consistent user experience, to capabilities that fall short of consumer expectations, numerous issues stand in the way of a top notch mobile shopping experience. But advancements in the mobile payments space, mainly the introduction of digital credentials, may soon change that. By enabling consumers to bring along digital versions of their ID, license, passport or health cards wherever they may go, digital credentials are helping both consumers and retailers overcome gaps in a seamless user experience.

In fact, this emerging technology promises to change the way today's shoppers and retailers, interact with one another – especially at point of sale. Here’s a look at how digital credentials will impact retail in the new year.

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No, You Don’t Have the Next Hit in That Hot Category – But Here’s Why You Think You Do

by Jordan Pine on Jan 16, 2017 3:00:00 PM DRTV, Retail, Trends

In 2002, psychologist Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. As Michael Lewis writes in his new book, The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, this was unprecedented because “how on earth does a psychologist win a Nobel Prize in economics?” The answer is that Kahenman was a pioneer in the field now known as “behavioral economics.” Specifically, his work focused on the psychology of judgment and decision-making.

Kahneman would surely have shared his Nobel with Amos Tversky, his lifelong collaborator, had Tversky not died of cancer in 1996. (The award is not given posthumously.) Kahneman and Tversky spent decades disproving the idea that humans are rational decision-makers. They initially identified three mental shortcuts, or “heuristics,” people use in place of logic and reason. Many more have since been discovered.

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Retailers: Are You Agile Enough to Withstand What’s In Store for 2017?

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Jan 9, 2017 3:00:00 PM Retail

With a new year upon us, it’s time to examine what is on the horizon for online retail. Where will the eCommerce environment lead us in 2017? What emerging technologies will prove to alter the way in which we conduct business? What practices are now outdated and how will retailers need to adjust for future success?


I anticipate the biggest change this year will be how retailers connect with customers—including the platform, channel, and even media through which different parties interact.

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Three Vulnerabilities Affecting Electronic Retailers this Holiday Season

by Don Bush on Dec 2, 2016 10:00:00 AM Retail

The holidays are right around the corner and merchants across the world are gearing up for a busy retail season, including peak periods like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day. But with increased sales come increased risks for fraud. And big ticket retailers, like electronics merchants, have even more to lose – losses that may not appear until several months after the holiday shopping rush. Read on to learn what retailers’ biggest vulnerabilities will be this shopping season so that you can enjoy a holly jolly season and avoid holiday horrors.

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Best Practices for Integrating Conversational Commerce into Retail

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Nov 16, 2016 2:00:00 PM Retail

Conversational commerce—it’s one of the hottest marketing topics of 2016, and to be honest, there is a lot here to be excited about.

Technologies such as chat and messaging apps are especially valuable to marketers when it comes to reaching out to highly-coveted Millennial and Gen-Z consumers. In response, app developers are sending signals that conversational commerce will only grow more promising, with the makers of Snapchat, Facebook, and others adding such features as mobile wallets, in-app payments, and more.

However, simply deploying bots is not enough to convince consumers to complete a purchase; that process will need to be optimized in order to be effective.

By adopting the following best practices, businesses can ensure that they make the most of these new opportunities. 

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Peter Koeppel’s 6-Part Series on Trend Spotting: Part 5, Mass Retail

by Peter Koeppel on Nov 14, 2016 4:41:24 PM Brand Marketing, Retail, Trends

At the recent D2C convention, I presented a session entitled Trend Spotting: Benchmarking the Present and Predicting the Future of Marketing. My intention was a simple one: to synthesize the latest statistics, forecasts, and best practices in marketing from over 100 different sources to save my audience time and to provide insight that will help you today and in the future. In the fifth of this six-part series we take a look at mass retail and its impact on direct marketing. For the purposes of this blog post, the term “retail” will mean traditional bricks and mortar retail. Given the presentation was confined to an hour, I have had to limit my focus, but hopefully the learnings gleaned will prove helpful to the reader.

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3 Tips to Keep Loyalty Program Members Engaged

by Danielle Brown on Oct 24, 2016 12:00:00 AM DRTV, e-Commerce, Consumer Behavior, Retail

There are some eye-opening stats out there about loyalty program engagement: Consumers on average are enrolled in 29 loyalty programs, yet are only active in 12. Six out of 10 customers believe that companies only offer rewards programs to get them to buy more. And 74 percent of U.S. retailers reveal that customer engagement is their number one concern.

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Christmas in October: Pros & Cons of Early Holiday Sales

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Oct 3, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail, Support Services

At this point, it’s somewhat of a cliché to comment that “the holidays just keep getting earlier each year.”

This year, the holiday shopping season crept right up into the end of the back-to-school season, with Walmart releasing its “25 Hottest Toys for the Holidays 2016” list on September 1. Now we have to ask—what are the benefits to retailers to continue pushing holiday shopping earlier, and is there a downside?

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How Retailer Loyalty Programs Can Take Advantage of Summer Travel

by Danielle Brown on Aug 16, 2016 12:00:00 AM e-Commerce, Retail

Temperatures aren’t the only thing rising this summer. Each year, more than 200 million passengers board flights all across the country, making summer the hottest time of the year to travel. In order to cut down the cost of a family vacation during June, July, or August, many travelers are turning toward loyalty programs. Whether it’s saving up for discounted airfare or a free tank of gas, loyalty points and miles give travelers the opportunity to maximize their summer vacation plans. For retailers, there’s never been a better time to accommodate such travelers by enabling ways for them to earn toward that big trip while shopping with you.

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4 Ways to Fix Poor Product Content that Is Costing You Money in Commerce

by Rick Chavie on Aug 12, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail

Two of the most frustrating online shopping experiences for a consumer are when an online search brings up the wrong products or brings up what appears to be the right product, but the search results lack the attributes and descriptions needed to close the sale. Unfortunately, failure to make products easily searchable or to convert the sale is often due to poor product content. This is a problem that is all too common for a wide range of retailers from online only to large omnichannel chains. For those commerce players that get it right, there is a clear path to differentiation and improved conversions.

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What Amazon Knows About Membership

by Robbie Kellman Baxter on Jul 25, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail

Amazon Prime Day is the best day of the year for many bargain shoppers—thousands of deep discounts for one day only.

And if you are an Amazon Prime member with (at least) one of these Amazon Dash Buttons, congratulations. You are on the vanguard of the Physical Membership Economy.
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New Consumer Study: How Much Will Parents Spend on Back-to-School Items?

by RetailMeNot, Inc. on Jul 21, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Consumer Behavior, Retail

RetailMeNot, Inc., a leading digital savings destination connecting consumers with retailers, restaurants and brands, both online and in-store, has released a new study titled, “Back-to-School Cheat Sheet: Consumer Trends and Insights for Retailers,” that explores the shopping habits of parents as they prepare for their students’ return to the classroom.
 
Following are a few interesting statistics.

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Get Inspired by IRCE’s Main Stage Speakers and Conference Agenda

by IRCE on May 24, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail

IRCE, taking place at Chicago’s McCormick Place West, June 7-10, boasts networking events, an expansive exhibit hall and a focused conference agenda.

Hosting an incredible roster of knowledgeable speakers next month, IRCE has top leaders kicking off the two main conference days—from Dell, NASA, Steve Madden, and TigerFitness.com—who are not to be missed.

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IRCE Offers More to Online Retailers than Any Other Industry Event

by IRCE on May 11, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, DRTV, e-Commerce, Retail

IRCE, taking place at Chicago’s McCormick Place West, June 7-10, attracts nearly 10,000 attendees and provides you with multiple opportunities to make new connections and learn from one another. In addition to networking events and gathering spots, IRCE’s expansive exhibit hall and focused conference agenda affords you the opportunities to discover new trends and find new technologies.

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Smoothing the Electronic Retailing Supply Chain

by Eric Best on Apr 28, 2016 12:00:00 AM e-Commerce, Retail, Support Services

At the core of electronic retailing is a direct relationship with the consumer. From the very beginning, there is a point of connection with the shopper—something compelling that spurred him or her to action—establishing a strong foundation for future interaction, loyalty, and lifetime value.

In the high-pressure e-commerce environment—where we constantly face aggressive metrics for sales revenue, margin, and conversion—it’s easy to forget about those human relationships and their long-term value. But thinking about your customers first and optimizing your supply chain around their needs can yield incredible dividends, turning one-time shoppers into repeat customers and transforming customers into advocates for your brand.

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Increases in Paid Search Competition & Cost Per Click in the Post-Right Rail Era

by Jim Leichenko on Mar 29, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail

Since news hit that Google was going to eliminate paid search text ads from the right rail of its results page on February 22, the industry has been abuzz with speculation on exactly what those changes may mean for advertisers.

To help provide some preliminary answers to this question at this early date, AdGooroo examined changes in the number of advertisers and cost per click on 2,500 top retail keywords from February 1 through February 18 compared to the period from February 19 (the day we started seeing significant changes on Google’s right rail) through March 8.

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3 Ways to Build Customer Trust and Loyalty in 2016

by Kirsty Tull on Mar 18, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Consumer Behavior, Retail

Global ecommerce is projected to top USD $1.8 trillion in 2016, and while digital consumers are enamored with the convenience of mobile shopping, analysts are finding that they’re also concerned about some aspects of the ecommerce experience. In its 2015 Consumer Payments Survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers subsidiary Strategy& found that digital shoppers want better data privacy, more assurances of transaction security, and more rewards and offers when they shop online. Ecommerce and mcommerce merchants who address these consumer concerns wisely can build customer trust and differentiate themselves from the competition in the year ahead.

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Choosing the Right Fulfillment Partner Can Be Key to Direct Response Marketing Success

by Tony Altman on Mar 7, 2016 12:00:00 AM DRTV, e-Commerce, Retail, Support Services

In today’s expanding world of omnichannel marketing, marketers must have the ability to not only offer their products across a multitude of different platforms, but they must also be able to deliver the product to the customer once the sale has been accomplished. Consumers have multiple options available to satisfy their shopping needs. They might be compelled by an infomercial to pick up the phone and order, they might shop in-store at a brick-and-mortar retail location, or they might shop via a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or smart TV.

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‘Buy Now’ Ads: The eCommerce Miracle for Conversions?

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Mar 3, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail, Support Services

With both mobile devices and social media now ubiquitous, e-retailers are tailoring their approach to cater to new, more savvy online shoppers. Click-to-buy ads are the hot new trend for increasing sales.

Are they really as great an ecommerce development as they seem?

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The Secret to Top-of-Funnel Engagement? Mobile Coupons. Yes, Really.

by Michael Jones on Mar 2, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail

Mobile, mobile, mobile. Retailers probably hear this word more times a day than they would like to admit. And while smartphone shoppers used to be thought of as a technologically-savvy subset of a brand’s customers, I can assure you that most of your shoppers are now actively engaging on the channel.
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Selling Online? Here’s the Checkout Conversion Index You Don’t Want to Miss

by Scott Conti on Feb 12, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, e-Commerce, Retail, Support Services

eCommerce is expected to reach a total of $327 billion in revenue in 2016 and according to Forester, will account for almost 9 percent of total retail sales. If you’re an eCommerce merchant, how are you going to get a slice of that pie? Reducing checkout friction and payment processing declines are two of the most important factors to consider.

Digital commerce and the influence of connected devices are changing the way consumers shop and pay. Making it easier for them to buy online can help you save sales and customer relationships, not to mention stay one leg up on the competition.

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The Invisible Colors of Retail

by Pamela Webber on Feb 1, 2016 12:00:00 AM DRTV, e-Commerce, Consumer Behavior, Retail

Did you know the world has a favorite color? It is blue. Blue tops the list across cultures and in business, too. Fifty-three percent of businesses that design their logos on 99designs request blue—that’s almost twice as often as the next most popular color. In retail, three of the top four industry leaders (Walmart, Costco, and Kroger) use blue, too.

But what’s even more interesting is the colors businesses aren’t using—but maybe should. These “invisible colors” can provide an excellent way for retailers to stand out from the competition.

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1st Quarter Problems: Low Sales, Returns, and Chargebacks

by Monica Eaton-Cardone on Jan 28, 2016 12:00:00 AM DRTV, Retail, Support Services

The holidays have come and gone. With the annual rush of consumer spending in the last two months of the year now behind us, we’re settled in for holiday season’s ugly backside: slow sales, returns, and chargebacks.

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Holiday Returns Are Peaking, Too

by Jim Brill on Jan 15, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, DRTV, e-Commerce, Consumer Behavior, Retail, Support Services

While most of us were busy taking down the Christmas decorations during the first week of January, many others were returning those wrong-sized or otherwise unwanted gifts. That’s why UPS predicted that it would return more than a million packages to retailers on Jan. 6, 2016.  

Accordingly, UPS designated this “National Returns Day,” the year’s busiest day for returns. By the end of the first week of 2016, we anticipated processing more than 5 million return packages – 500,000 more than this time last year.

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The statements, opinions, and advertisements expressed on the ERA Blog and other online entities owned by the Electronic Retailing Association are those of individual authors and companies and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Electronic Retailing Association.