Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends Sat, 25 Jun 2016 13:09:30 -0400 RTP en-gb Dormify Cracks Millennial Code, Gaining 92% Revenue Boost From Targeted Email Marketing Dormify Cracks Millennial Code, Gaining 92% Revenue Boost From Targeted Email Marketing

With a consumer base largely consisting of young adults moving into a college dorm or first apartment, online home décor retailer Dormify needs to ensure that its marketing messages are heard loud and clear.

A recent Principal Financial Group study indicated that emails are Millennials’ favorite method of contact with retailers. To make a relevant connection with these consumers, Dormify turned to email marketing automation platform dotmailer to maximize the impact of its communications among the young demographic, increasing revenue from email marketing by 92%.

Within one year of crafting personalized emails through dotmailer, Dormify experienced:

  • A conversion rate from its email audience that is twice that of the average site visitor;

  • 28% of total email marketing revenue from customized, triggered emails; and

  • 22% of total email marketing revenue from its automated welcome program.

On top of these results, visitors that came to the web site through email campaigns stayed 42% longer and viewed 20% more pages than any other visitors.

{loadposition GIAA}Prior to enlisting the services of dotmailer, the Dormify team hadn’t yet built out targeted email marketing efforts. The retailer relied on a "batch-and-blast" approach sent several times per week, rather than focusing on where potential consumers stood in the shopping lifecycle.

“We set out from the beginning to create interesting, relevant content for our customers to learn from and take them where they need to go next within the shopping experience,” said Nicole Gardner, COO at Dormify. “When we started, we didn’t have the most sophisticated email strategy. We were sending out a lot of content that was fun and creative, but we weren’t targeting that to specific people and audiences.”

Catering To Younger Audiences Via Mobile, Content-Oriented Campaigns

Since the Dormify team didn’t have a dedicated email marketing specialist on hand, the dotmailer platform’s easy-to-use interface was vital to getting its email campaigns off the ground efficiently, especially mobile-responsive campaigns.

“Our audience is a younger demographic, so they’re living on their phones,” Gardner said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The only way that they’re going to read an email a lot of times is if they’re looking at it on their phone. Automated campaigns created a huge impact for us with very little manpower necessary. We have triggered campaigns that are part of a welcome series, in which tailored emails are sent to new subscribers introducing them to Dormify and incentivizing them to shop.”

This automated “welcome series” includes three separate emails:

  • The first includes a dynamic coupon code and a general welcome message, with tailored content depending on where the subscriber signs up;

  • The second explains Dormify in greater detail; and

  • The third serves as a reminder and follow-up that includes a social call to action.

Content Includes Advice For The College-Bound

As part of the new campaign, Dormify shifted its focus to more content-oriented communication. Within emails, the retailer now includes resource guides such as “Counting Down To College,” sharing relevant information with potential consumers that could further add value to the purchase and perhaps build further engagement.

“A little bit of that does come down to the brand and creative,” Gardner said. “We built a brand that’s fun, exciting and dynamic, and we try to have fun with what we do. Incorporating pop culture references and song lyrics catches this audience’s eye a little bit because it’s sometimes unexpected and fun. We’re careful not to be too cheesy with the messaging, so we use focus groups and people on our own staff that are younger and closer to the college audience to circulate ideas with.”

The engagement goes beyond the initial interaction and even continues after the purchase (or in some cases after a non-purchase). After a successful purchase, campaigns have encouraged buyers to share their purchases via social media. But Dormify also established an abandoned cart program, designed to drive incremental revenue by sending emails over a 120-hour period to customers who leave the site with something in their cart.

“Shopping cart abandonment emails have been helpful in recovering potentially lost revenue, or even just to nudge a shopper that might have been looking on the site for a while without making a purchase,” Gardner stated. “We try not to be too aggressive with it, but we keep the messaging fun and light as a reminder. For example, a subject line in a message can say ‘Life’s too short for regrets,’ which can encourage the customers to come back. We’ve seen that to be very successful in terms of just offering that reminder.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 24 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0400
Tractor Supply Doubles Down On Pricing Optimization Tractor Supply Doubles Down On Pricing Optimization

1tscTractor Supply Company, a rural lifestyle retailer with more than 1,500 stores in 49 states, has extended its partnership with Revionics to use additional pricing solutions including the Revionics Markdown Suite and Revionics Advanced Analytics. As part of the contract renewal, the partnership between Revionics and Tractor Supply will last until 2019.

The retailer first licensed the Revionics Price Suite in 2010 to help drive its pricing strategies. With the added solutions, Tractor Supply aims to:

  • Continue its focus on intelligent pricing based on consumer needs;

  • Meet business goals while driving customer loyalty; and

  • Drive additional business impact and ROI.
]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:57:41 -0400
Beauty Retailer Boots UK Deploys IBM Analytics-Powered Mobile Sales App Beauty Retailer Boots UK Deploys IBM Analytics-Powered Mobile Sales App

Boots UK, a pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer that is part of the Walgreens-Boots Alliance, has partnered with IBM to deploy a new app for sales associates. The company is the first retailer to offer IBM’s analytics-powered Sales Assist app, which is designed to help turn every salesperson into a personal shopper for in-store customers. The service is available in more than 2,300 stores.

The app uses beacon technology to locate and identify shoppers on the store floor, look up online inventory and suggest products based on previous purchases. Using deep analytics combined with customer data, it can provide real-time product and location information straight to the associate’s mobile device.

{loadposition GIAA}Boots is using IBM’s cloud platform Bluemix to link Sales Assist with its applications and data, which makes it easy for sales associates to recommend products and access inventory on

"Together, IBM and Apple are working with companies and retail industry professionals to change how companies do business, and our collaboration with Boots UK is delivering a more contemporary approach to customer service," said Mahmoud Naghshineh, GM of Apple Partnership at IBM in a statement. "By empowering its colleagues with up-to-date data and product information delivered to the Apple device, Boots UK is leading amongst retailers by creating an enriched shopping experience that helps personalize customer engagement and enables faster service."

This is not the first time Boots has equipped its employees with unique technology for providing an exceptional customer experience. As a “drugstore” cosmetics brand available in most Walgreens and Duane Reade stores, the company has made it easier to shop its wide range of makeup in locations where testers and samples are scarce or simply non-existent with its Foundation Match Made Service. Through the service, sales associates use a handheld device that matches a customer’s skin tone to the optimal Boots foundation color and texture.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Thu, 23 Jun 2016 11:33:15 -0400
Macy's CEO Resignation: Planned Succession Or Response To Recent Results? Macy's CEO Resignation: Planned Succession Or Response To Recent Results?

Terry Lundgren MacysAfter 13 years at the helm of Macy's Inc., CEO Terry Lundgren will hand the reins over to Jeff Gennette in the first quarter of 2017. Lundgren will continue as Executive Chairman and will work side-by-side with Gennette, who will take the titles of President and CEO of the iconic department store retailer.

While Lundgren's resignation is being framed as part of a long-term succession plan, Macy's (along with other department stores) has had its share of struggles recently as it faces fierce competition from Amazon and a long-term shift in consumer buying behaviors. In Q1, Macy's same-store sales dipped 6.1%, the fifth quarter in a row this figure has declined.

{loadposition GIAA}It's also possible that Lundgren's departure represents a simple changing of the guard: "I do think Mr. Lundgren has been working on a secession plan for several years.," said Paula Rosenblum, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at RSR Research in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. "You can see that his successor is coming from within the company. I believe Gennette was always his heir apparent. I would not assume this had much to do with the company’s recent performance…it’s just part of the natural progression of the Boomer generation out of the workforce."

Gennette will join Macy's board of directors effective June 23, 2016, and will assume additional management responsibilities during the transition period, including oversight of the retailer's stores organization.

"I have been honored to lead this enterprise through a period of unprecedented reinvention," said Lundgren in a statement. "While our company is larger, stronger and more resourceful than we were 13 years ago, now is the time to reset our business model to thrive in a future that is being driven by rapid evolution in consumer preferences and shopping habits. Our company must and will change in response to the profound secular forces that are driving consumer spending."

Like many other department stores, Macy's has struggled in the early part of 2016. In Q1, the retailer had an overall sales decline of 7.4% and a same-store sales dip of 6.1%. The retailer has also had recent shakeups in its C-suite, including the April 2016 departure of CMO Martine Reardon.

More recently, Macy's narrowly averted a strike at its flagship New York City store and four other area locations, reaching a four-year deal with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union that represents nearly 5,000 workers at these stores.

Long Experience With Macy's

Gennette was named President of Macy's Inc. in March 2014 after serving as the retailer's Chief Merchandising Officer since February 2009. Prior to that he was CEO of Macy's West in San Francisco. Gennette began his retail career in 1983 as an executive trainee at Macy's West.

"This is the time for us to be laser-focused on what is most important to our customers, and how we can best deliver the shopping experience that will secure our position as the premier omnichannel retailer of the future," said Gennette. "We have successfully navigated our way through changing customer trends in the past and there is no doubt Macy's Inc. will need to be a significantly different retailer in the future in the way we operate and approach the marketplace."

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Thu, 23 Jun 2016 10:25:27 -0400
Who Will Buy Neiman Marcus? Who Will Buy Neiman Marcus?

Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from one of RetailWire's recent online discussions. Each business morning on RetailWire, retail industry executives get plugged in to the latest news and issues with key insights from a panel of retail industry experts.

Neiman Marcus, known for selling the most luxurious and memorable of luxury goods, is putting something else up for sale: itself. The retailer is reportedly seeking a buyer or an investor, since soft sales have made it tough for the department store to pay down debt totaling $5 billion.

Neiman Marcus' most recent quarterly results, for the period ending April 30, 2016, revealed a 5% decline in comp store sales compared to the same quarter the previous year. The decline in net revenues was even sharper, dropping from $19.8 million in Q3 2015 to $3.8 million this year.

The chain, which was acquired in a leveraged buyout by Ares Management LP and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2013, has been hit hard by the woes affecting department stores in general as well as the slump in the energy industry. Two of the chain's busiest stores are in Dallas and Houston, which have been hit hard by the drop in oil prices.

According to a recent New York Post article, Neiman Marcus CEO Karen Katz recently traveled to China to meet with potential buyers but came home without a deal.

Assigning Blame For Neiman's Woes

In the comments following this article, retail industry executives and experts dissected what they felt were the true sources of Neiman Marcus' poor performance.

Dick Seesel, Principal of Retailing In Focus, noted that the intention of the 2013 LBO "might have been to go public (eventually) or to flip Neiman Marcus to another private investor. But the company isn't in a position to do either of these things right now, unless somebody covets the Neiman brand badly enough to make a vanity purchase.

"Otherwise it's not inconceivable that the luxury segment is due for the same consolidation that swept the upper-moderate department store segments year ago, especially when Macy's bought May Company," Seesel added. "Maybe there is strength in numbers if Hudson's Bay decides to add Neiman to its portfolio of brands including Saks and Lord & Taylor…that is, if its own private-equity owners want to assume more debt."

Tony Orlando, Owner of Tony O's Supermarket and Catering, noted that "Neiman Marcus has hit the 'wall' on sales, and they could sell if and only if they are willing to accept much less than the asking price. Online, along with a bad economy, is making them less relevant today. More and more of this stuff will continue to happen, as investors want to clean out their slow-moving portfolios and department stores are all struggling to grow."

Kai Clarke, CEO of American Retail Consultants, agreed that the vertical itself is facing enormous challenges: "The department store, and Neiman Marcus along with it, are a doomed model. Like gigantic, overpriced sloths, it is time for a diet and better retail positioning. Neiman Marcus needs to adapt or perish, and the Internet is dynamically demanding a slimmer, price centric, ease of access, retailer. This is neither a department store, nor Neiman Marcus, in its current model."

Others blamed Neiman's performance on its own shortcomings. "A chain that has been referred to as Needless Markups needs to have great merchandise and provide exceptional customer service," said Steve Montgomery, President of b2b Solutions, who noted that the service is "not there. My impression has been, and remains, that the staff feel they are doing you a favor."

William Hogben, CEO of FutureProof Retail, believes the retailer's online offerings are the issue. "Neiman Marcus has failed to keep pace digitally — delivering a bargain basement web site and mobile offering to a luxury market that's used to the latest iDevices and conveniences. It's going to take a total digital overhaul to restore their brand, and buyers capable of such an overhaul will be hard to get."

But Craig Sundstrom, CFO of Weisner Steel, believes the issues are primarily financial rather than operational: "'Faltering performance'? It sounds like the comps are pretty typical for a retailer these days. The real problem is the inability to pay down debt from — wait for it — a leveraged buyout…the last thing they need is another one."

]]> (George Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, RetailWire) Trend Watch Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:10:10 -0400
EBay Taps Crowdsourcing To Inspire Purchases Via Mobile App EBay Taps Crowdsourcing To Inspire Purchases Via Mobile App

As presidential election season heats up, eBay is giving consumers a chance to vote for one of two mobile offers on apparel, technology and home products. Starting June 24, shoppers can visit to vote on their preferences for “Summer of Choice” mobile deals. For example, the first vote will feature a Char-Broil Classic Grill at 70% off versus a Nutri Ninja Auto-iQ Blender at 50% savings.

Consumers can then purchase the winning “Summer of Choice” mobile deals within the eBay mobile app. There will be four polls throughout the summer months:

  • The 4th of July: Voting begins on June 24; Deal released on June 27;

  • Summer Fun: Voting begins on July 18; Deal released on July 21;

  • Olympics: Voting begins on Aug. 8; Deal released on Aug. 11; and

  • Labor Day: Voting begins on Aug. 22; Deal released on Aug. 25.

As mobile shopping continues to become a higher of priority of younger consumers, eBay is diving head first into the channel for both product research and purchase. While many retail deals are available on a variety of digital and physical channels, the eBay deals only are available via a purchase on the mobile app.

{loadposition GIAA}With the frequency of mobile purchases increasing as much as 35% from January to May 2015, eBay is seeking to take advantage of a growing consumer base that is shifting behavior to reflect their preference for convenience.

Although retailers often still ponder how to optimize their mobile offering while separating it from a typical e-Commerce strategy, eBay is showing confidence in its app. The 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper Report revealed that more than half (53%) of online shoppers still prefer using the retailer's mobile web site to an app, so it’s clear retailers as a whole have work to their app experiences. eBay is a step ahead of the pack.

“We know that Americans from coast to coast want choice — the right items at the right price — along with a quick and simple shopping experience,” said Hal Lawton, SVP of eBay North America. “Our new mobile app offers the most seamless way to browse and buy millions of items. And, all summer long, eBay is letting shoppers decide the deals that are right for them — delivering in-demand merchandise at extraordinary value, directly to their fingertips.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:19:29 -0400
Cali Bamboo Manages Rapid Growth With Electronic Order Tracking Solution Cali Bamboo Manages Rapid Growth With Electronic Order Tracking Solution

After doubling its sales from $22.3 million in 2013 to $45.6 million in 2015, and building a valuable partnership with Lowe’s, sustainable flooring manufacturer Cali Bamboo needed to scale up its electronic order tracking operations to match its rapid growth.

By selecting an electronic data interchange (EDI) system from TrueCommerce in early 2015, Cali Bamboo sought to eliminate any bottlenecking potentially caused by the company’s increasing sales volume. The solution also helped Cali Bamboo adhere to diverse technical requirements of its retail partners and third-party logistics (3PL) providers.

With the TrueCommerce EDI platform, Cali Bamboo was able to:

  • Grow sales 120% year-over-year in Q1;

  • Project total sales growth of 90% in 2016; and

  • Track product purchases from order to billing.

{loadposition GIAA}When it began its partnership with Lowe’s in 2013, Cali Bamboo was still communicating order transactions by fax. Given that the materials provider wanted to track orders through many types of retailers, five freight vendors, two 3PL fulfillment centers and contractors that all required systems integration with different transaction types, the manufacturer needed a partner platform that could meet these requirements.

“A few years ago around 2010 when we started selling flooring, our transaction volumes and sales started to pick up fairly rapidly,” said Mitch West, Business Systems Specialist at Cali Bamboo. “At that time we were transacting files over an FTP server and it just wasn’t a viable option. There was too much growth and too many transactions to keep up with, so we decided we needed to integrate with EDI.”

Cali Bamboo was able to integrate the TrueCommerce platform with Lowe’s within one month of selecting the data supplier, and West noted that the platform has been running smoothly ever since.

“Lowe’s is one of the more rigorous big-box retailers to integrate EDI with,” West said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They have so many requirements and different transactions that they need at a specific point in time through the order cycle, which can make it such a challenge.”

TrueCommerce Integrates With NetSuite

Additionally, the TrueCommerce EDI solution integrates with Cali Bamboo’s NetSuite platform, enabling the manufacturer’s team members to navigate through an interface where they can pull reports, set up automated processes or read data maps.

“The HighJump TrueCommerce implementation team has a full understanding of our NetSuite ERP system,” West explained. “They understand how it all works — from the searches, to the reports you can build, to the transactions that are involved and the statuses within those transactions. Since they have a strong understanding, it’s a huge pickup for us because they know the mapping that’s involved and it helps us further build out the reports and searches that we need when we receive the data from our trading partners.”

As part of the partnership, Cali Bamboo was assigned two specialists, for integration and implementation. The integration specialist was focused on the details of the NetSuite and TrueCommerce platforms as well as the transactions involved, so that the Cali Bamboo team understood how each EDI transaction would affect the ERP system. The implementation specialist served as a project manager, gathering data, transaction information and mapping specs from trading partners.

“That was a big pickup for us as far as getting all the pieces glued together,” West stated. “We have someone actually managing the project and then we have a technical person running parallel who has a deeper understanding of all the systems involved.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Wed, 22 Jun 2016 09:20:00 -0400
Vitamin Shoppe Taps Former Family Dollar Exec As COO

1vtaminshoppeNutritional product retailer Vitamin Shoppe has appointed Jason Reiser as Chief Operating Officer (COO), effective July 11, 2016. Reiser will be responsible for operational execution, encompassing store operations, merchandising and supply chain, and for leading those teams during the company’s reinvention.

"The hiring of Jason continues to strengthen our leadership team and he will be a valuable addition to the already experienced and capable team we have assembled,” said Colin Watts, CEO of the Vitamin Shoppe in a statement. “Jason is joining the Vitamin Shoppe at an exciting time as we continue to move ahead with implementing our strategic plan. His combination of industry, retail, regulatory and customer knowledge uniquely positions Jason to drive the Vitamin Shoppe's operating priorities.”

Before joining Vitamin Shoppe, Reiser was the Executive VP and CMO of Family Dollar, a branch of Dollar Tree, Inc., and he has more than 30 years of retail management and merchandising experience. Reiser began his retail career as Pharmacy Manager at Walmart and progressed through a series of positions to VP of Merchandising for Health and Family Care at Walmart and Sam's Club. 

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:49:55 -0400
Online Activewear Retailer Selects RetailNext For Planned Stores Online Activewear Retailer Selects RetailNext For Planned Stores

RBX Active, currently an online-only activewear brand, has plans to stretch into brick-and-mortar retailing by opening stores across the U.S. As its first step, RBX has signed a multi-year contract with RetailNext for in-store analytics services.

"Integrating RetailNext into our new store locations allows us to test concepts and layouts, similar to what can be done with our online store, in the interest of delivering true inspiration to our community of passionate, active customers," said Adam Hanan, Director of Retail at RBX Active in a statement.

RetailNext collects and analyzes shopper behavior data through a centralized SaaS platform for more than 250 retail clients in more than 50 countries.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Tue, 21 Jun 2016 15:51:58 -0400
Potential Modell’s, Sports Direct Bid For 200 Sports Authority Stores: Home Run Or Error? Potential Modell’s, Sports Direct Bid For 200 Sports Authority Stores: Home Run Or Error?

Modell’s Sporting Goods and UK-based Sports Direct are in talks for a potential joint deal to buy as many as 200 Sports Authority stores, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, liquidating all of its 450 stores. Since the bankruptcy filing, there has been speculation around what would happen to Sports Authority’s remaining locations before they officially close, with sporting goods players Dick’s, Academy Sports + Goods and Modell’s all being identified as potential buyers.

{loadposition GIAA}With the Sports Authority closings leading to many questions about the general health of the sporting goods sector, and traditional retailers and department stores experiencing such poor in-store results in Q1, one important question is raised: are Modell’s and Sports Direct exploring their options more for the store locations, or for the Sports Authority brand itself?

Sports Authority’s downfall can be attributed to numerous factors, including increasing e-Commerce competition, Walmart’s sales of sporting goods products and the rise of chief competitor Dick’s Sporting Goods. Another possibility is that Sports Authority was simply burdened with more brick-and-mortar locations than its customer base could support. In fact, today’s harsh retailing reality reveals that most major brick-and-mortar retailers may need to close a percentage of their physical retail footage and better utilize store space as experiential centers, fulfillment centers and technology hubs.

Acquiring even a portion of Sports Authority's physical stores would take these two retailers outside their comfort zones. Modell’s would be expanding well beyond its 150+ stores in the northeastern U.S., while Sports Direct would be investing in its first U.S. brick-and-mortar locations. In any environment such ambitious expansion efforts could be considered risky, but combine that with the sporting goods vertical's woes and analysts’ continued advice to scale back physical stores, and the stakes get even higher.

Sport Chalet’s closure of all its stores — and its e-Commerce operations — in April further indicated that there may not be room for more than a few major players in the sporting goods space, with only a certain amount of floor space necessary due to oversaturation.

“The closing of TSA and Sport Chalet means that 10% of the sporting goods square footage will go dark at the end of the summer,” said Matt Powell, Global Sports Industry Analyst at NPD Group. “In my opinion this is a healthy event. We still have far too many sports stores in the U.S. for the demand, especially given sporting goods' deep penetration with e-Commerce. I hope most of these doors stay dark.”

It is unclear how far the talks among Modell’s, Sports Direct and Sports Authority have progressed. Bids for the Sports Authority store leases are due on June 23.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 21 Jun 2016 13:33:02 -0400