It’s certainly events season here at Newgistics! After a great few days at the RILA Retail Supply Chain Conference, we’re diving in head first into eTail West in San Antonio at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. We’re very excited to attend and see what trends and innovations are leading the industry for 2014!
eTail West began in 1999, and since then the four day conference has been a central hub for professionals from a variety of industries to come together for networking and exposure to technology solutions that can fit help boost interactivity with retailers and meet almost any need. Speakers from Talbots, American Eagle Outfitters, TOMS, BCBGMaxazria and Williams-Sonoma and many more top brands will be sharing their industry knowledge at sessions throughout the conference this week, where we plan to receive some valuable and tangible takeaways.
We’re looking forward to some great sessions! Are you attending eTail West this week? What trends are you hoping to learn more about at the conference this year?
It’s events season in the retail and technology industries! Newgistics is kicking off its roster of events with a platinum-level sponsorship of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) 2014 Retail Supply Chain Conference held February 23-26 at the San Diego Convention Center. It’s an exciting conference featuring sessions on international sourcing, omni-channel commerce and inventory management, along with other hot topics.
With the growing number of channels in the marketplace, retailers are constantly trying to provide unlimited possibilities for their customers using mobile devices, tablets, computers and the in-store experience. Bringing omni-channel capabilities to the supply chain is a hot topic in retail today, and the conference will focus on ways retailers can tackle this seemingly difficult issue. Conference attendees will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and participate in interactive sessions to gain exposure to leading practices and strategies for an omni-channel supply chain.
The speaker line-up includes professional golfer and PGA announcer David Feherty; Robert Bianchi, CEO for the Navy Exchange Service Command; and former Brigadier General Rebecca Halstead of the U.S. Army. Mitch Albom, columnist, broadcaster and author of The Time Keeper and Tuesdays with Morrie, will give the keynote address on February 26. The speech will focus on living a giving, meaningful life through faith.
We are proud to be among the many highly respected sponsors for this year’s show, and we look forward to a great event at RILA’s 2014 Retail Supply Chain Conference! Will you be attending? Visit us at booth #641, we’d love to see many of you out there!
Now that the holiday madness has come to an end, we’ve had a chance to step back, take a breath, and look at how shipping companies fared. With an unusually short holiday season and inclement weather, the shipping industry saw quite a few wrenches thrown into the system. However, Newgistics helped our merchants provide a positive shipping experience during the holidays with our streamlined returns management services. We’ve taken a closer look at some of the results from the holiday shipping reports to see what parcel delivery companies can glean from last year to make shipping methods even more reliable in future seasons.
Our very own Vice President of E-Commerce Elizabeth Hunter was recently interviewed for an Internet Retailer piece on lessons retailers and shipping companies can learn from the just-passed holiday period. Her key piece of advice for retailers moving into 2014 is to partner with service providers like Newgistics to complement their existing operational activities, bringing a more positive and reliable customer experience to shoppers in the event that one of their other providers experiencing shipping snafus.
Executing a “before, during and after” evaluation of carrier performance can help retailers keep tabs on how shipping companies are doing in terms of delivery time and accuracy. Diversifying shipping vendors to parcel delivery and returns management companies such as Newgistics, retailers can bring more flexibility to their operations in addition to other simple steps that can make a difference in the customer experience. Hunter says that by proactively communicating with consumers when a delay in shipping occurs, shoppers will be less likely to call customer service in aggravation, and etailers gain greater visibility into the status of shipments.
Newgistics solutions not only reduce customer frustration, but allow merchants to improve efficiency across their organization with inventory management and proactive communication. A notification on status of shipment can work wonders on customer perception of a retailer. For example, our Newgistics Transit Triggers service provides a mechanism for sending emails to the customer that supports this type of interaction, informing them of weather delays or special deals and promotions.
An accurate and reliable returns management program can be invaluable for merchants hoping to deliver high quality customer service along with customers’ packages. It’s inevitable that a customer will place an order for an item and, after receiving it, have it not meet their expectations. While shipping companies have no control over shopper product preferences and affirmation, they can control how easy it is for them to return a package to the merchant. One of Newgistics’ core pillars of service is a strong returns management program for its customers. The Newgistics SmartLabel includes prepaid shipping return labels that make it simple and hassle-free for customers to send back an item that wasn’t quite what they needed. This service is not only an easy way for merchants to handle returns, but customer satisfaction increases when their workload decreases.
What other lessons have you learned from the 2013 holiday season? Whether you’re a retailer or vendor, we’d love to hear from you to see what you might have learned from this not-so-normal holiday shopping period!
Shopping. It’s a pretty simple concept, right? Walk into store, find something you like, try it on, make a purchase decision, stand in line, check out, leave. And for all of you online shoppers out there, shopping is even easier! Open laptop, search favorite retailers, browse items you want or need, add to cart, checkout, wait for package. Boom – quick and easy! But retailers are learning how they can make your e-commerce experience not just easy, in-and-out the door in 10 minutes, but fun and engaging. We’ve picked out the top three trends that we see gaining the most momentum in the retail industry today. Check it out!
Beacons and Mobile Engagement
In-store shopper tracking is fast becoming a norm in the retail tech scene. Retailers are desperately looking for ways to not only get to know their consumers better, but how to bring more personalization and convenience to their shopping experience. The beacon technology is produced by several companies in the space today and works in the mobile space by sensing when a consumer enters down to the aisle they are walking. Apple recently branded iBeacon as its championed wireless networking technology that determines when a shopper enters the store with the retailer’s app on their smartphone. This allows special offers to be pushed to the mobile device as the consumer moves through the store, giving retailers more data on store shoppers and how they interact in the retail space. The true purpose and role of beacon technology has yet to be leveraged, but keep an eye out for more widespread use in the coming years.
Wearable technology can mean anything from smart watches and fitness wristbands to Google Glass and “mood-sweaters”. Retailers are beginning to explore how wearable tech can be incorporated into the in-store experience to bring a more interactive environment to life. Shoppers may soon see Google Glass cropping up in their favorite retail stores to employ virtual fitting, browsing and outfit accessorizing capabilities.
Transformed Search & Discovery, Visual Browsing
In a world where people have literally hundreds of options during each shopping experience, you’d think our search and discovery process would be a bit more discerning. You might say, “Hey, I can always find what I’m looking for when I’m shopping online,” but you may not know what you’re missing. Retailers are now looking into how they can customize the search and discovery process by allowing for more filters, preferences, settings, and browsing/recommended items in the online stores. It’s a new trend out there that will quickly gain popularity once the droves of shoppers realize just how granular they can get with their needs and wants while shopping online.
Would you want to see any of these trends when you’re online shopping for that next go-to sweater? Are you happy with the current online experience or are you hoping for a more interactive and engaging virtual shopping atmosphere? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the future of online retail and e-commerce.
The 103rd Annual National Retail Federation Big Show 2014 was bigger and better than ever this year, with 30,000 attendees and 500 exhibitors. The show is a great way to check out retail technology trends, mingle with industry thought leaders, update key media on company updates and hopefully chat up a few potential customers or partners. It’s quite the social event, off and online, with nearly 30,000 total tweets throughout the Big Show’s duration. It’s an event that requires weeks of ramp up, so we would all hope to bring home some useful information from the three-day extravaganza!
Here are the biggest trends to come out of NRF’s 2014 Big Show:
The NRF buzzword of the season was absolutely “omnichannel”, as debates on the accuracy and relevance of the concept cropped up in sessions and appointments throughout the show. A clear emphasis lies on bringing together the online and brick-and-mortar worlds for an ideal, seamless service in the retail environment, from inventory management to product search and discovery to checkout and the transaction experience.
Customer Experience Trumps All
The customer is always right — at least when it comes to knowing what they like and don’t like about a shopping experience and retail interaction. Retailers are constantly competing to offer more personalized promotions for the consumers they so ardently work to keep happy. Many solutions providers at NRF set out to help retailers better connect with consumers, so it will be interesting to see how this aspect of the industry evolves in 2014.
The next hot topic supports a more personalized customer experience, and goes hand in hand with an enhanced shopping environment tailored to individuals.
Mobility, Loyalty and Location
Shopper tracking using mobile apps such as Apple’s iBeacon allows retailers to bring offers to consumers that are based on actual shopping preferences and behavior within a specific retail space. Understanding the in-store path-to-purchase was a major focus at the show, and retailers are looking for strategies that drive sales and optimize the customer experience. Mobility allows for greater attention to the individual shopper’s needs, as well as integrate analytics and digital touch points, resulting in a better overall understanding of the extremely aware and selective customer.
What big trends did you see at this year’s NRF? Let us know what you think about these big ideas and how you’re approaching them in 2014!
This year’s holiday shopping season was quite the rollercoaster and the recovery period has finally arrived! But can we put a tick mark in the “W” column for retail sales in the 2013 holiday season, or did the shorter shopping window and tendency toward procrastination make for a less than impressive retail turnout? Online shopping gained momentum, but still left room for improvement among those that expected a bigger impact. Let’s take a look at some more takeaways from retail’s most recent holiday push!
Black Friday Booms, Cyber Monday Soars
In an earlier blog post, we reviewed 2013’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday turnout for retailers nationwide. According to comScore, the post-Thanksgiving/Cyber Week shopping resulted in the season’s heaviest spending, in line with shopping trends of previous years. Black Friday 2013 saw almost $2 billion in online sales, signifying a 15 percent increase over Black Friday sales in 2012. Retailers took a new approach to these sales, however, launching promotions and special “Black Friday” deals on Thanksgiving Day and extending into the next week.
Procrastination Nation and Boosted Promotions
The shortened shopping season seemed to throw off many shoppers’ internal gift-buying clocks – this year about 32 million consumers had not begun their holiday shopping as of December 9, and a whopping 10 percent claimed they would be waiting until Christmas Eve to finish checking people off of their to-buy lists. These late shoppers gave rise to longer store hours, free shipping and a major push on promotions as retailers did their best to prep consumers for the big spending they were anticipating all year long. Freebies with gift card purchases played a major role in retail promotions, and NRF predicted there would be a nearly $30 billion spent on gift cards during the holiday season – that’s a new record!
Online Spending Grows, and M-Commerce Hits a New High
To date, the 2013 holiday season has seen almost $43 billion spent online, showcasing a 10 percent increase over last year’s corresponding days. While that sounds like an incredible amount of growth, researchers noted that the spending didn’t meet their (clearly very high) expectations, but solid growth in retail commerce is a positive sign for next year and a nice counterbalance to the decline in shopping at physical malls. comScore predicted that mobile commerce would reach $7.1 billion for the holiday season, making up 13 percent of all digital commerce.
Did you see any major retail trends crop up after this unusual holiday shopping season? Share your thoughts and opinions – we’d love to hear how the holiday season worked out for you!
Christmas is just under a week away, folks! For those of us on our gifting A-game, it’s time to wrap, ribbon, hang, bow and box all of the wonderful things we so purposefully purchased for our loved ones in advance. And then there are the last-minute shoppers of the world, the well-meaning procrastinators for which the next six days would be appropriately labeled “crunch time”. As recently as December 9, about 32 million consumers had not even started their holiday shopping, and a brave 10% of shoppers say they won’t begin the hunt for gifts until Christmas Eve— talk about living life on the edge!
To help out these shoppers, retailers are keeping physical stores open longer and heavily pushing online promotions and deals until the very end. After a few recent surveys from Prosper Insights & Analytics, the trend seems to be that late shoppers are sticking mainly to e-commerce and online outlets to help pull them through these last few days of hectic holiday shopping. An estimated 50% of shopping will be done on Super Saturday, the Saturday that fall before Christmas, so now you know what your procrastinator friends will be doing this weekend!
According to the recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, almost half of holiday shoppers anticipate crossing off the rest of their gift list by going online, a record-breaking statistic in the history of the survey. This year’s shorter shopping season has thrown a wrench in the normally well-oiled holiday retail machine. Online sales are anticipated to shoot past the previously predicted 20% growth, while physical stores are struggling. While some blame the inclement weather in the northeast, others say a lack of in-store buzz and excitement has caused this slight drop in brick-and-mortar popularity with shoppers this holiday season.
“What about shipping?” you might ask. This past Wednesday was Free Shipping Day, in which more than 750 retailers participated to offer delivery of online orders by Christmas Eve. Major players such as Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney and REI are among the retailers that promoted this time-sensitive deal. Now that Wednesday has come and gone, online shoppers will need to pay to have their packages delivered before Christmas. The Monday before Christmas is expected to be the busiest day of the year for USPS, projecting that about 607 million pieces of mail will be processed. An anticipated 420 million packages will be delivered during the holiday season – a 12% boost from last year!
What do you think about the move from in-store shopping to online? Have you done most of your shopping online this holiday period? We’d be interested to know how you’ve approached the last few weeks of the 2013 shopping season, so let us know your thoughts and experiences!
For months on end, retailers prepare for this doozy of a weekend that handles more sales and site visits than any other weekend during the year. While we know that Black Friday is a major component of the U.S. sales that occur during the Thanksgiving Weekend shopping spree, site visits and purchases also increased on the days before and after Black Friday. This year, more than 141 million shoppers took advantage of the deep discounts and promotions during the big Thanksgiving weekend – that’s 2 million more shoppers than last year at this time! According to the Pulse by Custora, U.S. e-commerce revenue grew by 18% compared to 2012 for the holiday shopping period, and e-commerce site visits increased by 23%. An impressive 40% of the $59 billion in sales that racked up on Black Friday weekend came from online shoppers – a 17% increase from 2012!
E-commerce sales soared as retailers nationwide opened their doors earlier than any previous year with deals and promos starting on Thanksgiving Day. For the first time ever, Thanksgiving Day online sales topped a whopping $1 billion in the U.S.! Of the 141 million shoppers that took to the aisles, virtual or physical, almost a quarter of those shoppers ventured out on Thanksgiving Day. Now that the chaos has subsided, retailers are seeing a slight drop in Black Friday sales in exchange for a boost in Thanksgiving Day purchases. This year, shoppers spent almost $10 billion on Black Friday, and while it’s a notable figure, it’s still a 13.2% drop compared to sales in 2012.
Here are more staggering stats from retail’s biggest shopping weekend of the year:
Before the widespread use of laptops and later mobile phone and tablets, shopping on Thanksgiving Day was impossible due to closed doors of almost all stores and shops. Now any shopper can access these deals and discounts from the comfort of their own living room, regardless of how much turkey and pie was consumed. Whether a dedicated bargain-hunter supreme, or just the average Joe looking for a quick and easy gift for the neighbors, e-commerce and online shopping in the retail space has transformed the holiday shopping experience.
It’s the time of year we’ve all been waiting for: pumpkin pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and major bargains from our favorite retailers. What are retailers doing to bring in the crowds this holiday season? In addition to the traditional price-matching and deep discounts, brands are driving consumers to their home pages for a one-stop shop on all specials and promotions for the holidays. A recent survey conducted by Internet Retailer looked at home pages from 1000 retailers in the 2013 Top 500 and Second 500 guides from early November of this year. In the second installment of our holiday blog series, we’ll take a closer look at this year’s home page promotion strategies leading the retail industry.
Price-Matching Guarantees. During the holidays, retailers will go to extreme lengths to beat the competition on price. While this trend isn’t as emphasized during the off season, retailers chase a competitive price advantage to win those precious holiday budget dollars. According to Internet Retailer’s survey, 37 of the Top 1000 are currently promoting their price-matching policies on their home pages. Banner ads and pop-up overlays are popular methods for this push with brands such as Best Buy and Staples.
Free-Shipping. Free-shipping is like the tasty dollop of whipped cream on your pumpkin pie – the perfect addition to any etailer’s online shopping experience. More than 50% of the Top 1000 retailers spotlight free-shipping promotions on their home page. According to a Shop.org eHoliday survey, 34.9% of retailers offer free-shipping year-round, and 16.3% of etailers started their shipping promotions the week of Halloween. Of the 623 retailers offering free-shipping, 255 enable it for all orders, while the rest require a minimum purchase amount.
Deals, Discounts and Free Trials. Dollar savings and percentages-off promotions are present on 600 retailers’ home pages of the Top 1000, with an average discount of 39%. These average savings are major incentives for consumers looking to save on their online shopping efforts. Consumer entertainment brands like Netflix, Hulu and Gamefly use their home pages to promote free trials and trial subscriptions, as these services thrive off of monthly memberships and customer loyalty. At the end of the day, who can turn down almost 40% off?
Gift buying is a delicate process that requires not only weeks of consideration but budget planning and deal hunting in advance. With strict constraints on spending this holiday season, shoppers are determined to stick to their budgets, unless they are otherwise enticed to go above and beyond. Deals and incentives encourage shoppers to spend just a little bit beyond their budgets. Special gifts with purchase or discounts can work wonders for the shopper that otherwise can’t quite decide if the latest Cuisinart stand mixer is worth the cost.
How are you planning to approach home page promotions this holiday season? We’d love to hear from you!
While the holiday shopping season is six days shorter than last year’s, there’s no need to panic. Etailers are preparing for as many as 140 million U.S. consumers to shop online during that first holiday weekend starting on Turkey Day, with 33 million of those shoppers taking advantage of Thanksgiving Day deals. In response to this decreased holiday shopping period, retailers aren’t waiting to hype offers like one-day sales, free gifts with purchase promos, free shipping, and more during the long holiday weekend. We’ve highlighted a few of the bigger trends to keep your eye on this shopping season:
What are some holiday trends you’ve seen making a big splash in ecommerce? We’d love to hear how you’re ramping up for what’s sure to be a busy shopping season!