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Managing Editor

Retail Rants & Raves

By Joe Keenan

About Joe

Joe Keenan is senior editor of Retail Online Integration and Target Marketing Group's web-only brand, eM+C. In addition to his work on those publications, Joe has contributed articles for fellow Target Marketing Group publications Book Business and Publishing Executive magazines. Previously, he served as senior editor at Reed Technology & Information Services for five years. Retail Rants & Raves covers the wide spectrum of retail marketing, from the very best it has to offer to the very worst.

 

Return on Inventory

Joe Palzkill
How Product Profiling Increases Sales and Profits
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An accepted best practice in inventory planning is to adhere to the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule....



Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
Fun and Profit From Your Square Inch Analysis Report
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Planning your spring catalog? Your "sqinch" (aka square inch analysis) report is one of your most important tools. And more...



The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
5 Ways Retailers Can Compete With Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery Model
Aug 12, 2014

Most small retailers lack the resources and store footprint to handle same-day shipping on their own. However, it's still possible...



Email Marketing Bites

Liz Ryan
The Email Hierarchy of Needs: Deliverability is the Foundation
Jun 18, 2014

If you're not getting the most of your email messaging, you might not be asking the right questions. How many...



Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
Local Optimization Drives Conversions, But Your Local Page Won’t
Jul 31, 2014

Local was already in play before the iPhone changed the online marketing game in 2007, but the mobile shift has...



Return on Intelligence

Jim Gilbert
LinkedIn Publishing Platform: User Review, Tips and Some Wishes for its Next Iteration, Part 3
Jul 23, 2014

This week in the third and final part of this series, I offer suggestions for how LinkedIn's publishing platform can...



Email Applied

Reggie  Brady
Subject Lines That Work
Jul 18, 2014

Standing out in the inbox isn't easy. A lot of promotional emails I receive have subject lines that aren't special....



ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
Springboard From Your Brand Filter
Jun 26, 2014

One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders...



Print-Plus

Stephen Lett
The Real Driver of Catalog Circulation
Jun 20, 2014

Print catalog circulation is starting to increase for a number of reasons. First, mailing a catalog drives business to the...



Shipping Insights

Rob Martinez
Attention FedEx and UPS Ground Shippers: New Carrier Policies Amount to Largest Rate Increase Ever!
Jun 19, 2014

By now it's likely you've heard that both FedEx and UPS are revising pricing policies for ground packages, moving from...



Retail Revelations

Melissa Campanelli
’Tis the Season for Experienced Retail Sales Associates
Nov 15, 2013

Many retailers are preparing for the busy holiday shopping days ahead by making sure their websites are working properly, their...



B-to-B Insights

George Hague
2 Must-Have B-to-B Metrics
Apr 9, 2014

Smart CEOs know two essential B-to-B metrics to successfully grow their businesses: contribution per order (CPO) for new customers and...



International Expansion, Showrooming, Online Marketplaces Trending at IRCE

 
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Having spent last week at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE) 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.

What's driving these trends, particularly showrooming, is the growth of mobile shopping. More consumers than ever are carrying a smartphone with them wherever they go, including shopping. Stories of brick-and-mortar retailers losing sales to consumers who use their smartphones in-store to find the products they're looking for at a lower price offered somewhere else were commonplace at IRCE. This isn't news to anyone, I'm sure, but mobile is going to continue to have a bigger impact on your business going forward.

Here are some more thoughts now that IRCE has come and gone:

  • Wednesday morning's keynote address from Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN's "Global Public Square," was terrific. Zakaria eloquently discussed the global economy and how the internet is driving it. He left many in the packed room feeling optimistic about the future of the retail industry in the United States, saying that what the country lacks in manufacturing is more than made up for by the large percentage of leading technology companies that can be found here. Zakaria exited the stage to a standing ovation.
  • The conference itself continues to grow at a rapid pace. This year's event attracted a record 8,638 attendees, an 18.3 percent increase over the 7,301 who attended last year in San Diego. IRCE 2012 had 564 companies exhibiting their e-commerce technologies and services, up from 504 companies last year. With that growth did come one troublesome side effect — the cab lines to get out of McCormick Place were longer (and slower) than ever.
  • A common theme I heard in many of the sessions I attended was that the customer is in charge in today's retail environment. Walmart.com's President and CEO Joel Anderson gave a presentation on how the retail giant relies on innovation to be present anywhere (e.g., online, in-store, social media, email, mobile) and anytime the customer wants it to be.
  • Free shipping is a cost of selling products online. Multiple people told me that their customers not only expect free shipping, they demand it.
  • Talk of selling products via social media sites, specifically Facebook, quieted down from previous retail conferences.
  • If you have both an e-commerce site and brick-and-mortar stores, implement a ship-to-store program immediately (if you haven't already). Consumers are increasingly using this option.

 

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