In the classic film Miracle on 34th Street, the most accurate resource for product updates was R.H. Macy’s Santa Claus. Today, Santa’s got an app, and so do many of the stores he visits.
The result: Consumers are increasingly purchasing directly from mobile devices, skipping the aisle, the desktop and any possible referrals to Macy’s or Gimbels.
Sales on mobile devices increased 56% in 2015, to $49.2 billion — double the growth rate of 2014, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing comScore. Nearly 40% of desktop purchases in the fourth quarter of 2015 occurred after a customer visited the retailer’s app or mobile site.
Retailers are taking note. Many merchants from Target to Macy’s and more are offering holiday-specific apps or tailoring existing apps to include holiday trimmings.
“The retailers that are succeeding are training customers to think of their smartphones like an all-day impulse aisle,” The Wall Street Journal stated. “Apps are able to capture data available on handsets and push consumers to buy when they have a spare moment.”
Deck The Devices
For retailers, getting their apps on a shopper’s screen is the equivalent of getting their products under the tree. Consumers averaged more than 3 hours a day in app use in 2015. Further, 75% of shoppers used mobile devices in some fashion for holiday shopping, according to the software company SandBox Commerce.
These trends have not been lost on retailers. Not only are more of them offering holiday-specific apps; some are checking the app box twice. read more
By Bryan Pearson
With the holiday shopping season upon us, retailers are feeling the pressure to make big numbers during their busiest time of the year. Retailers generate 25 percent of their annual sales during this lucrative period according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
There are more challenges for retailers than ever before. Brick and mortar stores are struggling with fierce online competition. Department stores such as Target, Walmart and BestBuy posted year-over-year declines of 7.3 percent. Further, mobile commerce is on the rise. Mobile shoppers now make up 61 percent of total ecommerce traffic, according to Unbxd.
All of that means retailers must have a complete omni-channel strategy to remain competitive.
So, what new technology can you expect to see retailers using this holiday season to boost their sales, online and offline?
Although online shopping is supposed to be easy for consumers, it often is a long and tedious process filled with doubts and guesswork.
For retailers, this guesswork is a major problem. According to the NRF, American consumers returned more than $360 billion in merchandise last year. And for 22 percent of those consumers, they do so because the products look different from the photos online.
Augmented reality (AR) is helping retailers combat this challenge. With AR, consumers can view 3D product models at home in real size before buying using their smartphone or tablet. The real-time rendering removes the guesswork for the consumer, facilitating the path to purchase.
Top retailers have already started offering AR solutions to their customers this holiday season. In early November, Wayfair launched its AR application, WayfairView, which is available on Lenovo’s Phab 2 Pro. The Phab 2 is Tango-enabled, meaning the device has depth sensing and rooming mapping built in. This technology is powering new AR experience for consumers.
“WayfairView allows shoppers to check the scale of products before they purchase to facilitate home-improvement planning, from furniture pieces and décor to ceiling lamps and chandeliers," said Mike Festa, head of Wayfair’s R&D lab Wayfair Next.
Lowes and Ikea are also among the retail giants that have launched augmented reality shopping apps.
Chatbots garnered a lot of attention in 2016, and retailers are making use of this smart technology to engage shoppers and to boost online sales.
Consumers now spend more time on messaging platforms than social media apps. Chatbots allow retailers to reach and engage consumers within those messaging platforms. Chatbots deliver automated content such as customer support and ecommerce solutions in real time. Even more, chatbots are now functioning with machine learning, allowing them to understand information and respond intelligently.
Major brands are leveraging chatbots, including Sephora, Tesco, Mattel, H&M and Toys R Us. In early 2016, Sephora launched a chatbot on Kik, a mobile messaging app. The chatbot offers personalized beauty tips and product recommendations based on the user’s tastes and preferences.
One of the biggest messaging platforms is Facebook Messenger, which boasts 1 billion global monthly active users. Facebook introduced chatbots earlier in 2016, and retailers are taking advantage. In October, just ahead of the holiday shopping season, eBay announced it was testing a chatbot shopping assistant on Facebook Messenger.
Chatbots add another layer of engagement and personalization to the shopping experience, helping brands drive conversions.
Brick and mortar is on the decline, while mobile shopping is on the rise. The challenge for retailers is connecting their offline and online channels. Beacons are helping brick and mortar stores do just that.
ABI Research predicts 400 million beacons will be deployed by 2020. Beacons allow retailers to push notifications to users while they are in stores when they are within a certain proximity to the device. These notifications are highly targeted and relevant for the user. With the right message, proximity marketing facilitates the in-store shopping experience.
From Macy’s to Target to McDonald’s, widespread beacon deployment is more than underway. One of the largest beacon rollouts this year was by Rite Aid. Rite Aid installed over 4,500 beacons in their stores across the United States. The beacons push notifications and promotions to customers, but they also allow the retailer to collect valuable data about in-store shopping patterns. That data can be leveraged to better optimize the in-store shopping experience.
With so many retailers deploying this technology, it’s more likely than not you’ll enter a store that uses beacons this holiday season. read more
By Lindsay Boyajian
Network World, Inc.
For Immediate Release: November 15, 2015
With Florida’s economy continuing to strengthen and more residents and tourists feeling good about their own economic situation and willing to spend money, the holiday shopping season looks bright for retailers
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, announced today that the upcoming shopping season looks very bright for Florida’s retailers, thanks to the strength of the state’s economy and increased confidence among consumers. FRF is predicting a 4 percent increase in sales for Sunshine State retailers, which is expected to outpace the national average of between 3.3-3.5 percent.
“Florida’s economy remains strong, unemployment is at a 9-year low, housing remains hot and 100 million extra shoppers in the form of tourists are expected again, which should lead to a successful holiday shopping season for our 270,000 retailers statewide,” said President/CEO Randy Miller. “Smart and savvy retailers will seize on this positive momentum by incorporating discounts, sales and other perks to stand out from the crowd this season.”
WASHINGTON – October is expected to be the second-busiest month of the year for the nation’s major retail container ports as merchants stock up for the holiday shopping season, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
“The holidays are nearly here, and from warehouses to store shelves, retailers are making sure they have the merchandise on hand to meet consumers’ demands,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “November and December are the busiest time for holiday shopping, but this is the month for the behind-the-scenes supply chain work that ensures shoppers will find what they want, where they want it, when they want it.”
Ports covered by Global Port Tracker handled 1.71 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available. That was up 5 percent from July and up 1.7 percent from August 2015, and has been the busiest month of the year so far. One TEU is one 20-foot-long cargo container or its equivalent.
Volume dipped in September to an estimated 1.64 million TEU but was still up 0.9 percent from last year. October is forecast at 1.65 million TEU, up 6 percent from last year; November at 1.54 million TEU, up 3.9 percent, and December at 1.48 million TEU, up 3.4 percent. read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:October 3, 2016
Average person expected to spend almost $83 this year on Halloween candy, decorations, and costumes for a nationwide total of $8.4 billion
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, announced today that consumer spending on Halloween is expected to set an all-time high with the average person spending almost $83, up from $74 in 2015. Total spending nationally on Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion up from $6.9 billion last year.
“More families are making a bigger deal out of Halloween each year, with consistent increases in per consumer spending, which should make for frighteningly good sales figures for retailers this month,” said FRF President and CEO Randy Miller. “We fully expect Florida’s Halloween sales to meet or exceed the national numbers thanks to sustained positive economic indicators and a healthy state economy.”
According to FRF’s partners at the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, U.S. consumers are expected to spend an average of $82.93, up from last year’s $74.34, with more than 171 million Americans planning to partake in Halloween festivities this year.
According to the survey, consumers plan to spend $3.1 billion on costumes (purchased by 67 percent of Halloween shoppers), $2.5 billion on candy (94.3 percent), $2.4 billion on decorations (70 percent) and $390 million on greeting cards (35.4 percent).
When it comes to preparation, 71 percent of consumers plan to hand out candy, decorate their home or yard (49 percent), dress in costume (47 percent), carve a pumpkin (46 percent), throw or attend a party (34 percent), take their children trick-or-treating (30 percent), visit a haunted house (21 percent) or dress their pet(s) in costume (16 percent).
Searching for the perfect costume inspiration will lead consumers to sources such as online (35 percent) and in-store (29 percent). Social media is the fastest-growing influencer for the perfect costume, particularly Pinterest (17 percent), which has seen 133 percent growth since 2012. Some other places for inspiration include friends/family (19 percent), Facebook (17 percent), pop culture (16 percent) and print media (14 percent).
When it comes to where consumers will shop for the season, 47 percent of shoppers will visit discount stores to buy their Halloween-related items this year and 36 percent will visit a specialty Halloween/costume store, up from 33 percent last year. In addition, 26 percent of customers will visit grocery stores/supermarkets, 23 percent will visit department stores and 22 percent will shop online.
The survey asked 6,791 consumers about Halloween shopping plans. It was conducted September 6-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.
ABOUT THE FLORIDA RETAIL FEDERATION
The Florida Retail Federation is the statewide trade association representing retailers -- the businesses that sell directly to consumers. Florida retailers provide one out of every five jobs in the state, pay more than $49 billion in wages annually, and collect and remit more than $20 billion in sales taxes for Florida’s government each year. For more information, visit the FRF website, and follow FRF on Facebook and Twitter.