Blogs

2016 Holiday Retail Expectations: A Surprisingly Sunny Outlook

It’s been a rough year for retail. The department store model has derailed into irrelevance, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have had to make massive investments in e-commerce, and customers’ needs have continued to change at breakneck speed. Despite some surprising (and some not so surprising) developments across the industry, the majority of retailers are looking forward…

New iPhone 7: No Headphone Jack, No Problem (Except One Biggie)

Don’t you just love it when Apple releases a new product. It brings out the haters. The iPhone 7 release last week was no exception.

FedEx Announces 2017 General Rate Increase, Other Changes

In a somewhat surprising move to industry analysts, FedEx has announced shipping rate and surcharge changes for 2017 that do not match those announced Sept. 1 by rival UPS. FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight, subsidiaries of FedEx Corp., will increase shipping rates effective Jan. 2, 2017 as follows: FedEx Express will increase shipping…

Other Staff Bloggers
Brick-and-Mortar

Don’t you just love it when Apple releases a new product. It brings out the haters. The iPhone 7 release last week was no exception.

To many who “grew up” in digital marketing, I look old. (Even to me, I look old these days.) For the record, I'm a marketer who is in my 50s. However, despite that, I'm NOT a marketing dinosaur. All you young guns in digital, don't count us old-school marketers out. It was our generation that…

One thing retailers can count on in January is innovation. Each year, retailers across the globe gather for Retail’s BIG Show hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF). This year’s event covered the usual topics, such as payment technologies and improving the customer experience, but also demonstrated that there’s a big shift affecting the retail…

Operations & Fulfillment

In a somewhat surprising move to industry analysts, FedEx has announced shipping rate and surcharge changes for 2017 that do not match those announced Sept. 1 by rival UPS. FedEx Express, FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight, subsidiaries of FedEx Corp., will increase shipping rates effective Jan. 2, 2017 as follows: FedEx Express will increase shipping…

In its ongoing efforts to merge, FedEx and TNT Express jointly announced last Friday the unconditional approval of the Ministry of Commerce People’s Republic of China. After winning approvals in the United States (November 2015), EU (January 2016) and Brazil (February 2016), China was the last major regulatory hurdle for FedEx to gain in its…

Omnichannel Integration

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about your holiday strategy. A successful holiday shopping season doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, planning and a strategy that allows you to deliver the same high-quality customer experiences that shoppers enjoy throughout the year. During November and December, many retailers enjoy a healthy…

I recently received a really interesting whitepaper titled "The Top 10 Retail Trends For 2016" from Synchrony Financial that included a list of the top 10 technology, marketing and consumer trends that Synchrony predicts will have an impact on retail sales in 2016. Here are five of the key trends highlighted. Are any of them affecting…

It’s no surprise to learn that retailers are in a rapid investment period in terms of IT systems. Historically slow to invest in technology, retailers are now playing catchup in an arena that punishes slow-movers. A retail CIO is faced with the daunting challenge of solving a myriad of complex issues fast, including: delivering the…

Customer Retention

Recently while I was in the mall, I saw the sign below in a storefront window. Marketers can drive revenue by making strong offers, either online or in this case at retail. I wouldn't consider this example to be a strong offer. Take a look. Can you tell me why? While the offer, “30% Off…

Catalog

As consumers continue to seek convenience and instant gratification via mobile devices, retailers are challenged with thinking about new ways to generate customer interest and loyalty. To develop insights in these areas, Synchrony Financial recently tracked existing and emerging trends impacting both the retail and mobile payments space and published them in a new report. The report…

This is a guest post by Gordon Glazer, director of modal optimization and affiliate strategies at Shipware, a parcel audit and consulting firm. In the interest of full disclosure, Gordon recently took a small short position on Stamps.com after the two reports mentioned were published. Also, Shipware provides access to discounted postage pricing through one…

There are plenty of Christmas catalogs in the mail this year — some great, some just OK, some forgettable. Here are my faves for 2015: The Folio Society "Christmas 2015 Collection" An impressive package in a large envelope with letter, three inserts and two catalogs (one just of children’s gift books). This high-end U.K. book…

Management

As you've probably heard by now, President Obama announced the Department of Labor’s final rule updating the overtime regulations for middle-class workers yesterday. While the White House said the ruling is expected to boost wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years, it's not going over well with many business associations, including the…

Having spent last week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, I came away with three key takeaways: One, if you're an online retailer not selling internationally, particularly in Australia, what are you waiting for? You're missing out on a potential growth opportunity for your brand. Two, brick-and mortar retailers must develop a strategy to deal with "showrooming," — i.e., consumers using stores as showrooms to check out products, then buying those products online at a lower price (with free shipping, of course). Three, online marketplaces are proliferating — it's not just Amazon.com and eBay anymore — and becoming another viable channel for retailers to engage consumers and sell their products.

I like this question. I also like the related question, “If you had to reduce your marketing spend by $100K, where would you cut?”
To answer either of these questions it’s necessary to have a good understanding of the incremental return on investment (ROI) on each of your marketing activities. I’m always surprised how often that starts with “I think … ” It makes me worry and, as a consultant, probe deeper to see what’s really known vs. what’s just “felt.”
The sad reality is that most B-to-B direct marketers today aren’t working from hard facts in this area. They’re operating from

E-Commerce

There’s been a lot going on lately at Bluefly, the online seller of women's, men's and children's apparel and accessories, home furnishings and décor and beauty items from both high-end niche as well as up-and-coming brands. Earlier this spring, for example, Bluefly unveiled a new look, including a site redesign, new logo, new branding, and…

Retailers today have to differentiate themselves with experiential products and services, since most can no longer win on price. This was the key message delivered by Ron Boire, CEO of Barnes & Noble (B&N), during a fireside chat with James Green, CEO of Magnetic, during a session at eTail West yesterday. During the chat, Boire…

Customer Service

Influencer marketing isn't new; using celebrities to sell products is an age-old practice. However, a new type of influencer marketing — using regular customers as brand spokespeople — is on the rise. Highlighted in a National Retail Federation (NRF) article, “Customers Are the New Celebrities,” this trend of curating a group of select social media…

While Facebook's users are getting their first taste of the new "Reactions" emojis that recently rolled out, marketers are already working to better understand the impact they will have on their social media efforts. Facebook Reactions, in case you missed it, are a collection of six emoji that can be clicked on all posts and…

Six hundred billion dollars. That’s what advertisers are set to spend worldwide in 2015. Social media powerhouses Facebook and Twitter have rolled out new ways to target consumers through advertisements. But is the return on investment there for the companies that are fronting the bill? According to Gallup, 62 percent of consumers say that social…

Mobile

What follows is a list of the Total Retail content in 2015 that generated the most reader comments. You’ll see that our readers are highly engaged when it comes to content on shipping rates — who isn’t when it has such an impact on your bottom line — social media marketing, payment options and cooperative…

If you’re a skeptic like me, all of the talk of beacons in retail stores sounds a little too pie-in-the-sky. Beacons, as you probably know by now, are devices that communicate with shoppers’ smartphones in the hopes of improving their in-store shopping experiences. When placed in-store, beacons use Bluetooth technology to detect nearby smartphones and send them ads, coupons or supplementary product information.

In an effort to make it simpler for consumers to simultaneously browse its print catalog and research and buy from their mobile devices, Sharper Image embedded a “Buy  Now” capability into its holiday preview catalog. The catalog is chock-full of electronic, recreation, fitness and travel products, and was sent to 4 million households and businesses on Nov. 4.

Merchandising

A highlight of my year is the annual Direct Tech (now SPI) User Conference. (SPI acquired Direct Tech earlier this year.) This event brings together SPI clients for three days to network with their peers, learn more about SPI software applications and services, and discuss best practices related to merchandise and inventory planning. This year’s…

One of the buzz phrases that's surfaced with merchandise and inventory planning systems over the last few years is “predictive analytics.” At its simplest, the term reflects the fact that data processing capabilities have advanced to the point where they don’t simply generate operational reports and ask the user to interpret information. They're now capable…