News Feature | November 27, 2013

Retail IT News For VARs — November 26, 2013

By Anna Rose Welch, associate editor

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In this week’s news, a last minute checklist for Cyber Monday, stats that show retail adds more than 37,000 jobs in October, and predictions that in-store and online channels will vie for shoppers this weekend.

Help Your Online Retailer Customers Get Ready For Cyber Monday

Martin Mackay, CEO of Neverfail, provides tips to make sure your online retail customers are ready for Cyber Monday.  In his column for Integrated Solutions For Retailers, he tells merchants gearing up for the annual online shopping event to prepare in seven ways, including confirming availability, making sure you can scale up quickly if needed, ensuring you support mobility, and maintaining security. 

Retail Industry Adds 37,600 Jobs In October

According to the National Retail Federation, the retail industry added 37,600 jobs in October. The NRF also calculated 295,000 job gains year over year, a 2.4 percent increase over 2012. These gains will be seen in every retail sector with the exception of clothing and clothing stores, which lost 12,500 positions in September. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation report says the economy added 204,000 jobs in October. Unemployment was calculated at 7.3 percent.

Which Channel Will Win Holiday Sales?

Progressive Grocer illuminates some of the trends facing the retail industry as in-store and online deals continue to grow closer in popularity. According to Nielsen, 85 percent of consumers are projected to skip Black Friday sales, while 50 percent will instead be turning to Cyber Monday deals online. This is a 16-percent increase in people turning to an online channel for deals. Because so many people plan to shop online, there is the future possibility that the Friday and Monday occasions will someday be combined. For those looking to shop on Thanksgiving Day, rather than Black Friday, brick and mortar stores will marginally beat online shopping, 28 percent to 26 percent.

Technology Helps Convert Showrooming To Sales

PSFK discusses some of the new hardware and software solutions that retailers are turning to in order to combat showrooming — examining merchandise in a brick-and-mortar store and then shopping online for a better price. One particular technology trend is labeled “Contextual Support.” These communication platforms leverage data like location and time of day in order to supply customers with discounts, directions, and real-time information on the path to purchase. The article highlights some of these communication platforms and what they can offer customers and retailers.

Retail Talking Points

Rappaport discusses the results of a recent Capgermini Consulting and MIT Digital Transformation Report. According to the results, the more digitally advanced the enterprise, the more profit was earned. The authors of the report coined the term “digirati” to describe those enterprises that had achieved digital transformation excellence. Their findings show that 26 percent of retailers qualified as “digirati.” The “digirati” tend to differentiate themselves by excelling in customer experience, social media, mobile, customer analytics, process digitization or internal collaboration — though rarely in all these categories. The report develops a list of practices to initiate in order to help a company focus on cross-channel consistency and build analytics capabilities. The full report can be found here.

Joe Gillespie for iMedia Connection believes that mobile is the key to making an omni-channel approach work successfully. He says mobile should act as a link that takes consumer from one campaign channel to another, enabling opt-in opportunities and brand-related promos and discounts. This also enables data to be shared across channels to aid the retailer in personalization. Similarly, the “timelessness” of mobile makes it an appropriate central strategic touch-point.

Helen Leggatt for Biz Report argues that print catalogs still play an important role in today’s digital environment. She cites several studies that reveal print catalogs encourage shoppers to make more on-and offline purchases. Catalogs can also help increase order size.

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