Retail Online Integration

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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 Intelligence

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  Often, while working with Direct Tech's current and prospective customers, I'll hear the age-old question: "Can't the system just do that?" If...



Catalog Doctor

Susan J. McIntyre
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Designed to Convert

Tim Ash
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In marketing, we often get so caught up with technology that we fail to focus on the insights we can...



ThinkAbout: Inspirational Verve for Your Product Line!

Andrea Syverson
Springboard From Your Brand Filter
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One of the most important ways I strengthen my clients’ brands and product lines is by collaborating with their leaders...



The Art of Delivering Style

Maria Haggerty
Delivery and Returns Experience Leaves Lasting Impression on Customers
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Consumers expect the online shopping experience to be nearly as seamless as the in-store experience. While companies like Amazon.com are working...



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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